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Nunzilla Was My Mother and My Stepmother Was a Witch by [Silver, Terry Gelormino]
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Nunzilla Was My Mother and My Stepmother Was a Witch Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Length: 179 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Terry Gelormino Silver was born in Bellaire, Ohio and spent her early childhood in St. Ann's Infant Asylum and in St. Vincent's Orphanage, both in Columbus. She went on to earn her high school diploma from the Ohio Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphans home in Xenia, Ohio before relocating to New York City. Having worked for the Air Force Institute of Technology for many years, Ms. Silver is now retired and living in Georgia.

Product Details

  • File Size: 317 KB
  • Print Length: 179 pages
  • Publication Date: August 9, 2010
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003Z4KBXO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #758,107 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Top Customer Reviews

By J. Chambers HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on October 29, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Terry Silver's memoir of her childhood years is one of the best written memoirs that I've read in quite some time. Being placed in an Ohio orphanage in 1929 with her four young siblings after their mother was committed to a mental hospital and with her ailing father unable to support them, she spent virtually her entire youth in orphanages. She was initially placed in St. Ann's Infant Asylum in Columbus, Ohio, which was operated by an order of Catholic nuns who inexplicably changed her name from her given "Concetta" to "Terfina." I can only imagine how frightening this must have been for a four-year-old who only spoke Italian, her parents' native language. After two years at St. Ann's, she was transferred across the street to St. Vincent's Orphanage, which was also run by nuns. In 1940, at her father's request, the teenaged Terfina was transferred to the Ohio Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphans' Home (OS&SO) in Xenia, Ohio, where she lived until graduating from high school.

Reading about life in St. Vincent's was eerily reminiscent of reading "Oliver Twist," with orphanage life being remarkably similar in some ways to life in the children's workhouses of 19th century England. Reading about the harsh treatment by some of the nuns, the wretched food, and the spartan living conditions made me extra grateful for growing up with two loving parents. And I understand why Ms. Silver refers to the nuns as "Nunzilla" in the title of her book.

Life at the OS&SO, a secular institution run by the State of Ohio, was much different and much better than at St. Vincent's. Children were much freer there, and living conditions and food were much improved compared to St. Vincent's. But even there, as the author hated some particularly cruel nuns at St.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Terry Gelormino has written an account of her life that should be required reading for all social workers involved with children. Outside of the fascinating story, the facts support the idea that orphanages, with all their faults, were more likely to guide children to a normal and productive adult life than today's foster home system.

That said, the author tells a story so intriguing in its truth that I found it difficult to put it down. As soon as I finished it, I read it again.

If anyone doubts the story just as the author wrote it, please reconsider. My husband, his older sister and younger brother grew up in a different orphanage in a different part of the country around the same time. Many of their experiences were much the same as Terry's, including emotional trauma, isolation from the mainstream community, and encounters with orphanage employees who should never have been hired to work around children.

However, they also attained a foundation of self-discipline, tolerance, and perserverance that has served them well in adulthood.

Excellent writing, well-edited and formatted. Highly recommend!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This little book is the fascinating, true story of life in several orphanages during the Depression and WWII eras. The author, Terry Silver, spent her young childhood in two Catholic institutions in Ohio, then moved to the Ohio Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphans Home, where she graduated from high school in 1945.
After all these decades, Silver remains hostile to (most of) the nuns who ran the two Catholic orphanages, albeit her bitterness has become muted somewhat upon reflection. She remembers a few happy times, and a few worthy nuns, but most of them she still regards as religious fanatics and neurotic, sadistic tyrants. Hence the term "nunzilla." Deprived of love, hungry all the time, nevertheless she, and many of her fellow orphans, struggled on and survived in their irrepressible youth.
Their Catholic-related experiences were often self-contradictory. The nuns were full of hatred and fear concerning the human body, and anything pleasurable, yet they sat through Hollywood movies with the children, romantic episodes, luxurious life-styles and all, and did no more than avert their eyes during, e.g., kissing scenes. The children were terrified of incurring God's wrath, yet they enjoyed, e.g., reading comic books while supposedly at their devotions.
I think most children are like that, but Catholic kids in this poverty-haunted orphanage some 80 years ago were all the more so.
The Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphanage was a far pleasanter experience, though Terry initially feared contact with Protestants and secular temptations, against which the nuns had warned her. There was also one dreadful housemother--the "witch" in the book's title. Yet again, Terry won through, an academic success, though scarred by the ham-handed attentions of the Home's psychologist.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This memoir was written by an 80-some year old woman about her childhood during the Depression years. When her mother was institutionalized in an insane asylum and her father unable to care for her and her siblings, she went to live in a Catholic-run orphanage in Ohio. The St. Ann's Infant Asylum, run by German nuns, was of the old European style of Catholic children's education--in some ways, not much different that that of a high-class convent school (if you read Antonia White's amazing novel Frost in May which was set in an exclusive Catholic boarding school in England right before World War 1.) The difference is that the girls and boys were physically abused (beaten) and verbally abused by nuns who never should have had the care of children and in many cases, disliked children but were assigned to take on the task of caring for them anyway. But if you are a reader of school stories from British private schools (Orwell, for one) you may realize that the brutal treatment of children is less from their being orphans and more from a cultural history where children are not treated humanely in general.

Food was scarce (but as it turns out, the orphanage survived on donations, and Terry was living through the Depression, though she didn't know it at the time.) Education was good--if you could stand the ridicule and bad treatment. Terry's family was singled out for especially terrible treatment, and she didn't understand why, even later as an adult, when many mysteries of her childhood were explained to her, including her very name being changed from "Concetta" to "Terfina", a name she despised.
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