27 Nov Uptown with Uncle Angelo
Nanny’s brother, Angelo, lives in what looks like a mini brownstone in the center of town, where most of the activity, such as it is this time of year, is based.
The tree-lined street has a bed of stone, with a mixture of small shops and homes, including Zio Angelo’s, on either sided. It’s obviously “uptown,” whereas Aunt Nuzza’s house, Nanny’s old house, is in “malajira” section. I thought it was a joke at first, but they are serious. When we asked a woman for directions, we mentioned our relationship to Aunt Nuzza, and it only clicked when she connected the dots to “Malu jira. ”
In short, legend has it that 150 years ago or more, a person who was killed and mutilated was found in the area where Aunt Nuzza’s house now stands. It’s been considered the “bad way” since then, long before the house was built in 1925, the same year Nanny was born.
After a scheduling hiccup with our ailing cousin Marie Antoinette (she has a broken leg), we got to visit Zio Angelo and his wife, Anna Maria. Angelo turned 92 years old last Monday.
The house was warm as far as I could tell, but the two were cuddled next to each other as if the Arctic had dropped into their laps. They shared a blanket and each had on a wool hat. Best of all, though you can’t see it in this picture, each had a throw pillow at their feet — no reason, really, it just rounded out the motif.
Uncle Al says they were virtually bare compared to most days.
Famously, Zio Angelo and Zia Anna Maria eat a spoonful of pastini mixed with water each day that it stirred for a long, long time. People say they don’t eat anything else, but I don’t believe it.
I’ll save you from the hour’s worth of video we took of them for now, but we got to talk about the war and Zio Angelo’s role as vice mayor of the town for 6 years. No, he wasn’t mayor, but acted in that capacity because the actual mayor was an architect based in Rome for much of that time.
He said he got into politics because he, as an articulate socialist, didn’t want communists taking over.
He also filled us in on another family member, his great grandfather, Vito Codispoti. No one else I’ve spoken could remember that far back.
Here’s something cool: Uncle Angelo’s old passport. (His full name is Angiolino.)