April 4, 2009



"Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust. They serve us in return for scraps. It is, without a doubt, the best deal man has ever made." --- Roger Caras

Hi dear friends,

The Mommy is feeling sorry for herself today (she gets this way when she doesn't feel well) and she needs to let out her feelings and since you are our DWB family, and can understand her feelings, I'm going to let her have my blog today. Sometimes life is so sad and Mommy misses all the people that have all left her to go to heaven but mostly she misses angel Samantha. For those of you who have never had children, you will understand what she means. I love Mommy deeply and I know she loves me but Samantha was with Mommy through a lot pain and loss and I wish she was here.

Sarah, AKA the Mommy, here......

One of my earliest memories in life was of butterflies and small colorful flowers named lantanas growing all around our house on Huldy street. They were everywhere and the colors were breath taking and of every color of the rainbow. Butterflies flew in and out of the flowers and us 3 girls would lay in the flower beds and play with duddle bugs and dream the summers away. Which brings me to my fondest memory..... growing up with my sisters, Pam and Frances. My sister Frances was 13 months ahead of me, then me and 13 months later Pam came along. Our little sister, Rosemary, came along later and was so much younger than us that it was always just "the three wild & wholly Ricca girls". I have posted this picture on Mona's blog before so some of you may remember it. They say if your house was burning what would you save. I know what I would save. First and foremost my previous baby girl, Mona, then Samantha's ashes and the picture of "the three wild & wholly Ricca girls."


(look at this picture closely--there will be a test after this post)

So many memories have been running through my mind in the last few days. Since my cousin, Magdalena's death last week, it has made me think about all the older generation that is on longer with us and now we are the older generation. Magdalena was the last of the Bono's (my mother's family) to have been born in Italy. And the Ricca's that came from the old country, they are all gone now, my Daddy and his Daddy too....all gone but never forgotten. The greatest hurt of all and the memories that are hardest to forget are the deaths of my beloved sister Frances to cancer in 1994 and the death of my Samantha. How can you compare the two. I don't know and some people say I'm am a fool for loving a dog so much but I don't care what anybody thinks...it's just the way it is.

I would like to share a few memories and some beautiful pictures of lantanas with all of you. I will understand if you stop right here and don't want to read on but the only way to kept the memories alive is to repeat them. My mind is not what it used to be so forgive me if you have heard these stories before.

When I was growing up the 4 Ricca girls and the 2 Morris girls (my cousins Loretta & Shirley) were always together on the weekends at our house. Every Saturday morning, Mama would make breakfast for the 6 hungry girls and any other kids she might be fostering at the time. Times were hard and Daddy had a hard time feeding his four girls, his 2 nieces and all the kids Mama took in, so sometimes breakfast would be very meager. Mama would make her usual Saturday morning speciality........eggs, crumbled bread, cheese, bacon, ham or spam all scrambled together and fried in a hot skillet in olive oil. Then she would put all of her little chicks on the floor around her rocker and fed each one a bite of the mixture with the same spoon, not very sanitary but efficient. Us Ricca girls were full blood Italian and the Morris girls were half Italian, and like most Italians, they enjoyed eating. It was imperative that all the bites came out equal to keep the peace and it didn't matter if you were one of Mama's girls, the cousins or the fosters. Believe me, we all got the same portion....Mama made sure of that.
She would make a game of feeding us, so we wouldn't realize we only got a bite or two. She only went to the 4th grade in school but she loved to read to us and she wanted to keep her girls abreast of what was happening in our community. Out would come the newspaper. So she would give one a bite, read an obituary, give the next one a bite, read another obituary and so on. We just didn't seem so hungry when she was so entertaining and we knew about all the dead Italians in Houston. We never could understand why our cousins wanted to come to spend the weekends with us when they could have stayed home and had their own breakfast of toast, eggs and bacon but it wouldn't have been near as fun as breakfast with the Ricca girls and their Aunt Annie.

My sister, Pam, started writing a book a few years back to keep some of the family stories and memories alive for her grandchildren. To better understand how close us girls all where and how 2 more girls joined our ranks in 1956, let me share a few paragraphs from what she wrote in chapter one, June 1956.

"The Morris girls. Loretta and Shirley, were visiting their cousins. the Ricca girls, Francis, Sarah Ann (Sadie), Palma and Rosemary. The Ricca's lived on Huldy street, 5 miles from downtown Houston. The six were like sisters, their mothers, Ann and Rose were sisters and the two families spent a lot of time together.
As usual, the two eldest, Loretta, ten, and Frances, nine, were off swooning over Elvis. Loretta was the boss of the group, straight blond hair and athletic. Frances was a pretty curly red head, boy crazy and fearless. Sadie was eight,also a red head, heavier than the others and the loner. She was in the house with her nose buried in one of her Trixie Beldon books. Rosemary was four, the baby of the group; she was having a temper tantrum and would eventually get her way.
That left Palma seven and Shirley six. They were always together. Shirley had straight hair; Palma had curly unruly brown hair."

Magdalena was married to my cousin, Vito Pantaleo, so that would have made her my cousin too. Vito was the son of my Mama's sister, Antoinette, who had stayed in Italy when Mama's family came to America. She was only 9 years old when the came to America and Mama & Aunt Rosie were born in Texas . Mama and Aunt Rosie never met her and to me the thought of never having met my sister would have killed me.

One of the scarcest memories in my life was sitting in our loving room on Huldy street in 1956; I was only 8 years old and couldn't understand why everybody was at our house in the middle of the week. The news had just come on the TV that the Adrea Doria, an Italian ship, had been struck and was sinking. The whole family was gathered there crying and frantic. My grandmother was crying too and none of us girls had ever seen her smile much less cry. Her grandson Vito, who she had never seen, and his family were on that ship. It was the longest day and since there was no A/C back then us girls took turns fanning her. It wasn't until the several days later, that the truth came out. The day the Andrea Doria was to set off on her final fatal voyage, Vito got so emotional saying goodbye to his father, that he started coughing uncontrollably and spitting up blood. They weren't allowed to board the Andrea Doria. The next day they boarded the vessel Saturnia. They did not hear of the Andrea Doria tragedy until they had they had landed safely on American soil. It was when no one came to greet them that the family found out they were all alive.

Another excerpt from Pam's memory book from late July 1956
"They're here, they're here!! It was am emotional scene; all the women of the family were crying. Grandma Bono was seeing her grandson and great grand daughters for the first time. Ann and Rose, where seeing their nephew, the son of their dear sister they had never seen. The Pantaleo's could not speak any English; Italian was the only language being heard. There was hugging, kissing and crying.
Vito and Magdalena were a handsome couple and their youngest daughter was a dark haired, fat, little baby of six months old. But it was the beautiful olive skinned, long legged nine year old girl with her jet black hair that the girls could not keep their eyes off. It was Francis who took the first step ans went up to Antoinette, took her hand and said "Welcome" and then brought her over to meet the rest of us girls. Language was never a problem. And that's how we became 8!!!

It has been 53 years since 1956 but the memories have never faded. Of the 8 of us girls, Frances is the only one who still isn't with us of our generation. I have been crying off and on since I started this post at 11 am and it now 3 pm. It was been very therapeutic and I always say smiling and crying are good for the soul. For those of you who have stuck with me through my walk down memory lane, I THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart.
Love.....Sarah but since we are family you can call me Sadie.

MONA here.......finally!!
What can I say.....she's the Mommy....gotta love her!!
Here is the test.....do you see anything in the picture of "the wild and whooly Ricca girls" that looks funny besides the hair and it is not Grandma Bono peeking at the girls on the right side of the picture. The first 3 doggies that get the anwer right gets a token of my love.
Love, kisses and {{{huggies to all}}}.....Mona


Jake of Florida said...

Writing from the bottom of your heart not only helps you feel better, but it connects with the hearts of those with whom you share it.

Do you know The Little Prince? There's a line that says something like this -- after the little prince has gone back to his planet -- every time you look up and see a star, you'll think of me.

Well, we have lantanas all over the place and now, whenever I look at them, I'll think of your beautiful story and what lantanas mean to you.

Joan (preempting Jake and Just Harry

Clover said...

Hi Sadie!
Thank you for sharing your wonderful memories with us. We are happy to read about your your memories and enjoy them with you anytime you want to talk about them!
Hope you have a lovely weekend!
Love Clover & Mom, Jess

Maggie and Mitch said...

We don't see anything funny about that photo, Miss Sadie! We just see 3 gorgeous girls with curls that mom wishes that she had!
Mom has never planted lantana but she's going to this year and every time we pass by it in the garden and weed around it we're going to be thinking of you and your wonderful stories!

Love ya lots
Maggie and Mitch and Sue

Mack said...

We don't see anything unusual in the pic,,,maybe that the baby wasn't in it (she hadn't been born?) Mom just adores that curly hair!

Mom says everytime she gets a whiff of a wisteria bush she thinks of her granny. There was a beautiful huge one planted at her old house.

Thanks for the very interesting story of your family.
We hope your Mommy is feeling better, Mona.

Raising Addie said...

We LOVED reading your dear memories! And would love to hear more!

We also LOVE that picture of the three of you! Our mom had really curly hair when she was young. All the kids called her curly top.

Our mom had a very special Aunt in her life when she was young. She was her mom's best friend, so she technically was not her Aunt but she loved her just the same. Her name was Sadie and she was the neatest Aunt that she had. Aunt Sadie left this life too soon from Cancer, but she is never far from mom's thoughts.

If it's ok, we would love to call you our Aunt Sadie cause we love you just as much!

Mona please give your mom lots of kiss from us ok.

Lots of Luv & Kisses
Addie and Lucie

The OP Pack said...

This was a beautiful post, thank you, Mona, for letting Mom do it. It is very special to have all those memories written down.

We bigified the picture to try to find something. We aren't sure but is there a little animal in the background between the two girls on the left?

Woos, the OP Pack

Khyra The Siberian Husky And Sometimes Her Mom said...

What a nice story!

Family history like that is something my mom is sorry she doesn't really have - that is why what you shared is extra special!

We bigified the pikh too - the only thing we think we see is some kind of khanine...


Lorenza said...

Hi, Mona and Mommy!
The best treasure you can have is the great memories of your life!
Thanks for sharing them!
Is there a dog between Sadie and Pam?
Kisses and hugs

Autumn the maltese said...

hello Mona!! autumn is here...
I came to pay a visit and u have an awesome blog!

My mom loves the picture you post. She said it made her to pursue her hobby on photography. She still need to save more to buy a nice camera so she really envy and so enjoy the picture! Thanks for sharing.


Asta said...

Auntie Sadie(I love that name),
Mommi and I loved weading the stowy of youw loving family! We think love is so much mowe impowatant than how much you have, and we think that was in abundance at youw house. I think thewe is something betwween you and youw little ssie in the pivtoowe, but we can't make it out. Mommi aways wished she had cuwly haiw. Those lantanas awe gogweous, and they will always wemind us of you! Thank you fow shawing . Pleez don't be sad. You awe so lucky to have all that love and wed on't think loving hoomans and doggies is any diffewent.
smoochie kisses

Autumn the maltese said...

Mona dear, I need a favor from you...
Can u help me contact my bro, mango?

I need him to clarify his body measurement for me as soon as possible as the shirts are limited stock. I'd tried to find his contact as email but I got nothing...

So can u help me? Thanks dear!


Joe Stains said...

Thanks for sharing the memories and you know you can ALWAYS 'talk' to us here on the blog. We can't see a thing wrong with the pic or weird. Maybe Mom's glasses need a tune up!?

Anonymous said...

What wonderful memories, thank you for sharing them with us! Hugs to you and Mona!