Sunday, June 26, 2011


Our closest neighbors were the Sicilianos, their small crop farm was literally across the road from us. Aunt Rose and uncle Gus had 10 children, the oldest ones were my father’s contemporaries and classmates, and the younger ones mine. Their small farmhouse where I was treated as a member of the family was like a second home to me as a young boy. The kitchen was dominated by a table capable of seating most, if not all of the family. A small alcove near the stove with a pantry that had a slide out counter was where Eddie (the youngest member of the family and 2 or 3 years younger than me) and I would sit whenever I had dinner there.

To me aunt Rose was the central figure in the family. She was small and wiry, always working, and never afraid to speak her mind, giving everyone a name; mine was Duke Whittington, Lord Mayor of London. I have absolutely no idea where that came from. I can still hear her call someone a “lousy bastard”, but with a smile in her voice.

Her hair was always up in a tight bun, and I remember the day I saw her standing at the kitchen sink (before they had an indoor bathroom) washing her hair…It was the first time I saw it down…reaching her lower back. I was shocked! In the summer after the tomatoes were picked she would make her own ketchup and sauce for canning, cooking them in a large cast iron pot over a fire in the back yard. She was a remarkable woman; after leaving for college I made it a point to visit her as often as possible when I returned home.

Much later, reading from my late uncles papers, I learned that long before I came along she was a stand-in mother to my father’s sisters after my grandmother died. They turned to her for all that my grandfather was unable to provide. Aunt Rose was a most remarkable woman, who provided so much for so many.

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