The photo heading this page is from 1949. It is a holiday meal with grandma and grandpa Henry. As you can see with all the family present, the meal had to take place in the basement. Grandma’s home on Sandusky street was small. On the downstairs (street) floor was a bedroom in the front on the home near the street, a living area and a small eat-in kitchen. Attached to the kitchen was a small unheated room that was used originally for storage and then over time became their daughter Rose’s bedroom.
Originally the second floor had three bedrooms and a bath, but my grandparents converted the second floor to a small apartment to rent once their children were grown and out of the home. The basement was used for storage, for laundry and had a bathroom built into it after the second floor apartment was built. When there were a lot of people invited for a family event, the obvious place for a meal was the basement.
At the far end of the table holding a small child was my grandfather, Mariano Iannarino. Next to him was my grandmother, his wife, Provvidenza La Manna. Next to Provvidenza was the youngest daughter, Rose, then the family of Jennie and Gasper Scibetta with their daughter, Linda. Jennie was the second daughter of Mariano and Provvidenza. I am not sure of the identity of the child and woman seated next to Gasper Scibetta. Nearest to the viewer, at the end of the table on the left was John Gross, the husband of Sadie, oldest daughter of Mariano and Provvidenza. Seated next to John was his son, Jan. Sadie’s head can be seen over Jan’s. Next to Sadie, it appears Mary and Tony Henry, second son of Mariano and Provvidenza, are seated, and at the far end next to Mariano is a woman I cannot identify – perhaps Frannie, the sister of Mary Henry.
Even as a young child I enjoyed these family gatherings. Everyone brought food for the party, so there was a wide variety of things to eat. No one minded that the “banquet table” was made from boards suspended on saw horses or that the washing machine and concrete wash tubs were in the same room. What mattered to everyone assembled was the love and warmth of the Sicilian family gathering. There was enough to eat and plenty of happy conversation. What could be better.