“With the help of elderly volunteers, Mary Pagliuca cooked meals for hundreds of elders who missed their traditional dishes. When she died in 1990, the elders hung a commemorative plaque over the kitchen door in her honor.”
— Anthony V. Riccio
“Sharing the Shoes”
“In Italy I had seven brothers and seven sisters in my family. My father was a representative and he was always at city hall, my mother took care of all the children. My father was a big shot—he never worked on the farm. On the farm I used to carry the stuff, almost three hundred pounds on my head. What do you think, on my shoulders? I was a slave because my mother had too many kids. I raised pigs, goats, chickens, sheep—everything, I took them grazing. You had to make milk, cheese, if not, what were you gonna eat on the farm? We had four cows and I made milk and cheese, if you saw how much cheese I made in Italy, oooh, out of this world!
We had a lot of food on the table—milk, bread, once in a while kill a chicken, make chicken soup, once in a while kill the rabbits, make it with the macaroni. But not every day eat a meat, once a week. I ate beans and macaroni every day. My mother made fried eggs, make a big frittata (omelette) with onions, peppers, and cheese, and give a piece each to the children. Sometimes scarola (escarole) with beans. She got a fourteen a people, what are you gonna do? And no shoes, no zoccole, (sandals), I only had one pair of shoes for two sisters, every two girls had a pair of shoes.
To go to church on Sunday my sister came back and gave me her shoes so I could go to church, go to Mass. And when I got back, I’d take them off, clean up the shoes and put them away. I couldn’t use them on the farm because I only had one pair of shoes. My father couldn’t support all the people, we had to work on the farm. To eat, not for a good time. If my sister didn’t come back, I couldn’t go to church. Lots of times I’d miss my Mass because my sister would start talking with her girlfriends, she no come a home early and I couldn’t go to church because the Mass was already done. I’m a cry like a baby and my mother she say, “What are you cry for?” I want to go to church! “Vai (go) next Sunday, no worry about it, the priest a no give a you a piece of bread, what a you cry for? You cry because you lost a piece of bread? You go next Sunday!”