The Motel Family: Part One

Airline Highway, Metairie, Louisiana.

 ©  Copyright 2013  by Sara Jacobelli

 We Have Been Evicted



Sunday, October 18, 1981

Cara Nonna:

I am writing in my Notebook so thought that I would write you a letter. I don’t know when I will get the money for stamps to mail this all the way to Italy. I am sorry that I don’t know enough Italian to write this letter all in Italian. But I hope that someone there can read this to you and translate it. But just in case you sent any letters to us at our apartment I wanted to let you know we don’t live there any more. We had to move from our apartment on 719 Spain Street. We got Evicted and now we are living in a Motel.  The Name is the Sands Motel which Mama says is really funny, “because there are no sandy beaches here.” The sign has a picture of a Palm Tree on a Sandy Beach. Then there is another sign that says, “Sweet Home Motel.” Mama said, “This dump ain’t Sweet and it ain’t Home.” (By the Way, I Hate the Motel. We all hate it. It is Ugly, Noisy and Dirty. And there is no Pool! Every Motel on TV has a Pool but not this one. Mama said, “That’s because this Motel is not a Vacation in Disneyland. It’s more like a Vacation in Hell.”)

Mama says that this is just Temporary. She keeps saying that. I’m not sure how long Temporary is, but it must be at least two weeks because that is how long we have been here. I mark down how long we have been here in my Notebooks.  (I don’t want the kids at school to know we live in a Motel.  Plus I am always late for school because I take the Little Kids on the City Bus to their school, then I go to my middle school).

Papa got fired because he lost his Temper and got in a fight at the restaurant. (He was waiting tables and he said someone snapped his finger at him so Papa punched him.) Mama is working as a cashier at the Circle K.  I worry because they get robbed a lot at night and wouldn’t you know Mama works the Night Shift for Minimum Wage.

Well, the Good News is we still have our car.  She still runs but not very fast. Papa tries to make her go fast and she makes funny noises and pieces fall off. We call her Dinah, short for Dinah-Soar. My little brother named her that. The Little Kids are doing OK. Do you remember them? My brother Gino is nine and my sister Antonietta  is six. They are Good Kids and I help them with their homework.

I taught them the alphabet in Italian and the numbers in Italian too.

Well, Nonna, that is enough writing for tonight. I have to go to sleep but I will write more tomorrow. I need to find some place to hide my Notebooks because I don’t want Mama reading them. Papa can’t read English very well so I don’t worry about him.

Oh, one more thing before I go to bed. They sent home some papers from school and I gave them to Mama. It was the form to fill out for getting Lunch Cards for school. (That means Free Lunch if you are Poor). Can you believe this? Papa grabbed the paper from Mama and started yelling, “We don’t need their Food Stamps!” He was so mad. I tried to tell him that almost everyone gets Lunch Cards at school and they’re not the same as Food Stamps. On top of that, Mama told me after he Stormed Out that we do qualify for Food Stamps, and we really need them. But she can’t apply because Papa would get really mad. This makes me mad because we are Hungry a lot and I hate being Hungry. Plus the Little Kids cry when all they get is Cheerios for dinner. When Papa gets paid sometimes we get McDonald’s but now that he got Fired that’s over.  (Mama says Papa won’t even let her use coupons from the newspaper because he thinks they are Food Stamps).

Oh, and get this: My teacher sent me to the School Counselor, Mrs. Popovich, who asked me a bunch of Dumb Questions. I think she was trying to find out if we were living in our Car or a Motel or Under a Bridge. Papa always says, ”Don’t tell those people at school nothing!” And I didn’t tell her anything. She kind of made me laugh, though, when she read off this list of questions. One question was, ”Are you living in a Doubled-Up or Tripled-Up Household?” I sat there feeling Dumb then asked her what that meant. She said, “Well, you are still considered Homeless if you are staying with Friends or Relatives.” That’s the Dumbest Thing I ever heard. I would be thrilled if we had any Friends or Relatives to stay with. I just told her we are Doing Fine. And I made a Mental Note to go and check the mail box at our old apartment once or twice a week.  You never know if that school will send papers home.

One sad thing is, we are not doing anything for Halloween this year. I don’t know if you have Halloween in Italy, but believe me, it is usually a lot of fun here. I wanted to take the Little Kids Trick or Treating, then go to a Party after that a girl from school is having. Looks like I will be staying home babysitting while Mama works. We can’t even give candy out because NO ONE comes to a Motel to Trick or Treat.

The funny thing is, the New People have not moved into our apartment yet. So it is just sitting there, looking lonely. The windows look like eyes and the door looks like a mouth. The shutters are the eyelashes. Every time I go there to get the mail I stand there and silently tell our apartment that we miss it so much. It looks back at me, sad, and I think it misses us too.

OK, good night for real, Nonna!  Buono notte! Ti amo, ti baci!  XXX   OOO

(X means Kisses and O means Hugs)



PS: I am still looking for an Italian-English Dictionary.

PSS: Gino and Antonietta love you too! (Even though they don’t really remember you).

PSSS: I will send you school pictures of us if we get them this year. (Mama doesn’t know if we will).  But if we don’t get school pictures then I will draw a picture of all of us and the Little Kids can draw pictures too. Mama brings home scratch paper for us to draw on from the Circle K.

PSSSS: The Worst Thing of All about the Ugly Depressing Motel is that we had to leave Old Mr. Kitty behind. I look for him each time I go back to check the mail but I haven’t seen him yet. I am sure he is very mad at us.



Photo Credit:  “Airline Highway, Metairie Louisiana” by Wikipedia. GNU Free Documentation License.


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