Lola Aglialoro

When Lola was born the First World War
Had only just ended 3 years before
In ’77 she took a flight
She told a reporter who asked her that it was alright
2002 is the year that she died
She lived in Manhattan on the Upper West Side
If you look on the web that’s almost all that will show
There once was a Lola Aglialoro

She always said she was from England
But after she died I learned she came from the mainland
The last Kindertransport was the one she was on
And she spent her youth then being bombed in London
She met a soldier, followed him back
How many kids she raised, who could keep track
Only 2 of her own, but so many others would follow
My nanny Lola Aglialoro

She always said she never had
A problem with the gangsters they said were so bad
She would laugh loudly, as she often did
Saying I knew all the gangsters when they were wee kids
She said not one child should be forsaken
Maybe because her own childhood had been taken
A woman of joy, a woman of sorrow
A lady named Lola Aglialoro

As I grew up I still kept in touch
With this woman who had affected so many so much
My lady of laughter, my mother of mirth
Who seemed to know so deeply what laughter was worth
There’s no Stumbling Stone to recall when she came
And she long ago changed both her first and last name
But now there’s a song so someone out there might know
There was once a Lola Aglialoro

Lola was my babysitter/nanny when I was a baby in New York City, before my family moved to Wilton, Connecticut when I was 2-1/2 or so.  I spent time with Lola occasionally after that, when my family had things to do in the city that didn’t involve little me.  As a young adult I intermittently kept in touch with and visited Lola, the last visit being a few years before she died.  Lola’s exuberance and emotional generosity had a tremendous impact on me as a little kid.  I thought I had three parents.  When we moved, I discovered I only had two, and the most exuberant among them was gone.  This devastated me, and has probably had a powerful lasting impact on my life, though of course my parents didn’t mean to fuck me up like that.

Anyway, it was after Lola died that I found out, talking to her son, Mike, on the phone when I came to visit Lola in New York and found out she had died, that Lola actually wasn’t English, as she always claimed to be, but was a German Jew who had been on one of the Kindertransports from Germany to England, through which some Jewish children were able to get out of Germany and survive the Nazi Holocaust.  This knowledge gave me new insight into this amazing woman.  Many years later, thinking about the ongoing refugee crisis these days (summer, 2015) I wrote this song.

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