other, although they do complete each other's sentences from time to time. She was very open
with me on the lows and highs of her life. She answered every question except two: her age (to
me, timeless) and her marital status. Other than that, she told me everythingÉabsolutely
NO WAY OUT
Tell me about your childhood.
I was born in Erie, Pennsylvania. We were a family of six brothers and two sisters. I was number
three. I raised most of the kids. My mom always worked as a cook/waitress. She was an
amazing cook. She could take a cupboard of common things and make them delicious. My
father hardly worked at all. He did work in a steel factory as a crane operator moving big molten
pots of steel around the factory. He would come home with big welts on his skin. Whenever he
wasn't drunk, he would go to work. He was a bad alcoholic Mom covered the bills.
Was there any help for your dad?
Back then, they had nothing for the alcoholic. If they beat the children, the children were taken
away and put in orphanages never to see their parents again. That was my mother's biggest
fear. She would tell us not to tell anyone that your father beats you because I'll never see you
Do you want to talk about your father?
All through my childhood I was afraid, afraid, afraid. Afraid at school. Afraid when my father
came home. We were poor. Mom was a devout catholic, and asked the church if her kids could
go to school there. Since the church had to do so many charities, they accepted us.
Did it help?
The school let everyone know that we were the poor kids. The nuns abused me. The kids
abused me. We were the freebees. The classmates would pick on me all the time. I was a
skinny little kid who got pushed down all the time. I didn't have the money for a proper uniform
so we would get hand me down uniforms from the school and they would never fit me. I still
think about the time that we had a May Day event outside the school and you walk around the
school with the St Mary statue. Father Daily grabbed by the back of
|my jumper and yanked me
out of the line and scolded me for not wearing the proper uniform. I wasn't wearing Saddle
shoes or the proper white blouse. He yelled at me in front of the entire school. It was so
horrifying, I didn't want to go back to school. I was seven years old.
I used to walk to church at 6 AM before going to school because I thought that was the right way
to go to heaven. At that time, I wanted to be a nun until the abusive nuns made me realize that I
could never do that to a child so I can't be a nun. The only good thing about going to church at
six am was that after the service, we got hot chocolate and donuts.
It must have been a relief when you eventually went to public school.
It was so different. It was like I went to another country. There was no beating.
My father wasn't working and my mother bought a house. It was a dinkey little house but it was
ours. We were suppose to pay the taxes and my mother put away the money for that.
Unfortunately my father drank that money away and they repossessed the house. A real estate
woman bought it for the $3000 in taxes. We had to move into a disgusting rental filled with mice.
I love all nature animals but you can't live with them. We had no running water and had to use a
portable bathtub. All the kids would take their turn bathing in the same water.
Did you help with the funds?
When I was old enough to reach the kitchen sink, I started doing little jobs for the neighbors like
washing dishes, washing, ironing. I needed to raise and save money because I knew I had to
leave home as soon as I could.
Your Dad Continued to drink?
One night around three in the morning, my father came home yelling and started beating my
mother. All the kids heard the ruckus. I made the mistake of moving slightly and he caught the
movement. He yelled, "Who the f is up at this hour! I'm trying to stay as still as possible in the
top bunk of the bed. He reached under the covers and grabbed my hair and threw me across
How did you cope with that kind of behavior as a child?
I was very desperate as a little kid. I felt that I didn't deserve to live; and there was no way out.
So I was about 11 years old and waited on the sidewalk for the right moment, I ran in front of a
tractor trailer. The man screeched his brakes and he was barely able to stop.
| He got out of his trailer and brought me over to the sidewalk. He said, "Whatever this is, I want
you to know something...If your life is not worth living, you can't do this to another person. How
could I live with myself if I had killed you. How can you leave this world and leave me with that
We sat down on the curb and talked. "Do you really think that it's hopeless?" I told him that I
didn't have any help. I don't know what to do and I don't want to do nothing anymore. If you
don't have anything to look forward to, and nothing to look back on, you feel hopeless.
He looked at me and said, "I want to tell you something. I used to be you. I know you can do it. I
know you can become something." We spoke some more and I went home.
Did you have any personal items?
I knew that if I wanted anything, I would have to buy it myself. Rather than buy things, I began
saving money so I could escape this house. I would see someone painting a house or raking
leaves and ask them what they would pay me to do the work for them. I would make a few
dollars here and there and save it. I did ironing, babysitting, clean houses, anything.
A SPARK OF MAGIC
Tell me how you got interested in magic?
I always wanted to be one of the guys and I was the girly girl frail. They would only let me play
with them if I would let them tie me up for cops and robbers or cowboys and indians. I thought