WHO WE VISIT
Estelle grew up in Manhattan on the lower east side, sharing a small apartment with four brothers and sisters.”There was no steam heat, the bathtub was in the kitchen, and we shared a bathroom with the neighbors.” She lived in the area until moving to Brooklyn with her husband in 1951. They had one daughter at the time and three more children followed, two of whom still live nearby in Brooklyn. The building where she grew up was later torn down to make way for the tenement house where Visiting Nurses came into being. “Now Visiting Nurses takes care of me; I think thats an interesting little connection,” Estelle said.
Before she married, Estelle worked at a jeweler’s shop and then for the fashion magazine Fairchild Publications. When she married and started a family, she and several other couples that she was friendly with moved into the same building in Flatbush where their children all grew up together. “At my last birthday party not only did my children join us but so did many of my friends’ children who grew up in that building.”
Estelle collects many things, including pictures of friends, family, and even old acquaintances. “I like to keep photos of all the people I’ve met along the way,” she said. Her collection extends to antique furniture and jewelry, which compliments what she calls her “bohemian” style of dressing. “I like long, flowing skirts and simple tops, then I throw on a lot of big beads and those thick plastic bracelets. I wear a crazy hat almost every day.”
Michael is known to his friends and family as the go to person for the best Italian and Italian-American music. One of his biggest hobbies is searching for and collecting this genre of music and then sharing it with anyone he knows who will appreciate it.
Michael’s family emigrated from Italy in 1912, and he was born in Little Italy on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. They moved to Brooklyn when he was eleven years old. After finishing school he made a career in the position of Tax Authority and started a family. His wife has passed away, but their children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren all keep in close contact with him.
After his retirement he started working part time in a jewelry shop. Right after he retired, he took his mother back to Italy, where she had not been in 57 years. “She saw her cousins that she hadn’t seen in all that time, and she even reunited with some of her childhood friends.” He’s made seven other trips to Italy since then.
When Michael became a part of the Friendly Visiting program, he told the director that he preferred a visitor who spoke Italian. He ended up being matched with Amy, a young Korean-American woman who was adopted and raised by an Italian family, and the two of them have had many enjoyable visits.
Haya’s career and favorite hobby have always been alike: painting. Her apartment filled with bright canvases and her annual exhibitions at St. Francis College both give testament to a lifelong involvement for the love for art.
Haya is originally from Poland, but when she was four years old her family immigrated to Israel where she lived for forty years. She married at the age of eighteen and had three children with her husband. In her 20’s, after her children were born, she began to get more serious about her interest in art and attended an art academy. One of her mentors was an Israeli painter who was known internationally for his abstract art. He knew colors; he was an expert in pigments. People these days don’t know about color the way he did. He studied the old masters. She had many exhibits and sold many paintings in Israel. For a year and a half she lived in England, where her paintings were featured in a London exhibit. About thirty years ago Haya moved to the U.S. where she continued to paint, sell, and take part in art exhibits.
Recently she has spent more time doing pen-and-ink drawings than painting. She says that while none of her children took to art, one of her grandchildren seems to be inclined towards it. She adds that her brother was a very talented sign painter and that her mother and sisters, while not painters, used to do beautiful crochet, knitting, and other crafts.
Haya’s two daughters still live in Israel, and her son lives on Long Island.