My Italian heritage starts with my great great grandfather, Pasquale Vecchiarelli born in in 1882 in Castelpetroso, Isernia, Molise Italy. He was one of 18 children! The Vecchiarelli family were shoemakers at that time.
In 1903, at the age of 21 Pasquale embarked on adventure. Like most Italian immigrants at that time, he came to America looking for work and for a better life. He came to America with his 3 brothers. At the time, finding work in America was not easy. He was employed as a day labor for a manufacturing plant. This meant he had to ask for work every day, and some days there was no work.
In 1904 he saved enough money to buy a house in Newark, New Jersey and he got married to his wife Lucia, where they had two sons. Their second son Michael Angelo Vecchiarelli, my great grandfather was born in 1908.
In 1938, Michael Angelo married my great grandmother Adeline Ruglio the daughter of Italian immigrants. She, like her siblings had to change their birth names to Saint names to be baptized in the the church. After her baptismal she became known as Lillian. In the 1940’s my great grandparents Michael Angelo & Lillian lived in the Miami Florida area where they owned many businesses. One of the businesses they owned was a Bar/tavern called The Fountain of Youth. Their patrons were mostly US Military, Navy and Marines. Apparently there were many bar fights. My great grandmother once told us a story, she remembered a fight happening inside the bar, and it became unruly. Lillian decided she was going to stop the fight by climbing on top of the pool table and hit the Marine over the head with a wooden chair. I would have liked to seen that in person.
My great grandmother Lillian had a big heart. She felt bad for the men in the military that suffered homesickness and would make them spaghetti and meatballs as a source of comfort food.
Lillian lived until I was 16 years old, she was 90 when she passed away in our home in Nutley, New Jersey. We have many good memories and traditions that were passed down through the generations. We don’t have any recipes written down but they were passed on. My mother still makes the sauce and the meatballs in Lillians old pot. I think the pot is seasoned with her love, that’s why the food tastes so good. We carry on there traditions with the food we make at holidays and remembering the old traditions at family gatherings.