My Uncle Jim

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I must give you a little insight to my Uncle Jim.  I am sure that I do not know him as well as his children but he was my uncle and he was a great person.  My uncle Jim worked very hard and even though he was the owner and manager of three profitable businesses.  He understood that it was his job to do everything possible to save costs and increase profits.  I learned a great deal from my Uncle Jim and I can credit him with providing me a role model to follow.  I credit some of my success to my Uncle Jim for without his examples I may not have been who I am today.

I should share one more item.  My Uncle Jim had four brothers.  They were Sam, Don, Charles and Leonard.  Each of my five uncles played very important roles in my life.  One of the greatest items I understood from this band of brothers was the importance of family.  Each of them were ready willing and able to assist each other.  They shared the knowledge they had learned with each other.  They stood together and each brother was a success in their separate lives. I was a very lucky nephew to be blessed with five wonderful uncles.

Well back to my Uncle Jim.  One of my special memories of my Uncle Jim occurred during the summer in the hot Sacramento sun.  I and my cousins were swimming in the pool just to keep cool from the heat when my Uncle Jim returned from work and without taking off his business suit, jumped into the pool.  Another time I arrived at my Uncle Jim’s home and found him in the back yard painting frames for mirrors.  He had some of the frames hanging on the back fence and he was painting the frames with a base coat of white.  When dry he would then apply a gold flake to sections of the frames.  When this had dried he would hang up more frames and start all over again.  This little project saved him money when he used the mirrors in his business.  My Uncle Jim is a wonderful person and I love him dearly.

Here is a photo of my Uncle Jim.  It was provided to me by his son with the caption below.

My Uncle Jim

“HELLS ANGELS GANG TAKE OVER HOLLISTER, CA. WITH DRINKING AND WILD PARTIES”

The Hollister Record: The Hells Angels from San Jose, California, led by Jimmy “The Stallion” (John’s Uncle Jim) and the Black Hand Gang, came to Hollister on Friday afternoon and seized the entire town. The Hollister Police Department was undermanned and not ready for this invasion of hundred of wild Italians who rode in on their Harley motorcycles. They completely took the town by surprise, partied with all the women, drank all the bars dry, and raced up and down the main street in the three day siege. As quick as they came, they left even faster on Monday morning in a cloud of dust and noise, leaving the town vanquished.

The Mayor of Hollister had these words for these crazy marauders; “Wow, Hollister has never witnessed such a wild time in its existence, and would like to thank those motorcycle enthusiasts and is extending an invitation to return next year”.

That’s how Hollister started its motorcycle weekend gala in 1954, and now, you know the rest of the story.

Here is another photo

Cousin Judy talks about Grandpa John

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I must tell you about a response I received from my cousin Judy.  She lived in Des Moines, Iowa and was able to visit both my Grandpa John and Grandma Mary.  She loved both of my Grandparents and knew them better than I.  Please read what she had to say about my Grandpa John and my Grandma Mary.

If anyone can add more information about these two wonderful people please send then to me or call me and tell me your stories.

John

Here is what she wrote:

I remember your grandpa John, very well. He was a wonderful kind, strong and caring man. Your grandpa was my Uncle John, because he was married to my grandmother, Carmella’s (or as they referred to her, Rafella, her name in Italian) sister, Mary, your grandmother. We (my mother, Chris and my father, Joe) visited Uncle John and Aunt Mary’s every Sunday. It was traditional in those days to make the rounds on the south side, where all the Italian relatives lived. My grandparents, your grandparents and Aunt Minnie (another sister of your grandma, Mary) and Uncle Pete were our usual Sunday stops every weekend. We ate everywhere we went–pasta, brachiolis, homemade Italian sausage, homemade cookies and pie; always homemade wine and anisette. Ate and drank from morning till night, then we would roll home!!! During the summer when my grandmother (Nana) was in California, I would stay with your grandparents while my mom and dad were at work during the day. There was always a big garden and grape vineyards in the backyard. Aunt Mary watched me very closely, the kids would always have to come to her backyard to play, and she would not let me go to theirs because she was very protective of me.
They were wonderful people and Aunt Mary spoiled me when I stayed with them. We loved them very much! I have a lot of fond memories of Aunt Mary and Uncle John.

Left to Right: Judy’s grandson Nicholas, age 13; Judy’s husband John, Michael, age 8, daughter Krista, granddaughter Natalie, age 8, Judy’s son-in-laws Doug and Craig, granddaughter Kaitlyn, age 12, Judy’s daughter Lisa, and Judy,

 

 

 

Family Photos! (Jan and Richard)

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To all who sent me photos thank you so very much!  I will start with these four from my cousin Jan and her husband Richard.  Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!  Thanks John

 

Grandma Mary

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The drive to my Grandma Mary’s was done in silence. It was a short drive compared to the drive to the rest home. Once there we would knock on the door and enter the house. Seeing my dad’s mother we would greet her with hugs and the word “chow” which mean hello in Italian. Grandma’s English was not very good, but her hugs, kisses, and the glow on her face said it all. It was normally close to lunch time but the time did not matter. Once inside the house and right after our greetings Grandma Mary would call out to my Uncle Jimmy G to come and visit.

At the same time we would sit at the table and my Grandmother would bring food for my dad and I to enjoy. Sandwiches, soup, and pasta anything and everything could appear on the table. My dad would speak to my Grandmother in Italian until my uncle entered and said hello. Then we would go through the greetings process again. Eating the items placed in front of you was required or you would insult grandma. I just listened as my dad and Grandma spoke in Italian.

With the visit ending we would say our goodbye’s with lots of hugs and kisses and be on our way to visit my Aunt Grace, my father’s sister. The drive to my Aunt Grace’s house was over almost as soon as we settled into the car seat. There we would visit with Aunt Grace and my Uncle Jim F. The three of them would talk about their parents and how they were getting along with their health.

I am not sure but I think my mom, dad, Uncle Jim F and Aunt Grace had an agreement concerning their parents. My mom and dad took care of my Grandma Jessie and my Uncle Jim and Aunt Grace took care of Grandpa John and Grandma Mary. So based on this understanding these individuals would update each other as to the status of their respective charges. I did not participate in these discussions. Instead and depending on whom might be at Uncle Jim and Aunt Grace’s home I would visit with one of my four cousins.

Once the visit with my uncle and aunt concluded my dad and I would say our goodbyes and head to the car. The drive home was a little over two hours and this allowed us time to talk. We talked about how well my Grandpa John looked, how nice my Grandma was and how enjoyable Uncle Jimmy was and what help he was for my Grandma.

We would also discuss my father’s desires about his medical treatment in his golden years. I would listen and ask questions just to make sure I understood. I did not know this at this time but these trips would aid me later in life. They aided me with the decisions about his sudden illness. It was that incident that allowed my father to depart this life. He was happy feeling he had done everything he could for his children. He was on his way to his beloved wife, his Rose, my mother.

Those talks helped me in discussions with my wife who was seriously ill for a period of 12 years. I would listen to her and about how she wished to pass this life. I would hold her and try to be a comfort for her. I would ask her careful questions, just to make sure I understood her wishes. Yes, my father prepared me for the passing of my wife, my Monica. Two months after my father’s passing, my love, my wife of 38 years, my best friend for over 44 years, my Monica passed away from this life.

I had been prepared and trained for the passing of my wife, by my Father.

A Rest Home Visit

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The most memories I have of my Grandpa John occur around a long drive with my father, a stop at a grocery store, and ending with our visit with my Grandpa John. My dad and I lived in San Jose California and my Grandpa was living just outside Sacramento. This meant that we would drive about 120 miles to visit. The drive took us a little over two hours to complete discounting the stop at the grocery store.

I would travel with my dad anytime I could. Sometimes I could not make the trip due to homework or the need to study for finals. However if I was able to made the trip without impact to my college classes I would be in the car with my dad. I did not count the number of trips I made sitting in the car with my dad but I remember there were a lot. In addition to visiting my Grandpa John, we would stop and say hello to my Aunt Grace, my dad’s sister. We would also stop and visit with my Grandma Mary, and my Uncle Jimmy, my dad’s mother and brother.

At the time of these visits my Grandpa John was in need of more care than Grandma Mary and Uncle Jimmy could provide. My Grandfather was living out his remaining years in a rest home. I loved to visit my Grandpa because it seemed to make him happy if only for the time my dad and I spent with him. Let me tell you a little story about one of our trips.

My dad was planning a trip to visit Grandpa on Saturday and I said that I wanted to go with him. I drove over to his house early Saturday morning and after greeting both he and my mom we said goodbye to mom and were off to visit my Grandpa John. Sometime I will tell you about the things we talked about on our two-hour drive but not this time. We had some of the best talks on the drive to visit my dad’s dad.

Driving for almost two hours ended inside a parking lot. It was here that we would park the car and enter the grocery store close to the rest home where my Grandfather lived. We would scour the store looking for special treats to present to my Grandpa John. My father explained to me that we did this to make his father happy. Dad went on to explain that sweet items like cookies and fruit could be tasted by my Grandpa but other things like pasta or a meatloaf did not taste well to him. So we were always on the lookout for new and exciting cookies. Fruit was always something that was more dictated by the season and my dad’s knowledge of the fruits Grandpa liked. Of course we needed to find fruit that was ripe and ready to eat today. With our goodies bagged and the items purchased we took the goodies to the car and continued our drive to the rest home.

Arriving at the rest home we would park the car, get the bag of goodies, and enter the rest home. We would head directly to my Grandfather’s room and most times Grandpa John would be there sitting in a chair and looking out of the window. My father would call out to Grandpa John in Italian saying good morning, Papa. Grandpa would turn to face us and as soon as his mind recognized us a big smile would brighten up his face. Out of the chair and into the outstretched arms of my father. When finished with their greeting I would say hello in English or Italian and give my hug and kiss hello.

We would then leave the room and walk down the hall to the dining area inside the rest home. The dining area functioned as an eating, entertaining, reading, and social area for the residents and guests that arrived to visit. We would find a table away from other activity and the three of us would sit down for our visit. My dad would open the bag of goodies and place some of the cookies on a plate; he would then cut up some of the fruit and place the bite size pieces onto the plate.

Enjoying the cookies and bites of fruit my dad and Grandpa would speak in Italian. My dad did most of the talking with my Grandpa listening and occasionally glancing at me. I watched how much my Grandpa enjoyed eating the cookies and fruit slices. If grapes were in season my Grandpa would eat more grapes than cookies that day. He also liked crisp Apples and cheese. I was fascinated by the interaction between my dad and his father. I think this was one of the best lessons I learned about life. Checking for signs of fatigue or loss of attention my dad would know the visit was over. We would then walk Grandpa back to his room, hug and kiss goodbye, and leave the bag of goodies with Grandpa John we would depart the rest home.

My Grandfather John

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I wanted to write a story about my Grandfather John, but this is very difficult for me. I did not know my Grandfather John very well. He lived in Des Moines Iowa and I lived in San Jose California. He and his wife Mary moved to Sacramento California after he retired and after he suffered a major health problem that almost ended his life. The move to Sacramento California was a good idea because his daughter, my Aunt Grace, and his son, my Uncle Jim, lived in Sacramento.

His oldest son, my father Frank, lived in San Jose California just 110 miles away. My family, Frank and Rose, could and did drive to Sacramento many times to visit my Aunt Grace and her husband, my Uncle Jim. Before my Grandparents, John and Mary moved to Sacramento the families of Frank and Rose, Jim and Grace visited each other often. My dad, Frank, was the brother of my Aunt Grace. My mom, Rose, was the sister of my Uncle Jim. In addition to these family ties each set of parents had four children consisting of two boys and two girls. The eight children were close in ages with cousins just about one year apart. (see below for the family chart)

However, by the time my Grandfather, John and Grandmother, Mary moved to Sacramento California I was married and starting a family of my own. All I knew about my Grandfather John was what my father, his son Frank, told me about his father. I knew that my Grandfather John was born in Italy and that he was poor. Prior to immigrating to the USA he was a field hand that cared for sheep, goats and cows. He was from southern Italy in the province of Calabria and the very small town of Terraivecca. In Italy he was called by the first name, Batista, which denoted John the Baptist. In the USA he was known instead by the name, John.

Once in the USA he found work as a cement finisher working on roads throughout the USA. He lived in Des Moines, Iowa and would travel to the road sites. He was away from his home working for days, weeks, and sometimes months. However, his family received most of his pay and along with their home garden survived the great depression. He was a good man with the hope that one of his grandchildren would graduate college. My father knew that I would never be able to make a living with my hands so he always told me to study hard and get a good education. That way I could attend college and work with my mind instead of my hands. I thank my Grandfather John for his dream that his grandchildren go to college. Without the dream of my Grandpa I may never have had the desire to attend and graduate college.

My dad told me that my Grandfather John fought in the First World War. He was a member of the Italian army. Grandpa John did not talk about the war. He did not like to be in a car when it was being filled with gasoline due to the smell of gasoline. I was told that the smell of gasoline reminded him of the smell of the gas used to kill troops in the First World War. We never filled the car with gas if Grandpa John was in the car.

I remember that I did visit my grandparent’s house but that memory confused me. The reason for the confusion is due to the fact that as a child I never visited Des Moines Iowa. Yet I remember visiting a house with a big backyard. And in the middle of that big yard was a very large chicken coop. I can still remember seeing my grandma Mary enter the coop and check for eggs or find a plump bird for dinner. I wish I could remember more.

I also remember that my Grandfather John was not a very tall man. However, he was a very strong man with a large chest and a small waist. He had a smile that always warmed my heart and he never had a cross word for me on his lips. I love my namesake Grandpa John.

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Family chart.

 

My Grandpa Sam and Grandma Jessie (the F Family)

Had seven Children

Connie

Sam

Dominic

Charles

James – married Grace; My Uncle Jim and Aunt Grace

Rose – married Frank; My father and mother

Leonard

My Grandpa John and Grandma Mary (the G Family)

Had three Children

Frank – married Rose; My father and mother

Grace – married Jim; My Uncle Jim and Aunt Grace

Jimmy

My Uncle Jim and Aunt Grace (an F family)

Had four Children

Anna Jean

Leonard

Janet

Gary

My dad Frank and my mom Rose (an G family)

Had four Children

Marianne

John

Sam

Jessica

Another Two Birthday’s

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I sure am a very lucky person.  It seems to me that we are either just finishing someone’s birthday or we are getting ready to celebrate another birthday.  Well I just finished celebrating my Grandson Michael’s birthday and I just sang a song to my sister Marianne on her birthday. Now I am prepared for another two birthday’s one for my new daughter Alex and one for my daughter Susan.  The older I become the more birthdays’ there are for me to miss.

As a young boy all I had to remember was five birthdays.  They were the birthdays of my mom, dad, two sisters, and one brother.  When my sister married and made me an uncle not just once but three times, I needed to remember three more birthdays.  When I got married I not only had to remember my wife’s birthday, I had to remember a lots of other dates too. No longer did I just need to remember the birth dates of my family. I now had to remember my wife’s family birth dates as well. Oh yes, I also had to remember the day we meet, our wedding day and other days my wife felt were important.  The more time passed the greater in size the list of days I needed to remember grew.

My newest daughter, Alexandra is having a birthday this month.  Alex is a wonderful person and I am happy she is my daughter.  Alex is currently working for a new web technical marketing company.  In addition to her full-time job she is attending graduate school on her way to a MBA.  She is a special young girl who was a pillar of support for her mother after the passing of her father, Cy.  Alex was instrumental in my being able to meet her mother, Marti.  Alex was also the first in Marti’s family to welcome me into their family.

I want to take this time to wish my new daughter, Alex a wonderful and happy birthday. Alex lives and works in southern California so we do not see her as often as we should.  However, we do see her on special occasions and these are always good times.  Alex likes my cooking skills.  One of her favorite items that I prepare is from my list of salads, it is known as John’s tomato salad.  I will make this salad whenever Alex visits her home in Aptos.  Alex also likes my special burnt Almond cake from Peter’s Bakery in San Jose California. I have been known to pick up a burnt Almond cake when Alex visits her mom and me.

I also like the fact that Alex and Monica share the same room at our house.  They act like sisters even though Alex is Monica’s Aunt.  Alex has welcomed all of my grandchildren and enjoys spending time with each of them.  Alex attended the family reunion and enjoyed the event.  She will be attending the wedding of my daughter Susan in June.  She is going to visit her Aunt Jolynn, who lives outside Washington DC and is expecting her second child in October. Alex shows she is a caring and loving person by how she has maintained friendships from her early school days through today.

Alex was born on the same day her grandfather was born.  Her grandfather, Mike S. was living in southern California when he suffered a stroke that affected his right side.  The family felt it would be better for Mike if he was moved to the Santa Cruz County.  This move would place Mike close to his son and daughter, Matt and Marti.  Mike is a very interesting person and most of the time is a fun person to visit.

Mike likes to drink Coca-Cola. So whenever we visit him we bring extra dollar bills so he can ask the orderly to purchase one for him.  He also likes for us to bring him sweet things he can eat.  His favorite sweet snack is Lemon Bars.  He also likes Tiramisu, Lemon Cake, Chocolate Cake and Cheese Cake.  Mike’s condition has improved greatly after his move from southern California.  I attribute the improvement to his health directly to the multiple visits from his son and daughter.  I also visit Mike because he makes me laugh and treats me as a member of his family.

Happy Birthday Alexandra!  Happy Birthday Mike!  I love you both!

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