Retirement anniversary

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May 2015 — Diane and I have enjoyed our first year of retirement. It has been a very good year. The slower pace gave us more time to be with family and friends. Eli and Viv remain the best. Lots of baby sitting in the past year — in Gladwyne and Yardley. Actually awaiting their arrival today for the Memorial Day weekend.

We did our share of travel. In June, Bob Vierlinck and I traveled to Boston to visit HGP grads (Burns and O’Mara) of Night Shift Brewery. We hung out in the brewery, toured Cambridge and the North End. We even did a day trip to Salem.

Our next trip, together this time, was to the Hudson River Valley with John and Barbara Paglione. Diane and I love the region, not far from her childhood home in Carmel, NY. Visited Storm King Arts Center, a day at Hyde Park, meals in Rhinebeck. Great trip.

In July we were in Cape Cod at the Orleans house on Pilgrim Lake that we rented the year before. Eli did baseball clinic every day, fished and finally caught a smallmouth bass. The kids enjoyed the beach — bay and ocean, seafood (Eli’s speciality is clam chowder), nature programs at the National Seashore. The adults enjoy watching the kids, food, seafood and more seafood, the quiet and seclusion of the house. After our week, Diane and I spent three nights at a Nantucket B and B. This was our family vacation spot for 10 years so we have many great memories. Some year we will look for a weekly rental but we will never match our years at Rattlesnake Bank.

August found us in Vermont. I signed up for a rye bread class at the King Arthur Flour School. We found a delightful B and B outside of Woodstock, VT. and loved to just explore the countryside, finding farms, historic sites, and small towns. And I can now bake a loaf of Jewish rye.

September we were in Virginia for a week of archaeology at Montpelier, James Madison’s plantation. We lived dorm style in Arlington House on the property — rough but adequate accommodations. Each day found us in the field on our knees, scraping our square, bagging artifacts, screening buckets of dirt. Each day in the late afternoon we took a tour of the Main house, property, freedman’s cabin, and Civil War encampment. Our group, primarily women, really bonded and there is a movement to get us all back this summer. Although it was a fantastic (if physically difficult) experience, I don’t think will will do it again this year.

From Montpelier, we drove to the Blue Ridge and spent three quiet days at the Peaks of the Otter lodge. We did some hiking, countryside driving, discovered the Walton Museum — a nice way to wind down from our archaeology adventure.

When Jenny was a kid we rented cabins in PA state parks. Usually with HGP friends — Corley’s and Gallagher’s. In November we introduced Eli and Viv to cabin camping at Rickett’s Glen State Park. Waterfalls are the Glen’s main attraction. Although I could only hike so far down, the kids loved the adventure, climbing up and down the valley, one waterfall after another. We cooked some meals outside, had evening fires, told stories and enjoyed the glow of a mild fall weekend.

In January we headed to Washington DC, specifically to visit the U.S. Holocaust Museum. The story and book written by our close Danish friend and survivor, Ragna Hamilton, has become a project. We hope to see her memoir published in English. On line, I met a researcher who has written about Ravensbrook, Ragna’s camp. I have read several books about the camp and dug out a slide show about her life that I made many years ago. Diane had never been to the Museum and it turned into a very productive visit. We also enjoyed some nice time with cousin Ellen.

My next trip was without Diane. John Paglione and I returned to Montpelier VA. This time to help with the reconstruction of a field slave cabin. The professional carpenters that guided the volunteers were fantastic. Using historic hand tools, we learned how to hew logs, make shakes, pegs — wow. It was more physical than the archaeology week and by Wednesday I thought I was done. I was swinging a broad ax but nothing was happening. Some encouragement by Chris, one of the professional carpenters, a lighter broad ax and Thursday I was back swinging. John and I hewed one log ourselves christening it the Senior Beam. Traveling with John also meant visits to local breweries. We spent several nights in DC, the Yorktown area, and drove home through Delaware — we found local craft breweries everywhere.

Having lived in New Hope with John and Barbara Paglione for four years, traveling with them is pretty easy. They had the good fortune to be invited to stay in an apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for two weeks. Thoughtfully they invited us to join them for several nights. The defining theme of the trip was definitely food — from our first stop at the Italian market Eataly, Zaber’s, a tour of the Lower East Side, Russ and Daughter’s new Cafe, Gabrielle Hamilton’s Prune (daughter of Jim Hamilton — Grill in Lambertville), McSorley’s Ale House, Lalo Cafe (meeting place of Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, in “You’ve Got Mail,” Jacob’s Pickle (a new restaurant, and on the LES a treat, one of the last pickle shops in the City). Yes this was a food-centric trip.

 

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Diane and I headed to Portland, Maine in early April. On the way up we stopped for a pilgrimage to Walden Pond. Despite decades of interest in Henry David Thoreau, we had never been to The Pond. We settled into the North Bridge Inn, in the center of town. And off to the pond, a walk to the site of Thoreau’s cabin, reflection. We also visited the Alcott residence — Diane got a biography of Louisa. Before, during and after the trip I reread several books about Thoreau — “Walking toward Walden: a pilgrimage in search of place” by John Hanson Michell and “Searching for Thoreau: on the trails and shores of wild New England,” by Tom Slayton. The books reinforced a sense of mission, dipping into the past, and contributed to what I call thematic living — finding the intersection and relationship between place, books, history, food, movies and other art forms. We continued on to Portland — the Maine coast, rock formations, salt air, lobster and other seafood treats. We had stayed in the Percy Inn a few years ago and enjoyed a quiet two nights. Walks in the old Port district, the Portland Museum of Art, and great restaurant experiences.

My last trip for the first retirement year was two weeks in Italy with my cousin Joey Lentz. It was basically another pilgrimage. This one to Roccavivara the hometown of my grandfather, Thomas Profy. Diane had been to Roccavivara previously and decided not to go. For me it was special. We stayed in several other towns traveling from and to Milan (our airport) but the heart of the trip was staying in the hometown. Hopefully I paved the way for future, maybe longer trips. While I was in Italy, Diane and Jenny spent a few nights in Rhinebeck, NY. They explored familiar haunts and some new sites. Although Diane and I are excellent travel companions, an occassional trip with someone else is probably a good idea.

Ten trips — almost 2 months on the road — not bad for our first retirement year. In this first year, we also had a fantastically productive, expanded garden, took many local day trips to Philadelphia, Bucks County and New Jersey, adopted our mutt Mosley (still getting to know each other). I joined a Great Books discussion group, started a blog and a Yardley photographers group; Diane became a Yardley tree tender. We bought a new Highlander, drafted a new will and had the house painted. Academically, I got involved with a curriculum project related to the book, “On the Run.”

Basically a really good retirement year. What do we do in year two?

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The Garden — an update

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Last year’s vegetable garden was a huge success. Temperature, rainfall, and my “light green” thumb yielded a bumper crop. Over 300 pounds of tomatoes, heirlooms for eating, Roma and Marzanos for canning. We pickled green tomatoes — sweet and sour. Cherry tomatoes were roasted and frozen. We made salsa and tomatoe paste for pies. We froze, dried and pickled peppers– sweet and hot. Zucchini was crushed and frozen — makes a sinful chocolate zucchini bread. Extra basil was turned into pesto. Eggplant turned in baba ganousch. Throughout the summer we had lettuce, kale, bok choi, spinach, collards, and Swiss chard. Some cucumbers but an amazing harvest of green beans from 6 plants. We even had 10 foot sunflowers. The 2014 was a great year for gardening.

Now on to 2015.

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The 2015 garden (above) is expanded. Perennials — asparagus and rhubarb join last year’s planting of raspberries. Over 40 tomatoe plants, lots of peppers and egg plants. Onions and elephant garlic. Already we are harvesting lettuce and spinach. In fact the lettuce is getting way ahead of us. Two rows from a Fall planting came up adding to my usual Spring plants.

2015 garden.

 

 

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Say “no” to book buying

When I retired last June, I promised that I would stop buying books. Now I have always been a book person. And I have always bought books. But enough, enough books. When I cleared out my office at HGP I brought hundreds of books home. Some were part of my re-read program, some were to sell on Amazon and bookstores. Some I just wanted to keep. But I needed to say “no” to the purchase of new books. It wouldn’t be easy.

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My first post retirement purchase came soon. In June I read an article in the Holocaust Museum’s newsletter about Ravensbruck. It was a review of the re-publication of a memoir by Gemma La Guardia Gluck, sister of Fiorello, NYC mayor. The review author, Rochelle Saidel, had written a book “The Women of Ravensbruck” and she maintains a website of the same title. Ravensbruck was the camp of our close friend Ragna Hamilton. (See other posts about Ragna and Ravensbruck.) Neither book was available in the Bucks library system. They were books I had to read. I ordered them. Several other books by Ravensbruck survivors would be added to my Amazon wish list (and later bought).

 

Various summer trips led to book purchases. I like to patronize local book stores when we travel and many titles about travel locations are not readily available at home. Better buy them and support independent local bookstores. “Henry F du Pont and Winterthur,” “Laurance Rockefeller: catalyst for conservation,” and “Frederick Billings: a life,” were all purchased on field trips.

And then there are reference books. Somehow, “Rodale’s 21st Century Herbal,” “Salt, Sugar, Smoke: how to preserve fruit, vegetables, meat and fish” and ” New Jersey Wildlife Viewing Guide” all found their way into my wish– buy list.

Sometimes it’s an unusual or special connection that sends me to buy a book. I read about the death of Jeff Hamilton. Couldn’t help but order his “Going Native,” an adventure living with pigmies in Africa. Jeff is part of the Jim Hamilton family, we lived near them in New Hope in the 70s – i.e. Hamilton’s Grill in Lambertville. In December,  I also ordered his Gabrielle Hamilton’s cookbook, named after her East Village restaurant, “Prune.” We would have dinner there in March.

Christmas also led me to buy “The Perfect Scoop: ice creams, sorbets, gravitas, and sweet accompaniments,” by David Leebovitz. It was a title recommended by the teacher of my tea-ice cream class. Need I say more.

Sometimes I buy because I have Amazon credit. Local history and credit led to the purchase of “No Spot in this Far Land is More Immortalized: a history of Pennsylvania’s Washington Crossing Historic Park.” This was commissioned by a close friend, Bill Farcas. And I imagine I will buy the companion NJ Washington Crossing Park volume.

When I look back, I wonder, why did I buy, “Oak: the frame of civilization” (pretty good) or ” Moonshiners Daughter” (so, so). “Mrs Goodfellow: the story of America’s first cooking school” and “In Our Convent Days” both had local history connections. But do I need to own copies?

In Virginia, Diane and I discovered the Walton Museum. Yes, the Walton’s from 1970s TV. I purchased a biography of Earl Hammer by James Person and “Goodnight, John-Boy” by Hammer. I even ordered the DVD, “The Homecoming” — not available on Netflix.

I am still taken by children’s books and couldn’t resist “The Skippack School,” by Marguerite De Angeli — local story and great illustrations. Then there was the British Christmas classic by John Mansfield, “The Box of Delights.” Are these for the kids or me?

Several 1960s related titles caught my attention. “Yakima Tales: the hippie history of Takima, Oregon” and “The Old Weird America: the world of Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes.” Haven’t read the former and the Dylan book is written in a music critic’s jargon that is near impossible for me to understand. But it’s about Dylan!

In January, I joined a Great Books Discussion group. For several months, the group has been reading short stories from “The Oxford Book of American Short Stories,” edited by Joyce Carol Oates. Actually this and several other books have been penny books ordered through Amazon. So basically you get the book for shipping. Still not sure how the seller makes money on these one cent offerings? June’s read is “The Lazarus Project” by Alexsandar Hemon. Just picked up a copy.

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As I mentioned field trips frequently lead to book purchases. We got into a discussion with the Park Ranger at Washington Crossing Park (NJ) and discovered that she (Nancy Coperley) had written a book about the preacher George Whitfield, “Whitfield in Philadelphia, the great awakening of 1740.” She just happened to have a copy in the car that I could purchase. At Howell Farm (again NJ) we met docent- guide, former teacher, Larry Kidder, who took us on a tour of the area. He also wrote “Farming Pleasant Valley: 250 years of life in rural Hopewell Township, New Jersey.” Of course I now own a copy. More amazing was our tour guide for the Lower East Side in NYC. Eric Ferrara took the Pagliones, Diane and I on a great 2 hour walking tour — he customized the tour to fit our interest in food. And he has published several books. I actually ordered three — “A Guide to Gangsters, Murderers, and Weirdos of New York City’s Lower East Side,” “The Bowery: a history of grit, graft, and grandeur,” and “Lower East Side: then and now.” In the same vein, I ordered “The New York Nobody Knows: walking 6,000 miles in the city.” Must support local authors.

A few best sellers caught my attention and pocket book. Both were great reads — Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild: from lost to found on the Pacific Coast trail” and ” The Boys in the Boat: nine Americans and their epic quest for gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.” I recommend both but not sure how I justify the purchases. Both should be available in the library.

And more local books. “Kensington Homstead” by Nic Esposito is the story of the Emerald Street Urban Farm. For several years, one of my HGP classes partnered with a class from CAPA (Philadelphia’s school for the creative and performing arts). We worked with the New Kensington CDC, in the area of Fishtown and Lower Kensington. We became familiar with community gardens.

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And then I read about “On the Run: fugitive life in an American City” by Alice Goffman. It’s another book that we would have probably have used in University of Penn’s Philadelphia Partnership program that sponsored the urban-suburban teams like the HGP-CAPA partnership. In fact before I read the book I was contacted by Jon Amsterdam, who was a staff member of the Partnership program. Jon invited me to be part of a curriculum development project based on the book “On the Run.” Looking for an academic related project, I signed on. During our discussions about the “On the Run,” Jon mentioned his father Anthony G. Amsterdam, a leading Civil Rights lawyer. I had to order his “Minding the Law: how courts rely on storytelling, and how their stories change the ways we understand the law — and ourselves.” Haven’t read it yet but it sounds interesting.

A quick count. It seems I purchased about 36 books during my first year of retirement. Not exactly a resounding “no” to buying books. But I did sell about 200 to a Princeton bookstore and several dozen on Amazon. So in the end I sold more books than I bought. And I made more money on the books sold than the cost of books purchased.

Maybe “no” to buying books is unrealistic. Maybe I need to practice temperance. Buying fewer books. And selling more. A worthy goal for this year.

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Daily life in Roccavivara, Italy

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In late December, early January 2002-03, I took my father to visit the hometown of his father Gaetano Grimaldi, or in the United States, Thomas Profy. We arrived in the late afternoon, driving from Rome. I climbed the hill that my grandfather had descended in 1901 on his trip to America. I thought I would easily arrive in the town square, Piazza Portella. My cousin Nick’s house was around the corner. But where was the square? I parked the car along the side of the road and told my father to wait a minute while I orientated myself. Diane and I had been there a few years earlier. I met some young kids and they proceeded to take me to Nick’s street. Strange, it seemed a long walk. Nick was pacing the street (a Profy, maybe an Italian custom). After greetings we headed down the hill to find the car and my father. Much to my amazement, the car (and father) were gone. I panicked. My mother’s last words were “take care of your father.” We hadn’t been in Italy 24 hours and I had lost him. “Don’t worry,” Nick proclaimed, “It’s a small town, we will find him.” And we did. Gianfranco, Nick’s youngest son, found my father on a different street, had parked the car, and Father was enjoying a glass of wine with members of our Italian family.

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Roccavivara is a small town. And it should be pretty hard to lose anyone on its tight, ancient, winding streets. Recently I had the opportunity to spend over a week in the comune (Italian town), guests of cousin Nick and his wife Maria. What an experience! Upfront, my experience is of a retired person. My younger cousins, Nick’s sons go off to work each day. But the population of Roccavivara is aging, fewer children born; young people move away. A significant percentage of the population are seniors.

We arrived on a Tuesday afternoon having spent a few days on the edge of the Dolomites with one of Nick’s sisters and her family. Maria with the help of her daughter-in-law, Eda, had prepared a welcoming dinner. This would be the first of many meals we would share in Roccavivara.

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Each  morning I awoke at 6 — same as at home. My traveling companion, cousin Joey Lentz, a member of the younger generation slept in a bit more. Something I’ve learn to expect when traveling with younger guys. Up late; sleep late. However, Joey’s knowledge of Italian and friendships with so many relatives and neighbors opened doors to my Roccavivara experience. Sleep on, Joey.

Some days there was a chill in the morning air and Nick would have a fire going in the kitchen. I always started with a caffe latte, and then dropped the milk. Maria always found more and more —  toasts, pastries — some home made, some packaged. Fortified with caffeine, Nick and I hit the road. The winds seemed to dictate our route. Sometimes strong and cold, out of Africa, from the east, the west. Not quite sure, Nick led the way. He spent 20 years in the United States. His English is good but still a bit broken, I slowly get into the dialect, and enjoy our conversations. He guides me through the natural world around Roc; and the town’s history, craftsmanship, current politics, and family history.

We end up in the Piazza. There are two bar/cafes in the square. We usually go to one owned by Andrea, a young guy, friend of cousin Joey. I have an expresso. Nick a caffe latte. Guys, mostly seniors are beginning to come into the Piazza. During most of the day there will be groups of them, talking, animated, gesturing, sometimes arguing, and pacing. Nick will usually wander away and I will take advantage of the bar’s wifi to check email and post on FB. Roccavivara is a mix of the nineteenth and twentieth-first centuries. I want to interact with the groups of men but it’s not easy. Individually, I will communicate and photograph some but in groups they are intimidating. I need more Italian, more time to break the ice. I remember hanging out one night in a Tuscan town, old guys were playing bocce. I wanted to play, to photograh them, but I couldn’t find the appropriate introduction. At the same time, I spent hours in the square, listening to the language, observing the interactions, and settling into the life of Roccavivara.

Some days Joey and I stayed in the town. One day we visited women who were frying dough and making other pastries for Saint Joseph’s day. They had trays and trays; baskets and baskets. They worked in a second kitchen in the basement of the house. It is here that canning, baking, and other food processing takes place. The following day on May 1, the town celebrated Saint Joseph the Worker. There was a Mass at 10 with the blessing of the bread; followed by a procession throughout the town. Fascinating, Saint Joseph’s day is March 19 but the May 1 celebration is dedicated to Joseph the Worker. Joey and I were invited to cousin Popino’s (Nick’s second son) in laws for a family dinner.

Food is a central to life in Roccavivara. Growing, preserving, eating, sharing. I had several great conversations with Massemo, Nick’s oldest son. We shared information about our gardens, what we grew, how we preserved produce, and the joys of cooking and eating. Our Saint Joseph dinner was special, delicious. It started with a platter of dried meats and cheese, followed by a fantastic lamb liver and egg dish. There was rice (very different from our typical rice) tomato and cheese dish, cooked escarole and beef on the bone, ribs, lettuce salad and chicken. Dessert was a traditional rice pudding, not as thick as we make in the U.S. Caffe and several after dinner drinks. I tried Montenegro and Nocino.

On other days we were invited to afternoon dinners at Popino’s and Massemo’s houses. Nick and Maria have classic traditional meals. The younger generation are more adventuresome. We had rabbit (delicious), pasta with a wild boar sauce (very much like beef). Homemade olive oil, processed meats, tomato sauce, pickled vegetables — all add to great meals. Salad in all homes was strictly lettuce with oil and vinegar, served after the main courses. The dressing at Nick’s was fantastic. I asked what kind of vinegar he was using. Homemade of course, wine past it’s time, a barrel, add and add to it. Always wine vinegar. I don’t know why but Nick’s homemade wine vinegar was so much better than any other we tasted in Roccavivara.

Our main meal was usually between noon and two. After dinner we had to decide, do we hang out in Roccavivara? Do we explore some nearby towns? Either will be an experience.

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Roccavivara

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My grandfather, Gaetano Grimaldi arrived at Ellis Island in NYC on May 7, 1901. According to the ship’s manifest he was 14 years old, from Roccavaisano (actually Roccavivara), Italy. The ship, Trave, was built in Glasgow for the Norddeutscher Lloyd in 1886, reconditioned in 1897. Trave’s regular run was from Bremen to NYC until 1901 when she began trips from Genoa-Naples to NYC. On April 23, the U.S. Consul in Naples declared that the Italian passengers boarding were in good health, free from mental defects. There were 1240 on board. Several including Gaetano, were from Roccavivara — Michele Di Fanio, 32, married; Giovanni Gianico, 17, single; Giuseppe De Liza, 34, single; and Giuseppe Gianco, 26, single. Grandpop’s mother, Maria Rago, her second husband Fedele Porfirio and their 3 year old son, Roberto had arrived at Ellis Island the year before on March 12, 1900. Maria and Fidele were both 40 years old; Roberto would die young. Maria’s first husband Giovanni Grimaldi had died soon after my grandfather was born. For several years Gaetano was sent to a seminary in Trivento (a hill town away from home) but he returned to Roccavivara and may have learned shoemaking from his step father Fedele. In the U.S., he would change his step father’s name Porfirio to Profy.

It’s interesting to speculate about the hows and whys of Grandpop’s immigration. Between 1880 and 1920, 4.1 million Italians immigrated to the United States. Most were from Southern Italy. Land exploitation, low productivity, an increase in population, basically poverty, drove most from their hometowns to cross the ocean to America. The trip which probably cost about $15 took about 2 weeks. A journalist writing about conditions on a ship from Naples wrote, “How can a steerage passenger remember he is a human being when he must first pick the worms from his food . . . And eat in his stuffy, stinking bunk, or in the hot and fetid atmosphere of a compartment where 150 men sleep, or in juxtaposition to a seasick man.” But like many, Gaetano survived and thrived in America. With others from Roccavivara, he would operate a chain of shoe repair shops before purchasing a General Electric franchise in the 1930s. If not paved in gold there was opportunity in America. “Good times in a ‘merica,” he constantly reminded me.

I recently visited Grandpop’s hometown, Roccavivara. The comune (municipality) is in the province of Compobasso in the Italian region of Molise. When my grandfather walked (or maybe rode a donkey) down the hill in 1901 on his way to the ship in Naples, Roc was in Abruzzo; Molise was created in 1970. The population today is about 950, down from 1650 in 1901. I have visited the village on two other trips. In 2000, Diane and I spent several nights in Termoli, a seaside vacation resort on the Adriatic about an hour from Roccavivara. In 2002, my father and I spend four nights at my cousin Nick’s house. On this trip Nick and his wife Maria would again extend their hospitality to me and my traveling companion cousin Giuseppe.

Our arrival was celebrated with an classic Italian family dinner. Antipasto (a variety of meats and cheeses), followed by a pasta dish (mangia, mangia, eat, eat), veal cutlets, chicken (mangia, mangia), salad. Homemade red wine, water always available. Fruit and pastry, cafe. Grazie, grazie, basta, basta. Thank you, enough.

During our next week in Roccavivara, each day started with cafe and some pastry. Then a walk around the village with my cousin Nick. Nick (Porfirio) spent 20 years as a carpenter in the United States. Interestingly, we are related not through my grandfather’s step father, Fidele Porfirio but through Nick’s mother Rago. And to make it more confusing, I am related to his sister, Christine. But my genealogical discoveries are another story.

Amazingly Nick really understood my interests. On our walks he pointed out trees — olive, fig (several types), apples, cherry, walnut, hazelnut and oak for construction projects. We foraged for wild asparagus and visited his farms — one for firewood, where he proudly showed me the stump of the oak he cut to make the door for his son Gianfranco’s house. He had an amazing pride and respect for the land. We also visited his garden farm. I was disappointed because I thought it would be time for this year’s planting. I could help and learn. But still too cool. Last year Nick harvested 3 tons of tomatoes — those not eaten fresh were canned in jars for sauce, used throughout the winter. And I thought my 300 pounds last year was a lot. Traditionally, Nick and most Roccavivara families made olive oil, wine, tomatoe paste, put up peppers, eggplant, and zucchini. They made dried sausage, salami and prosciutto. Today Nick (he’s 81) buys some, things. And as much as he complains about the younger generation (bums), his sons continue the traditional ways. The oldest Massemo recently sponsored a workshop in pruning olive trees. He has over 50 and found several dozen locals interested in the advice of the professionals.

As Nick and I walk around the village, he pointed out doors that he made at the age of 17 before he went to the United States. In local churches he made pews and other woodwork. He also took pleasure in pointing out hand made stone block (no machines). Each house has a history. One building is the former macaroni factory of my great grandfather Grimaldi. A woman relative donated the lower floors to the church. One is rented; the other empty with broken windows. Maybe I could rent-buy it. Another house was owned by Angelo Rago. My father’s clock worker’s bench was made by Angelo Rago. A relative? What a small world. Even more confusing is the house of Fidele Porfirio. It’s where my grandfather grew up after his father died. It’s now owned by Christine Sallustio, cousin Nick’s sister. She married Peppino Sallustio, the son of Enrichetta Porfirio Sallustio. Confused. I was. Enrichetta was my grandfather’s half sister. She was born in the United States as was my Uncle Joe Porfirio ( cousin Joey Lentz’s grandfather). Enrichetta went back to Italy, married and had at least one son, Peppino who married Christine. I don’t even remember my grandfather mentioning her. For him, Italy was the past, done, not to be remembered. Giuseppe (Uncle Joe) stayed in the United States. Uncle Joe like my grandfather was a shoe maker in Bristol. I remember taking shoes to him for repairs. He had a large garden, family picnics and provided me with a touch of my Italian heritage. Small town. Food, family. Everyone related.

This trip to Roccavivara opened up whole new world of family genealogy, traditions, a way of life so different from Yardley, Philadelphia, and the United States in the 21st century. Roccavivara today isn’t so far away from the village my grandfather left in 1901. There is an auto road now, electricity and wifi at the Bar-Cafe. But families celebrate the same holidays, harvest and cook the same foods. Walk the same streets and hang out in the same square. For some a fire is the only heat and hot water is generated by water pipes running through the fireplace.

Hopefully my exploration of that life style and heritage has just begun. Stay tuned.

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