Friday, May 17, 2013

Better To Be Half Italian Than Not Italian At All

When my Dad cleared the house so he could sell it, I took out of the attic all my grandparents' old stuff, photos, 8mm films, slides, newspaper clippings. I'm still in the process of going through everything. I was remembering my Uncle Joe, my grandfather's brother. For the hell of it I Googled his name and this came back:

Could this be OUR Uncle Joe? I posted the question on our Saltamach Facebook Group and learned that, yes, Joe Saltamach had published four songs.

My cousin Rosemarie surprised me by mailing me her copy of "Symbol Of Love", a song Uncle Joe wrote in 1946. One problem: I don't read music. To the rescue came Stella Crispo, a parishioner at my brother's former parish. Dave is a Catholic priest and now pastor at a parish in Haskell, NJ
The other day Fr. Dave sent to my sister and me Stella's piano and vocal rendition of "Symbol Of Love". 

I got to work, compiling some old Saltamach photos and video clips and put together a video to the music. The result is a "Once Upon A Time In America" type montage, the quintessential American story. Catherine Fonte and Giuseppe Saltalamacchia, my great grandparents,  arrived on the shores of the Hudson River at the turn of the 20th Century and settled in North Bergen, NJ. Great grandpa built the homestead out of stone with his bare hands.

Seeing these photos, set to music, reminded me how much fun it was growing up in an North Jersey Italian family. The Saltamaches were a fun loving group. Every family get-together was filled with great food, music and laughter.

My great grandparents came here with practically nothing and spawned a sprawling, prosperous family. I'm forever grateful for my rich Italian heritage.

So, here's our video, our Valentine to our wonderful forbears:

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