Nardella Family Memories
We have the best shared family memories and it’s
fun to go back in time together. Look at our pictures,
read what we remembered, think about what it
means. We have an amazing and wonderful family.
We’ve experienced great losses in recent years, and
386 belongs to someone else now. But our family
remains strong and blessed, and our bond is forever.
(transcribed by Uncle Gabe from taped conversations with Grandma)
Grandma talking about the farm back in Italy: the land was very productive - 1/3 corn & beans,
1/3 wheat and 1/3 oats. They gave the landowners (Ciavarellas) a portion of the crop as rent.
Grandma worked on the farm starting at age seven. She explained that her father hired quot;handsquot;
to till the land, paying them 3 liras per day and feeding them quot;pane cotequot; and polenta. Women
were hired to shuck the corn, and one of these women was Manuela Ciavarella's grandma,
Carolina Nardella. The grain was sold to Carlondinos, who were buyers, or merchants. When
grandma's mother died, grandma took charge of selling the products from the farm. She
explained that she was quicker to compute the sale, quicker than the people with pad and
pencil! They raised two pigs per year and they were in demand because they were corn fed.
When she sold the pigs, she would quot;eyeballquot; the pig and set a price. Then the haggling would
She tells of the song quot;Chiara Lunaquot; that grandpa sang to her under her window when she was
14. Grandma memorized the song at the time and she sings it on the tape.
Grandma talks about when she had quot;bad nervesquot; which was when she went through her change
of life. She said during this time, she used to hide the letters from Italy and never answered
them. She remembers that grandpa had Uncle Gabe drive her to an Indian doctor on South Main
St. to quot;curequot; her.
Uncle Gabe’s Memories
The accordion (circa 1935) - I started lessons at Rudick's Jewelry Store. Their gimmick was to pass
out 6 free lessons to children coming out of school. I took a flyer home and talked my parents into
allowing me to quot;sign upquot; for the free lessons. I took lessons at their store for a few years and later
took advanced accordion lessons from a John Dudick, who came to our house at 386 Glenwood
every Sunday morning. Many mornings when Dudich arrived, I was yet in bed sleeping! About 2-3
years later, Dudich sought a teaching (accordion) job at O'Neil's school of music at the O'Neil's
department store. To help him get the job, I had to play the accordion for the manager of the
school to demonstrate that Dudich could qualify as an instructor. He did get the job.
I participated in several musical recitals at O'Neils. The music department had a complete band and orchestra. Both Pat Limosano,
on sax, and Manuel Ciavarella, on trumpet, played in this band. J. Dudich put together an quot;all girlquot; accordion band and he had me
play the solo part. Since I was an advanced student, these musical units were part of the Sataurday radio broadcast.
Across the street, Polsky's Department Store had Saturday quot;talent showsquot;. The winner of each Saturday show got to compete
with the winners of the next 12 Saturdays. These 12 winners would compete in a quot;finalequot; that was heard on the radio. I was a
winner of a weekly contest. I was notified by telegram that I was selected a winner. At the end of 12 weeks, all winners
performed on stage at the Palace Theater. I played quot;Dark Eyesquot;, a Charles Magnante arrangement. The result of the Talent Show
was I was awarded second prize, while first prize went to a black man who quot;playedquot; the spoons!! My father became angry and
was beside himself because I didn't win.
I soon put together an orchestra, playing for weddings, dances, picnics, etc. Pat Limosano played tenor sax, Tony Gentile
drums, Vince Cianchetti electric guitar. As time went on, I had various other musicians.
I joined Jack and His Driftersquot;, a country band. We broadcasted Monday through Friday, each day at 1:00 pm on station WJW.
Each night we played at the Friendly Tavern on Kenmore Blvd. The tavern was packed each night. On Sundays we would
broadcast on station WPIC in Sharon, PA. I later joined another hillbilly group and played at the quot;489 Barquot; on S. Main St. near BF
Goodrich. I played until I earned enough money to put a down payment on our house at 389 Glenwood (purchased on 8/18/53
for a total of $12,500).
I had thought of going to college to be a Certified Public Accountant, but because of the world
turmoil and Hitler threatening war, Pat Limosano and I signed up for welding school. I got a job at
Babcox & Wilcox in Barberton and soon bought a 1936 green Oldsmobile. I was an arc-welder at
B&W, starting wages were .55 per hour. I welded on steam boilers that were used by the US Navy
ships at sea.
I entered the U.S. Army in July, 1942. assigned to Army Air Corps at Miami Beach, Florida for basic training, then
Bainbridge, Georgia until 1944, where I serviced radios on B715 planes. I was assigned to Radio School in 1944 in Scott
Field, Illinois. Graduates of this school learned radio mechanics and morse code, then went to gunnery school to be
assigned to B17 and B29 bombers. Mom, Dad & sisters came to visit me. Dad advised me to come up with a quot;planquot; to get
out of this gunnery classification. I devised a plan that would ultimately wash me out of this radio school. At the code
school, I would re-arrange the code symbols, mixing them up, so that my grades went down. They assigned a psychologist
to help me since they thought that, as a musician, I should have a quot;good earquot; and therefore good at morse code. I
continued to fail, according to plan, so they flunked me from gunnery school. I was then assigned to advanced radio classes
and radar school in Boca Raton, Florida. I graduated and was sent to Yuma, Arizona. On August 5, 1945, we dropped the A-
bomb on Japan, which virtually ended the war. I was discharged in 1946.
Aunt Grace’s Memories (as told to Judy)
Aunt Grace remembers going with Aunt Carmel to see Frank Sinatra with the Tommy
Dorsey orchestra at the old Palace Theater in downtown Akron. Seeing Sinatra in
concert was pretty memorable but the best part was after the concert. All the bobby
soxers went to the stage door afterward to get Frank's autograph. Aunt Grace, being
shy, hung back and didn't ask for his autograph. But Frank noticed her! All of a sudden
he looked right at Aunt Grace, stared right into her eyes for the longest time. It sounds
like Uncle Joe is lucky that the star-struck Grace didn't get whisked away by ole Blue
“Pasta Fagiolequot; appears to be a common theme in the family memories. Apparently
Grace didn't get a dime under her bowl like Antoinette. But Grace disliked the dish so
much that she'd go upstairs to nap on Friday nights when it was served. She even went
so far as to lock herself in the bathroom once to get out of eating it!!
Pete set the woodshed on fire and grandma had to call the fire department.
Uncle Pete’s Memories
The following are unedited excerpts from letters to Grandma & family, from son Peter, during
a three month road trip with Phil Palumbo and band in 1967:
April 13, from Albuquerque, NM - I've started a new thing with me. I run every day for my
exercise. I'm going to try and build it up to two miles a day. So far I've got it up to about a half
mile, and then I poop out. I'm really out of shape.
I miss cooking our own food. Not that I'm not eating good. I just want to cook some dago
Well Ma, I hope you have been feeling good and my best to all my sisters and Gabe and all my
nieces and nephews.
April 21, from Albuquerque, NM - Well a week and a half has already gone by. About the only real big thing that happened is that we
were at a cocktail party held for Sonny and Cher, the rock and roll singers. All the nieces and nephews will get a big kick out of this. They
were in town to publicize their first movie quot;Good Timesquot;. Well we know the theater owner, an Italian, who invited us to the party. It was
at a local hotel and when we got there, you should have seen all the teenagers. Cops all over the place. Now I know what these young
recording stars go through. Well, when the cops let us in the hotel room, we felt like big shots. We were introduced to them. He is Italian
and she is Armenian. They were dressed alike with purple print tops and solid purple pants. Wow! Were they dressed loud.
Yesterday the boys and I went on a trip to see quot;Saudia Crestquot; which is a high mountain about 20 miles from here. It is up 10,092 feet.
When we got to the top, I got real dizzy and it was also very cold. You can see 100 miles all around you. The sight was breathtaking.
April 25, from Albuquerque - It's Monday noon and I just got up and I'm so sore and stiff I can hardly move. This is because we all
went horseback riding yesterday. It was more than just a horse ride. The whole band except Eddie and a couple we know here went
on this special event. It consisted of a two hour horseback ride and a steak dinner out on the trail. It was one of the most interesting
things we have ever done. First we went from the ranch, lead by a real cowboy and cowgirl to the foothills. The foothills are right at
the start of the mountains. It was just like being in the wild west, going along these trails. We kept going up these trails till we got to
the top of this plateau. Here we could see all of Albuquerque and the surrounding area. The view was breathtaking. Then we
proceeded to go down again. We started about 5:30 in the evening and by now the moon came out and the scene was beautiful. We
came to some flatland and we had some horseracing among us. You should see how fast I was going. I really dug that part. Then we
proceeded to the camp out spot. We could see the fire as we approached the place, out in the middle of nowhere, just like out in the
old west. A cowhand was preparing our dinner. We had to do nothing but eat. The coffee was made in an old large pot over a fire, just
like you see in the western movies. Just boiled water with the coffee thrown in. Boy was it tasty. We also had beans, french fries and
steak. All cooked over a fire, western style. We were all laughing and talking like cowboys just off the trail. The real cowboys got a big
kick out of the way we were carrying on. After that we sat around this big fire and told stories. The whole scene was wild. We left in
the dark about 9:30 that night by horseback again to the ranch. The ride back was beautiful. All in all it was quite an experience. This
whole thing only cost us $7.00 each. Isn't that cheap? I will never forget it.
May 5, from Lake Tahoe - Robert Goulet is working the big room. We saw his show last night. He is good but not one of my favorites.
Sid Caesar is coming in after Goulet. We met and sat and drank with Goulet. He's really a nice guy, real handsome. I'm going to have
him autograph a picture for mom because I know she likes him.
It was sure nice to be able to talk to all of you on Mothers Day. I was sort of sad that day that I wasn't home. I'm glad this is our last
long trip from home. Although I enjoy it, I think that I've seen it all now and we all feel the same way.
So Robert Goulet did send mom that picture. He told me that he didn't have any more and if I gave him Mom's address he would send
her one. Good for him. He's gone now so I can't personally thank him. We had many occasions to be with him. I even played cards
with him. Great guy.
Sid Caesar has followed Robert Goulet for one week and he closed tonight. His dressing room was right next to our's. Shari Lewis, that
female ventriloquist, was his co-star. She was very good and Sid was as usual funny. He doesn't look at all like his old self because he
lost so much weight. We get to see the big shows for free because naturally we are co-workers in a sense. I saw Debbie Reynolds also
By the way, I want to give my warmest hello to quot;SiSiquot; and Aunt Arcangelo. How is she these days? Tell quot;SiSiquot; that I don't personally
write to him because it would only be a duplication of what I write home. I'm assuming he's getting all the latest from Mama.
May 14, from Lake Tahoe - Last night quot;Rowan and Martinquot; and Liza Minelli started their three weeks here at
the Sahara. I saw their show and it was great. Rowan and Martin really made me laugh. Unlike on TV, they
get a little ranchy but not dirty. Liza Minelli was great. She sings just like her mother but better.
We are rehearsing quite often now so we can come home with an almost new act. We are stealing a lot of
comedy. We were getting a little stale before we left.
May 22, from Lake Tahoe - Shecky Green is playing up the street and he came in to see us. He never forgot
us from the Riviera in Las Vegas. He hates Lake Tahoe because most of the people that come here are
average people. All of the swingers and rich people go to Vegas. He was awful complimentary to us.
I haven't been eating much lately on purpose, and I'm down to 150 pounds. I've been trying to get to 145
for two years but between Mom's cooking and her bread, I just haven't been able to do it. I feel real good
and my clothes are getting loose. But I can see it right now as I come home, which is usually during the
middle of the night, I will see a light burning downstairs and Mom will be making bread.
Last night as we were coming home, we saw a bunch of people and all these cops at a drive-in hamburger
place. Well what it was, was 8 couples from the quot;Hells Angelsquot; motorcycle gang. You've read about them.
Well I finally got a chance to see what they look like. Dirty, beards, long hair, swastika medals, boots and
just plain low-down. Their girls were the same. We counted and there were 11 patrol cars there.
May 25, from Lake Tahoe - I'll tell you about the golf game I had with Dick Martin of the Rowan and Martin
comedy team. We played at this fabulous golf course called Incline Village CC. You should see the homes
around the golf course. The minimum cost of the homes is $50,000. The golf course is literally cut out of the
base of the mountain. It is tree lined on every hole and natural brooks and streams throughout the golf
course. Phil took movie pictures of every hole so you'll see when I come home how nice it is. I shot 87 that
day which is terrible for me. In Albuquerque I shot real good golf but the 3 week lay-off hurt me.
May 30, from Lake Tahoe - Well today is Memorial Day and although I'm not home, I've made a mental visit
to Pop's grave. Seems like every time anybody writes to me, they are in a rush. Is life that hectic back
home? I'm real relaxed out here. It's awful nice of Mom to write some little words but I really can't make it
out too well. So have her tell you what she wants to say and you write it out for her. I'll dig that.
June 7, from Lake Tahoe - Time is flying by and we have only 3 more weeks to go. I'm anxious to get home
and back to normal living and golf again. Golf is too expensive here. The minimum is $5.00 and there is one
I played here that cost $11.50 including golf cart.
June 13, from Lake Tahoe - Conge told me that she looks different now and wouldn't tell me why. But Judy
let the cat out of the bag and told me that Conge had a hair wig. I've always told Conge that her hair was
not the right style and it would change her completely if she would do something about it. Well I guess the
wig was the answer.
Aunt Antoinette’s Memories (as told to Judy)
Aunt Antoinette remembers receiving the Womanhood Award at her North High
graduation. Grandpa cried like a baby in the audience, but grandma did not cry. Then
her very own daughter, Michele, wins the same Womanhood Award at North High,
carrying on the family tradition!
She remembers Aunt Grace running over her cat with the car.
She found a rat in the woods by the house and picked it up and petted it.
Uncle Pete walking through the living room wearing a towel and flip flops to go to the basement to
Grandma's favorite shows: Price is Right, Johnny Carson, Lawrence Welk, and Ed Sullivan. Grandma
made bread at 5 am
She took care of grandpa and never complained
When I met Tom, grandma would say quot;Jesus Christ send Tomas to you!quot;
Whenever anyone was going out to have a good time, grandma always said quot;have a good time!quot; and
never had a grudge that she couldn't go.
Uncle Pete brought Frankie Avalon to grandma's when he was in town at the Tangier.
Grandma taking the bus downtown with her black purse and black tote bag. She always went to
Polsky's for frozen custard.
The statues on the dresser, especially St. Lucy holding eyes. Grandma was blind as a teenager. She
said she was on her period and had to wash clothes and hang it outside in the cold. She went blind
because of it and prayed to St. Lucy to restore her eyesight.
Grandma taking us all to the Canton Buffet for her birthday.
Grandma sewing white sheets around the boxes she mailed to Italy.
Grandma had a wringer washer. Her hand went through it and it left a scar on her hand.
Grandpa was futuristic. He always talked about how someday we would have cities under the water.
Grandpa came to the US to escape going into the Italian army.
After the war, he went back to get grandma. They were robbed in Naples.
Grandma taught me to make spaghetti sauce and she didn't measure anything so I got a measuring
cup to catch the spices she put in the bowl. But the cheese I just wrote in the recipe quot;so much it looks
The Italian songs she would sing in the basement when she would wash clothes. She sang so loud you
could hear her out the opened window. I know the songs today because she knew all the words.
quot;Mamaquot;, quot;Santa Luciaquot; to name a few.
My dad was the first to put a TV together in his radio shop and we put colored cellophane paper on it
to make color.
When we were on our way home with the twins from the hospital, the first stop was Grandma's
house. She pinned a dollar bill on each of their receiving blankets after giving them a kiss.
Uncle Pete always singing quot;mamaquot; to grandma any time she was where he was singing quot;a gigquot;.
It was Easter 1973 and it was the first time I was going to be introduced to all the Nardellas over
Grandma's. Michele and I go in the front door and Michele starts to introduce me to about 2,000
Nardella's. I'm sitting on the bed in the dining room, when Aunt Carmel walks in with her family. I
get up to shake hands and be introduced to her, and I SMASHED my head on the hanging ceiling
lamp over Grandma's bed! I felt like an idiot! There goes the quot;good impressionquot; to Aunt Carmel!
I remember the 4 Rosa boys coming over to Grandma's and not being able to tell which one was
Guy and which one was Joey. They were like 7 and 10 years old.
I remember Aunt Conge, at Michele's graduation, telling me that she was 50 years old and now I'm
I remember drinking ZiZi's homemade wine after snowblowing his driveway and not feeling any
pain on the way home.
I remember picking all the Italian relatives brains for gardening tips when I first started gardening.
Uncle Pete: You've got to work on your spacing. You're planting too close together. ZiZi: You've got
to have good dirt. There's no rocks in my garden. Manuel Ciavarella: Plant plants that grow under
the ground when there is no moon and plants that grow above the ground when there is a moon.
Michele Kaiser: The hell with gardening, just go to DeVitis and buy the vegetables.
As the second oldest grandchild....Kathy being the oldest......I remember the birth of the twins. Not
Tony and Joey, but Patty and Michele! I remember my mom saying quot;Oh no, how is Na Na going to take
care of all those kids?quot; Did my mom say that the next three times too!
I am old enough to remember the birth of Cyndie also. I was with Kathy the day she was born. We
went into Aunt Kay's bedroom and Kathy packed her an overnight bag because she left for the hospital
so fast. Kathy placed a piece of paper in the suitcase that said quot;Barbaraquot;. I asked Kathy what that was
and she said Aunt Kay wanted to name the baby Barbara but everyone told her they didn't like that
name so Kathy wanted to tell her mom that she liked it too. So Cyndie could have been a Barbie. ha ha,
the things you remember.
I also am old enough to remember the first time Uncle Eddie came to Grandma and Grandpa's house to
meet the family. Kathy and I (we did everything together because we were the only two for a while)
were hiding on the stairwell leading to the basement. We listened to the whole conversation and no
one ever knew we were there. We decided we liked him.
I am also old enough to remember when the house was not covered with white aluminum siding, but
covered with red fake brick!
I remember Joe Mungo, Mr. Renzie and GiGi.
I also remember Grandma's mystic powers. One day Uncle Pete was hanging a new face of the Blessed
Virgin on the wall by the front door. You know the blue one that is 3 dimensional. Well he was having a
hard time and he said quot;If I only had a screwdriver I could get this nail in the wallquot;. Within one second
we heard a thud, I looked on the floor underneath the Blessed Virgin and there was a screwdriver... I
swear to God! Grandma screamed and said Tanks a God and made the sign of the cross. I slept with the
lights on that night.
Another mystic Grandma story. One snowy day, being a wonderful granddaughter, I
stopped over to shovel grandma's front steps and the sidewalk. When I was done, I
went in and took off my coat. As I pulled my arm out of the sleeve, I noticed I was
missing my birthstone ring. I yelled out quot;Oh no, I lost my ringquot;. Well that did it for
grandma. She kept saying quot;You not shovel sidawak no more. Go home.quot; Well I did go
home, cuz there was no way I was going to find it in that snow. Well my mom stopped
over 2 hours later and grandma was still lamenting my lost ring. So grandma said I
gonna pray to Santa Antony. And she did. So my mom took a broom and went out in
the 2 FEET OF SNOW and proceeded to sweep away the snow inch by inch. You're not
going to believe this, but SHE FOUND IT! I don't know if it was Saint Anthony or
Grandma that found that ring.
Sunday at grandma's was something I looked forward to each week. Grandma and the aunts would
make a big fuss over me and make me feel like princess for the day. Grandma would let me ask one
cousin to eat dinner with me and I tried to be fair and not show favoritism. Sunday dinner was always
grandma’s pasta or wedding soup, my favorites. And her hard bread and butter. Sheer heaven, as
Michele would say.
Other Sunday memories: playing quot;Combatquot; down the hill behind Aunt Antoinette's house; playing
card games with Aunt Conge for pennies (she always supplied the pennies but let us take our
winnings home); going next door to Lawsons to get 7UP and popcicles as a treat; singing Beatles
songs with Theresa, Patty and Michele (Theresa always had to be George); trying to get my non-
athletic cousins to play baseball (Patty was the only decent one, Paul and Mary Frances showed
promise but they were too young); a living room full of people on Sunday night watching Ed Sullivan,
adults on the furniture, kids sprawled out all over the floor.
My dad on the couch watching golf or football on TV, oblivious to everything going on around him.
Grandpa and the other men sitting around with a leaf up their noses, like it was a perfectly normal
thing to do. Some kind of mint plant I think.
Going to the Civic Theater with everybody to see my dad and the Phil Palumbo band. Show biz. I was
always introduced as “Pete’s daughter” and I remember wishing I had my own identity!
The infamous quot;walkquot;. I can't remember if it was my idea or Gabe's but we got Theresa, Patty and
Michele and took off on an adventure. We headed toward downtown and walked and walked for
hours. I remember picking up pop bottles to turn in for money because we were so thirsty. The whole
day had an air of risk and excitement to it. Toward the end, we thought we were in a lot of trouble for
being gone so long and worrying everyone. Turns out no one seemed to realize we were even gone!
We tried to tell Uncle Gabe everywhere we'd been and he took us in his car to trace our route.
Going to Aunt Grace and Uncle Joe's to watch the first TV broadcast in color.
Going to the Ohio state fair in Columbus with the Pappanos.
Sunday dinner at the Fagan's, a sometimes departure from my usual dinner at
grandma's. It was always non-Italian fare for Uncle Dan: roast beef, mashed potatoes,
peas and salad. I remember that Aunt Antoinette served everyone and didn't sit down
to eat until we were all finished (pre-women's liberation). Or maybe I took her
seat???? Yike, that just occurred to me.
Aunt Antoinette sometimes made baked goods, half with no nuts, FOR ME!
I remember my mom telling me “Judy, I want you always to stay close with the
When Gabey went through his socialist stage, I remember being down grandma’s
basement with some of the cousins and he was talking to us about Karl Marx and his
Communist Manifesto. I think he even read some excerpts to us. I was probably
around 12 or so and just didn’t get it.
I remember when I was mad at my mom for something and told her “I’M GOING TO
GO LIVE WITH MY DAD!” That lasted about 3 days I think.
The first Nardella reunion picnic at Silver Springs when my dad wore Payne Stewart
knickers and we took turns hitting golf balls into the open field. I remember a lot of
later reunions, including a fuzzy memory of a real live monkey doing tricks for us???
Being allowed to go to Florida over spring break with some girlfriends because
Marilyn was going too. I think she was supposed to be my chaperone to keep me out
of trouble. Didn’t work.
Trying to explain to Skip in high school that he'd NEVER get Theresa to let him copy
from her in French class at St. V, in spite of the cousin connection. He'd have to find a
way to get through French another way. Later when Skip was at Akron U, he did talk
Theresa into helping him get through a math course. She was a taskmaster. He made
chicken paprikash for her when he passed.
Playing hide and go seek at Grandma's and Judy hid in the dryer. We ALL got in trouble…EXCEPT
Judy!!! And it was all her idea.
Always taking the family photos outside by the quot;Madonnaquot; statue.
Sitting outside on a Sunday in Grandma's back yard, either in the grass or hanging at the back
Grandma's birthday party at the buffet in Canton. An event not to miss. She loved taking us there.
If you were quot;of agequot; she even told you to bring your boyfriend.
Flying a kite one day, and it went soooooo high we had to keep buying more and more string.
Soon it disappeared and we called the Beacon Journal to come out to see it (I can't remember if
they came or not). That was so fun.
Waiting for the Rosas to come to Akron. We would sit by the front door and wait to see their car
coming down Patterson Ave. and grandma would say quot;mo va'…mo va'
Being the creative and artsy family, we thought we would do a craft and melt crayons (Gabey and
Judy's idea). We used one of grandma's pans and of course the wax caught on fire. We had a mini
fire in the basement and Uncle Eddie came to the rescue to put it out. He ended up in the hospital
with burns on his hand and eyebrows, and had to miss work for a few days because of it.
Taking Judy back to Firestone Park with Uncle Pete driving and telling him to BUY GAS. We always
rode there on just fumes.
My mom taking grandma on quot;joy ridesquot; and getting lost from talking so much to grandma as she
sat quot;upquot; in the back at the edge of her seat to carry on conversations. After many lost trips,
grandma would say quot;chi…chi. Don't talk, Aunt Grace needs to drivequot;!
Getting paid to clean the register covers in the dining room. Grandma's fingers wouldn't fit,
only small fingers could fit inside each hole. So we were paid to clean it with our fingers and
a rag and I think we were paid a penny a slat.
Watching Ed Sullivan every Sunday night…Topo Gigio and the Beatles the first time they
were on TV.
Watching Price is Right and Let's Make a Deal with grandma and her saying old people
shouldn't win prizes, only the young ones should.
Frankie Avalon visiting and actually sitting on Uncle Pete's sofa.
Uncle Pete always walking downstairs with just a towel and telling us quot;don't use the waterquot;.
And if someone did, he would bellow from the basement: quot;Heyyyyyyyyyy…the water!!!quot;
I remember babysitting grandpa so grandma could go downtown shopping. I remember
grandma's shopping list: 7 opa = 7-up; emberghi = hamburg; dunca dunca = Duncan Hines
The Pugliese Columbus Day Parade. Janet, Kathy and I riding on the float wearing the flower
girls dresses that my mom made while grandma and grandpa walked alongside the float.
Going to Gi Gi the cleaner man and buying gumballs from his gumball machine. Loving that
smell of all the shoe polish in the shoe repair shop.
Finding pop bottles and turning them in to Lawson's to buy a fudgesickle for 7 cents and
pretzel sticks for 1 cent. If we were short the cash, grandma would fill in the rest.
I remember grandma having the best TOAST in the entire world!!!
Putting Brioscci in the tiny coke bottles and watching it foam and fizz and runneth over, and
then drinking it.
The day Grandma got a small envelope of dirt from Italy from some Saint Gabriel shrine. quot;I am not
eating that!quot; she said disgustedly in Italian! I guess it was a relic or something.
The day Grandpa yelled at me and Theresa for taunting the shoemaker Rienzi in the back with a
broom we were waiving in front of his window. Grandpa chased us and almost killed us (it was
before he was sick). Grandma helped wipe away the tears.
The day we were babysitting Grandpa and he made us get a piece of paper and a quot;penzelaquot;. We
couldn't figure out what he meant. Theresa grabbed his pants: quot;No!quot; he screamed. We figured out it
was a pencil. Then he drew England and the European Continent. quot;Somedayquot;, he said in Italian,
quot;There will be a tunnel between the two.quot; You know that was 1963, and he was right...they did
build one 35 years later.
When Grandpa came back from Florida with Grandma after he took very ill with his MS. He came
back with a cane that was multicolored that he bought. We met him under that great quince tree in
the back. The tree was a story in itself. It was covered with a grape vine and people thought it was a
grape tree!! In the summer we cooked and ate the quince. Never knew what a quince was. But,
Bonne Maman makes a great quince jam now.
Grandma would make 5 loaves of bread instead of the usual 25 and pronounce: quot;It is just playing in
Grandma would deem it was time to trim her flower beds. She would get out the quot;zapa dedquot; and
trim those edges good. Grass wouldn't grow for the next two years.
Grandma would say quot;I am making bread tomorrow, You come and help.quot; I NEVER got up early
enough. If I got there at 5am she started at 4:30, etc. After we quot;playedquot; with our 25 pounds of flour.
We went upstairs for poached eggs and toast. She ate it with gusto. I gagged on the cold under done
eggs. I forced it down with the toast. Grandma never put the butter away. It always sat in a butter
dish on the kitchen table.
At Christmas Aunt Antoinette always put soup up on the window ledge in the basement to cool it off
for the kids. We put oil and salt and pepper mixed on the table for dipping celery...Italian restaurants
caught on 40 years later in the US. We ate dinner Christmas Eve (I think) and all day Sunday until late.
We brought our toys to quot;386quot; and played with them all day. One year Kathy got a transistor
radio...that was it. Marilyn and Janet always had the best toys. They had a toy room full of Barbies
and play food to go with their stoves!!! For Christmas Grandma would go to the Italian Nursery on
North Main, find quot;thequot; scrawniest tree and get the guy to cut the price in half. She always had the
worst and shortest trees. But the grandchildren decorated them every year. Grandma always bought
small toys for the kids (one year I got a racing car kit I painted) and Uncle Pete always peeled out the
20's in quot;casha moneey.quot;
One day Zia Arcangeline come down to Grandma's basement. We kids all sang quot;Here she comes Miss
America.quot; She loved it.
Grandma cooked four course meals for Grandpa and we carried it upstairs--homemade pasta, half a
sheep's head, steak, pasta fagiole, quot;pana cotttaquot;. He always started with a piece of toast and some
Giardiniera vegetables (pickled vegetables in a jar). He knew how to eat. He had a special spoon. My
dad has a special spoon. I have a special spoon. (Apple doesn't fall far from the tree). He took Brioschi
if he ate too much. He also drank Grappa (Also very popular now). I thought it the most foul tasting
Grandma love apple cake. I made one a week. She would always hide it from Aunt Conge in that
white cabinet in the kitchen. She could make a mean quot;spongiaquot; cake and serve it with real whipped
The day Mary Sgro brought over home movies of her trip to Italy. She had movies of Zia Racheline
sitting on her front steps with a shawl on outside. They were just 8mm silent movies.Grandma cried
and cried when she saw those having never talked to or seen her sister in over 50 years. She ran to
the mailbox every day looking for a letter from her. We sent packages twice a year. She sewed a
special casing in canvas from Uncle Nick's store and enveloped the box. Aunt Antoinette addressed
the box with permanent ink. I remember the day we received the envelope with the black stripes
announcing her sister had died. Grandma sat in the kitchen alone and sad.
The time Grandma fell on the bus when it took off before she sat down (we settled good on that one).
Grandma was totally loony for about 12 hours. She had no idea about anything. It was actually kind of
funny. I was going to work at the Tangier. She couldn't even remember I had a job.
On New Year's Eve Zi Zi would open his side door at midnight and shoot his rifle into the air!! (Try to do
Rachel Nido would come to see Grandma about 6pm and stay (no joke) until 2-3am. Aunt Carmel and I
would go downstairs in the basement and talk (no joke) until 2-3am while Rachel and Grandma talked
upstairs. Grandma would serve frozen potato pizza she warmed up in the toaster.
Comare Maria Contessa would come over about 9am and stay until about 7pm. She would have dinner
with Grandma in the basement. Mariucci Contessa would always say: quot;Some of a beech.quot; (Zi Zi said that
too). She told me one time to get a good job you need to know someone. You need quot;La Chiava (the
key)quot; to open the door. I never knew who I would ever know to open a door for me... She raised birds
(canaries, etc) with her husband. I remember visiting them on Lods street in their small house before
they moved to the Falls. Grandma always said Comare Mariucci dressed dead people for wakes in Italy. I
could see her doing it. She had the nerve of Iron.
There used to be a fruit orchard in the back and the side yard at quot;386quot;. There were what I thought were
hundreds of trees. I remember when Grandpa directed they all be chopped down. I think they were
passed their prime. Grandma bough a plastic statue of Mary. Uncle Joe built a shrine for the house and
Grandma planted flowers and trees around it.
Grandpa would sit on the front porch. I would be playing with cousins at my house at quot;389quot;. Grandpa
would motion to come over. It took forever to cross Glenwood. As Bobby remembered it was a super
highway. I would finally make it across the street and Grandpa would sayquot; quot;Watch out!quot; And gesture his
finger at me.
At Christmas Eve the throngs would be over at quot;386.quot; Grandpa LOVED the noise and never expected
people to be quiet, especially quot;lee granda childreenquot; who could make as much noise as we wanted.
After the presents were all opened, he would stand up out of his chair on his walker, lean forward and
address the family. He would wish everybody the best Christmas and say quot;Dio le vuolaquot; quot;I will be here
next yearquot;. We would all be very silent for once and some of us would cry.
The Christmas Uncle Nick and Aunt Conge got me a tape recorder. I recorded Grandma singing Santa
Lucia Lontana. She sang it strong...Grandpa talked a sung. My Dad still has the tape. Must have been
The day we landed on the moon. Grandma stayed up for every minute of it. She wanted me to
explain every detail of what was happening. Every detail. I think they landed at 3am or something.
Didn't stop her. She loved new things like that.
Grandma and Grandpa watched Jim Donni's (spelling?) Adventure Road on Channel 8 every day
around 4pm. For those of you who don't know, it was a show of people showing and narrating their
8mm movies for one hour every day (can you imagine such a show now!). People would be on a
whole week and show their home movies from their trips. The weeks they went to Italy it was all
over...had to see every minute.
Grandma and Grandpa absolutely loved I Love Lucy. Anytime Ricky would play the guitar and sing
Grandpa would cry. Grandma died laughing when Lucy was making the bread that grew out of the
oven. But her favorite was the grape stomping one. Mine too.
quot;Sullivianquot; was Sunday Night. Sunday night was Sullivian. We saw everyone and could only talk
during commercials. The Supremes, the Beatles, Topo Gigio, the stupid circus acts for filler (I think we
talked during those), Connie Francis...that was live entertainment.
On Friday Night the Cursio's came over. Originally it was with Tony's mother. I remember when she
died. It was the first time I ever went to a funeral. I remember distinctly grandma saying to her casket
quot;No te scurda maiquot; (I will never forget you). Wow...that is what it is for someone to die I thought.
Tony and Rachel would go to Diviti's. They would come over and put their refrigerated items in the
Fridge. They would stay for hours and everyone would talk. I loved talking to Tony about opera. He
HATED Maria Callas. He said when she sang she made a quot;tickingquot; sound with her teeth you could hear
on the record. I LOVED Maria callas. He loved Tito Gobi who ALWAYS sang tenor with Maria Callas.
Tony was stuck with Maria Callas. We would see a new opera singer sing an aria on TV. The guy would
have a great voice, but Tony would say quot;Can he sustain it for a whole opera?quot;. He was right. Tony
LOVED Juliette Prowse when she danced.
Grandma always went to the basement restaurant at O'Neils and had coffee and toast. Her purse NEVER
left her arm! I think she went downtown or quot;baccia lu logequot; as she called it (the lower village in Italian)
once a week. She bought cooked chickens from Scott's cinque e diece (5 and 10). She bought fresh
peanuts from that peanut roasting place on Main Street. She would go to salvation Army and buy pants
for Grandpa and take them home and alter them. M. O'Neil Company would have International Festivals.
When they did Italy she went downtown every day and would talk to all the vendors who were there
Grandma would buy plastic type material and sew her own plastic bags on the sewing machine! She
washed and reused them. She was practical. After a bath she put corn starch on her feet and her hose on
top of that. She braided her own light bulb pulls and tied a washer at the end for a handle pull. When her
stove door spring broke, Zi Zi fashioned a coat hanger to close it. One day Stella Pikaski (sp?) was selling
her old paint cans. Grandma bought 10 quarts of the oldest paint you could find. She made me mix it all
together and paint the basement walls. It turned out a green gray. That was fine. The walls were clean.
Some people bother to put their eating utensils in a drawer. Why bother? Grandma put them in a vase
and left them on the table. Some people have table cloths. Grandma had linoleum permanently
installed! A layer of newspaper and voila. One day she accidentally wrapped about 5 lamb chops in her
newspaper when she was clearing the table and burned it up in the quot;gasinatorquot; (that is an incinerator)!
There went the week's meat money.
Every week when Aunt Conge came over she would make a minute steak which she bought at Pikaski's.
Aunt Conge would write down all the answers from the game shows that day and bring them to
Grandma's on Monday nights. Games like quot;How many words can you make from these letters.quot; [Ask
Theresa for the details.] While Aunt Antoinette was fixing Aunt Conge's hair, Aunt Conge would quiz us
on the answers. Theresa always got the most words. If you missed one Aunt Conge would always berate
you and say: quot;I thought you were smart?quot;. She set a high standard. She took us to the movies on
Saturday for two matinees. She would rope someone into driving us and picking us up. Aunt Grace or
Uncle Pete. Usually it was the typical Disney stuff. One day the second feature was something about a car
racing group. It was called something like quot;Striped Racing Flagquot;. It was very adult in theme...couldn't
figure any of it out. We saw Viva Las Vegas, the Beatles, Parent Trap. Aunt Conge paid and bought the
candy. Sometimes we would also do drive ins at night in Uncle Nick's car.
When Grandma and Grandpa won the car at the Festa di San Gennero in Little Italy in New York in the 60's. They got a call
from Whiskey Dick Prococo at midnight. Uncle Pete and my dad flew to NYC to pick it up and drive it back. It sat in the back
yard and every one got in it including Grandma and Grandpa, and we took movies. They sold the car and divided up the
money. To this day when I tell my friends from NYC, they can't believe it. Uncle Pete and my dad had to tip the girl who chose
the winning ticket. Speaking of the Festa. Grandma and Grandpa used to go. Grandma told the story that one day they were
in NYC and Grandpa spotted a friend in the street. Grandpa approached him from behind. The guy had a gun. He thought
Grandpa was going to get him and he almost killed Grandpa in defense. Never approach someone in NYC from behind in NYC,
especially if they are Italian.
The stories about coming from Italy third class, steerage on the SS Rochambeau. Grandma was sick as a dog. She remembered
asking a Polish woman for sugar to put in her coffee. She just could only gesture to her and do sign language. They were
robbed in Paris first. She remembered Ellis Island in detail. Especially the part where they put the X on your back if you were
sick and sent you back to the old country. She ate her first banana in New York. Never saw one before. When Zi Zi came to the
USA the first time it was the 4th of July. He had just been in the war. He heard the fire crackers and thought we were at war!
Grandma described San Marco in Lamis to me in such detail, when I first went there I knew exactly where I was. I didn't need
Who could forget Grandpa's funeral procession. There was this old beat up 1956 Buick or something in front of the cortege
going to the cemetery. We all wondered who the heck it was! It turned out it was the car of the person who was the president
of the Pugliese society. We got a laugh on that one.
Then there was the humiliating story of all the quot;grand cheeldrenquot; in one of the Rossi limos. There must have been 10 of us. As
we were waiting to take off from St. Martha's we were making fun of all the Rossi people helping out at the funeral--turned
out our driver was one of the sons!
Of course there were hundreds who stopped by for the traditional wake done in three parts in a day and a half. I
remember my Mom talking about all the people. The women were sitting down during the whole event. She said, quot;You
could always tell Pete's friends. They all have Cuban heels!quot; That sure does date the event. That night we were all at
Grandma's in the basement. Mr. Rossi was there. At that time Jessica Mitford had just published quot;An American Way of
Deathquot;, a virulent attack on the funeral industry and how it exploits customers. So here we are chitchatting and eating
and guess who brings up the book and asks Mr. Rossi what his reaction was to it? Yep, Uncle Joe. Boy that was tense.
And who joins in? Yep, Uncle Dan.
One night, probably a Saturday night, Judy was staying over at Grandpa and Grandma's. We all decided we wanted to
get a pizza. It must have been at least 11pm. Grandma would hear nothing of it. If we wanted a pizza SHE would make
it. So here it is 11pm at night and she starts to make a pizza. From scratch! Well by the time she made the dough, put it
to raise and baked the pizza--I think we ate about 1:30am. Only Grandma would do that for her quot;granda childreen.quot;
We loved to tease Grandma. One time, and I know Marilyn was part of this, we put tomato paste on our fingers and
pretended we cut our fingers. We got her good on that one. But she had a good laugh after she realized what had
Funny what you remember. I remember exactly where I was when I found out Danny was born. I was downstairs at my
dad's house in the basement with my dad when Grandpa came down and announced it. He was so proud to have
Who could forget Aunt Grace and Uncle Joe's parties in their basement on Oxford. All the kids would sit on the steps
with a paper plate and a square of that pre-cut ice cream. We would wait for it to melt a bit and then stir it until it was
creamy. quot;Deeleshquot; as Theresa would say. Then one year Aunt Grace gets this recipe for an ice cream cake. It had
pistachio ice cream. Where she got that in 1959 I'll never know. It was the best cake. And of course it was a Pappano
birthday so we had to do a quot;hip hip hooray.quot;
Let's not forget the usual fare at Grandma's house. Of course there was 7up. Grandma managed to find those bottles
long after they were not easily available. She also had Pepsi Cola--I can still hear her pronouncing it. Same type bottles.
Potato Chips, Ruffles, poured into large Tupperware bowls. Pretzels also. Then when the Aunts came over they made
the coffee. Half and half, of course, served in quarts. Men got beer and she had cans of nuts. The extras would be
whatever she made that day. Spongia cake, quot;tarrelsquot;, those little loaf cookies which she forgot how to make late in life
(Theresa needs to tell that story), quot;crustellaquot;, quot;scapeds.quot; But, oddly enough, her favorite dessert was the Napoleon
Cakes that they made at some French bakery in Fairlawn. She always sent Kathy to get them and she did not care how
much they cost. And they were good. What ever happened to that bakery?
Going shopping with Grandma was always fun. At DeViti's she would sneak grapes and cherries into your
hand as she scrutinized the produce. At Acme she always got the canned goods that were quot;two per twenty
nine.quot; That was 40 years ago before inflation. She of course always had a grocery list (Theresa, your turn).
She was always a thrift shopper at Lawson's. Of course she had a great relationship with whomever the
manager was. The ones I remember the most were the husband and wife team. Grandma would get there as
soon as they opened and get the day old stuff. Grandma always had those Danish that Lawson's sold. We
never had those at home. She would buy Neapolitan ice cream in those rectangle quart size containers and
slice it. How practical. Why don't they make ice cream square anymore?
Of course as she grew older a lot of her friends would end up in the hospital. She always asked us to call the
hospital and ask what condition they were in and relay the message back to her. She must have made us call
20 times a day. As the patients went from quot;goodquot; to quot;criticalquot; and back we always had to explain to her what
it meant. In hindsight I wonder if the switchboard wondered who those loons were calling all the time and
checking up on people. Do they do that today?
When Grandma went visiting she ALWAYS had to bring something. This must have been an Italian custom.
But it typically was a can of peaches or some other fruit in a paper bag. Sometimes she would bring a quart
of her favorite drink. Do you remember what? Apricot Nectar. Now THAT I can hear her pronounce. It was
very thick and sweet. But she loved it. She would throw in a few quot;tarrels.quot; But what I remember most was
she would put the package on the basement steps so she wouldn't forget it as she went out the door. quot;Meeta
mezza la vee.quot; She would shout. To this day I do the same thing. I put it so I can trip on it on the way out.
One fine Sunday afternoon, the usual pack of wild Indians decided on a grandma's basement
project . We were going to melt crayons and pour the melted goo into a handmade mold of
aluminum foil. What should we make? What SHOULD we make? A crucifix! (That's normal,
right?!) So we got grandma's Reynolds Wrap and yanked off a yard or two and formed the
shape of a crucifix about 6 to 8 inches long with a nice half inch to an inch trough for the
beautiful cross. Who knows? Maybe we could use it for a Padre Pio shrine. We quot;locatedquot; an
empty coffee can and put it on grandma's monster basement stove. We lit the flame and
dropped in the small pieces of crayon one by one. The Sagittarians were digging the fire.
Somewhat disappointed that it was going to be an ugly gray with all the colors melting
together, we continued. We might have been using the double boiler method but I would be
amazed if we thought of that. Because Murphy's Law is the only law that never gets broken,
the can caught on fire!! ALARM!! Uncle Eddie came to our rescue! The way I remember it is
that he used the T-bone steak tongs to bring the can to the sink but his hand burned in the
process. GUILT! He had to go to emergency and came back with this huge gauze bandage
around his hand. NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED!
Another one of our pyrotechnic projects was making parchment paper. We would get sheets
of grandma's paper from the tablet that she wrote her letters to Italy on. Into one of her
frying pans we would add some oil from the oil can that was always on the basement table.
Once the oil was nice and hot we would add a sheet of paper and fry it until it became a
pleasing golden color. We would drain it on paper towels then write on it with pencils.
Gabe and I had a permanent job sitting with grandpa while grandma went downtown (this
was before Chapel Hill Mall was built). Once when she was at the front door waiting for the
bus to come down Glenwood, grandpa beckoned her to come to his chair on the opposite
side of the living room. quot;Teresina venga qui… Teresina…quot; Insistent. So she left her lookout
position and walked all the way across the room with her slow, limping gait. She gets all the
way over to the chair and grandpa lifts up his right index (wagging) finger, quot;Watch out!quot; She
is dismissed! She was so mad at him!
Grandpa used to talk to Gabe and me and we would pretend like we understood the stories he was telling (just like my clueless
Irish father. quot;Uh huh…. uh huh …nod nod uh huh….quot;). Grandpa would sit in his chair either on the porch or near the front door
with his TV tray in front of him with his bible on its stand. Once grandpa was going on and on about quot;Cuckoo clocks! Cuckoo
clocks!quot; then pointing across the street. We eventually figured out that he was talking about the Ku Klux Klan burning a cross
across the street when a black family lived over there!
Later on when my siblings and I were going to take the bus downtown or to Chapel Hill we would make a point of catching the
bus in front of grandma's house. We would just have to say, quot;Grandma, we're going downtown!quot; She would say (to our
American ears), quot;Pigghia la pochsichinette!quot; That just meant: quot;Get the change purse!quot; Open the dresser drawer, crack open the
quot;grandmaquot; black purse and fetch the change purse. She would give us some money for our shopping trip! Woo hoo! Gravy
train! Believe you me a dollar went a long way in those days!
When I lived at grandma's there were ten people living there! There was grandpa and grandma, Uncle Pete, Aunt Carmel, my
mom and dad, me, the twins and baby Danny Boy. Aunt Carmel and I shared a bedroom and were later joined by Danny Boy in
a crib at the foot of our bed. Aunt Carmel's job had its ups and downs, she was an elevator operator, but all I know is that
when her bus come up Glenwood, I literally ran to the bus stop to greet her. Why? She usually brought me a present!
Seeing grandma's house straight ahead as we reached the crest of the hill on Patterson.
Sitting on grandma's porch, drinking 7up and thinking Glenwood was a major highway-due to the
speed of the cars and trucks going by. It took me a good 30 years to realize it isn't.
The chocolate pudding at that buffet restaurant we went to for grandma's birthday, and being able to
eat as much as I wanted.
Uncle Pete's farting tape.
Getting to stay overnight at Grandma's or Fagan's house a couple days during the summer and
thinking I was a thousand miles away- what joy!
Helping Danny Boy with his paper route. Seeing Jewet Parmeter's (sp) house.
The quot;woodsquot; behind Fagan's house.
Danny Boy's band playing in his backyard doing their big hit, quot;Tonight is the nightquot;. I still sing that
Being pissed when I couldn't watch the Indians game (even though they were 30 games out of first)
and having to watch golf. Switching to the Indians game when Uncle Pete fell asleep a few minutes
Sitting in nosebleed seats at a Browns game with tickets that Uncle Pete scored.
Talking Tribe with CZ.
Grandpa's wet kisses on the cheek.
Frank's bachelor party.
A game I will play with Anthony. Sitting on Grandma's porch with the Fagans and my Bro's
playing a game where you pick a color of a car/truck and when a match drove by the house you
get a point, I think. I remember it was usually a rainy day.
Eating Uncle Pete's bread and dandelions. Still one of my favorite meals.
Thinking of the loooonggg drive to Akron every fourth Sunday or so. The best feeling was
driving down Patterson and seeing the Nardella porch and squinting and stretching to see who
was on it.
The parking lot behind the building and always waving quot;helloquot; to Sacongaline!(sp) while she sat
on her porch.
The crowded house every Sunday.
Being told to stay away from the TV so Uncle Pete could see the golf.
Meeting Tina Rich in the 6th Grade.
Throwing rocks at the rabbits up on Grandma's neighbors wall in the backyard.
Grandpa's old dark blue car, I think.
Santa Claus at Grandma's once I think.
Thinking still to this day how could people eat polenta. Every adult would
devour it in Grandma's kitchen.
How the noise level would rise as you walked from the porch door, through
the living room into the bedroom.
That toilet next to the bed. Which actually is an excellent location if I could
keep it a secret.
I still have the envelope with my name on it from Grandma's Xmas gift of
Remebering how tired I was on the drive home
and thinking quot;I do not want to go to school
Having to quot;go outsidequot; when the adults had to talk
about something. I still don't know what they
Aunt Conge teaching us how to play the card game quot;7 and a halfquot; and when she would win, she
would giggle real loud and snatch up all the pennies with her long finger nails. I remember her
always having nice long fingernails!
My mom telling me that Grandma would have to put a dime under her bowl to get her to eat
quot;pasta fagiolequot; which my mom hated!
Going over Grandma's to get the fresh baked bread for The Fagan's dinner...The loaves were all
covered with a clean white sheet or towel. Grandma had specific breads that went to specific
Aunts and Uncles... The Pappano's had the light colored crust. The Fagan's had the biggest loaf
since they had 8 people in their family. Uncle Pete had the dark crusted one...ect...but the most
precious memory about going to quot;get the breadquot; was Grandma would always make a quot;Bambino
breadquot; or a small round one for me or whoever's turn it was, to eat on the walk back home to
Delmar Ave. She always thought of the kids that way!
THE SUNDAY CHICKEN HORROR STORY...my mom said they had their own chickens in the
backyard. quot;one day they were our pets...the next day they were Sunday dinner!quot; I still have
nightmares about that one!
Playing quot;Colored Easter Eggsquot; and quot;O' O'clockquot; on Grandma's front steps. Pure fun
Being quot;horrifiedquot; by seeing pickled pigs feet in glass jars on Grandma's basement table. Ohhhh
the smell of vinegar when the jar was opened.
Stealing Uncle Pete's quot;Bit O' Honeyquot; candy he kept on the sofa ledge when he wasn't home.
Amazingly...he never yelled at me for taking some of the candy...even though he must have
Laying on the floor, watching home movies from Italy, that Tony Cursio brought over some
Sunday night, and laughing at the strange way our relatives would wave hello to everyone back
in the USA...sort of a backward hand movement. Like Pavarotti...
Watching quot;Lets Make A Dealquot; with Grandma in the Summer afternoons, on TV. Grandma would
ALWAYS be excited and happy if the contestant won the big prize behind door #1, 2, or 3
I remember being so shy that I would sit up on the stairs and hide behind the thick railings
going up the steps in the front room.
Buying kites at the store and watching Danny fly them into the trees.
Playing button-button up the stairs.
CZ always walking around with the Indians game on his hand held radio.
Paul and Danny were hitting golf balls and somehow I ended up right in the line of fire. I took
a driver from Danny right above the eye. I should have had stitches but who would take me to
the hospital (they kill you there ya know.) It ended up barely missing my eyeball. I guess I'm
lucky or I'd be praying to that damn statue right now.
I also remember the never-ending kite. I think Danny was in charge. I wonder how old I was
because I envision the kite flying over Brittain Road, at least. I'm sure it was more like Route 8.
Its funny because whenever I see someone flying a kite I think, heck we flew a kite a good 3
miles with what? 10 rolls of string!
Uncle Nick always letting me taste his beer, Uncle Eddie too. One of them always had that seat
by the door where they'd feed me beer.
As everyone moved to the burbs I ended up being the only one left to mow the lawn. Uncle
Pete would give me $10 or golf balls from his trunk. I loved when he'd open that trunk. He
would let me take all the Titleists. Anyhow, that damn green lawnmower from hell never
started. It always took me longer to start it than mow that giant lawn. And when finished I'd
have to smash it back into that cave under the back porch.
7up and Pringles
The air conditioner that always leaked into that round tub on the porch. I can still smell it and
the dust on top of it.
Being little and afraid to use that basement bathroom b/c I thought the spiders were going to
bite me. I could never reach the light.
Never understanding a word Grandma said to me except quot;daaaahveeeedquot;.
Waking up every Sunday for the last 16 years and wishing I had Grandma Fagan's Pot Roast
and Potatoes. Those block potatoes and carrots were the best ever!
I remember the first time I had pasta fijole (sp?). I told my mom that I loved it, and her
and my grandma started cracking up. Then my grandmaPpappano told me about the
time when she had to eat it everyday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner...everyone got
sick of it.
I also remember whenever I eat cugatch (sp?) my aunt Marilyn will scream quot;how can
you eat that stuff! It's disgusting!quot;
October 24, 2007
We’re here for you tonight, together as a family like we always are.
You’re part of us and we’re part of you. We’ve known all our lives
what it means to be part of this family and it’s no different tonight.
It’s a powerful love and devotion, and a fierce loyalty. It’s what
you’ve given to all of us and we give it back to you.
When we lost you, Theresa, we lost part of ourselves. Who of us
doesn’t look at our lives and find you in it? When we were at
grandma’s growing up, you were with us. When we celebrated or
mourned, you were there. When we didn’t know an answer to a
question, you told us. When we needed an honest answer, you gave
it to us. When we laughed, we laughed with you. When we shared
our lives with you and each other, we felt blessed.
We’re trying to imagine a world without you and it’s going to take
some work. Right now we’re nowhere close to knowing how to make
that happen. We know how much we miss you already, but it helps
to be together, as a family like we always are, and know you’re in our
We love you Theresa.
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