INTERVIEW WITH SYLVIA MOLLICONE Feb. 17, 1993
I was born February 2, 1922. We were born ona Wheeler Street in Livermore Fall anda … all four of us. One brother and three sisters. Oh, I’m gonna tell you something though. When I was born I was born with the cord aroun’ my neck. It was a blizzard that morning. And my dad had gone to work. So my mother was in labor and I came out and I had a cord around my neck. So my Aunt and Uncle Greeno and my father’s sister took and cut that cord aroun’ my neck an’ saved my life. O.K. Otherwise than that everything was fine.
But we live in a home witha quite a few members in the family there because my parents had no money when they came from America and they hada, you know, no home. It took a long time for them to get adjusted. ‘Least four years before he bought this home and brought us up here on Knapp Street. And after thata we came into an environment or neighborhood was all French people. You either learned to speak French or you go without. So as we grew older we all four of us learned to speak French. In fact I had a sister, Yolanda, who taught at the St. Rose’s convent because she spoke such beautiful French. And my brother also attended that school. Anda my sister and I went to the public school ’cause I was afraid of the nuns. I said, “No.” I said to my father, “No way!” And he said, “Yes, you’re goin’.” I said, “No.” The priest said he didn’t have room for Josephine, the oldest sister, and Josephine was happy and clappin’ her hands. Because they used to tell us they’d slap you on your hands if you don’t do the right thing. Or they put you in the corner with a dunce cap. I didn’t want that. So my father was laughin’ he says, “O. K.” Father Boucher or Father Pomerleau came here and he said, “Well, two can go there and two I will allow to stay down there.” So I said, “Gee, thanks Dad.” So I stayed down there. But the other two learned terrific froma the nunsa.
So as we grew older, naturally we learned to speak fluently French. All four of us. And then that’s when we have to change schools. We went toa a upper grade an’ we continued with a French environment around here. None of the French people here knew how to speak English. They’s worse than the Italians. They were broken English wickedly. They did not know thea American language. I don’t think they try. Because my parents did and they couldn’t speak one word of English. But in time my mom did beautiful. So did my father. It was pretty hard for him because he didn’t know his alphabet. And another thing, he never went to school as a child. He only went in one day. His parents had died. He wasa last of fourteen and he grew up on thea streets of Isola del Lira in Italy. But my mom did terrific. My mom bought papers… learned how … the a,b,cs. And she was just a great lady.
And she did a lot ofa, you know, she worked in the shoe shop. She worked at the bean factory. She worked at the apple factory up in Jay or Farmington or someplace up in through there. Then she worked at Foster’s. She went to work. So did my dad. In time he found a job in the paper mill down here. But they only workeda three days a week. And they only brought home nine dollarsa a week which there was no money to support a family or buy a loan so we had to stay in with my father’s sister. Which it was very inconvenient because for one reason. Too many in the family. Too many in the house. Anda finally we came up here.
When we moved up here we were very, very happy. My mother was a jolly lady. An’ my father, I can’t say the word but if it wasn’t for one thing, my father was the happiest man in the world. Yeh. He built two houses down here. An’ he couldn’t read nor write. An’ he rented them an’ had an income for his family. My mother took in room and boarders to help to pay the buildings here ’cause my father was only makin’ nine dollars a week. Great neighborhood. But this neighborhood, it was hard to get associated with it because we were Italian, you know, Italian backgroun’. An’ they were French. Those people could never learn Italian. They never tried. We had to speak French. Everything was French here. All French family. But we were lucky. I understood a lot of it. Helped me when I was overseas.
Ernest Mollicone. 1894. And my mother, Emma Mollicone, 1897. My mother had a great personality. Laughs all the time. An’ she always had a smile. An’ she was beautiful to me in my eyes. An’ my father had big green eyes, deep green eyes. It’s true. An’ then my mother had big brown eyes. I want you to look at my eye. One’s a deeper gray. And the other one, you notice it? One’s my father’s and one’s my mother’s my mother tells me. An’ they were both beautiful, both pleasant. My mother never was angry. Ever, ever. An’ she never, never had a cross word. My mother was the only child. An’ of course she said thata as a girl she had no way ofa goin’ to school. She went to school but she didn’t wanta go no more. She went as far as the third grade. Then her parents decided that they got her a sewing machine. She had to learn to sew an’ she took in sewing. She did a beautiful, you know, job on stitchin’. And she used to sew for people. You imagine? In the fifth grade. That is when she never went to school. She only went as far as the third grade.
Anda finally she said that she was tired of that so she worked in the bread factory durin’ the first World War. And she used to feed Americans that came down from the mountain just to make sure they got bread. She told us all this stuff and it was just great to listen to her. It was so different but they always said that the Italians were brighter than the Americans ina fightin’. They said the Americans was sissies. That’s what they all said.
An’ she also told me about her life as a growin’ up childa. She was a growin’ girl. It come at thirteen, fifteen years old, they had a tremendous earthquake. And my mother who had to go across the street to bring this, how should I say this, old lady, this doesn’t sound right, an elderly ladya, she lived across the street, who was very friendly with my grandmother. And my grandmother sent my mother over toa the women to bring her some soup, you know, she was sick. An’ her daughter was there and she was pregnant. They all died. When the earthquake came my mother was the only one left alive. And when they picked the bodies up they noticed my mother’s hand. They came she told me way after. I figure it was in the afternoon. They tried to take the ring off her finger. She had a gold ring on. And she told me, she told all four of us, she said they tried to take the ring off her finger. “Then when I move my hands they figured that I must be alive.” Sure enough she was alive.
But they had already situated all the dead ones. Should I say dead ones? They put ‘em on this wagon like with four wheels and were takin’ ‘em up to the cemetery. And then you had to go up there to identify the bodies. An, my mother was moving. So her parents went up to the cemetery and discovered she was alive. And they got her back home and she survived it. But the only way she claims she survived she believed, she was a religious person an’ she had this little St. Anthony statue in her hand. And she took that. She said she took it and she said, “Please, St. Anthony, make me live.”
An’ anyhow she survived the earthquake but the rest of the whole community went down. And she said thata now that today in Italy you can not build a buildings over, you know, third floor. So you only have two apartments, you know, on account of… I was there, I felt two earthquakes, very small ones. But boy, every thing shook. Yeh.
My father an’ mother came here in 1920. On a ship which took them forty days to cross the ocean. And when you died, she said when you died they threw you over board. Because they, they didn’t, you know, they’re not modernized as they are today. Can you imagine forty days? Forty days! My mother was pregnant for my oldest sister. 1920. And she said if the child was born … they said they were goin’ to name it Italia. An’ Josephine always says, “Thank God I was born in America!” She was, she was born in Lucarelli’s house in 1920. April 17th, 1920.
An” she said thank God that she got to Ellis Island. My mother said it was terrible at Ellis Island when the group first came in. Well she used to say, you know, you didn’t know anybody. “An’ there’s twenty feet of snow there,” she said. There was snow which she had never seen in her life to come to America. An’ she said to my father, she said, “Take me back to Italy because … whata … how am I gonna walk on this stuff?” You know. She saida she used to tell me, she said, “My goodness, I can never believe when they hit Ellis Island.” Then come to Livermore Fall there was twenty more feet of snow. No plowed, no nothin’. She said she never saw that in the Appeninni mountains which surrounded her community, her homea. You could see just the tops had snow. But it never came down to the community.
Ernest Mollicone, he was the last of the fourteen. My father’s parents? They were dead when he was nine. I don’t think he ever remembered them too much. He was a young boy. But they all came to America. One by one they got here. One of them landed in New York. The other one in New Jersey. Anda Uncle Phil an’ Angelina, that’sa their sister, Angelina Lucarelli, and my dad,
there’s three of us here in the State of Maine. An’ my father’s brother, Uncle John Mollicone landed in Montreal, Canada. An’ he raised his family in Montreal. Yeh, ’cause that’s the only place he could find a job. An’ he worked on ships durin’ that time. Then as he got older he decided he ran like a garden for the farmers or for the hospitals and the convents. He hada fantastic vegetables you ever saw in your life. He raised a big family also. But now that they’re all scattered, the fourteen of them are all scattered. An’ then we had that one ina Pennsylvania. He was a nice lookin, one. Curly headed. He loved to play the accordion my father said. I can’t say no more about that one. He was a great guy though.
My father’s sister Angelina married Dominic Lucarelli which they came to Livermore Falls. An’ they told my parents to come to live with them, you know, to get started. An’ Uncle Phil and Auntie did too. Your grandparents. They lived in there with us. An’ Carmel and Olindo Lucarel … Carmel got married an’ she lived in there. An’ Fegeo and Helen did too, I think. All in… it’s a big house!
His family, I didn’t know his family. I only knew my mother’s. That’s when I went to Italy and spent four years and I got acquainted with my mother’s family. But my father’s family all came to America and they all departed to a different state. And I never knew them. Yes, yes they all brothers and sisters, they came from Isola del Liri, Italy. And that’s where Ia met my mother’s people, but not my father’s. My mother was an only child. So she had only one cousin, a Marieatta Sardellitta. That’s where I stay over there. I had a great time over there. Anda the people were beautiful. I had to learn … go to Rome, buy somea what do you call … dictionaries and booksa … can start learn to speak the proper Italian. Which I did. But now I have forgotten because there’s nobody aroun’ here that speaks Italian.
It wasn’t the same. It was true what ever my mother and father told me that they had nothing. Nothing! But when I went over there it was so different. They had noa wood stoves. They had fire places. They had no coal. They hada burnt trees. They kept trees and that is what they used. But then when you had to doa start your f ire you Ida use bark of the trees. Just the bark of the trees. When I was over there I didn’t see no trees. They were all burned. That’s true. But it was a beautiful community. The people were great. They were friendly.
I also had to be an interpreter for a drug store down there ’cause there’s people came in from France an’ England. I had to be the interpreter because they could not speak the Italian language. Or they spoke British. But it was hard for me but I got toa… it’s hard to understand those people. They seem to swallow their words or something. But I did fine over there. And when they needed help they always came and got me.
And another thing was different, too. When you die alla caskets are just wooden boxes. You go up in the store an’ you pick one out an’ put your body in. Good Lord, I went up with my Uncle John one night an’ he went to visit the neighbor that he knew had died. I said, “Gee, John, how could they put him in a box an, … how could they set him in a casket?” I said. “It’s only such a short time, don’t they have to…” ViNo. No embalm. it’s just bring ‘m up,” he said, “They bring ‘m up, put in the box.. He was layin’ on the bed with his overalls. I said, “Gee’s he dead?” I said, “Why on the bed?” He said, “That’s the way they do it, Sylvia.” The next morning the man came up to get the undertaker. Came up. Put him in a casket, nothing, no lining, nothing in the box. An’ so they brought him up to the cemetery but on their shoulders’. Anda I said, “My goodness.” I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. They brought him up there an’ they said, “Set him down there.” An’ in the cemetery before you go to put ‘em in the ground you gotta money to put I ‘em in the ground or you gonna have I ‘em cremated. And if you can nota stay in the ground, they take you out after five years. And then after the five years are up they’ll take your body out. Either cremate it or have it put it in a crypt in the wall.
My Uncle, Maria’s husband, Mr. Archello and Maria, they both died and they went into the ground. And when they were taken out down in Naples, Italy. They’re in a crypt in the wall. An’ it’s dark in there. And my Aunt and Uncle hada lights up there on each side of theira crypt, Amen. Very wealthy people. And each side of those boxes has a picture of him and her. There’s her round picture here and a round picture there.
But downstairs as you enter there’s an American soldier that died in Italy during the war. And he’s down in the first floor. And it’s draped with an American flag. He didn’t want to come back to America ’cause his parents came from there and he’s sittin in the first floor. An I the one I s that are poor, they have festive on November first, All Souls Day. All the candles are lit and, boy, you go down there an’ it takes your eyes out they’re so strong. An’ it smells. it’s so different. I think durin’ the Second World War, that’s where Mussolini hid himself. In this cemetery in Naples. I was told this. But they got him though. Yeh, they hung him. Where he was hung, we went we saw the town in where he was hung.
You know, it’s just unreal, the same thing the culture in the kitchen. They didn’t buy coffee. They call it ozzo, it’s like a bean but it’s not coffee. And they had to ground that. And thena the milk lady came in the morning witha, you know, the big container, the big jug of milk. The milk is not pasteurized, not what is it? Homogenized? None of that is there. She comes, she hollers, “Marieatta!” She rapsa. And so Marietta hasa her dipper ready. And the lady fills her dipper an’ that’s the milk you get. That comes to the door for that.
And thena we have our breakf ast. What we never had no cereal. Nothing. We just had cut up bread. She had no stove. She had a fireplace. But they had like a little iron stove inside of the fireplace. But it stands on the stand and they heat your milk in that. And everybody has the same thing for breakfast in the morning. They havea cut up bread with milk and coffee. Which I never drank coffee. I don’t drink coffee. But I had the urge to be sociable because after all they were poor people. Very poor. And you never leave the table without blessing yourself. Just thank the Lord that you have a slice of bread on your table.
It’s so unreal. No pepper. The salt … you know what they had for salt? It’sa rock salt. That’s what they throw in their macaroni before they put all the macaroni in. It’s really interesting to see.
When we went over we hit the high seas, oh boy, four days. I thought we were gonna die! On our second trip back the captain came to us. They said, “Your Uncle John’s not gonna make it.” That ship was tipped over just like this. And we were goin’ like this and down and up. Just likea the waves, you know. The water came right up on the deck. And I said, “Oh my God.” I lost twenty pounds on my first trip. I was thankful for that. Nobody was up stairs in the main dining room. They were all layin’ on the floor throwin’ up and sick. And the pregnant women, oh God forbid, they were throwinf up everything.
It was fun thougha, you know, it was fun up in the main dinin, room after this calmed down. Everybody goes up in the main dinin, room. They had dances. All the booze was free at eleven o’clock. We had a great time, Uncle John and I, watchin’ them. But I enjoyed people because I speak to everybody. I have a friend that is very mean. She never liked toa associate with anybody and I like to talk to people. I don’t care what nationality, green, white, or black. They’re all beautiful people. I enjoyed that trip. I had four of them, you know, back and forth. It was great. Fantastic. You meet all kinds of people. I used to write to them. And then I couldn’t have time because I knew I’d never see them again. And some of it been what thirty‑seven, thirty‑eight years. An’ it’s all changed.
O.K. I havea one brother, Herbie‑‑Herbert. He’s borna January 25th, 1925. Of course he was the pet of the family. He’s the only boy, right? So, we all loved him to pieces. An, we used to play games together. An’ we went walkin’ together. An’ everything my father bought was for my brother! An’ my mother did the same f or us. But she always made sure she bought something f or my brother when she bought f or us three girls. We were really spoiled, real spoiled brats, all four of us. And today we’re still the same. But still we’re very close family.
And Josephine was borna as she arrived in America. She was fortunate. April 17th, 1920. She didn’t get born on the ocean. She said thank God she was born in America. She was born right in Lucarelli’s house. She was born in my aunt’s house. An’ then I had another sister, Maria Christina, who died at two years old with the measles. An’ then Yolanda was born. And she was born in 1923. Because I was born in 1922. Herbie wasa January 25th, 1925. Then my mother had another one, Anita Emma, which died at the age of six months old. She had intestinal problems. I think it wasa ruptured appendix they told it. But ita was so many years ago, you know, that in those days they didn’t have the facilities. They just give you an enema and that, you know, her thing burst. Everything burst. But that was way back, too.
I had a brother and a sister both in the service. An’ they both served six years. one served six years in the Navy. An’ my sister was an Army Nurse who had serveda ina France, Belgium, anda, was it Germany? I can’t recall. She went toa served her service time in the Army. She found her husband. She married him, a James Stradley from Kansas City. An’ she hada two babies. But in the mean time she also worked nights in the Menora Hospital in Kansas City. Then they decided come to Connecticut. From Connecticut she went to work in the hospitals there. And after, shea was workin’ in the hospitals in Massachusetts. She graduated from St. Mary’s hospital, Lewiston, Maine. This is where her career started.
She had a nice personality with people. This is what counts when you’re a professional. If you don’t have that you might as well not work with the sick people. Yeh. An’ then shea worked for the Mental Retardation Center in Stoughton, Massachusetts. An’ she loved it. But she became I think it was sixty‑eight so she said it was time for her to retire. But she loved that job. She loved the people. I used to go down with her. An’ the minute she got on the grounds those poor souls there walkin’ around with little toys. Anda they all used to holler “Hi, Mrs. Stradley. Hi, Mrs. Stradley.”And she’d stop an, she’d go over an’ shake hands with all of them. They loved her. Yeh, it was a pitiful sight.
I told you about one sister. And my other sistera taught school. Yolanda taught school at the Convent, I don’t know, for quite a few years. She never wanted to go get her degree. But finally she taught down to Fayette an’ thea principal wanted her to go to school just one summer. An’ then he could give her degree as a teacher. Now, this was way back. Today you have to earn it. Anda he said that she could get a degree but she didn’t.
O.K. My brother. My brother had a good job. An’ then they laid him off ’cause, you know, goin’ slack there. An’ he worked ina… sellin’ automobiles. Then he got back in his job. He served six years in the Navy as a radio man. Anda he used to bring all those boys home here. We hada great parties here. One night Josephine was ready to ship off. When she got home, nine Army nurses, nine of lem. Nine! An’ Herbie brought home nine sailors one night. We had a car load. An’ my mother had lem all over the floor here. We had a ball. My mother stayed up all night washin’ the girls’ uniforms an’ things.
He loved the Navy. An’ Josephine loved the Air Force. But I think when they went overseas they grounded ‘em because they needed Army nurses. She brought all her friends here. An’ … oh we had a ball here. I’ll tell you, there’s plenty of spaghetti and meatball. By the ton! My father would make it, my mother would make them. The kids had a good time here. Three days of that. Can you imagine what we had on the floor? But my mother was a great lady. My father, too, entertained those kids. They had a good time. Yeh.
Then one time my brother took one of the boys out huntin. You wouldn’t believe what he shot. shot Dow’s cow up here. He come from the city. Held never seen a deer. Herbie said, “oh my God!” He said, “Let’s go, we’re gonna get shot here. You’ve killeda … you struck a cow.” He said, “That’s a big brown one.” Herbie said, “No way, you hit a cow not a deer.” They came home told my father. My father said, “You’d better call Mr. Dow up.” Herbie said, “No way!” He said, “We’re gonna have to pay the fine here.” Thosea cows are expensive. There was a batch a cows. This one got away somehow. An’ Mr. Bryant that was with my brother, he said, “oh my goodness, what am I gonna do?” Herbie said that run, takin I of f . The kid was f rom New York. He’d never seena deer. We had a good time in childhood. I tell you, we really did. We had a beautiful time.
An’ then Josephine wanted to play the fiddle. She took lessons. There goes one dollar a week for fiddle. Josephine took fiddle from Delmaro Taddy from Waterville. I don’t know. Yeh, Josephine took it for a while. An’ I used tie her in that there an’ she used to bang the door, “Let me out!” I said, “No, jump out the window. We don’t want to hear you.” An’ she used to laugh.
So it was fun. Really great.
Love, love. Anda the Italian culture. Havin’ my parents growin, up. Growin’ up with my parents ’cause I enjoyed both of them. We had a good time with them. My mother was a jolly lady. An’ my father, I can’t say the word, buta if it wasn’t for one thing my father was the happiest man in the world. Yeh. We weren’t afraid of our parents. But when they spoke we had to do what they said. But they didn’t push us or anything. They just said if you don’t, well, you’re not gonna get what you wanna get. I think we were one of the luckiest ones aroun’ here ’cause my father and mother thought a lot of us four. Sometimes we hollered an’ screeched like kids. But when they spoke we moved. It weren’t too bad. They say, “Oh we didn’t have a bad childhood,” you know. We had a happy childhood all four of us. I was a very shy girl. My sister went into nursing. That was one sad thing when we’s parted. That hurt me a lot. Yes, I missed her. I missed my sister. Yes. Anf then Lunda got married an’ she moved over there. But then she came back over here. She was pregnant for her first baby.
I miss my sister Josephine. I miss Landa ’cause she got married. But that was, you know, that’s only life and nature. Right? An’ then the grandchildren come an’ Josephine went to work in the Minora Hospital in Kansas City. She couldn’t find a rent when she got married. She came back here brought the little girl. That was Kelly Ann. She flew back with her. We had her for two years. Then Josephine came wanted her back. So we went to bring her back. But she was the queen of us. Then we have Tanya. Tanya wasa my mother’s queen, too. An’ the little boy stayed with us in the summer. I wish those days were back again. Yeh.
Look, I’m alone now. I enjoyed my sister. I enjoyed both of my sisters an’ my brother. I miss him very much. But he’s married an’ he has to lead his life. An’ I stayed single. But actually when I had my class reunion, boy, oh boy, they tell me a lot, the girls. It’s unreal what they do. They say, “Sylvia, you are very fortunate.” I said, “You think I’m fortunate?” I am fortunate ’cause my two sisters always give me everything. My brother, too, sends me money. An’ plus the grandchildren. They’ve always loved me an’ I love them. You know, the grandchildren is something I live for, too. So they give me a lot of happiness. But as they get older they have their own lives. But they love me an’ I love them. Yeh.
I tell you I loved my sisters an’ my brother. I hated it when they parted. But they had to go an’ lead lead their own lives. You can’t tell ‘em what to do. If they don’t forget me, that’s what I love. I tell you my friend comes up here. She said, “Boy you have a perfect family.” I said, “No. Nobody’s perfect on this earth. If we were perfect we wouldn’t be here,” I said, “But we do have a loving family.” Honest to God, I really do. I love I ‘em.
We both (Sylvia and Landa) worked in the Bath Ship Yard. Used to leave here four o’clock in the morning Monday morning. Anda couple of girls up on the hill. An’ Lunda got injured in a busa accident. An’ she wasa put at the Hyde Windless which was just the same distance, probably a few miles away. But we met some great people there that wasa big shots in the Navy. An’ we also met Margaret Chase Smith. An’ she came over an’ shook our hands as we were aboard ship. She was great to us. Margaret was a peachy lady. I liked her very much.
Dirty work. Well, I’ll tell you the truth. They wanted Rena Marchetti, my friend up on the hill, and I to work nights. It was a dangerous thing, on the ways. An’ they wanted us to do blueprinting. I said, “I’m not going Rena. If you wanna go, you go. She said, “Neither am I.” Because we had heard … this girl was on thea workin’ on the ways of the ship, you know, they’re not completely done. She was pregnant. She fell down an’ cut herself. An’ I don’t know what she was doin’ up there but anyhow…dead we said. But we didn’t know whether she died or not. I said, “I’m not going down there at night time.” An’ I didn’t like the bosses either, you know. Some of them were sexy sex maniacs. An’ I said, “No way. No way.” Anyhow, we went three years there. An’ Landa worked three years at Hyde Windless.
From there when we got through we worked in the Livermore Falls shoe shop. I worked twenty‑five years. Lunda worked there thirty‑three. Thea factory was takin’ their machinery out to Puerto Rico. They send to Puerto Rico, other foreign countries, Tiawan. An’ we had nothing left here so I had to get out. But I never was laid off. I just discovered that it was time for me to go for the social security. An’ that’s the only job. They didn’t have anything in town. I was an employee doinla stitching on the Italian Necchi. It’s all patten leather shoes. You have to oil each front of the shoe the toe part. We had to oil it before you could put your heel in it. Boy, did that smell! That oil and stuff
Anda Landa as floor lady, of coursea, I didn’t know anything which she did. She was everywhere in the thing, you know. Anda I retired. I worked the day shift, you know, seven to… sometimes seven to nine. They needed help we used to stay there. But we never got a paycheck. It was awful. We started off at sixty‑five cents an hour. Then a dollar twenty‑five, a dollar fifteen. An’ today it’s only four an’ a quarter. Bush would never raise it. The President Bush would never raise that.
An’ the people in this community, there’s nothing here. The IP had a strike. An’ everybody moved out. It’s all new people in here. I don’t know any of the families here today. But this town was real poor. Everybody’s on the state. The people that came here to work they’re well off now ’cause they know they have a job, a steady job. But it’sa very few of the strikers are back in the mill. An’ they had trouble with the Union up there an’ all that stuff. Yeh.
When my parents died I went crazy, you know, I couldn’t believe it when my mother died. But that is one of my toughest things, right there. An’ when my family started to depart the brothers and sisters, that was my hardest part of my life. Anda it’s part of life. Youa have to go with it. They have to make their own life, their own happiness. An’ I decided to stay with my mother which probably was wrong. But I don’t think so because I think the Lorda provides for us in one way or another. Anda this is what maybe was for my number to be with my mother and father. So I don’t know. You never know. But I’m happy I was with them. I thank God I was with them. There was one of us. But of course Lunda was up stairs. She was good, too. But she had her husband.
Anda Herbie is in Florida an’ Josephine is in Florida. We have a nice family. They are. There’s a lot of love in our family. We all love each other. I love Florence. Florence is Herbie’s wife. But I never go down there. I don’t bother them. They ask me to come, I don’t go. I’ve been to their home. I’m happy here. They come when they can and that’s it. As long as they’re happy. That’s the only thing that makes me happy as long as they’re happy. You know, everybody has their own life an’ I only ask them all to give me some support.
Oh holidays in this house was beautiful. We had Italian cakes, Penas, they call them. P‑E‑N‑A. An’ then we hada like the night before Christmas fried dough. Ninni used to make the fried dough. Then my sister come from Connecticut. An’ the children. Nini’s frying. She won’t put it on the stove. She had a box on the floor. A moxie box. An’ she covered that all up. Covered the floor up. She use to make the nice big ones. An’ then she would be cookin’ smelts. The Italian tradition you have smelts the night before Christmas. An’ thena we had spaghetti witha Alezias. It’s a type of fish. With oil an’ Alezia anda white spaghetti. That’s our tradition the night before Christmas. That’s the Italian.
An thata Pena? That was f or Easter. That was not f or Christmas. Then at Christmas morning, what do you think, number one, spaghetti and meatballs homemade noodles. An’ it all goes, you know, you had your soda an’ your Italian salad. But it was, you know, that was the tradition in the house for the Christmas. Everything was Italian on our table for Christmas ’cause that’s all my father liked. It was good. Auntie used to make us a stockin’, a homemade stockin’. She filled it up with goodies. She bought the best toroni. Italian toronis, little candy. You remember those in the box? Auntie use to put that. She’d put usa banana, orange. An’ she’d put some candy in. She used to makea the stockin’. She was smart.
Oh, gosh. We had the best Christmas in the whole world. We ate downstairs. There was no room here. So we all had the big table all across Landa’s floor. But the tree was the last thing, right?
O. K. An’ we were there a good four, five hours on the floor. We each we were all workin’, right? We bought each other gifts, right? we didn’t pick no names out. We bought we made sure everybody had a gift from each one of us. We hada the gifts were right across the floor. We really did have a beautiful Christmas. We were just one happy … that’s why I say when they separated as I got older, I felt bad.
My father died in the little bedroom ahead there. An’ he hollered to me, he said, “Come here Sylvia, I want to ask you something.” I says, “Yes, Nonno.” We used to call him Nonno, but
it’s a grandfather. We’d say Nonno, Ninni, that’s how they call ‘em. I went in the bedroom only he told me, he said, “Sylvia, sit on the bed. I wanna talk to you.” An’ I said, “Yes? What wrong?” It was a day like this. It was an awful storm. We had a blizzard. And soa he said, “I wanna ask you sometimes.” I said, “O.K. Nonno, what is it?” I said, “You know, this isa morning you hafta get up I cause I shave you every Saturday morning.” Or every other morning I shaved him. Anda he said, “No, Sylvia, let’s wait a while. Let’s see this snow storm go by.” It was a heck of a blizzard. An’ he said, “I wanna know where the dog is.” His name was Symore. That was Landa, my sister Yolanda’s an’ Ozzie’s dog, Tanya’s really. An’ I said, “Oh he’sa out in the kitchen.” He said, “Don’t lie to me, Sylvia.” I says, “Alright, he’s up stairs.” That was his buddy. An‑’ I said, “O.K. Nonno.” He said, “Would you get me a glass of water?” I said, “Yeh.” I hollered, “Ninni, come get me a glass of water.” Ninni gave him the water. I didn’t. She put it on the bureau after. So he started like this, his arms kept goin’ like this an’ I said, “Nonno, what’s the matter?” I thought he wanted aqua, the water. He died right there in front of me. I screeched an’ hollered. I almost tried to go through that window. An’ I cried. So I had to help my mother call the undertaker an’ the doctor’s an’ everything. An’ that’s the way my dad went. Oh God, he’s been dead, I can’t really remember. But I do have it in there in the bookcase there. I don’t know the date. But I know it was a January because we couldn’t get him in the tomb. They had to get somebody to comea dig thea snow outta there so that they could open the door to place ‘im in the tomb. An’ the Priest came down an’ said a prayer. An’ that did it. He wasa seventy‑six years old. He must be dead good twenty years or better. Maybe twenty‑one. An’ then my mother was ninety when she died. She woulda been ninety‑one in March 4th. Emphysema. Smoking. Which was bad for anybody. But you can tell your friends, they don’t believe it. But when the time comes I see him right here. He’s a man about ninety pounds before he died. His stomach was bloatin’, really a bloatint. An’ he said, “Don’t say nothin’, Sylvia.” An’ his belt, he was a very slim … he had to open… it was killin’ him. Chokin’ him. An’ then his feet, they came like two balloons, two cushions, white, white with snow. But anyhow, he went to heaven that way as of the promised land.
And my mother went the same way eight years in the nursing home. Anda she also died at midnight which I was very sad over that. But that is the way the Lord wanted it. We each have a number an’ each… I don’t know. At least I can say this much. I was faithful to my parents. An’ so was my two sisters an’ my brother. My sister an’ my brother came up from Massachusett. Blizzards. Rainstorm. Thunderstorm. They came every other week. sometimes twice. You know,, instead of waitin’ every other week they used to comea one week right after the other. We loved her.
People who don’t have any love for those people. An’ you put your family, one of your member of your family in a hospital or a nursing home and don’t go … Don’t forget, my sister told me one thing. What goes around comes around. Because I went in the nursing home just helping my mother for eight years an’ let me tell you, those people that put their parents in the home like that. They never, never visited them. It’s unreal. There’s one in my mother’s room. She’s been there must be twelve years now. She’s all in a f etus position. But when she f irst came there her daughters an’ her own family never came to see her. They said they couldn’t be bothered. An’ they make me laugh when they saya they can’t stand it. After all that could be them, too, sometime. I’ve seen it done. An’ some of them die before their mom.
That woman is still in the nursinl home all in a f etus position. But when she almost died a month ago, boy, they come cryin’ up there. An’ the nurses said, “Yeh, this is a heck of a time.” I love workin’ in the nursing home. I would’ve stayed if it wasn’t for my back. It was hard. My mother, you know, always walked by herself. You know how she walked, uh? She always used to go down to the duck pond. An’ I always thought she’d fall in. But she knew enough not to do that.
I used to stay there to nine o’clock at night. Sometimes I had to wait for the taxi man to come get me, ‘specially if there was a snowstorm like this. He used to come up I used to go way down to Fayette with him. That’s quite a ways down before I’d get home. An’ I came home did her laundry. Hung lem up on the doors there to dry the sheets an’ bring lem back the next time ’cause she had her own, you know. Then after work, after 4:30, 1 used to go up there every night f or eight years. She was my mother. One peachy woman. So she deserved that. She brought me into the world. An’ she made sure us four always had everything. An’ she went without to help us. So she was my mother. My father died here in our house. So we served him good, too. How can you f orget your own parents. That I can’t see. Yeh.
Well, we’re all Catholics. All Catholics. But I’m gonna tell you the truth. One day I was up Pomeroy Hill. I went up five o’clock in the morning. All my family’s very religious. Kelly Ann is very religious. Josephine, Jim. An’ Josephine’s husband turned Catholic. He’s a better Catholic that I am. I love my religion. I won I t never turn it down. But the Priest came up to Pomeroy Hill. An’ I went up five o’clock. I dressed my mother. She was beautiful. She was all in blue. So when it came time f or communion he really hurt me. So when we was up there they were having something special at Pomeroy Hill. This is the nursing home where my mother had established a home for a while, you know, for eight years.
Anda so the Priest went around with the communion. He had the two girls with him that wasa, you know, givinf out the communions. Here’s a lady who has always takin’ communion. They have a hard time with her. They had thought they had to put her separate to eat because she was eatin’ all what the people left on their tray. So when he came to my mother, he said, “No communion for her.” An’ I was hurt. I started to cry. He said, “Do you want one?” I said, “No thank you, father. You keep your communion… So I took my mother an’ I went out the room an’ I went down in her bedroom. An’ I was cryin’. The nurses came up. “What in the world is wrong with that Priest?” But my mother was sharp, she was, she had her mouth open an’ he wouldn’t give it to her. How would you feel?
So the lady next to my mother, they gave her communion. She spit it out. Spit it on the f loor. I said, “See, Father, you wouldn I t give my mother one. So then there was a lady f rom Canada further down. Her husband had died in a fire up in New Hampshirea. They woke her up to give her communion. She was half dead! She, you know, she was half gone. I shouldn’t say dead, you know, but she was incapable of handlin’ her body herself. I am sorry I said that word. They make her wake up an, gave her communion. An, my God, it was stickin’ in her throat. They had to go get a glass of water, tapa water to put it down. I say, “Oh my God.” So O.K. So I came home. I cried. An’ I called Josephine. That was on a Friday. Let me tell you good. Josephine and Herbie came up. An, Jim.
Sunday mornin’, they went up to get my mother. We all went to mass together. Guess who gave my mother communion? That Priest that rejected her at Pomeroy Hill. An’ Josephine said, “I don’t think the Priest knew who she was.” Ha, see, hey.
So this Priest came calling here last year. And I didn’t answer the phone. So the Priest took Lunda and Ozzie into the rectory. An’ he said, “How come I can’t get Sylvia?” Ozzie said, “No, she’s boarded up. She doesn’t want nobody there.” So one morning by mistake I answered the phone. So the Priest said to me he said, “Can I come on over to visit?” I said, “Where? Not my house, sir!” I said, “No, father. You’ll never get in here. I don’t want to see you again. An’ don’t ever come.?? He kept callin’. Anda he was very hurt. I was hurt, too, because you had to respect him. He is your Priest, you know. I’m not talkint about him. It’s what he did to my mother which she’s always takin’ communion every Sunday mornin’. This was a special day. He wouldn’t give it to her.
An’ held call me. But, you know, I went up to Bonanza one day about a month ago. Anda we’s up there sittin’ down, Pat and I was having dinner. An’ who the heck … he spotted me! He came to my table. So he said, “Hi.11 I said, “Good morning, sir.11 An’ he said, “How are you?” I said. “Not too well, Father.” I said. “I have problems.” So he said, “Some morning I’m coming over to see you.” I said, “O.K., Father, you’re welcome.” An’ I said, “Don’t ever go to the f ront door I cause I won I t hear you. Come to the back door. Give me a ring the night before. I’ll be prepared.” He didn’t come.
So, the next time I went up again, he came over an’ he said, “Miss Mollicone’ll he said, “I think I would like to visit you.” I said, “Father, you told me that last time an’ you didn’t come. But that’s alright, my door’s open if you want to come.” Sol I made peace with him. Ozzie was gettin’ a bang … he told me, he said, “It’s like Fort Apache here, you come here an’ locked the doors.”
Yeh, you know, it’s fun. But I was sorry to be crude to him. You can’t do that. He is your man of the church. An’ that’s O.K. Every thing turned out O.K.
Then my wish… I wish I had gone to become an interpreter. You retire at forty‑five. I wished I could have been an interpreter. I used to love short hand an’ typin’, you know, that short hand. I wished I had gone to school. That’s a sin. I think today the young girls should be punished. I really do. Fifteen years old. The Governor of Maine should stop this! Like they do in Italy. But today, you make a baby in Italy an’ one, two, three your married. You go to work. They have a hospital right there in the factory. There’s a hospital, there’s nurses in there to take thea care of the infants while the mother’s workin’ there. When it’s her time to go breast feeding she goes in there.
When a child graduatesa, gets out of the fifth grade in Italy, where I stayed you either go to school further your education an’ if you can’t afford to, you have to go to the convent to learn how to sew. An’ from there the boy learns to bea, what do you call it for man’s clothes? A tailor. An’ so every one of those kids … an’ you notice that in China an’ Japan how those kids are brilliant people. But America’s too free with lem. It’s too bad. I like to see a child go to school. I don’t think there’s a base at home. There’s no basic at home.
I think the government should put them in the trainin’. We got out at four o’clock in the mornin’ to go to work. An, these kids are out makin’ babies. They’re tramps. An’ the state pays her. Get out an’ work. Don’t be so lazy. Get to school! Get your education. That’s my thing. You go to school. Never mind makin’ babies. I don’t even believe that they should even make the first one ’cause you have plenty of protection today. There’s no need of this stuff. I may be wrong, I don’t know. But I think it’s wrong. All these young kids. Look at them. They’re all on the state. Education, number one.
I’ve lead a good life. Yeh, it was pretty good. An’ my health. That’s what I hope I can get. I did havea cortisone shot abouta six weeks ago on that side over there. That side’s still hurtin’ me. Yesterday Dr. Bitterhauf over Farmington, beautiful doctor, put somea two or three vials full ofa what ever fluid. An’ maybe it can help me on that side. But this side still hurts me today.
I had to go through the CAT SCAN. Did I cry! Did I cry, ooh. You know, I saw one time a little boy with a teddy bear come out of it. I figured if he went in, cripes, what am I. Why should I be ashamed, you know. But oh my Lord. You know when we got in that first entrance an’ then the second one, it’s this wide. Oh my Lord, you know what I did. You wouldn’t believe why I cried. But I cried all the way. I thought of my mother when they closed the f ront the top of her casket, the face part. My goodness your enclosed. Looks like you don’t see nothin’.
An’ now they tell me they have this one here, you know, in a box or something, after this, which you call it? I’M” something. What is that? Thank God. This was advanced enough for me. They don’t tell you every thing. They only told me about my back. My spine. I have a bad spine. An’ he saida he thought maybe that if he can’t do this I’d have to have surgery. But I’ll see him. I’ll have to go. I didn’t want to. I was trying to eliminate the operation, the surgery. I don’t know. But you know what? I think a lot of it ties back the shoe shop lifting those cases an’ cases of boxes of heavy leather. An’ I also worked eight years with my mother liftin’ her on the bed…