August 13, 2009



"When most of us talk to our dogs , we tend to forget they're not people."
--- Julia Glass

Hi friends,

Today Mommy wants to tell you all about the Poggioreale Family Reunion and my grandfather. We was gonna do it sooner but Mommy was so tired this week because she's been working late most of the week so she can have Friday off. Twenty five years ago today, her Daddy, died of a massive heart attach at the age of 71. I've heard that he was quite a character and all of Mommy's friends called him Papa Ricca. He was a self made man and came to America when he was 15 years old with a few pennies in his pocket and a scrape of paper that had his name on it....Giuseppe (Joe) Ricca. That was is 1928. Mommy was with her Daddy as he was dieing and was forced out of the room by one of the nurses at the hospital because they were trying to put a tube down his throat and didn't want her to see that. To this day Mommy wishes she had fought them but working all her life at a hospital you are taught that you don't get in the way of doctors and nurses when a code blue is happening but she saw that look in his eyes as they pulled her away that said he knew what was happening. Even though Papa Ricca had been in America for 56 years and had become a citizen and successful shoe repair man he had never lost his Italian accent and was hard of hearing. He didn't understand what they were trying to do and Mommy thinks he panicked. Every Aug 13th Mommy relives that terrible hour and wishes she could have done more to help her Daddy. I think the reunion on Sunday came at just the right time and this year it wasn't as hard as it usually is. There were lots of Italian families there from all over the world, some came from Australia and some from Italy. In the late 1800's and early 1900's many Italians came to America to the 3 ports of call at that time, New York, Pittsburgh and New Orleans. Our family came through New Orleans. There were lots of Ricca cousins there and everybody had such wonderful stories to tell and old pictures to look at. Families that had not been in touch with each other in years were there. So before Mommy decides to start crying again, let us share that day.

Since descendants of the Poggioreale families came from all over the USA and overseas, us Texans had to show them a real Texas greeting. There were 66 families that attended, a total of 458 people and one dog.

This was a means of travel in the old days of Daddy's youth in the old country.

Just a few pictures of some of the crowd.

Some of the families.

The Ricca family.

Cousin Nancy.....she came from California.

Nancy's family.

A cousin & Mommy's sister, Rosemary.

Cousin Francis and Aunt Janie.

Cousin Cynthia, soon to become a nun.

Aunt Palma, I call her Pam, Mommy's sister between cousin Marie and Nancy.

Uncle Joe Campise. He is a master chef and was catering the dinner.

Joe owns an Italian restaurant in Houston and he does know how to cook. The menu was pasta with meatballs, Breaded Italian style baked chicken, green beans made with butter, olive oil, bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese, salad, garlic rolls, tea and of course wine. He is the one that always brings me special meatballs, just for doggies, and a good bone or two when he visits.

Let us tell you about this beautiful lady in red, Aunt Janie. The man across from her is her brother Sam, the only male Ricca left of the original 12 children that were born to my Grandpa's Daddy's brother, Joe. She is 84 years old and didn't want to come because she lives in Bryan, Texas and didn't want to travel so far for just a few hours of visiting. Mommy said that Aunt Janie only sat down long enough to eat.

She starting crying after dinner because she said she saw friends she thought she would never met again. During dinner a lady came by that had introduced her to her husband, Frank, who she has been married to for 64 years. Frank is 94 years old and he sure wasn't gonna travel 2 hours to see a bunch of old folks. Typical Italian male, Mommy says. Next time maybe she'll listen to her daughter, Frances, when she tells her something. Mommy was so glad she came.

And then there were the COOKIES!!!! Every kind of Italian cookie known to man, not to mention the Italian cream cakes and pies. Sicilians patron saint is St Joseph and there is a tradition called a St Joseph Altar that families make to honor the earthly father of Our Lord Jesus and to ask for help and guidance for all kinds of reasons, to heal a sick loved one, to bring a son home safely from the wars. Whatever favor you might ask for even, though it might not be granted, who other than St Joseph, besides his wife Mary, do you pray for help. It is a form of respect not to be taken lightly. The Ricca's and Bono's, Mommy's grandmother's family, have had many of them through the years. It is a beautiful tradition and very hard work. The cookies, Oh the cookies!! Joe didn't make the sweets. With that many women in the house, everybody brought there specialties. Mommy is just posting a few of the thousands of cookies. There were so many cookies there that everybody got to make their own bag of cookies to take home. Funny thing about Italians chocolate was used at all.

If you click on the picture you can see some of the artwork that goes into a table. The officiating family makes their altar and then a priest blesses the altar on Friday night and and leads the gathering in the rosary, always recited in Italian, kneeling in front of the altar. Mommy remembers how to say the rosary in Italian, because from the time she was a little girl until she was 16, all the girls had to kneel during the whole thing. Mommy says if you tried to get up or shifted around, you would get a thump on the head from one of the old women that were in charge. Mommy's Mommy used to say if her Mommy could kneel that long, a child should not complain. Just imagine how hard it is for a child to kneel in front of a table full of cookies and not want to reach out and grab one. In a traditional altar, there would be three children that would be Jesus, Joseph and Mary. On Saturday they would be dressed in their finest and would be served dinner in front of the alter. Course after course would be served to them. The older men of the family would serve them. Each child had his own waiter. The child had to eat a little of each thing, but they had to try it all. The first course was always a glass of wine (watered down for the kids) with a little hollowed out basket made out of an orange with fruit and coconut in it . Then would come a whole baked fish, then spaghetti with a boiled egg, you don't eat meat on St Joseph Day, then stuffed artichokes, then every kind of vegetable formed in little haystacks and fried, then would come the cookies, cakes and pies. This whole dinner would take hours and during that whole time all the kids that weren't saints keep wondering when they could eat. Since the saints had to eat a little of everything, after they were relieved of their saintly duties they could chow down on what they really wanted, spaghetti and cookies. Mommy was never a saint but her sister Frances was. After the dinner the family would cook tons of pasta with eggs and invite their friends, neighbors and the poor to a meal with the fried vegetables, pasta, hard biled eggs and Cookies!! After the day was over the alter would be taken down and everything was given to the poor.

Setting up the desert table.

Iced sesame cookies.

Wedding ring cookies.

Small iced fig cookies (Mommy's favorite)
Fig cookies.

Now before we close this post Mommy wants to share a little story about her Daddy.
When my Daddy was born his mother died and his father came to America with nothing to make a better life for himself and his son but couldn't bring Daddy with him. So he stayed in the old country with his 3 old maid aunts, like me, and grew into a strong young man. When he was fifteeen he came to America to be with his father's new family. He spoke no English and came by himself with a boatful of other children with those few pennies in his pocket and that name tag on his shirt. His Daddy told him not to leave the docks until he arrived to get him and do whatever had to be done before they could leave for his new home. So Daddy waited and waited but Grandpa was delayed and he was starving. There were fruit vendors on the docks and he went up to one and took out his few pennies. The man gave him a bunch of bananas. In Italy in 1928, there were no bananas and he didn't know they had to be peeled first so he ate the whole bunch with the skins on. When Grandpa got there, Daddy's face had turned green. At the time, the family was settled in St Louis and Daddy threw up out the window of the train all the way to St Louis that night. When I was a child he would tease us girls that he was part monkey because of all those bananas and he would dance around like a monkey and all us girls would be rolling on the floor laughing. Besides pasta, his favorite food was banana pudding. This was my favorite story Daddy told as I was growing up.
I have one question. How come Giuseppe got to go and I didn't? Mommy said I'm too big to fit in a purse.

I would like to thank everybody for giving Mommy the oppertunty to remember her Daddy and the importance of family.
Live, kisses and {{{huggies}}}....Mona


NESSA the hovawart said...

Hi, Mona and Mommy,

yes, my mommy and daddy are talking to me like I'm a real person :-) and I like know how it feels;-)
Great reunion though!!!!

Kisses and hugs,

Deefor said...

Thanks for sharing about that great party. And all that yummy food. Hope you got a doggy bag. I loved all the stories too. Tell your mom to remember all the happy times with her father when she thinks of the sad last minutes.

Feel free to use any pictures from my blog. What a compliment.


Jan's Funny Farm said...

What a wonderful reunion. It must have been such fun to see so many family members. We're glad this year remembering your dad in the hospital wasn't quite as hard as in the past. Family is important!

Abby said...

Hi, Mona & Mommy...

Great Post...

Thanks for sharing the Reunion with us...It looks like it was wonderful...

We loved the story about your Dad with the bananas...

Abby xxxooo

Gus, Louie and Callie said...

Oh what a great day everyone had. Whenever there is family, food and wine is a good time. Mom loves those kind of get togethers. Hearing all the family stories..
We know grandpa is missed but we are sure he was watching over the entire party..

Big Sloppy Kisses
Gus, Louie and Callie

Gus, Louie and Callie said...

Mom forgot to tell you she will try and get some pictures of us with flowers although you know not many flowers in Texas at this time of year..

Big Sloppy Kisses
Gus, Louie and Callie

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

Mom says it is soooo furry khool to have furamily stories like that!

That is something she misses and wishes she had too!

She is drooling all ovfur my laptop looking at the dessert table...she wants one of evfurrything!

She understands much of what woo shared: her dad's parents khame here from Europe in 191X - she's never sure what year - Grandmom Hennel (nee Fox) khame from Rugby England; Grandfather Hennel from Germany.


chicamom85 said...

What a special day for your Mommy. That was a nice story and tribute to her Dad. The pictures were so nice and the food looks so good. Mom is drooling right now.

I am sorry you couldnt go Mona, I hope you got some cookies.

licks and sniffs, Sasha

Maggie and Mitch said...

What a wonderful post! Reunions are such fun for families to get together and share and catch up!
What great memories your mommy has of her daddy, Mona!

Love ya lots
Maggie and Mitch

Mango said...

How lucky your mom is to have had the chance to get together with everybody. I hope she doesn't fret too much over her dad's final moments. He is at peace now.

My granny was Italian and when we went to visit her it seemed like there was food being served all day long. That reunion must have been quite the feast.

Mango Momma


Hi Mona,

What a beautiful story and funny too!

In case you have'nt noticed, our mommy is a real "klutz" when it comes to the computer. Just ask Mango's mommy. Bless her heart, she bails our mommy out every time she goofs up!

Do you think you could use one of our pictures from our blog? We don't have flowers anymore, daddy killed them all when mommy was gone for a week.

We luv you!
Riley and Star.

Joe Stains said...

How cool she got to go and see everyone. That is one big family for sure. This is a great way for your mom to capture the stories too!

But most important, WOW did that food look good! The wedding ring cookies were Mom's favorite, but I'll take some pasta!

Twix said...

Now, THAT is what I call a family reunion! Those cookies sure look good. I'm glad the reunion helped your Mom through the anniversary of her Dad's passing. Tell your Mom I am sending her some doxies hugs and kisses.
Mom is working on getting a picture of me with some flowers. She took one while we were at the vet yesterday but I wouldn't look at the camera so I don't know if you will want it. She is hoping to get a better one for you.
Snuggles and love,

Raising Addie said...

Thank you soooo much for sharing your Dad and reunion with us!

OMD there were soooo many cookies! We could go crazy!!

We don't have one picture of all of us girls with flowers. Mom is allergic to them so we don't have any around. We will keep that in mind for our fall pictures and make sure we get one for you.

Lots of Luv & Kisses
Addie, Lucie, and Hailey

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing all this, just wonderful!