"Three Thursdays in the Bronx"

IN A SOUTHWEST neighborhood of the Bronx at 2:45 on a Thursday, 1962, a group of Catholic high school girls walk down Bainbridge Avenue wearing maroon jackets over white shirts, with red and yellow plaid skirts reaching below their bare knees. Tights aren’t allowed. They hold their books to their chests, giggle a lot, and feel safe. (They know if someone ever messed with them, any business owner on the avenue would jump out of their TV repair shop or deli, deal with the situation, then walk them home. But that’s never happened. This part of New York still works like a small town.) One of these girls has curly Italian hair that looks like an Afro; she resembles Annette Funicello in the way her eyes almost disappear when she smiles. She loves talking to her friends. About everything. Her grades are above average, and the nuns have trained her-against her nature-to write with her right hand because they’re convinced there’s something sinister about the left. She knows their thinking is twisted but keeps it to herself. This is my mother; she’s sixteen.

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