Milly, the 95-year-old fashionista of Carroll Gardens
Photo by Kurt Dietrich Wilberding, 0.00156 Acres Gallery, 114 Smith St.
“In New York, you always gotta dress up, there was no such thing as going out in slacks. You gotta be dressed.”
Meet Milly, a 95-year-old dressmaker from Carroll Gardens. Milly, born in Calabria, Italy, is one of several local Italian-Americans photographed by Kurt Dietrich Wilberding and exhibited through Jan. 23 at the new 0.00156 Acres Gallery on Smith Street, between Pacific and Dean.
Wilberding shared with me his interview of Milly, who I’ve met on the street a few times. She is always dressed to the nines, and often can be seen walking with a cane in thigh-high, black shiny leather, platform-heeled boots. She’s always wearing a grand hat and makeup perfect for the theatre. I once complemented her glamorous attire, and she gave me a scarf that she had knitted. She told me her name was Milea Milea, but goes by Milly.
Here’s what Wilberding shared of his interview with Milly:
Milly lived with her husband, Joe, and four kids in her father-in-law’s house on Strong Place, in Carroll Gardens. Eight years into the marriage, Joe died of a heart attack. Soon after the funeral, her father-in-law tried to evict her and her four children.
“For two years he tortured me in every way. He’d throw water on me as I was putting clothes on the line. Ripped my mailbox. When I say I went through hell, hell was that time in my life,” Milly said.
One day, after her father-in-law tried to nail her front door shut and pushed her against the wall, she defended herself with the nearest object, a plunger. When her father-in-law’s sons confronted her about the beating their father had taken, Milly replied, “That’s too bad.
“I’ll take you one at a time.”
Meet Milly and other aging Carroll Gardens Italian-Americans at the 0.00156 Acres Gallery, an art space committed to showcase emerging, mid-career and established artists whose works create awareness on social issues such as: immigration, urbanism, demographics, environment, education, health and politics, among others.
medium-format portraits by Kurt Dietrich Wilberding
*0.00156 Acres Gallery
114 Smith Street (btw Pacific and Dean)
through January 23, 2011