My Autobiography by Michael Normandy, Sr.
1927: As I mentioned earlier, my first memories were of 184 Maujer Street. Grandpa Vincenzo Simonetti owned this house which was eventually torn down to build the Williamsburg Houses. We always called them "The Projects." Unfortunately, we couldnít find a photo of that house because in 1927 no one in the family had a camera. This is a picture of what it looked like when they were first building The Projects.
The family story about 184 Maujer was that the government had to buy Grandpaís house because that land was part of the plan for The Projects. The house had to be torn down. That wasnít the only house that had to be taken down. The whole project covered 25 acres! This is a picture of what it looked like when they were first building The Projects.
Thereís a backstory about how my Grandpa happened to buy 184 Maujer. It all happened because of a bathroom! Iíll copy it here so you can read it now. Itís from my motherís autobiography again, "IDA." My mother is speaking: "So finally my father had a few dollars and Frank Devine suggested to my father that he buy a little house with Dad's brother, Frank Simonetti. It was on Lorimer Street in Brooklyn. We always lived in Brooklyn. This was an eight-family house like the one on Maujer Street only at 538 Lorimer Street. Eight families and no bathrooms. No one had bathrooms then.
"So they bought this house as partners and Uncle Frank wanted a bathroom down the cellar. So he put in a bathroom and a hot water heater that you had to light each time you needed hot water.
"Now my father's brother wanted Dad to pay for half of this improvement. Dad didn't want to because it was for my Uncle Frank's convenience. He said, "Well, you want the bathroom so you have to pay for it. It's for the convenience of you and your son and your daughters." Frank said they had to go 50-50 on everything. So my father got mad and told his brother, "Either you take the house or I take the house. Do you want it? You have your family in it already so you can take it." Uncle Frank eventually had six children, David, Sal, Thomas, "Little" Jennie, Antoinette, and Helen.
"So my Uncle Frank took the house at 538 Lorimer Street and my father bought two houses on Maujer Street for $25,000, eight-family houses. Then he started collecting rents, a little here and a little there. Then he bought several houses including 184 Maujer where I used to live, too. I even lived there after I had my Jean and Buddy, before Priscilla was born."
Imagine that. My grandfather bought two eight-family houses for $25,000. That's when he became a landlord. Not bad for an immigrant from Italy. So thatís how I came to live at 184 Maujer Street until it was torn down. Iím not sure when we moved from that house, but I know for sure by 1930 I lived across the street at 181 Maujer Street where a lot of my first cousins lived. I even have a copy of the 1930 Federal Census to prove it!
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