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Anita Maruggi

Obituary of Anita Q. Maruggi

Anita Quadrini Maruggi, who died October 8, 2016 at the age of 87, was born in Rochester, NY on December 2, 1928, the daughter of Italian immigrants Loreto and Rosa Quadrini. She is predeceased by a brother, Louis V. Quadrini; a son, Stephen, and a daughter, Therese. She is survived by a daughter, Susan M. Stokes (William); two sons, Edward, and Matthew (Ann Dohrmann), two grandsons, William E. Stokes, and Benjamin D. Maruggi; and grandaughter Sofia Lee Maruggi; sister Shirley Q. April (Paul); dear nieces and nephews; and by many treasured lifelong friends. Anita's visitation will be Thursday 4-8 PM at the Funeral Home, 1411 Vintage Lane (between 390 & Long Pond Rd.). Her Funeral Mass will be celebrated Friday, 10:30 AM at St. Mark's Church, 54 Kuhn Rd. Her interment in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery will be private. In lieu of flowers donations may be sent to St. Joseph's Neighborhood Center, 417 South Ave., Rochester, NY 14620 in her memory. She graduated from Madison High School, and earned a Bachelor's degree in Social Work from Rochester Institute of Technology, and a Master's degree in Counseling from SUNY Brockport. She was employed at Kodak, Xerox, and most recently the Catholic Family Center where she worked on the Human Life Commission, Social Ministry, and as a Counselor at CFC and St. Michael's in Newark, NY. She was an active participant in the Catholic Church & served for many years in the Stephen Ministry, an inter-denominational ministry that provides support and affirmation for those in crisis, and was a long-time member of Toastmaster's International. She also enjoyed clogging, swam daily at the YMCA, and attended Catholic mass almost daily. During her retirement years she loved spending time with her family and friends, wrote stories about her childhood, baked, cooked traveled, volunteered at Parkland School and Journey Home, and participated in bible study at St. John's, and Senior's on the Move at St. Mark's. To those who loved her, Anita will be remembered as a woman of great faith & strength of character whose life was exemplified by service to others. To her family & friends, she was a source of strength who lived her Christian values through empathy, kindness, and generosity of spirit. Our family is thankful for the care provided to Anita by the staff at St. Ann's Community. The Store on Campbell Street There has been a lot of talk between Beni and I about stories of when I was little. Also, there have been suggestions from his dad that I write my memoirs. It seemed like a daunting task with not knowing where to start, what to include, how much to write. Then one night I had the idea to write about THE STORE. It was such a big part of my life that I am sure most of the important stuff will get said. The store was connected to the house; in fact you could say it was part of the house since the door to the store was directly off the dining room. It was not unusual for customers to be escorted or come unannounced into the house through that door for a cup of coffee. They would be given a place at the oversized kitchen table and would exchange conversation with my mother, my aunt or any one of us in the family as we would continue with the chores at hand. There was a lot of laughter, tears, consolation as events were told, secrets shared and good-natured bantering back and forth. Many times the neighbors (few people owned cars back then so our customers were within walking distance) would bring us some of their delicious cookies at Christmas time. One lady, in particular, regularly brought wild mushrooms fixed in a hot spicy tomato sauce. It seemed to me I was the only one who really enjoyed them and now, when I think about it, no one seemed concerned that they were wild and could have been poisonous. The entrance to the basement under the store was a trap door directly outside the dining room door and when both were left open at the same time, there was danger of falling down the cellar stairs. My cousin Arte, at the age of four, did just that while riding his little bicycle. Luckily, neither he nor his bike was hurt and neither were any of the rest of us when we failed to avoid the open trap door. The store was open five days a week from six in the morning to eleven at night. Back then no one had refrigerators which meant they came to buy cold cuts for lunch before work. Saturday was the big day when all of us, excluding my father, were involved in working in the store. My uncle and my mother would leave for the public market at six in the morning in my uncle’s black car. Prior to departure he would remove the back seat to make room for the supplies which would include bushels and baskets of produce, different kinds and cuts of meat, cheeses, a coop-ful of live chickens (which were displayed outside by the curb) and a large stalk of bananas which were hung in the window & cut off the stalk in twos, threes or whatever number was asked for. My brother Louie had a hard time with the chickens. If a customer asked for one you would have to reach in through the small trap door on top, grab the chicken’s two legs and pull it up fast enough so it or non of it’s cohorts could escape or peck at you while you yanked out the chicken and secured the trap door. The next maneuver was to tie the legs, weigh the chicken & put it in a brown paper bag with a hole in the corner of the bag, where the chicken’s head could hang out but that would mean there was still danger of the chicken rearing its head high enough to take a peck at the offending body that was holding it captive. Unfortunately for Louie, all of the above happened, short of getting the chicken tied and in the bag. Not only did the chicken peck at him but it flew the coop and chased him into the street. Till the day he died he refused to eat chicken or any of its derivatives. And while we’re on chickens I should tell you that we progressed to killing, plucking, cleaning and gutting the whole coop of chickens on Friday so we could sell them on Saturday morning, all dressed and ready to go. My Mother would weigh them, slit their throats and drain them; my aunt would dip them feet first into boiling hot water, then deftly grab the feet and dip the rest of the bird. This would loosen the feathers and the rest of us (my brother, cousin Arte, and whoever was old enough and available) would pluck the chickens. Eventually I got to be the one to gut the chicken – pulling out the innards, freeing the liver and other edible organs to be left in the bird. By eight o’clock on Saturday morning my uncle and my mom would be back from market. The car would be unloaded with whatever purchases and good bargains the market had to offer. In the summer you could always count on a bushel of green beans, a bushel of apples, a crate of escarole, a bushel of peppers, & other produce that was in season. Usually, you could count on them being picked early that morning on nearby farms so they were at their peak of freshness, and they would be set out in front of the store in their original bushels & crates. We didn't have butchering skills so meat was bought sliced and in chops & displayed on long white trays in the store refrigerator. The one exception was the pork loin that was one long slab that had to be cut into chops as needed. A cleaver was needed to get through the bone & I became pretty adept at whacking off chops as the customer desired. Since the store opened at six a.m. it was not unusual for customers to be waiting for the market deliveries. On hand to serve the customers were my mother, my aunt, my brother Louie and me. We served each person individually, one at a time, weighing each item chosen by the customer much like buying bulk foods today. Macaroni was stored in the drawers of the long counter having been delivered in ten pound boxes and was bagged as the customer made each choice. To this day I can put my hands around a pound of spaghetti just by instinct or eyeball a scoop of ziti. At one end of the counter was the scale, in the middle were the white sheets of paper with which to wrap the macaroni and other products and next to that was the cash register. Beyond that was a clean flat surface for the bakery man to put his tray of fresh donuts and baked goods of the day. It was a small store by some standards but typical of the thirties & forties before the era of supermarkets. It sat on the corner of Campbell & Whitney Street, flush with the sidewalk on two sides. On the next block and almost every block in the neighborhood was the same configuration with each store servicing the surrounding few streets. It made sense then that those who patronized the store knew each other & Saturday mornings was a social occasion as well as doing “la speza” (the spending.) So there was a lot of chatter and light-hearted banter & my brother Louie, a big tease, enjoyed being able to agitate & elicit responses from anyone who was vulnerable. On one occasion his dogged pestering & taunting so infuriated his young customer that she bit him on his arm. The teeth marks lasted quite awhile but it didn’t cure Louie. I was one of his favorite victims. To get a response out of me he would make faces, nudge me, annoy me in whatever way possible until I would become so infuriated I would attempt to hit him and he, being older and bigger than I would elude me & the chase was on, out the front door, around the corner, in the back door, & round and round until he tired of the game. He would come to a dead stop, let me catch up & as I attempted to whack him he would put up his arm and I would end up just flailing at him. It was a relief when he found other victims and pursuits. But there was one incident where I felt I triumphed. Louie and I were helping my mother place cans of peas on a store shelf. Each time I would reach up with my can of peas, Louie would reach ahead of me. I got so angry and frustrated I took my can & threw it down. It landed on Louie’s toe. He howled in pain and threatened to tell Papa when he got home. But I beat Louie to it. I waited on the corner for Papa and blurted out the whole story before he got home. Louie was also terrorized me in the bedroom. Until I was 5 years old, he & I shared the same bedroom. He drew an imaginary line down the middle of the bed and if I crossed the line he would threaten to call down the boogey man that lived in the attic behind the trap door, if I dared get off the bed before morning he would call out the snakes that lived under the bed. Arte, on the other hand, four years younger than I was little trouble and seldom got into any mischief except for one very memorable event that took place in the garage. It was a rather small and narrow space having been converted from what was once a cooking kitchen and bathroom. Though the car small by today’s standards it took a lot of skill to maneuver it into the space while avoiding stacked wood, tools and other maintenance items stored against the walls. Towards the front was a line of paint cans and brushes the my uncle was using to paint trim on the house and store. Arte and his little pal from down the street proudly took it upon themselves to paint uncle’s car and did a fantastic job of covering the grill, lights, fenders, and front end of the car before being discovered by uncle. He lost it and berated them so soundly that the little pal never came to play again. This is probably a good time to talk about how the store came into the family or how the family came to have the store. From what I know or have heard, my father came to this country when he was fourteen, worked on the railroad (the New York Central), living frugally in a railroad boxcar with fellow Italians and sending his money home to Italy to support his mother and family. When his younger brother, my uncle Attilio was of age, he joined my father, working as a brakeman for the NYC. At age twenty eight, my father returned to Italy to marry my mother, who I gather, was promised to him by her father who worked alongside my father. I understand that my father’s expectation was that he would have enough money to buy some land in Pisa & settle there with his bride. However, there was no money saved for him & before his visa ran out he returned to America, his bride to follow. As was customary in Italy, my mother and father went to live with his mother for the short time they were there. They were persuaded to stay to plant the crops and then to harvest them. Meanwhile my mother became pregnant, had a miscarriage and then became pregnant again before my father left for America. My brother was born one week after my mother arrived in this country. She and my father boarded with the Romanos on Jay Street (who owned and operated a grocery store), my mother lamenting that the Romano’s were so restrictive that she felt inhibited to wash my brother’s diapers because she was using too much water. It is not clear to me when the purchase of the store occurred but I know I was born on Campbell Street and I was three years younger than my brother so somewhere between 1925 and 1928, my father, mother and uncle Attilio transacted with Mr. May for the property on the corner of Campbell and Whitney Streets. Since my uncle had not yet gone back to Italy to marry my aunt she was not included in the deed, something she felt should be rectified. It seemed not to be a priority to anyone else and to this day I do not know if she was made part owner. I have been told that the upstairs of the store at one time was the Lincoln Bank but from when I can remember it was rented out as a flat, to the Fusilli’s, then to the Vaccaro’s, the White’s (Bianchi’s) and then I lost track. Even though I was very young, about three years old when Aunt Pierina came to live with us I can remember her coming in the back door of the kitchen and it wasn’t long before she became my second mom. I even called her Ma Pierina. She had a gentle, gracious manner about her and spent a lot of time on me, curling my hair, sewing me clothes, taking me with her to appointments, downtown to shop, and listening to me if I had anything to say. My brother, on the other hand was a little more difficult for her. Louie was gregarious, mischievous, outspoken and challenging. I remember her chasing him with a broom when he hid from her under the table. She sewed for him also & I remember how exasperated she became when his pants pockets were repeatedly ripped from the rocks, marbles and other collectible junk he stuffed in them. She solved the problem by sewing up the pocket openings on the most offensive pants. Louie must have been a real problem long before Aunt Pierina came because I remember my mother engaging the help of a friend to threaten Louie into better behavior. We had a large furnace grate in the kitchen floor which mom’s friend pulled up exposing what looked like a huge hole leading to the furnace. The friend tied Louie with a rope and pretended to be ready to lower Louie into the hole. The friend relented when Louie screamed and hollered and promised to be good. Meanwhile I ran in the next room, threw myself on the couch, crying for my brother, believing that he would end up in the furnace. I knew the furnace was formidable because I spent time with my father sitting on a railroad tie waiting for a potato to be ready to eat. When my father would pull open the furnace door to place or remove the potatoes, I would get a glimpse of the raging flames that danced in its belly. The potatoes were a treat and a special time to be with my father. He was a gentle man, spending a lot of time in his favorite spot, avoiding the nagging of my mother. She was constantly crabbing at him to take a bath -- something I think he had no use for since he was a laborer and cleaning up just to go back to getting dirty must not have made sense. The other attraction of the basement was the wine cellar. My father and uncle made wine every year. I remember the truck pulling up alongside the house to the basement window. Crate after crate of grapes were passed through, California grapes, which most resembled their homeland variety. Every fall my father and uncle processed the fifty or more boxes of grapes through the wine press. I remember four huge casks of wine being stored at the far end of the cellar. The process was always the same. Boxes of grapes were dumped into the built-in press which was as big around as one of the casks. A large, circular disk with a vise-like top was lowered on to the mound of grapes and with each turn of the vise, the juice would trickle out from the little trough that ran around the perimeter of the press. The smell of grape juice would permeate the house for days till the wine was kegged. There would be enough wine to last for a year, being served each night at the supper table or on other appropriate occasions. Except for one year when my father spent more time than usual sitting on the railroad tie and roasting potatoes in the furnace. One whole cask was prematurely consumed to everyone’s chagrin and surprise. Besides working in the store on Saturday mornings, we were all pressed into service to wait on customers as soon as we were of age, which might be around eight or nine years old. Whenever anyone entered the store, the “storebell” rang in the kitchen and whoever was available would quickly run the few steps through the dining room to the store and greet the customer. Sometimes the customer would want an adult or there would be something asked for that needed special attention. We would go to the door and yell towards the kitchen for the person requested or for the answer to the problem or get help with a troublesome customer. One such person for me was a boy from down the street, a few years older than I, who would slyly reach across the counter and try to fondle my breasts while I was tending the cash register. I was too timid to slap him and too embarrassed to tell any of the adults what was going on but each time I saw that he was in the store, I asked someone else to go in. I was never questioned about this -- I wonder if maybe they surmised the situation. Sometimes my brother Louie was left in charge of the store, if the adults had to be away for an appointment or to take care of some urgent matter. Louie loved to play baseball with the boys in the neighborhood and would leave me to tend store while he went out to play with the guys in the middle of the street. There were few cars at that time and if one was seen coming down the street everyone would step aside to let the cars pass and then resume playing. Across the street from us was a lady living in the upstairs apartment who apparently was annoyed with the noise or whatever and would repeatedly call the police. They could be spotted several blocks away and by the time they arrived at the site everyone would have dispersed into backyards or behind fences. One time we had a visitor from Canada, Louie’s age, who joined in playing ball. When the shout,”Police” went up, everyone ran off leaving the visitor holding the ball. After questioning the bewildered boy, the police left and the game resumed. And so it continued for the rest of the summer. Speaking of summer, there were many hot evenings when we would all be outside, in front of the store, the adults and neighbors sitting on kitchen chairs chatting and socializing and the children playing in the middle of the street. The four curbs served as bases for tin-tin-can and the center of the intersection as the lookout post for hide and seek. At least once a week my aunt hauled out a bucket and broom and furiously scrubbed the floor of the store. The water would run out onto the front steps and down onto the sidewalk and they too would get swept clean. That was something noted by some customers – that we were cleaner than others. Upstairs of the store was a flat (apartment) of four rooms occupied by the Fusili family which was comprised of the mom and dad and four children. At about the age of five I used to quietly climb the stairs to go up to visit them, always welcomed, and many times offered something to eat. I recall the pot of sauce bubbling away on the stove, a piece of bread being dipped in for me to savor, something I wouldn’t expect to happen in my house because it wasn’t our custom. Mrs. Fusili would sit at the window on a rocking chair from which she could see up and down the block, noting the comings and goings of the neighbors, the children, cars, dogs and cats and all else that went on. She issued threats to her son Matthew by biting her hand and screaming in Italian – “when your father gets home…!!!” She would also be able to know when her husband was coming home by sending one of the children up to the end of the street to look down the block for papa and when the child waved Mrs. Fusili would lower the pasta into the already boiling water. Mr. Fusili was a very stern man and when I was there in his presence I was warned to sit silently on a certain chair. There was no conversation unless spoken to by Mr. Fusili. I don’t ever remember hearing him speak but I do remember the screams form the boys when they were flogged for some misbehavior. Late Friday, at the Fusillis, chairs were brought together with a wooden trough straddled on them, filled with flour, water and yeast and were left to raise into bread dough. On Saturday morning another kneading took place, the loaves formed into round ovals, and enough bread was prepared and baked for the week. Towards the end of the week when the bread was dry and crusty it would be served under minastra, a combination of beans and greens. We followed the same recipe on Friday but our bread came from the store, brought in by local bakers early every morning and our stale bread would come about by unfinished loaves since the bakers took back any leftover loaves. Refrigerators were either not invented yet or not affordable --- but everyone had an icebox, which meant that the iceman would come by with the ice truck piled high with huge blocks of ice. If you wanted ice you would put the little sign in the window and the ice man would grab a block with big black tongs and haul it up the stairs to the icebox. The trick was to remember to empty the pan of water that accumulated from the melting ice before it overflowed all over the kitchen floor. We did not have an icebox but rather used one corner of the commercial store refrigerator to keep our milk, meat and other perishables. Besides delivering ice, the ice truck provided daring escapades for the boys who would hang on to the back of the truck and get dragged for about a block to the next stop. No ice was delivered during the winter as people used window boxes to keep food cold (many times frozen) but other trucks and cars came through and the boys would grab on to the back for a brief ride risking the possibility of being thrown under the wheels. There were other vendors that came through in the warmer months. The fishman's truck contained whole, undressed fish of many varieties. They were weighed out on the scale that dangled on the back of the truck, wrapped in newspaper and sent home to be cleaned and prepared. He regularly came on Friday and if you couldn’t tell his presence by the fish smell you could tell by the honking of his horn. The vegetable man, on the other hand, was a little more colorful. He was distinguishable by the absence of his right hand and forearm but also by his melodious announcement. He would sing out, “E paparul, e paparul, tutti pureed.” Translated to English it said, “peppers, peppers, all of them rotten.” The ragman would also come by and be willing to buy your castoff clothes, weighing them and paying the going rate. Garbage collection was a little more complicated. The horse drawn wagon that came by would only pick up perishables which were set out separately from trash. It was tossed in the open wagon and by the end a warm summer’s day, accompanied by a swarm of flies that pestered the driver and the horses. I remember the driver as always being a black man, the only black person I ever saw in my younger years. The horses usually left behind a trail of feces (horse balls) which were expediently shoveled up by one of the neighbors who appreciated them as manure for his garden. The trash collectors came by for all else except for ashes which were another collection and used primarily on icy streets in lieu of salt. During the war (WWII] we were asked to separate our fats and that became another collection. The Neighbors Next door to us on the south side lived the Sylvesters, Compare Michele (pronounced Migel), his wife Pauline, daughter Sylvia and her older brother Patsy. I remember Pauline as being very stately, having shiny black hair wrapped in a bun and always appropriately dressed up when she walked down the street. She died when Sylvia was18 (I probably was 15) from causes unknown to me but she was sick for a few months before she passed away. It was customary then to have the viewing in the home with the casket in the living room, and a wreath on the door to designate the death. Friends and neighbors would be notified by word of mouth and could come to call for three days and nights to pay respects to the family. Close friends or extended family would come to spend the night sitting up with the deceased while immediate family was given respite to sleep or rest. Before Pauline died my brother and I spent a lot of time at Sylvia’s, playing under their grape arbor in their side yard. Sylvia would bring us a treat consisting of fresh coffee grounds mixed with sugar. It was eaten with a spoon and seemed to us something very special. I have not had it since nor have I ever heard of anyone else having such a treat. Compare Michele had a record player and every Sunday afternoon I could hear the same song over and over again, until I began singing along. “Al Abessinia, faccetta nera, aspetta,aspetta che mo sa vecinna.” I was too young at the time to understand what it meant but later learned that it was part of a movement from Compare Michele’s home land called, “faccetta nera” (black face) but I have no clue as to what it referred to. I know I got disapproving looks from my elders when I sang it but no more was made of it. When my sister Shirley and cousin David were about four years old their task was to bring bones from our dinner table to Compare Michele’s dog. They would go to his back door and in sing song would chant out, “Compare Migel, bones for the dog!” and he would accept the package, thank them and give them candy or some other little treat. The interesting thing was that we had candy in our store, always available, but Compare’s candy was special. Recently, Shirley realized that she didn’t have to sing the magic words but nobody wanted to disrupt the established ritual. Next door to Compare Michele lived the Bugea’s. They grew beautiful flowers and were very generous in bringing bouquets to church and also giving us lovely cuttings from their rose bushes and other garden flowers. My aunt loved flowers and was especially appreciative of them since we had no yard to speak of. Shirley and David used to love to go to their house and beg for bread. Again, we had plenty of bread at our house but there must have been something special about getting theirs. One day the two of them went begging and found nobody home but the door was open so they let themselves in. Mr. Bugea had put his lunch on the table and had come to our store to buy bread. When he returned he found his lunch gone and two happy children sitting at his table, delighted at their find. He gave them bread to take home as a bonus and invited them to come back anytime. On the other side of our property lived Mr. and Miss Spath. They were brother and sister, of German decent, quiet and gentle people with a great sense of humor. Mr. Spath loved baseball and would listen to the ballgames on the radio, and they could barely be heard in our house in the summer when the windows were all open. Sometimes the games would go into overtime but since we were all early risers because of the store schedule, work, or school we were in bed long before the game was over. On one such night, after I had been in bed awhile, I could hear creaking of the floor boards from the other room and I was sure we had a burglar in the house. I started screaming in terror which brought my mother and father out of bed as well as the rest of the household. It turned out that my brother was standing by the window to catch the end of the ballgame and got so excited that he was jumping up and down on the creaky floorboards—mystery solved. The Spath’s property extended to within a foot of the side of our house with their side door facing our kitchen windows. There was always a wave if our glances met but we were taught to respect their yard and privacy, be friendly and courteous and restrict our play to the other side of our house. They in turn allowed us to use their driveway to access our cellar window when coal was delivered and in the fall when the truckful of grape crates were brought in. The only problem was how to shake out the dust mop from the second story window so that the dust would not blow onto their porch. Back then most stores were closed on Sunday but ours was open till noon, closed for dinner and reopened at five o’clock. It was not uncommon for the Spath’s and other neighbors to come to the back door for some small item that they had run out of or forgotten to buy. Not everyone in our neighborhood shopped at our store, especially if they were not Italian. Almost diagonally across from us was the Harts store, “the American store.” Typically, if you were not Italian you would shop there but you might come to out store if that was closed or if there was some item we carried that they did not. Across the street on the other side lived the Zies’s. I remember seeing Mr. Zeis once when I delivered something to their house. I knew from overhearing the adults that he had Gout and wasn’t up and about much. Their daughter Marion never came to our store but we would hear Marion screaming out in the late summer night. What she was saying was unintelligible but it was apparent to us all was that she was suffering from some mental problem. Mrs. Zeis was a kindly, soft spoken person and very patient with me when I tended store. She was the one who explained to me what a couple meant. She had asked for a couple cigarettes and I did not know that meant two. Diagonally across from us lived a woman with her daughter who was neither “American” or Italian. When she would come in the store I would go to the dining room door and yell into the house, “La Rabian sta qua.” (the Arabian is here). She looked at me and spoke very emphatically, “My name no Rabian. My name Mrs. Anthony! She was the only “other” ethnic person that I knew of during my childhood. After they moved another mother and daughter rented there. Colorful, loud and flamboyant, you couldn’t miss Maimee, the daughter. At times she had red hair from the Henna rinse, wore very bright lipstick, and clothes that matched the mood. You knew when Maimee was coming to the store – her loud bantering started while she was still crossing the street. She was good game for my brother Louie’s teasing as she left no argument unchallenged and no taunt ignored. To the left of the store lived the Spaths as I had mentioned and beyond them were three more houses with German families. In the fourth house lived the Knebels who qualified as “American.” They had a large family of beautiful blond headed children who were greatly admired by my aunt and mother. To top it all, Mrs. Knebel bottle fed her babies with Carnation evaporated milk as opposed to breast milk and her babies had rosy cheeks, were round and cherubic and were never sick. And anyone of her other children could feed the baby, often outdoors while at play. Auntie and Mama would have to sit and take time out for breastfeeding – regardless, we never used Carnation milk. Next door to the Knebels lived the Colapietros. They had a beautiful green backyard (we had no yard to speak of) and between the two families there were enough children to play all sorts of games. I very seldom joined them as was little free time from the store, but on rare occasions I would get a special invitation to go watch a play. Jeanette, one of the Colapietro girls was very talented. She would write a script, rig up a stage, and get the kids playing different roles. There were boxes and chairs set out for the audience – I was so pleased to be included plus I really admired Jeanette. Since the family was large and money scarce, she used her creativity in remaking clothes even to the point of redesigning a hat, a man’s felt hat into a chic woman’s chapeau. She probably inherited her talent from her dad who was the neighborhood handyman. Biazene could fix anything, had a backroom with all kinds of tools, but did not have a set price for anything. Consequently, since payment was up to the generosity and meager means of the neighbor, there might be an inkind service or just a fervent thank you. Many times we sent unsold perishables for their use, assured they were graciously appreciated and always redeemable. Down the other corner and across the street was another large family with fourteen or maybe fifteen children, some older than I and some around my age. The twelve boys [I’m really not sure of the number] were all in the Service at the same time and I corresponded with one of them at that time. However, when I was a little younger, another one of the brothers caused my brother and I an undeserved punishment. I was accused of giving him cigarettes. In reality what he did was come into the store and quickly grab a pack and throw it out the door to be retrieved later when he left. The only explanation he could give his father who caught him with the evidence was that I had given them to him. My punishment was severe in my eyes. My mother had me put out the palm of my hand and pinched me with a hairpin to teach me never to do that again. I was aghast at the sight of blood and could not understand why I was being punished. My brother had to spend two day’s confinement in his bedroom for his alleged crime of giving that same boy money from the store. One of the more interesting places for me in our neighborhood was the Nile Tavern directly across the street. I must have been around eight or nine years old when I was sent to bring deliveries in the middle of the day. The more fascinating time was to go on a hot summer evening to buy a pitcher of cold beer to be shared with whoever was visiting us. (We did not sell beer at our store at that time.) The windows of the Nile were wide open allowing the vibration of the snare drum and the blare of trumpets and brass to resonate out onto the sidewalk as I passed. One night our family was invited to the Nile to watch a floor show. I don’t remember who else was with me but I do remember the excitement of being served a soda and being mesmerized by the big base drum thumping just a few feet away from me, joined by the musical ensemble and a singer dressed in a sequined gown. In time the Nile became the Realmonte Hall which served as a neighborhood party hall. My wedding shower and wedding breakfast were held there as were many other community occasions. In time the hall was purchased by the church and razed to make a parking lot. Religion Speaking of the church, St. Francis of Assisi was just down the street, a short city block from our house. It was so close that if you started walking to church when the bells started ringing, you could be there and seated before they stopped. We were all church goers in our family except my father, who, on rare occasions when he did go, would fall asleep. It did not make sense for him to go. Because of the store hours, we never went to church as a family but rather took turns as to who would go to what mass and who would stay home to tend store or the babies. The church was a focal point in our community, especially when Father John was sent to be our assistant pastor. He was young, fresh out of the seminary and had a great rapport with the children. In the summer time he would load the kids on a truck and take them to our pastor’s family cottage on the lake for a day of fun. Many of the young boys became altar boys, including my brother, and a number of them entered the priesthood (including my brother) due to Father John’s wonderful charisma. My brother entered the minor seminary at age fourteen and left after two years in the major seminary. He subsequently married Rose and together raised a family of seven children. As youngsters we received religious education one hour a week, walking from school to the church with Miss Martin who told us about God, Jesus and how much he loved us. She prepared us for first Communion, taught us about loving Jesus, being pure and holy for Him and being good. I think those lessons are still the foundation for my prayer life and my relationship to God. We listened raptly to our mentors, and wanted very much to please God. We (and this includes my brother) were very much concerned with the fate of other members of our family that did not go to church (this was my father). So my brother, one Sunday, started haranguing my father. “C’mon Pa, you have to go to church.” Papa ignored him. Louie followed him and kept repeating, “C’mon Pa, you have to go to church.” After a many attempts to silence him with verbal threats he finally turned on Louie, ready to thrash him. But Louie took off, my father in hot pursuit, out the door into the street, down the block. My brother kept running – my father eventually gave up the chase. I have never seen my father get this angry before this incident or after. Louie dropped the crusade. My father did come to church for our weddings and for his funeral. Our living arrangement was a puzzle to many of our friends, neighbors and store patrons. It was hard to keep track of who was married to whom, which kids were siblings, who were the cousins. My father was Loretto, my mother Rosa. My father was referred to as Larry by the “Americans” and the store referred to as Rosie’s. My uncle’s name was Attiliio better known as “Hottie” by the kids and Andy by the “Americans. He was married to my aunt Pierina, Pearl to the kids and other than Italians. We all lived together as one family and treated each other as such. My brother Louie, the eldest was three years older than I. My cousin Artemisio (his name was shortened to Arte) came next, four years my junior. Aunt Pierina had another child after Arte who died at about eight months of unknown causes. Then along came my sister Shirley and cousin David, when I was eleven years old. The interesting thing was that they were born the same week, David on Monday, Shirley on Friday and nobody could tell that my mother and aunt were pregnant. In fact we were having a room added on upstairs, the babies were due and it was important to get shades up in the bedroom for the home birth. Pleading to the carpenter to hurry along brought only scoffs until he returned to find not just one new baby but two from women who looked no more pregnant to him than his own wife or mother. I don’t remember how we kept the store running with two women down for at least a week. Probably my uncle took off from work for a few days to fill in. I do know Aunt Gina came from Syracuse to help with the household with my two little cousins in tow. I was eleven at the time, in eighth grade, at a very awkward time of maturation and still in need of oversight. Getting ready for school in the morning was particularly difficult since I had to rely on myself to make decisions about what to wear when there was little to choose from my meager wardrobe some of which was still in the wash or was missing a belt or just unsuitable. My childhood as I had known it was over. I moved over to being a caregiver for Shirley and David, which most of the time was a lot of fun. They were very engaging as they grew up, managing to get into a lot of mischief either astounding or delighting us all with their escapades. There was the time when Shirley turned up missing on Easter morning and was eventually found sitting in the back of the store in front of a 24 dozen carton of eggs gleefully smashing the eggs and smearing herself from head to toe with their gooey contents. Her pretty Easter dress was unsalvageable. But most of the time they worked together like when they went up to Aunt Pierina’s bedroom and vasalined all the furniture. With their grubby little hands they also vasalined the freshly papered wal as they came down the stairs. The wall paper hanger cried when he saw the damage. Another feat was more spectacular. Shirley and David carried a high stool up those same stairs to the same bedroom and perched the stool up on the bed. David climbed the stool and waited while Shirley ran down the stairs to get us all to come see! Richard was a quite a disadvantage being born two years later. Shirley and David gleefully thwarted him at play time, hiding on him, jumping out to scare him and confusing him as much as possible whenever they played together. Mary had it a little easier when she came along a few years later probably because she was a girl and Shirley and David’s interest was more in the spirit of big brother and sister. At the time Mary was born I was 18 years old and working at Kodak. When I announced to my co-workers that my aunt had surprised us by giving birth to twins, they found it unbelievable that I did not know she was pregnant. It seemed to be that pregnancies were an embarrassment and not to be focused on. Just as in previous births, my aunt lost weight during her nine months so her size and shape didn’t change much. Mary’s twin was named Joseph but he died just short of a year later. By this time our household numbered ten people. Louie was in minor seminary studying to be a priest but still living at home. My father and uncle were working extra hours because there was a shortage of labor due to the war (WWII) and all of us worked hard.
Thursday
13
October

Visitation

4:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Thursday, October 13, 2016
Bartolomeo & Perotto Funeral Home, Inc.
1411 Vintage Lane
Rochester
Thursday
13
October

Visitation

4:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Thursday, October 13, 2016
Bartolomeo & Perotto Funeral Home, Inc.
1411 Vintage Lane
Rochester
Friday
14
October

Mass of Christian Burial

10:30 am
Friday, October 14, 2016
St. Mark's Church
54 Kuhn Road
Rochester, New York, United States
Saturday
15
October

Interment at: Holy Sepulchre Cemetery

1:00 pm
Saturday, October 15, 2016
Holy Sepulchre Cemetery
2461 Lake Ave.
Rochester, New York, United States
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