Sara Surber (650 words) Professor Sonya Smith Feature Story March 31, 2010 Doris Sostilio (850) 936-6551 She sits on a sage love seat wearing her favorite red dress. She said it makes her feelyoung again. The bright color contrasts with her fair skin and accents her red hair and piercinggreen eyes. “In my day, I was quite the looker,” Doris Sostilio said with a wink as she adjusted thehem of her dress. With a childlike twinkle in her eye, she recalls some of the more historical moments thatshaped her into the 87-year-old woman sitting before me today. “If I could do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing,” she said grinning from ear toear. Sostilio was born on May 12, 1922. She was just a child during the Great Depression anda teen during World War II. Her mother named her after Doris Duke, an American philanthropist and tobacco heiress.She said she came from one of the poorest families in Boston, Mass., and that her mother had asick sense of humor for naming her after such a wealthy debutante.
When she was only 12 years old her mother tried to sell her to a man at a taproom(bar) onDover Street in downtown Boston for $600. At that time, her older brother and her ran away tolive with their Aunt Tette and Uncle Herman. In her early teens she began working as a waitress at a restaurant called the QualityLunch. One day she was waiting on a regular at the little joint when the man suddenly changedhis order from chicken to pea soup. So she said she went back and told the kitchen to “hold thechicken and make it pea,” she said laughing hysterically. Her perfume filled the air as she rocked back and forth on the sofa, laughing and grippingher sides. “You got to laugh,” she said with a thick Boston accent. “Life’s too short not to laugh.” “I’m going to have a smoke,” she said as she walked over to her bureau and pulled out anold cigarette case. She lit up as the smoke coiled in the dark and dusty room. When she was 21 years old she met her first husband, Louis Dalthonso, who was asoldier in the war and nine years her senior. She met him at a town meeting when Louis askedher to dance. They were married right away and Louis went on to graduate from the University ofMichigan with his doctorate in chemical engineering. Years later, she said he came home lateone night so she asked him what he was working on. “It’s this new thing called plastic,” he said. Sostilio and her first husband had three children together; Georgiana who is 65 years oldnow, Charmane who is 62, and Clark who is 56. Dalthonso died in the late 1960s and left all of his money to her. She went on to marryanother wealthy man whose name she couldn’t recall. “Gosh that was so many years ago,” she
said as her eyes wandered up to the ceiling. “All I really remember about him was he looked likethe movie star Allen Ladd.” Her second husband also passed and at 67 years old she remarried Peter Sostilio. She saidhe owned a lot of real estate and inherited a large sum of money from a previous marriage.Sadly, he soon passed away as well. She said her friends at the American Legion teased her about her husbands’ misfortune.“What did you do to all those husbands,” they asked. “I loved them to death,” she said with aninnocent chuckle. She moved to Navarre, Fla. when she was 66 years old to help raise her twin grandsons.Now she spends her days living with her youngest son Clark. “I just want to live long enough to see my grandsons graduate from college,” she said astears welled up in her eyes.