Chapter 1
by: Roxine Cherie' Evans aka "Cina"
"God's House"

In the early '50's, my grandparents on my mother's side, who were from Poland, purchased a hotel in a small Upstate, NY town called, Florence. It was called, the Florence Hotel. My grandmother, Gladys Smith and her sister, also owned the Davis nursing home in Camden, where my grandparents owned a lovely Victorian home on Church St, in the early '50's to the late 60's, that still sits on the hill of the main road leading into the "Queen Village of America."

My God-given name is Cina. My mother told me that, when she was pregnant with me, my older sister, who was only 9 months old, while trying to repeat my new upcoming name, Roxine, all she could say was Cina. After that moment, I was always known as, Cina. My sister's nickname was, Shelley, short for Michelle.

I remember most of my childhood memories. Since I was a toddler, I can remember many things that took place in my life. Like, the time when I was 3 years old. My grandparents had their new television delivered to their home, where my mother, my sister and I lived, also. My parents were divorcing at the time.

Roxine Cherie' Evans Camden, NY 1954

After the delivery men left, I remember walking into Nanny's livingroom, to see why everyone was so noisy. As I entered the room and saw the television, I was startled and afraid. Then, Nanny turned the television on and suddenly I burst into tears. When my mother asked me why I was crying, my reply to her was, "They're looking at me, mommy, they're looking at me!"

In this picture, you can also see the house next door. It was, to me, the greatest house in the world. It was a homemade candy shop! Oh, to wake up every day to the most delicious smells of chocolate, was sheer delight, for me. It was called, "Stacey's Homemade Candy." I truly thought that I was in Heaven, each and every day. I didn't care about having a picture taken of me, my sister Michelle, and Nanny, at all. To this very day I still don't like photographs of myself. I was simply following the most wonderful aroma a little 3 year old child could ever smell, that was forever flowing into all the windows of my Nanny's big, beautiful house!

I was a very happy child in my first few years of life. I loved my sister, Michelle, who was one year older than myself. We loved spending time at our grandparent's hotel, where our Nanny (grandmother) would cook polish food daily, for her so many wonderful customers who would always return for more! The bar was filled every night with patrons who always had a great time, at The Florence Hotel. I remember how the men would walk into the bar, take off their cowboy hats and guns in their holsters and hang them all on the hooks on the wall. My sister and I always had so much fun, as we would sit at the top of the hotel stairs, watching, listening and even wiggling and giggling, while the country music was blaring in the bar, downstairs. At that time, my sister and I attended a school in Florence. It was a little one room school house, just like the school house in the tv series, "Little House On The Prairie." It's still there, well half of it is, to this very day!

Straight up the dirt road, from the hotel, sits a small Catholic church, that is still there, today. Every day I would walk up to "God's House" as I called it, to pray and sing for JESUS. I truly loved being there, because no one but the priest was there, and he would be somewhere else in the building, so I was always "alone with JESUS" and my heart was ever so glad of that fact. I felt safe and blessed when I would visit JESUS there, because I always knew that HE was truly listening to my every prayer. I also knew that HE loved to hear me sing to HIM.

View picture below of my sister, Michelle, my cousin, ZoeAnn, and myself standing in front of The Florence Hotel, where you can see St. Mary's church (God's House) behind us, up the stony dirt road. My safe place, where my life would be changed, forever.

Roxine Cherie' Evans Florence, NY 1956
Roxine Cherie' Evans Florence, NY 1956

(click link to enlarge photo to view church)


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