Dear Old Souls, can we get a little humor in the house? | Pamela’s Food Service Diary – SILive.com

Resurrection cemetery this late October. Remember a time when cemeteries were closed due to COVID? (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — At this time of year, I think of my mother who passed on March 22, 2015 due to complications from a long struggle with Multiple Sclerosis — long, as in over 30 years. Now, with All Souls Day right here on Nov. 2 the time seems right to remember her in her prime working in the restaurant business in the 1980s.
As you may remember from prior discussions, my mother, Patricia, worked as a bookkeeper in my uncle’s place, the former Jim McMullen’s on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. She became friendly with some of the regulars as she went back and forth to her office from the bar and kitchen area to collect hand-written “dupe” tickets.
Anyway, my mother got a kick out of some of the customers.
“Here comes Martha dancing with the door,” she would say with a straight face. Sure enough, as the restaurant opened at 11 a.m., a well-dressed blue-haired woman, always the first patron on a weekday, would pull open the front door with an extended foxtrot on the sidewalk.
On some Saturday nights, my parents and I would come for dinner when the place was in full swing. Occasionally a famous person or notable regular would be in the restaurant and my mother would say, “Oh, that’s such and such.” My father would be fascinated and gawk until my mother would tell him gently not to stare. She thought it was hilarious.
One night I played a joke on my Dad with my mother in the know, and said, “Is that Dustin Hoffman?”
As a scene in Tootsie was filmed at McMullen’s it seemed plausible. As the elder Silvestri at our table stared the poor man down, the guy became visibly uncomfortable and asked to change tables.
Recollections of this scene cracked my mother up for many years to come, even when it was uncomfortable for her to laugh. What a good soul and a great sense of humor!
The late Patricia Silvestri
With that, Sr. M. Jessica Swedzinski of the Candelaria Shrine of West Brighton is a member of the Schoenstatt Sisters and shares some thoughts on the All Souls subject.
She says, “I truly grew to love Nov. 2, following on the heels of the All Saints Holy Day, and I cherish the month of November! I have a shoe box full of the memorial cards of deceased relatives and friends. Every November, I make it a point to go slowly through the entire box — taking hours — and pray specifically for each one as I glance at their picture, date, prayer. It is a beautiful thought to remember ‘the good things’ about this person.”
Sister Jessica, right, with her mom by her side. (Courtesy of Sr. M. Jessica)
And from her personal traditions from her home state of Minnesota, she adds, “Of course, my Mom also had Nov. 2 like a real fast day where we were nicely invited to offer up something for the poor souls and to have very simple, meatless meals with absolutely no lunches or in-between snacks, as they are called here.”
Sr. Jessica says, “My Mom, bless her soul, made me promise that we weren’t going to ‘pray to her’ but for her at her funeral! This was in response to the growing trend that everyone is going to heaven and it is a celebration of life, etc. She said, ‘And I want you to pray the Rosary both nights — none of this scriptural embellishments and eulogies!’”
Other routines of the day for Roman Catholics, according to Sr. Jessica, “One could attend three holy Masses and receive Holy Communion each time, as well as say prayers to gain plenary indulgences to release suffering souls.”
The Archdiocese of Milwaukee Calvary Cemetery with 100,000 souls and Miller Stadium in the back horizon. (Courtesy of Sr. M. Jessica)
Sr. Jessica notes, “Most importantly, I have to honestly tell you, the Poor Souls — or as I like to call them the Holy Souls — have never left me down. They have always answered my prayers or needs!”
So, Mom, with all that’s going on the restaurant world — vaccination card checks at the door, worker shortages and wild spikes in staple foods — we sure could use your sense of humor right now.
Pamela Silvestri is Advance Food Editor. She can be reached at [email protected].
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