Grandma came from the old country in 1900. She came on a ship from Sicily and landed in New York City at Ellis Island.

Even though no one had died, grandma seemed to be in continual mourning and wore a long black coat, black stockings and laced-up black shoes. Her gray hair was tied back in a severe bun. She and grandpa owned an apartment house, though they were not well off. She had five children and spent her days cooking, cleaning and looking out the window onto a Brooklyn street filled with other recently-arrived immigrants.

Little Francesca grew up under the watchful eye of grandma, a dour old lady who rarely smiled. Grandma was good to her, but there was no joy in her presence, just stern discipline and warnings.

Grandma had rules to be followed, especially when it concerned proper attire for a young lady. Francesca's dresses had to be ankle-length. Grandma frowned when Francesca became old enough to wear makeup. Above all, Grandma warned, "You must not wear red shoes. Nice ladies do not wear red shoes. Only bad ladies wear red shoes."

Francesca had no idea what a "bad lady" might be, but she was always careful to avoid red shoes--that is, until she grew up and landed a job in New York City in the 1950s. As she walked past the I. Miller Shoe Store on Fifth Avenue, she spotted a pair of elegant red calfskin pumps with 4" heels. Francesca bought them. If they were being sold by I. Miller, they couldn't possibly be illegal. Grandma was not happy, but Francesca often wore the red shoes to work and no one looked askance at her.

Today little Francesca is 68 years old and she still wears red shoes whenever she can.


By Frannie(



Watch these pages for more stories by Frannie.
In the meantime, click the links below for other poems and stories by the authors at Lara's Den.

A Walk Through Falling Snow

Botox Bath

A Cozy Nook

Taste Of Winter

Winter In Wyoming


Last Year's Ducks

January 2005

And.......for many others, click the index image.

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The apartment building you see in the image was Frannie's childhood home.