Growing up Italian in Boston (Roslindale, Massachusetts)

Apr 13, 2015 1324

By Joseph Francis Michael Moscaritolo

I grew up in Roslindale, Massachusetts not far from St. Michael Cemetery. It seemed like everyone Italian was buried at St. Michael Cemetery. This cemetery has very large and fancy tomb stones along with ornate mausoleums.. I lived with my parents and sister on the 2nd floor of my grandparent's house. It was wonderful growing up Italian and I was blessed to live in the same house as my grandparents.

Noni (Colomba Minichiello Moscaritolo) from Grottiminarda, Italy and Grandpa (Giuseppe Moscaritolo) from Mirabella, Italy were very special people who welcomed everyone who came to their home. Every holiday and other Sundays, after their Paisans visited the cemetery, they would come by to visit my grandparents. And me, who loved to be with people, always joined the visit.

Even though they spoke Italian and shame on me for not being able to communicate, I still enjoyed being there. I always had my cheeks pinched and everyone always said how big I was getting. (now that I think back, they never said I was cute) I was always embarrassed to speak Italian and when my Grandmother wanted to teach me, I always said that I did not have to learn. Her response -- someday you will be sorry. And yes Noni, I am.

Well anyway, my Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins would also be at my grandparents house on every holiday and most Sundays. As we all remember, it was the grandparents who held the family together. Once they left us, we could see a difference in everyone getting together. Everyone who visited after the cemetery would take Italian Pastry, homemade wine or fruit with them. Some would take eggs from their chickens or fruit and vegetables from their garden. The homemade cookies and Italian delicacies were the best. Few had cars and most took public transportation. They came from all areas in and around the City of Boston. Memorial Day and Palm Sunday were the biggest days for their visit because of the respect of Palms and flowers being left at the graves.

People would be sitting on the front or back porches. More often we would all be in the back yard or under the grapevine. My Grandfather's homemade wine would always be available. My Grandfather would proudly take most everyone on a tour of his garden and show them the plantings and his greenhouse. He never bought plants because he saved certain seeds from the previous year and started plants in his greenhouse. When you looked at the plantings, the tomatoes and peppers were always in a straight line from all angles.

It always amazed me how much food there was in the house just in case someone dropped over. There was always a salad with cold cuts, variety of cheeses and preserved vinegar peppers with Italian bread. Preserved garden vegetables in the wine cellar from the season before were on the table as an antipasto. My Grandmother could not read English but she could make biscotti, pound cake, knot cookies with sesame seeds and other types of pastry without reading the measurements or directions. So many different recipes were in her mind. All came out in big platters for everyone to enjoy. All of this took place in the afternoon after we had our Sunday 12 noon dinner. Great Italian memories

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