By Edgar Weinstock
A quite chubby, preteen, clumsy, girl child in pain taught me more about loving or nourishing a kid than even the grown ups I palled out with. I wasn’t much older than she was. Her name was Patsy Gilbert. She showed me all I needed to know.
All I have to do to become 10 years old again is close my eyes. And so: I once again see across from where I live on East 28th Street in Paterson. YEAH NEW JERSEY SO WHAT? I lived there with the others: Two parents. One or two brothers. A family of true friends named Norton. Sometimes a pet. Always surrounded by yapping or scowling neighbors, some of whom were also good stickball players. By evening, I was always indoors doing homework or imagining what the radio was conjuring or even trying to find a good channel on the XRay box in these, the late 1940s .
So it must be daylight now since I can almost see the Hernandez garage and house, where on the second floor lives the Gilbert family. Papa Gilbert is calm. Black wavy hair. Good build. Nothing showy. Just good shape and movie star handsome as the day is long. His wife must have at one time been really classically to the nth degree pretty. But now she has the worst set of purple circles surrounding her eyes and radiating further out more each month and the sides of her mouth pulling the rest of her down as she sporadically screams to one member of her family or another. Somehow from that wretched mother has come three daughters. The oldest is Anita. A few years older than I. This is more than 60 years ago but still I see as pretty a face as I have ever seen; yeah: combining the best of an uncentered version of Ann Harding plus a calmer version of Ida Lupino and a version of Carole Lombard? Hmpf; whenever she smiled. The only fly on the paper is that I never saw Anita Gilbert smile also with her eyes. Other than that, destroy any real photos of these movie dames the way they actually were at 13 or 14. Remember them in their prime then imagine what the mixture would be if they each dove into it at 13 or 14 years of age and you’ll have a good image of what Anita Gilbert looked like. Continue reading