Death of a Blythe Spirit


The Letter

First Sib Meeting

Dreams of Love

Family Origins

The Making of a Batterer

I Care for Him!


Keeping Company

What Price Love?

Wedded Bliss?

The Honeymoon


The Honeymoon's Over

The Babies Come

Home Sweet Home

Moving Again


Other Mat'ls

Thoughts on Mother's Poetry

Mother's Essays

Penny's Vampire Chronicles

Gina's story fragment


Site PDFs

Death of a Blythe Spirit
(web contents)

Cars Hate Me!
(letters '46-'57)

New York Diaries
(life in the 1930's)


Camille's Diary

Vampie Chronicles


  1. Janet was Bob's second wife and the mother of his children.
  2. Kevin and daughter Katie are Bob's children..
  3. Tom was Deedee's first husband and Mandy is their daughter.
  4. Our little sister Penny who didn't participate in any of these sessions.
  5. These were Bob's friends during the Belmont years: Gene McBurney, Bill Jones, George Spiegleberg. Gene remained Bob's friend through college as well.
  6. Shawn is the son of Bob's 3rd wife, Pat, who also has a daughter Sarah.
  7. Diane Harrelson was Deedee's best friend all through the Belmont years.
  8. Entry for "Domestic violence" in Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, 2007.
  9. Strange that my mother, born in a German ‘big house,’ should end up marrying an Italian ‘big house’ (Casagrande).
  10. This could be a picture of my mother and her brother. There's German writing on the back of the picture.
  11. This is a photo of a German automobile in 1910, so this could have been Leo preparing to go off on a selling trip.
  12. Kate was divorced from Leo on 7/1/20. Mother would have been eight years old. It’s difficult to imagine how traumatic it must have been for her to have been essentially abandoned at so young an age.
  13. Rudolph "Pop" Miller, mother's step-father.
  14. Mother, far right.
  15. Germany was suffering greatly in the early 20’s. Inflation was so large that people bought bread with a wheelbarrow full of money. God knows what Leo went through to come up with the money for school.

  16. This is a castle hotel in the Black Forest of today.
  17. The 1920s. Mother foreground. Back l-r: unknown man, gramma, Pop.
  18. Young Mother under umbrella, Pop sitting.
  19. The Civil Conservation Corps was set up to give young men something constructive to do.Jim Gandy, Assistant Librarian/Archivist of the NY State Military Museum, told me that the Plattsburg Barracks was run by the U.S. Army. The Plattsburg movement, because of which these Citizens Military Training camps were set up, was the precursor to today's ROTC.

  20. His birth certificate says he was born Jeremiah John on May 25 (an error?) at 103 Charles Street (what is today the West Village, not Hell's Kitchen) and baptized Joseph at Our Lady of Pompeii at 25 Carmine Street in "Little Italy" on September 22. The baptism certificate says he was born May 26. In 2007 Our Lady of Pompeii still gives one mass in Italian every Sunday. Below is 103 Charles Street today. It's only a few blocks from Gina's apartment.

  21. The Italian Neighborhood on Mulberry Street, 1910. From the Library of Congress American Memory collection.
  22. A Tenement yard, 1910. From the Library of Congress American Memory collection.
  23. In 1979 Ed and I took a vacation to Europe and drove through Naples where I was thrilled to see several page of Casagrandes in the phone book. I think I later discovered that "Casagrande" came from the name of an orphanage.

  24. In 2007 my friend Jan Tebow did some research for me and found the marriage record for my father's parents. They got married in Manhattan. Certificate number 5532. The record for her lists the date as 3-17-1910. The record for him is indexed under Cazegrande, Jerry J and the date is 3-7-1910. Both are certificate number 5532. So it appears that family stories are correct--she was seven months pregnant with my father when they married. Jan also found a marriage record for Adelaide's parents: Adelaide L. Barton married to Frank H. Hodgins. Date listed with her name is 12-4-1889. Date listed with his name is 12-14-1889. Certificate number 4963 in Kings County (Brooklyn). Their daughter was born in 1889 or 91 (depending on which record you want to accept), but the mother was listed as Adelaide Barton, so maybe the poor woman was abandoned by Frank when she turned up pregnant. Who knows?

  25. O’Connor, Richard. Hell’s Kitchen, the Roaring Days of New York’s Wild West Side, J. B. Lippincott Co., N.Y., 1958.

  26. Puzo, Mario. “Choosing a Dream: Italians in Hell’s Kitchen” in Visions of America, Personal Narratives from the promised Land, edited by Wesley Brown and Amy Ling, Persea Books, New York, 1993.

  27. There are three classes of batterers, but Father was clearly of the intermittent class. See Donald G. Dutton, "Are All Batterers Alike?," The Batterer, a Psychological Profile, Basic Books, NY, 1995, p. 22.
  28. Donald G. Dutton, The Abusive Personality, Violence and Control in Intimate Relationships, The Guilford Press, New York, 2007, p. vii.
  29. Ibid. The Batterer, p. 89.
  30. Ibid., The Abusive Personality, p. 186.
  31. Ibid. The Batterer, p. 102.
  32. Ibid. The Batterer, p. 127.
  33. Ibid. The Batterer, p. 139.
  34. Ibid. The Batterer, p. 45.
  35. Ibid. The Batterer, p. xi.
  36. Ibid. The Batterer, p. 103.
  37. Although BPD is actually a continuum-a personality can be a BP Organization rather than a full-fledged "disorder"--a wonderful summary of Borderline Personality Disorder was written on D. Martinson's site on the Word Wide Web.
  38. Here Mother reveals for the first time her perceptions of the role of a wife.
  39. Although I have a feeling he meant Sventina, I can find no reference on any composer lists on the Internet of either Sventina (and even I have heard of Sventina!) or a tone-poem called Moldaw.
  40. This is a poem from "Salaman and Absal" by Jami translated by Edward FitzGerald in the 19th century. Jami (1414-1492) is usually described as the last of the great classical Persian poets. He was a mystic and a member of the Nakshibandi Sufi order, an influence vital to understand when reading his poetry.
  41. Some lines from Kipling's "A Ripple Song" in The Second Jungle Book. Mother loved the Jungle Books. 
  42. Ibid., The Batterer, p. 136-139.
  43. Remember, they eloped.
  44. Mother also worked as a maid (or baby-sitter) for the Cribari family, and in 1939 was apparently again living separately from dad. The Cribaris had a child named Camille, "Mia" to Mother, after whom I was named.
  45. My father always said I was named after the opera. Perhaps it was a combination.
  46. I thought SEHLAH had a private meaning because I couldn’t really find a satisfactory definition. In 2009 I discovered that good ol' Mother had misspelled selah, a Hebrew word which is used in the Bible. In context (as described in Wikipedia) it pretty much just means amen but implies stop! listen! reflect!
  47. Ibid., The Batterer, p. 44.
  48. Ibid., The Abusive Personality, p. 78.
  49. Grandma Miller didn't approve of the marriage, and as I recall Mother saying, she was estranged for a full year afterwards.
  50. Ibid., The Batterer, p. 46.
  51. Retyping this in 2001 I can't help but be struck at the similarity between the way that father talked to mother and the way Ed Flores talked to me.
  52. Grandmother Casagrande was apparently an excellent seamstress. I think she earned her living as a seamstress and surely made everyone's clothes, not buying them off the rack.
  53. Mother told us that, some time during their first year, they had a fight. Every time he threw something, she threw something back. Pretty soon they were surrounded by broken stuff. He went off to work, and she cleaned up the mess, deciding then and there that there was nothing to be gained by fighting back.
  54. Ibid., The Batterer, p. 35.
  55. The diaries and letters from 1937-39 consist of 47 pages, but only those entries related to the story are contained here. The remaining entries provide an interesting description of life in the times and can be found in Suburban New York in the Thirties.
  56. Ibid., The Batterer, p. 46.
  57. On the contrary, shortly before her death Mother told me that the two always had a good time "between the sheets" and were lovers even before they got married.
  58. Ibid., The Abusive Personality, p. 207.
  59. Friends of my grandmother. There are a zillion pictures of the group in the 1950s. Aunt Rose later became my godmother.
  60. Mom's brother.
  61. Mother told me that a heart on the page meant they had had sex that day.
  62. Barbara Corry, Second Hand Abuse: The Painful Legacy of Witnessing Domestic Violence, Word Wide Web.
  63. I don't remember Grandmother Casagrande ever babysitting! She didn't seem to want to associate with her son's family.
  64. Mother suffered from these strange "attacks" all her life. Deedee and I eventually decided they were migraines, and we both inherited the problem although I stopped having them in my 30s.
  65. I guess it was around this time that Father's sister Joan moved to California where Grandmother C joined them. I remember visiting them once we moved to California ourselves.
  66. Gina thought this was 'sweet' and 'loving'. They must really be in love.
  67. Father's brother Albert served in WWII and brought home a French war bride, Audrey, who, so the story goes, only married him to set to the United States. They were only married a few years.
  68. Poor Penny was apparently born after the beginning-of-the-end. Mother always 'let slip' that she wasn't wanted. The pregnancy was very hard on Mother due to her Rh blood factor, but more importantly, the marriage was in shambles by then.
  69. Mother had the wrong source. It was Epictetus: "Remember that foul words or blows in themselves are no outrage, but your judgment that they are so. So when any one makes you angry, know that it is your own thought that has angered you. Wherefore make it your first endeavor not to let your impressions carry you away. For if once you gain time and delay, you will find it easier to control yourself." However, Joseph B. Yesselman has a very impressive site on Spinoza where you can read the actual text.
  70. I remember this name because Bob Porter wrote me a poem entitled "To the Girl on Lilac Lane."
  71. Read my entire journal at CamilleDiary.pdf.
  72. Ibid., The Batterer, p. 146.
  73. James, M. (1994) "Issues in Child Abuse Prevention (No 2). Domestic Violence as a Form of Child Abuse: Identification and Prevention. National Abuse Protection Clearing House; Australia.
  74. Burman, S., & Meares, A. P. (1994). Neglected victims of murder: children's witness to parental homicide. Social Work. 39 (1), 28-41.

  75. That might not have been the real reason she didn't take us swimming! For a time we regularly went swimming at an indoor pool in San Mateo, but Deedee says that during one visit a man who was "helping" the little kids was grabbing her crotch and making her feel uncomfortable. She told Mother about this; nothing was said, but we never again went to that swimming pool.
  76. Lenore Walker's 1979 book, The Battered Woman, provides a seminal description of the characteristics of such women. She later coined the phrase "Battered Woman Syndrome" which has been used as a criminal defense.
  77. In The Psychology of the Cycle of Violence (p.74), Donald Dutton says he has "over 200 files" where women use these same words to describe the abuser!!

  78. I am proud to say that my daughter, Regina, graduated from Barnard College in Columbia University in 2004. That family "image" has been restored!
  79. My resume looks the same, although I did manage to stay at Western Electric for four years and Intel for eight.  Interestingly, Bob and Deedee showed the opposite characteristic; each spent an entire career at a single job.
  80. Ibid.,
  81. The Batterer, p. 55-57.


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