Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Worth a Thousand Words

This June 17 marks the 11th anniversary of my Grandpa "Tom"'s death.

According to his baptismal certificate, Grandpa (full name Anthony Thomas Celestino) was born on March 30th 1916 to Pasquale and Caroline La Peza Celestino. I don't know too much about them, as they both passed on before I was born, but family history says they came to the U.S. from Naples, Italy in the early 1900's and settled in Brooklyn, N.Y.. Below is a photo of Pasquale with a cousin of my mom's...

It's funny when you are a kid, you imagine that your grandparents have been parked in front of the television watching Lawrence Welk since the dawn of time. My maternal grandparents moved to Arizona to settle near my parents in the late 70's. We used to have dinner (the kind you eat at 3pm) every Sunday at their house as far back as I remember. Always Grandpa was seated in the Harvest Gold upholstered wing chair with the t.v. on, and as my 5 year old self bopped on in to plant a kiss upon his papery cheek, he'd exclaim "Jeeennnieeee!!!" in that accent that Italian Grandpas from Brooklyn have.
Nana kept their house spotless... plastic runners protecting the 70's shag carpets up and down the hall, plastic covers keeping the blue and green furniture safe from me, the one with the butterscotch candy sticky fingers. Religious artifacts made up most of the home's bric-a-brac, primarily Roman Catholic, but Nana also snuck in a few Budda statues. She used to tell me to rub the statue's bellies for luck. Oh, and there was always something amazing cooking in the kitchen on those Sundays. ..typically Italian, stuffed green peppers, lasagna, manicotti. Sometimes a beef roast with oven brown potatoes and a creamy cucumber salad... my favorite.
Sadly, I remember both of these maternal grandparents as quiet, and dare I say, kind of grouchy/unhappy folks. But recently, a perusal of some old photos of them in their youth told me a different story.

My mom was gracious enough to lend me her photo albums, and since I find the pictures to be so fascinatingly nostalgic and sweet, I thought I'd share come of them with you.
The photo above was captioned "Coney Isaland 1938". My grandpa is the one on the left. Bathing suits with belts!

The one above was also taken on Coney Island, but two years later, in 1940. Nana Cecilia is the beauty in the middle.Here she is again. Super cute!

Grandpa and his friends goofing around circa 1940... Still wearing the belted suit I see...And here's a couple of photos of them all together. Looks like they were having so much fun. I wish I could have glimpsed some of that carefree happiness in their later years.
A classic photo booth shot of my grandparents in the 30's. I love his tie.

Grandpa served as Marine and was separated from his family for almost 5 years as he served in World war 2. He lost his brother Joey (pictured below with his girl) in that war.

My mom is pictured between my Grandparents in the photo above dated 1953. She is the eldest of two girls.
The final photo shows my Grandpa modeling in ad for an Airline company, silver haired and handsome still!

It's funny how a perusal of an old photo album can give you new perspective on the people you thought you knew. Looking through these photos, I find myself wishing that I had taken the time to hear more of my grandparents' story (as I was fortunate enough to do with my paternal grandmother that I posted about here). If you are lucky enough to have your grandparents still around, I really encourage you to ask them to share their memories with you. If you are a grandparent, please take the time to share your story with your grand kids (with photos too!). What a gift that would be!


The Jeweled Postcard said...

I sent you an email! My bad for not coming to your blog to comment. As I said in the email I so enjoyed this post as I am a grandparent!


FeedsackFantasy said...

Absolutely wonderful memories, pictures & words. TY for sharing.
I, too, love old photos. TTFN ~Marydon

Jennifer said...

What an incredible collection of photos. They really are priceless.

Karin said...

I loved this post Jenny!! He was so handsome!

Heidi said...

It is so weird to think about your grandparents as young. Often we don't take the time to look at old pictures until its too late to ask them about it. My Dad's parents would play cards with us and would sit around the table and talk about funny things they did when they were younger. Bringing some old grouch's outhouse into town and leaving it in the middle of the street was my favorite. My Grandpa would ask my Grandma "Where's the tea, bag?" and I would crack up! Thanks for the walk down your memory lane with your Nana and Grandpa!

LillySue said...

What a great post.....Loved the Coney Island shots. Family history is awesome!! I remember watching "Lawrence Welk" every Friday night with my Grammies. My grouchy (abusive) grandfather passed away when I was 4 and my Grandma's widowed Mother moved in with her so I got to hang out with both gals!!

admin jobs said...

GREAT photos...

Cathy ~ Tadpoles and Teacups said...

What a treasure to have so many family photos! Great post!

Brandi McKenna said...

So wonderful! I just came form a family reunion and was able to see some very old family photos also...I WISh I could time travel! YOu know...I really don't think they were much different form us back then! You family are all gorgous, young, and happy looking. Makes you think about how quickly life goes by!

Rebecca said...

What a great post! I think I'll do one like this as well. I have some fabulous old pix of my grandparents on the beach in Atlantic City. :)

And we had "pasta Sunday" at my Aunt Glor's every Sunday. The girls went early to help all the aunts make the pasta. I remember using the big metal roller clamped to the table. The boys played in the yard or watched TV. The old dog, Suzette, hid behind the sofa. LOL

Thank you for the lovely memories!

suesueb said...

it's so strange but just last week i was thinking of my paternal grandmother and wishing i had know her better. she too was not a happy person when i knew her. she had to give up her home and travel between children to live. maybe i'd be grouchy too! i only knew my maternal grandmother as a little girl but she lived with us and i adored her. she was the kind of grandma that held you and rocked you. i picture them both so clearly, such different people. i hope my grandbabies remember me as someone loving and playful. perhaps it's because our lives are so much easier that we can be that way. thanks for making us all think about our effect on our "grands"!

Deanna said...

Oh Jenny, I just adored your post! Your Nana and grandfather look like movie stars. It is always an eye opener to see your parents or grandparents actually having once been young and carefree. Luckily we all have photos to peruse through and we get to see a whole other side to them when they were young.

Deanna :D

paperbird said...

You are so lucky to have such lovely family heirlooms.
Your photos are lovely- thanks for sharing.