Igrew up in a household filled with strong, realistic Italian-American women. Words of praise and encouragement did not flow freely from their lips. They called it the way they saw it, and there were no celebrations for getting all A’s on a report card or being chosen for the church choir. These women were about work and food and guilt.
My father was the “softer” side of the family, which he inherited from my grandma Rabiola, who passed away when I was only 5. Her gentleness was so powerful that I remember her that way to this day.
The way I look at it, I received all the elements necessary to become a strong, realistic, compassionate, hard-working adult who could make you feel guilty.
Being hard-working and realistic is in my blood. I began working in my grandmother Amato’s grocery store at age 10, when I was tall enough to reach the cash register. My Saturday mornings did not consist of watching cartoons.
While I saw other kids my age enjoying themselves, I was not envious and never thought about trading places with them. This was my life, and I was doing exactly what I was supposed to do.
There were times, though, when I would daydream about getting all dressed up and going to a fancy restaurant on Chicago’s Gold Coast or just walking down Michigan Avenue and walking into Saks Fifth Avenue. (I did get to do both of those things when I was in my early 20s.)
For me, life was about being practical and realistic. I never lived in a house with a white picket fence and didn’t spend time thinking about whether I’d ever have one of my own.
My hometown Chicago was and is a fantastic place with lots to offer, but those museums, galleries, parks and other fabulous sights were places you went on a Sunday when you didn’t have to work. Shopping was for rich people, and window shopping only reminded you of what you couldn’t afford.
To this day, I believe Chicago is a wonderful place for art, culture, great restaurants and fantastic homes and neighborhoods. If you live on Printer’s Row in the heart of the downtown area, or in Lake Point Towers with a 360-degree view of Lake Michigan, or can afford to enjoy the theater, galleries, museums and shopping on a regular basis, you probably call Chicago paradise. You’re not touched by crime, unemployment, poor housing conditions and terrible schools. That’s not where you live.
During the nearly two decades I’ve lived in Boulder City, I’ve heard many folks call it paradise. I totally agree on many levels, but that doesn’t mean our town is perfect, nor does it mean that we shouldn’t seriously discuss problems that can be remedied.
Does Boulder City have a problem with substance abuse, domestic violence and drinking and driving? You can deny it from now until the moon turns to Swiss cheese, but problems exist. If it doesn’t happen in your family, I think that’s outstanding and give every member of your family credit, but our community still has a problem.
Our problem is not one where every family in town has to deal with substance abuse, domestic violence and drinking and driving. Our problem is in the denial that these abuses exist.
In the March 5 issue of this newspaper, a news story appeared regarding a number of people being arrested for selling methamphetamine. The subjects were not teenagers but adults. In the same issue, another story appeared about 62-year-old man selling marijuana grown in his Boulder City home.
I hear stories regularly about high school students posting pictures of their drinking and drug antics on social media sights for all to see. I’m not making this stuff up. It exists right here in paradise.
Be realistic. There is a problem. Acknowledge it. Paradise is what you make it.
Rose Ann Miele is a journalist and was public information officer for Boulder City for nine years. She can be reached at email@example.com or at 347-9924.