My Autobiography by Michael Normandy, Sr.
While waiting for a response from the tenant you signaled, you were treated to local artwork painted on the vestibule wall. This could be an Italian scene, Venetian canals with gondolas, Mount Vesuvius, religious artwork with a patron Saint or the Holy Family. Surprisingly enough, these oil paintings were very good and professional. Today, these "house painters" would be labeled "artists."
My grandfather, Michael Normandy (in Italian Michele Normandia), was a Painting and Decorating Contractor whose company painted many of the houses in the neighborhood. For this artwork, he hired a cousin on my motherís side, Salvatore Simonetti, to do this work.
Typically, the apartments were four rooms with entry into the kitchen. Two small rooms (usually used as bedrooms) led to the front room or parlor. I can remember the huge "pocket door" doors that closed off the parlor from the rest of the apartment. We had no furniture to put in the "parlor." Therefore, the sliding pocket doors were closed most of the time to conceal the fact that we couldnít afford "unnecessary furniture like couches, coffee table and end tables.
The real reason these doors were closed was to conserve heat. Like 90% of the tenement "flats" (apartments), heat was provided by the kitchen cast iron stove. These stoves were designed as wood burning stoves. Later, we burned coal in the same stoves, a very dangerous practice we now realize generates carbon monoxide. But thatís another story!
Originally, the front and back rooms had open fireplaces for cooking and heating. The fireplaces were constructed with marble mantels and fluted polished stone sides. The workmanship was excellent, but commonplace! The hearth was decorated brick. Progress, or necessity, caused these fireplaces to be closed up by installing a metal plate in the fireplace opening. Kerosene heaters were used to provide heat in the rooms. Metal flue pipes were installed from the top or back of the oil (kerosene) stove to the chimney, by making a hole into the wall and chimney flue. In the kitchen, the cast iron stove was altered by adding kerosene burners in the stove chamber.
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Now playing "Carnival of Venice"
Carnival of Venice, is a folk tune popularly associated with the words "My hat, it has three
corners." Many themes and variations have been written for solo trumpet, as "show off"
pieces that contain virtuoso displays of double and triple tonguing, and fast tempos. One
notable variation was by Herbert L. Clarke for the cornet, trumpet, and euphonium.
The popular novelty song, "(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?" which was
published as having been written by Bob Merrill in 1952, is loosely based on Carnival of Venice.
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