Thursday, March 4, 2010

La Boheme, "Moonstruck", My Grandparents, and Arizona

A wedding picture from 1929. My maternal Italian grandparents, Sam Triolo and Lucy Salvati, occupy my thoughts lately. This year, both of them (had they lived) would be 100 years old.  Married at 19, theirs was a life filled with humor, roaring discord and passion, extended family, food (ah!---long, long tables filled with food), and fierce love for their grandchildren, especially me, for that is how it felt then, and now.

This photo was used on the invitation to their 50th wedding anniversary in 1979. My cousin Peggy and I, both of us creative, with dreams of stardom, presented a skit in which we played the roles of our grandparents on their wedding day.  Sam worked for many years at Nabisco in Chicago; in the skit, my wedding present to Lucy was a bag of Oreo cookies.

Some say that I resemble Sam in his youth, and share his restlessness and volatile temper and humor.  Lucy was regarded as a saint by those who knew her.  I had the good fortune to have been singled out by this quiet, good-natured woman as the "apple of her eye".

I want to remember them in all of their many ages and moods, all of the good sense of safe belonging in the fellowship of colorful and eccentric friends and relatives, the times when hearts were broken and losses were suffered, but mostly when laughter was heard, and everyone talked all at once, and loudly, to my youthful amusument.  I want to share Sam and Lucy with you.  In doing so, I will reveal more of myself, and chart the path from my origins to my chosen roads to reinvention.

This weekend I will travel to Scottsdale Arizona, and stay in the modest home thay made, which they gave to my mother on their passing.  Lucy and Sam's spirits are strongly felt there.  I can hear my grandfather teasing Lucy, making jokes, talking on the phone, and shouting at the television; and see my grandmother playing cards, wearing her sweater even in 110-degree heat, and laughing at Sam's antics.  Being there will allow me to remember them more clearly.

Many brief stories will be posted here in the weeks ahead.  My journal next week (all hand-written, as I am unplugging and leaving my laptop at home) will recall their presence, even as I record our activities and my impressions of each day.

It is easy to romanticize their lives, which had more than their share of hardship.  But whoever I am now, I owe to their genetics, their history, their example, and even their prejudices.  Mostly, I just loved them, and they, me.  Lucy was direct in her expressions, with hugs, or more food.  Sam, always on the go, always with friends--he had a lot of friends--showed his love in a teasing way. 

Their stories will also inform my new-found love of opera, my lifelong obsession with movies, and my attempt to capture and preserve my heritage as I study their native Italian language starting later this month.

Emotions...listening to the Metropolitan Opera's live broadcast of "La Boheme" on the radio on Saturday; remembering how it was used in the movie "Moonstruck" with such mischief, and loving emotion; and how the family portrayed in that film was so much like the characters in our family and myriad friends.  The music was so beautiful it made me cry...and the menories it invoked made those tears nostalgic, and tender.  I will soon review La Boheme, and especially "Moonstruck", one of my favorite films of all time.

And then I remembered with excitement that the trip would be soon.... Oscar pics, and thoughts on possible upsets.

In the meantime, enjoy the trailer from "Moonstruck", featuring Puccini's lushly romantic and sentimental aria:


  1. Sam and Lucy sound like a hoot! How lucky of you to have such wonderful grandparents. I think it must be great to be of Italian heritage because their reputation as a family oriented group knows no equal. It's no wonder Moonstruck has such appeal because it must be like going to the many Italians that are separated from their family. Great video by the way! Enjoy your trip to AZ and I will look forward to hearing more about your adventures there.

  2. Moonstruck was a great film, one of those I always return to with pleasure; it always seems fresh and new and funny each time.

    How lucky you were to have such a big lively family around you, and your grandparents' love.

    Have a good trip.