How I Got to Madison Avenue. And beyond.

As with life, this blog is developing and changing. It began with a lot of stories that occurred on my career path from Albany to Madison Avenue and back.

There were some similarities to the AMC series "Mad Men," and then I went even farther back in time with a somewhat fictionalized version of growing up in Troy's Little Italy.

And now, a new development. As my free lance advertising and marketing career winds down, I'm becoming more interested in the theatre arts that my father and his 3 brothers helped instill in me as I grew up.

As a result, I've volunteered to help promote the Theatre Institute at Sage, and now, to continue a long-interrupted desire to be behind the proscenium, I've joined the newly formed Troy Civic Theatre, and was actually fortunate enough to appear in their first production.

So, I hope you'll enjoy the new stories that will develop from this latest turn.

Sunday, December 25, 2011


Another departure from my normal blog postings, if there is such a thing. A recipe I found on line for three ingredients I was fortunate to have in the house. Enjoy. And Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it.

Cranberry, Pear and Apple Crumble Recipe

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) and place rack in the center of the oven. Butter or spray with a nonstick cooking spray, a 2 1/2 quart (2.75 liter) casserole or oval gratin dish, or a 10 inch (25 cm) deep dish pie plate.

For Crumble Topping: Place all the topping ingredients (flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, oats, nuts, and butter) in a food processor and process just until the mixture has clumps the size of peas. (This can also be done in a large bowl with a pastry blender, two knives or your fingertips.)

For Filling: In a large bowl combine the sugar and cornstarch (corn flour). Peel, core, and slice the apples and pears and toss them, along with the cranberries, in the sugar mixture. Once thoroughly combined transfer to the prepared baking dish. Spread the topping evenly over the fruit.

Bake for approximately 35-45 minutes or until bubbly and the topping is golden brown and crisp. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve with softly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Refrigerate leftovers and reheat before serving.

Makes about 6 servings.

Crumble Topping:

3/4 cup (95 grams) all purpose flour

3/4 cup (155 grams) light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup (70 grams) old-fashioned rolled oats

1/3 cup (40 grams) chopped walnuts or pecans

1/2 cup (113 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces


2-3 tablespoons (30-45 grams) light brown sugar

1/2 tablespoon cornstarch (corn flour)

1 1/2 pounds (680 grams) Granny Smith Apples or other firm apple - peeled, cored, and cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) chunks

1 1/2 pounds (680 grams) ripe Bartlett or Anjou Pears, peeled, cored and cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) chunks

1/2 cup (50 grams) dried cranberries (or fresh cranberries that have been, rinsed, drained, and picked over.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I'll Be The Judge of That.

I can't say it was a triumphant return to the stage, but I hope the audience had as much fun watching as I did playing the irascible judge in Troy Civic Theatre's initial offering, "The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge."

My recent stage experience is pretty sparse, and this was only the second show I auditioned for this year, each, coincidentally, for the part of a judge.

The first, which I didn't get, would have been a huge stretch -- not age-wise, but acting-wise -- it was a 2-person play, and the male was a retired judge at Nuremburg, beginning to lose his faculties, and dealing with a young, sharp-witted assistant.

The part of Judge Stanchfield R. Pearson, for which I was selected, was a lot less complicated. This judge out-scrooges Scrooge, and deserves the eerie finish that the play provides. But the only variation is in the character's bellowing and anger -- he's the most cartoonish character in the play, and honestly, I don't think I'm ready for any more variation that that. On top of that, it was an enhanced stage reading, not a full-up production, so when I stumbled, I had the script in front of me, and experienced actors around me to help cover me.

Hopefully, I'll develop and grow into other, more complex characters over time.

Today, I want to publicly thank all the members of the company and cast for their support, and also to my family and friends who took the time from a busy holiday season to come to the show. They were all kind enough to tell me that they enjoyed it.

I don't know if anyone missed the absence of postings over the last few weeks; I was using my energies to concentrate on the play.

That's all for today, except for this -- the short "bio" I wrote for the Playbill:

Frank LaPosta Visco grew up in Troy, watching his father and three uncles, known as the Visk Brothers, put on many shows that helped support, entertain and unite the residents of Troy, especially those of Little italy, and is happy to (finally) help continue that family tradition as a member of the new Troy Civic Theatre Company. "Somebody knows something."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Great Big Thank You

Today's post is very different from what you've been reading. Today is the day for a tribute to the best man I ever knew.
He was good to me when I wasn't even being good to myself. He lent me his car when I had nothing -- even less than nothing -- so that I could visit my daughters on alternate weekends, and bring them to my mother's house, because he knew the importance of family.
There are a lot of old jokes about brothers-in-law, but they don't fit Ed Milo.
He served his country, his community and his family with honor. He loved and protected my sister for almost 5 decades.
Talk about a man who will be missed!
Rest in peace sailor, firefighter, family man.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Chapter 21: Dawn of the Fifties.

It was my birthday, New Year's Eve, 1949. My age had finally reached double digits, and I was full of myself. I had responsibilities downstairs at my Grandmother Campobasso's store, and although I had an allowance for the work I did, it wasn't as much as my friends Little Louie and Saucer Eyes got for doing the same things!

It wasn't that Grandma was a miser or anything like that, but it was her way of showing me the value of money. For example – she had customers who bought the paper from her every day, but couldn't always get to the store. So, “Gram,” who always called me “Big Boy,” would have me deliver the paper to their homes, some as far away as Herman Melville's house at 114th Street, near the Hudson River. (No, I never saw him there.)

If I had delivered the papers as a regular paperboy, I would have made twice as much money, plus tips. But Gram was splitting her profit with me, so there was less to go around.

I did other chores around the store, too. I was always a kid who liked to stay up late, so when the store closed at 11, I would go down in the cellar and bring up cases of warm beer and soda and restock the coolers, so there would be a full complement of cold drinks for sale the next day. My perk for doing that wasn't money, but full access to the goodies before I went upstairs to bed.

I'd sit in a booth with a comic book, a bottle of Nehi grape soda and a Devil Dog. Later, when Gram had one of the first television sets installed up in a corner of the store, I'd forego the comic book and watch Broadway Open House and the original Tonight Show. That's where I got my love of the visual medium and paid attention to all the commercials. Little did I know that somebody I would be writing and producing them!

Since I was used to staying up late, and my birthday was on a Saturday night, and the New Year began the next day on Sunday, I stayed up and listened as Guy Lombardo's orchestra played on the radio.

The fifties would see lots of changes in the world at large, and in my world. It would be the decade of nuclear testing, cold war and the Korean “conflict.” Closer to home, it would be the decade when I got my first two wheeler, a shiny chrome Shelby with streamers on the handlebars, push-button horn and even a battery-powered headlight. I would fly through the streets, expanding my world from the local movie theater to all of Troy. I even ventured north to Pleasantdale, and caught the eyes of girls I'd only imagined before – girls with blonde curls, like my cousin Coke's German wife, and freckled girls with flaming hair the color of Rhonda Fleming's.

By the end of the decade, I'd be graduating from high school and facing a future of technological wonders, unimaginable back in those days of rabbit ears and test patterns. There's more to tell about the Caserta and Campobasso families, and the changes that affected every family in Little Italy and beyond, and I'll be sharing those stories in the future.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chapter 20: Changes.

The last year of the forties brought many changes to 13 Liberty Street. The Case/Caserta family was splitting up. Well, part of it was leaving the old homestead – my father, Ed Case, my mother, Esther Campobasso Case, and me, their son, Little Eddie, were moving to my grandmother's new building at the very beginning of Lansingburgh, the northern section of Troy.

Her confectionery store, now a full-fledged grocery store with booths left over from the time she had a soda fountain, was on the first floor of a solid brick building on a busy corner. Grandma Campobasso lived on the second floor, and she and her now deceased husband had rented out the third floor for extra income. Now that she was prosperous, she needed her younger daughter close by more than she needed the rent, so we were moving.

I was coming up on my tenth birthday, and, with the presumption of youth, thought I had figured out the real reason why we were moving. I had overheard a conversation, and confronted my mother with “the facts.”

So why didn't you tell me that nobody likes Aunt Giovi,” I said in my most accusatory tone.

What are you talking about?,” my mother said.

I heard everybody talking the other day, and they said that nobody likes Aunt Giovi.”

(She was my father's widowed sister, who lived upstairs over us on Liberty Street with her sons and daughter Michelina.)

Everybody loves Aunt Giovi! She's the nicest of all the Cases. Where did you get such an idea? Nobody would even think that!”

I heard it – just before Dad went to Riposo's for pizza night.”

My mother laughed until there were tears in her eyes. When she stopped, she said, “Anchovies. Your father asked what everybody wanted on their pies, and they said, 'anything but anchovies.' Nobody in the family likes anchovies, not Aunt Giovi.”

I felt like the little fool I was, but still, I knew there was a family problem. As the red left my face, I remembered the arguments between my mother and her sister Rose, who lived next door with my father's older brother.

Then it's something between you and Aunt Rose. Why are we moving? I don't want to go!”

I was good at tantrums back then.

It's nothing to concern yourself with, Eddie,” she said. “Sometimes grown-ups just don't get along – even if they are related. Especially when they're related. We're moving and that's that.”

That was as much of an explantation I would get, until many years later, when I made a startling discovery about a cover-up involving the two sisters and a local midwife.

Another big change at the Case family compound: The flat we were leaving wasn't going to be empty for long. The Berlin Airlift was ending, and the family's brave little jeep driver, Coke, was coming home, but not alone. He was bringing his post-war bride, Hilda, home, and they were going to set up housekeeping in our old space.

As I look back on that year now, I can see how the next generation was becoming more American and less Italian. Before the war, and certainly during it, it would have been unthinkable for an Italian boy to marry anybody but an Italian girl. But Coke didn't wait for the family's approval – he fell in love with a buxom blonde beauty, married her and brought her home.

In high heels, Hilda was nearly half a foot taller than Coke, but neither of them seemed to mind it. In fact, they took joy in it, even matching some of the jokes that family and friends made about the towering German and the pipsqueak Italian, and their new “Axis of Love.”

We were moving out. Coke and Hilda were moving in. And still, there were more changes to come. At Thanksgiving dinner in 1949, Coke's beautiful sister Mike brought her boss from Tiny Town Togs, Siro, to meet the family. I had a crush on my cousin, even though she was 15 years older than me, and I couldn't help disliking Siro for the way he treated her. I think “fawning” was the word back then. He pulled out her chair, gave her first choice of every platter that was handed to him, and looked at her lovingly, no matter who else at the huge table he was talking to. Of course, she reciprocated, and it was obvious to everyone that these two young. dark descendants of Italian immigrants, although from different worlds, had found each other and fallen in love beyond repair.

So, it was no surprise when, after Midnight Mass at St. Anthony's that year, Siro and Mike announced their engagement and she flashed an engagement ring with a diamond so big that one of Mike's jealous co-workers called it “skate-able.” Father John Bosco Pantera would perform the wedding ceremony the following year, and he didn't seem all that thrilled about it.

After settling in on the 3rd floor at my grandmother's, I discovered that I was expected to help out around the store after school and on weekends, and although I resented the loss of some of my freedom, I learned the value of work and the rudiments of business. Of course, we still got together at Liberty Street on Sundays for the usual family dinner, but now we were more like outsiders.

More about that next time.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Chapter 19: The New Priest Fills the Gap

As “Coke” boarded the train at Troy's Union Station, his beautiful sister Michelina – Mike, to all who knew her – was the only one who stayed at home. She and her brother were as close as siblings can be, and all the time he was driving his jeep during the war, Mike prayed longer and harder and visited St. Anthony's more often than anyone, beseeching Mary and the saints to spare her brother.

He was spared, and then, three years after the war was over, the Berlin airlift took him away again. What, you might ask, was the importance of a jeep driver in America's and Britain's concerted effort to fly supplies in to Berlin, a former enemy city that was being blockaded by Russia, a former ally?

Richard Reeves describes it beautifully in his recent book, “Those Daring Young Men,” in which he recounts the amazing accomplishments of the British and American flyboys who, at the peak of the airlift, were bringing in more supplies for their former enemies than had been transported by rail. That was a very big deal, and deemed impossible by many experts, until American ingenuity proved them wrong.

The landing and take-off strips were composed of metal grid work, similar to the kind I remember driving over on “singing bridges” in the past. The landing lights were spaced evenly along three metal runways. With planes landing on the two outside runways, and taking off from the center one at an unheard of rate of every minute or so, precision was key.

The jeep drivers played a key role in helping the pilots and navigators know just how much space they had, and how much time it would take for their patched and weary planes to come to a stop. The jeep driver would floor the pedal, driving as fast as he could down the runway in question, then slam on the brakes and count the number of lights he would skid past until the jeep screeched to a halt.

That information would be radioed to the incoming plane, so everyone would know precisely where the plane, loaded with tons of essential food and materiel, would stop. The ground crews would be nearby, unloading the plane, refueling it and sending it back for another run as fast as humanly possible.

It was the kind of excitement “Coke” had been missing since he delivered the mail to the front lines of Patton's army three years before, but without the same level of danger. In fact, now that GI's were feeding the Germans rather than killing them, attitudes were different. The Berlin frauleins whose men were gone – and there were many missing – had new heroes. And the heroes had money, food, and time to spare. Even a five foot nothing soldier like “Coke” attracted his share of blond beauties.

Back home in Troy, Coke's beautiful sister Mike wasn't aware of the lack of danger “over there.” To her, Uncle Sam had sent her brother back into the thick of it, and so she resumed what had been her wartime habit of stopping in at St. Anthony's shrine church every morning before going to work at Tiny Town Togs, and every evening when the final whistle blew.

When Mike went into the confessional at the end of every week, her sins were no more serious than jealousy of a co-worker, swearing at her mother, and anger at God for sending her brother back into harm's way.

It was all pretty routine for the priests at St. Anthony's who heard her Friday confessions, and they usually prescribed a couple of Hail Marys and sent Mike on her way. Until J.B showed up, that is. Father John Bosco Pantera, OFM, had just been assigned to St. Anthony's after a few hard years at a Franciscan mission church in Central America. The head of the order knew J.B. was in need of rest and relaxation, but could never have known just what that “r and r” would entail.

The first time Mike spoke with Father J.B. was in the darkened confessional. She hadn't see this tall, muscular 35-year-old with skin burnished from years in the tropical sun and a face that could lead you to believe he was related to both Tyrone Power and Gene Tierney. Handsome and pretty, at the same time.

Father J.B didn't just accept Mike's sins – he asked questions – personal questions about the reasons for her jealousy, anger and frustration. He made her think. It was like the intimate one-on-one conversations she would have with her brother, before he was shipped to Europe, twice.

Mike opened up to this soft voice in the darkness, and soon she was revealing secret wishes, hopes and desires she didn't even tell her family. He gave her some kind words of advice, told her to say an entire rosary. She thanked him and left the church, stepping into a world that was brighter than she remembered it.

That was Friday. On Sunday, she saw the man with that comforting, understanding voice for the first time, in his gleaming white vestments, on the altar and in the pulpit. And the second time she saw him was later that same day, playing bocce in his undershirt in the backyard of 13 Liberty Street.

Michelena's uncles had invited Father John Bosco Pantera to the family gathering. And she didn't mind at all.

Next: People talk.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Chapter 18: Backyard frolics and another farewell.

As life returned to normal after the war, and the abundant American lifestyle returned, family feuds and grudges were pushed below the surface at 13 Liberty Street, and the backyard once again became a joyous place. For children, adults, and child-like adults.

Uncle Luigi Ritorno (we were never allowed to call him Lou, or Louie) was an interesting case. He had been born in American, but, like many Italian families that were split between the new and the old world, the young were often sent back to Italy – either because there wasn't enough income to support them here, or because their labors were needed over there.

The Ritorno family owned a small olive grove and press somewhere in Calabria, near the “toe” of the Italian boot, and was brought back there when he was only a couple of years old, presumably to be brought up to be educated in the family business. So he grew up learning only Italian.

Before he was able to put his knowledge of the olive oil business to good use, however, the family lost their land, and he was forced to re-emigrate to the US, the land of his birth. But, returning to Troy as a teenager in the 1930's, he was one of those rare natural-born Americans who couldn't speak a word of English.

As a result, the little American English he did learn to speak was fractured almost beyond recognition, and he wasn't able to secure employment equal to his Italian training. He ended up having to settle for menial jobs, as a janitor in local factories, and as a busboy in local restaurants to supplement his meager day job earnings. And he didn't do much to debunk the Italian belief that the Calabrese are hard-headed.

Poor Uncle Luigi. Marrying into the Case family didn't improve his lot in life. The men in the family, victims of discrimination themselves outside Little Italy, now had someone in their own enclave on Liberty Street to take it all out on. Luigi became the butt of frequent practical jokes.

Later in 1948, it would get even worse for him, when a popular new radio comedy would debut about Italian immigrants trying to learn English. It was “Life with Luigi,” with an Irish-American actor named J. Carrol Naish caricaturing Luigi, and Alan Reed, later the voice of Fred Flintstone, playing his Italian landlord.

I remember The Case men playing a game called “Boss and Underboss,” and using it as a way to tease our Luigi. Following a series of bocce or pinochle games, the captain of whichever team won would be the “Boss,” leaving the captain of the other team as the “Underboss.”

They would empty a quart of Stanton's lager, from the brewery around the corner, into as many glasses as it would fill, and begin. It was over before the heads on the beer disappeared, but despite its speed, the game was intricate and entertaining to a little boy. And as I reflect on it, it was educational, too.

The Boss would open with a proposal, directed at the Underboss. “A glass for you and me, and a glass for all the members of my team,” he might say. He knew this was unacceptable of course, and the Underboss would make a counter-proposal. “A glass for you and me, and a glass for two of my team and two of yours.” A counter-counter proposal from the Boss would follow, and so on, with a little give here and a little take there, until, as I recall, everyone had a glass of beer in front of him except Uncle Luigi, who would rant and rave in his broken English as the rest quenched their thirst. Alternately, they would cruelly force him to drink the entire quart himself, and then tease him for being drunk.

Luigi always got to drink a normal amount eventually, of course, but he was singled out because they all knew that his frustration would always result in some outburst. When he had “gone dry,” they'd open another bottle, he would drink, and all would be forgiven. Until the next time.

Uncle Luigi loved to dance, especially the Italian folk dance called the tarantella – supposedly named after the gyrations that a victim of a spider-bite would be forced to undergo.

One late spring Saturday in 1948, when the family was gathered outside, enjoying a rare day of leisure, Vincenzo, my father's bachelor brother, the family prankster, played a different kind of trick on Luigi. Using a long extension cord, he set up a record player on the back porch, to provide Italian background music for the family. Luigi began dancing to a lively tarantella.

People were clapping and cheering, and Vincenzo took advantage of that to quickly lift the needle and place it back near the beginning of the record. He did this several times, until Uncle Luigi, gasping and sweating and finally realizing that this was the longest song in history, caught Vincenzo in the act.

Wiping his brow and plopping down on the cobblestones where he had been prancing furiously, he looked accusingly at his brother-in-law and uttered what has become the family motto:

"You thinga somebody don't know somathing? Somebody knows somathing!”

The laughter was cut short when the mailman came through the gangway into the backyard with a special delivery letter for my cousin “Coke,” the jeep driver in WW II.

He tore open the official looking envelope and gave us all the news – he was being called up to use his driving expertise on German runways, to help support the Berlin airlift.

©Copyright 2010 Frank LaPosta Visco

Next: The new priest fills the gap.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Chapter 17: Peace in the world, not at home.

On May 8, 1945, the day the Allies accepted the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany, the world celebrated. It was VE Day --Victory in Europe. Just over 3 months later, on August 15, we celebrated VJ Day – Victory over Japan.

Now, prosperity really was just around the corner, although things would never be the same as they were before the war. Many more women had experienced the liberating sense of worth of being the family breadwinner, and were resentful when the jobs they had been doing were taken away and given to the returning men. Was this the beginning of the equal rights movement for women?

There was still war on the horizon, of course – but it was a Cold War, as Soviet Russia, our ally in the war, began their land grab and swallowed up much of eastern Europe and a divided Germany.

At 13 Liberty Street, everyone did their best to return to the way things were, but the men who had been in uniform had seen and experienced too much to be the same as before. Of course, they were idolized as conquering heroes by the family, especially us kids, but we knew enough not to ask too many questions as they packed away their medals and souvenirs.

During the second half of the 1940's, as I got older, I sensed that the two Campobasso women who had married into the Case family, Esther, who was my mother, and Rose, her older sister, didn't seem as cordial as two sisters should be.

It's true that there were many years between them, but it didn't seem as though that was reason enough for some of the remarks that flew back and forth. Even though many of them were in Italian, which the children didn't understand, the adults couldn't hide the tone of the comments. Even though Italian is a beautiful language, there are angry phrases that can be spit out, and on several occasions, they were.

Children don't miss much of what's going on in the adult world, and even in the whispered comments and the attempts to cool down heated arguments, we knew there were things that kept our parents, aunts and uncles on edge.

Turns out that it wasn't just the sensitive nature of Italians and their easily offended sensibilities that caused the heating up of language and the icing over of relationships. There always seemed to be an uneasiness between the sisters, especially when they would take us – me and my double cousins – out for a stroll in the neighborhood. Since two sisters had married two brothers, I had the same grandparents on both sides as my cousins, Rose's children did.

So, I wondered as I got older, why both my mother and her sister seemed at a loss for words whenever people would look at us and assume that we were all beautiful siblings. I certainly came to understand their fear of the malocchio, or evil eye. The way I understood it, Italian superstition said that if a child is praised or envied by someone who doesn't invoke God at the same time, a curse is placed on that child, and it has to be removed. By a strega, the Italian word for witch. (You can read more about it, here.)

Luckily for us, we didn't have to go far to find someone empowered to remove the evil eye. Another one of my father's sisters, Philomena, lived with her husband Luigi and daughter Annamaria in a flat on Fifth Avenue, around the corner from Liberty, and across the street from Stanton's Brewery.

I remember Aunt Phil putting three drops of oil into water, saying some Italian words, then doing something with needles and scissors to remove the malocchio. What would happen if the curse weren't removed, I'm not sure, but there seems to have been the fear of sickness, or maybe even the secret ritual was performed when a child was already sick, in the belief that the sickness might have been caused by an inadvertent curse.

I'm not superstitious myself, but I firmly believe that when the malocchio is removed from a mildly sick child, the sickness will disappear in seven days. And that without the ministrations and mumbo jumbo of the strega, the cure will take a week.

In our family, it was said that the ability could be passed on only from mother to daughter, and only on Christmas Eve. I don't think Aunt Philomena taught it to Annamaria, and even if she had, Annamaria didn't have any children, so the practice – in our family – ended there.

But even when someone complimented the beauty or health of me and my double cousins and also invoked the name of God, the Campobasso sisters who became Case sisters still seemed uncomfortable, and often avoided each other for days. There was something they didn't want others to know. I was determined to find out what it was.

©Copyright 2010 Frank LaPosta Visco

Next: Backyard frolics and another farewell.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Chapter 16: Life on the Homefront

We called it the homefront, because it was everybody's war, not just those men and women in service who volunteered and were drafted and were committed to doing their part for the noble concept of freedom.

World War II was a war during which everybody did their part. It meant making sacrifices. Materials that were needed “over there” were rationed over here. Gasoline couldn't be bought without coupons. The same held true for anything made of rubber. If you were lucky enough to have a car, you had to make do with worn, patched tires and inner-tubes. Meat, butter and sugar were needed to keep our troops fit and fighting.

Every smoker saved the aluminum foil that lined cigarette packs, formed them into shiny round balls and donated them to the war effort.

Scrap drives were common, too. It seemed that nothing was wasted – if it was metal and no longer of use, it would be collected, melted down and turned into a weapon of war.

At 13 Liberty Street, the backyard garden was expanded, and even the venerable Italian custom of growing your own vegetables became support for the war – they suddenly became Victory Gardens, turning a tradition into an act of patriotism.

Eddie Case tried to enlist, but with a wife – Esther – and a child, me, and a heart murmur from his undernourished childhood, he was labelled 4F by the Selective Service, known as the draft board, and so kept his job at Cluett, Peabody & Company, now turning out army issue clothing, and joined the others in the Case clan in following the progress of the war on two fronts.

After dinner, the family would gather around the big console radio in the living room, and hear commentators like Edward R. Murrow, H.V. Kaltenborn and Lowell Thomas report from exotic locations, spewing names of places and battles that we had never heard before, but would become famous or infamous in future history books.

My father was an early graffitist – I told you earlier how he painted the romantic words of a song on our backyard wall to impress my mother when they were courting. Now, he turned the stone retaining wall into a kind of memorial of honor, listing the names and titles of our relatives who were serving overseas.

And as each of them came home – and as fate would have it, they all did – he would make a banner of letters that spelled out each name with a big “Welcome Home.”

The children of the Case family followed the lead of our fathers and uncles, and put on our own fund-raising shows. I was pretty young, but the older cousins always found a way to include everyone of us kids in our USO shows. We'd learn dance routines, songs and poems. We'd perform our versions of the popular musical stars of the day, like Al Jolson. I'm sure we didn't raise a lot of money in those days, simply because there wasn't a lot of money to be had, but whatever it was, we felt like we were doing our part, and it was a good feeling.

Trains ran through Troy's Little Italy in those days, and passenger trains were given over to transporting troops to the various training camps and points of embarkation. Those troop train schedules were noted by the families, and the women would pool their resources and make sandwiches and whatever sweets they could bake with limited ingredients, and hand them up to the uniformed boys as they eagerly reached out of the train car windows. Of course, the USO was always there, with coffee and doughnuts, cigarettes and smiles.

Keeping up the morale was important, because as prevalent as the propaganda was, the news from the front was not always good. The Allies – Britain, the US, Canada, Australia and Russia – were playing catch-up in troop strength and war machinery. Factories in American became dedicated to turning out tanks, jeeps, airplanes, guns, rifles, bombs and bullets. Shipbuilders turned out battleships, tenders, PT boats and landing craft.

We listened in early June of 1944 as D-Day was launched, and despite the terrible losses of so many Allied soldiers, we felt that the might of our forces and the rightness of our cause would prevail. There was hope building for success in Europe, and in the Pacific.

One by one, the welcome home signs went up, and all our cousins returned to Liberty Street sound of body and limb, but forever changed by the experiences we could only imagine, and the stories they were so reluctant to share.

Things were never going to be the same again, even though an era of prosperity was on the horizon. Tensions in the Case family had been put on hold for four years. But when the last bomb had been dropped overseas, the battles on the domestic front were just being joined.

©Copyright 2010 Frank LaPosta Visco

Next: Peace in the world, war at home.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Chapter 15: War Stories

(Author's note: Talk about timing -- these stories, although fictionalized, reflect the experiences of several of my cousins. The last of these heroes -- my personal, life-long hero, passed away this past week just after his 86th birthday. To Anthony G. Visk, I dedicate this.)

Once FDR declared that the US was at war, every American's focus shifted. There are always people opposed to war, but anti-war protests subsided, German sympathizers were stifled and if there ever was a unanimous national will, it came sharply into focus in late 1941.

Troy's factories were dedicated to providing our exponentially-growing military forces with clothing and other materiel. Underage boys pleaded with their parents to let them enlist. As men left their jobs to fight overseas, women who weren't already employed took their places in factories, offices and the local Watervliet Arsenal, which had been turning out cannon since the War Between the States. Women who were nurses, secretaries and language specialists were called into service.

The country's national symbol, Troy's own Uncle Sam, was once again pointing at each and every American, emphasizing the need for personal involvement in the war effort.

For four years, from 1941 to 1945, boys – and some girls – who were in high school one year were in uniform the next – forced into grown-up roles, facing the horrors of war, yet writing letters to their teachers, friends and families that hid the facts and bolstered our hopes.

Of course, there was genuine fear and conscientious objection to war. I remember hearing a story long after World War II ended, about a young man -- not from Troy --who was determined not to be drafted. He was so fearful of being shot by the enemy, that he shot himself in the foot, only to discover that he was too short to serve in the first place.

The story is apocryphal of course, because no one was “too short” to serve. In fact, two of Aunt Giovi's boys, who lived upstairs over Eddie and Esther Case and me, their baby son, were just over 5 feet tall, and the Army found important work for both of them.

Willie, known forever after to the family as “Smilin' Jack,” was recruited into the Army Air Corps (later the US Air Force) as a tail gunner. They had to be small – there was barely enough room in the tail of a bomber for a man and a machine gun. But it was a vital position, because once the planes took off from their bases in England, and were over German-occupied Europe, the tail gunner's life expectancy was something like seven seconds. The Luftwaffe fighter planes would attack from below and behind, as shrapnel – or flak – filled the skies ahead of our planes, protecting the industrial targets below.

Our “Smilin' Jack” was given a small stuffed creature, called a gremlin, by his beautiful little sister, Michelina – known as “Mike” – before he went overseas. He took it with him on every flight, held on to it even when his plane was shot down over the English Channel, and brought it safely home and later, gave it to his daughter. I remember hearing about other things he and his fellow flight crew members carried – false identification papers, currency and compact emergency rations – necessary for survival in case they were shot down and survived after parachuting into enemy territory.

Anthony, who was known as Kokomo, or “Coke,” from a popular comic strip of the time, graduated high school a year after Willie. Although even on tiptoe he barely reached 5 feet, he became a jeep driver in Patton's army. His legs were just long enough to reach the pedals, and his diminutive size left more room in the jeep for the mail he would deliver from mobile headquarters to the GI's on the front line.

Stories of amazing feats and heroic deeds mingled in the local newspaper with lists of dead, wounded and missing soldiers from all over the area. I still have a yellowing copy of a clipping about “Coke” when he was written up for disobeying orders, and took off for the front lines with “Victory Mail” from home for the fighting men on the front line, in the middle of a ferocious battle. Instead of being reprimanded, he was awarded a medal for bravery.

Vittorio, or Vic, another Case cousin fresh out of high school, found himself, in the last year of the war, slogging through Italy, pushing the retreating German Army northward, where the weary and mostly disillusioned enemy soldiers were eager to survive and return to what was left of their ravaged homeland. That didn't make them any less dangerous, of course, and incredible as it may seem, even today you can see film from the US National archives, on your home computer, of my cousin's unit rounding up German soldiers amid gunfire, as they liberate a northern Italian town!

The video was found and uploaded to the website of a resident of the town, Cornuda, whose main street has been renamed for the date of the US liberation. There are plenty of grateful Italians there, and no “ugly Americans.”

As I write down these family tales, and watch that black and white film, I find it hard to believe that, back then, boys just out of high school were forced to become men of such strength and courage and resolve. No wonder we owe them so much.

©Copyright 2010 Frank LaPosta Visco

Next: In Book 2, Chapter 5: Life goes on.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Chapter 14: A Date That Will Live in Infamy

I was almost a year old on December 7, 1941, so I really don't have a first-hand recollection of the shocked reactions on the faces of those around me. I'm pretty sure no one in Troy's Little Italy even knew where Pearl Harbor was, or what it was.

They just knew that it had been attacked, our Navy was in ruins, and that we were now at war – a war not just with Japan, but with Germany, too. A war against two countries, a hemisphere apart. Today, it's remembered and commemorated as an ancient and honorable victory over two evil empires, won at great cost to much of the world and to virtually every American family.

But try to imagine what it meant to those families – the instant change in attitude, in purpose, and the life-changing decisions facing the young men and women of the time.

World War Two was every American's war – even those whose grandparents had come from the very countries that were attacking us and our allies. Little Italy, especially the enclave of Tory Hill, which encompassed the part of Liberty Street across the railroad tracks, St. Mary's and Havermans Avenues, was a pretty closed community back then – but the Italo-Americans who made up the great majority of the population had to go outside its imaginary walls to shop, work and go to school.

Of course, it was easier for people of European backgrounds to blend into the general population. We didn't know anyone of Japanese extraction back then, but the wave of ugly propaganda was especially hard on them, and, frankly, the resulting focus on their incarceration in the western states probably brought some sense of relief to my relatives, as well as to those of German extraction.

Not that it was easy, even for a family whose name had been “Americanized” from Caserta to Case. Even though it had been an innocent enough change, there were people who suspected that the name had been changed to facilitate spying for the “Old Country.” Any communication with relatives in Italy – or Germany – was now suspect. Social clubs that had been founded to help equalize the ethnic communities were mistrusted and even reviled.

Despite that, the Case brothers helped rally the community and used their talents at organizing and producing plays and musical reviews to continue their efforts, redirecting the proceeds of their shows to the USO, the United Service Organizations.

Begun with foresight in February of 1941 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, The USO was – and is – a private, non-profit organization created to provide on-leave recreation for the rapidly growing United States armed forces. In response to the increasing world crisis, U.S. troops grew from 50,000 to 12 million between 1940 and 1945! USO clubs all over the world provided a touch of home – a place to dance, to meet, to watch movies, to find solace, to write letters home, and to enjoy free coffee and doughnuts.

Before the war would end, over a million and a half volunteers would work on the USO's behalf. Everyone in Little Italy pitched in. People who once played, sang and danced just for family gatherings, now brought their talents to the stage for the whole community to enjoy, and contribute to the war effort.

Everyone seemed to pull together back then, under the commonly heard phrase, “For the duration.”

Backyard gardens suddenly became “Victory Gardens,” and with rationing of tires, gasoline, meat, butter and other supplies needed for the war, cooperation was the watchword.

Blackouts were common, and men and women who were unable to fight became neighborhood Wardens, patrolling the streets at night, making sure no lights could be seen and used as targets by possible enemy aircraft. Children were trained to recognize and identify aircraft by their silhouettes, and to report any suspicious shapes in the sky.

Summertime lemonade stands now supported the USO, as did the traditional backyard “circuses” that the neighborhood kids put together, with performing pets and acrobatics. Breaking news of the war came from our radios, war action film was shown in newsreels at the movie theaters, and detailed reports of the fighting – as well as lists of the dead and missing in action – came from newspapers.

No one who was in the neighborhood at the time, in early 1942, can ever forget the screams of a mother on Havermans Avenue when she was told of her son's ultimate sacrifice in the very country she had left many years before to escape the hardships of life.

Her wailing sobs struck deep, and awakened the fears of every family with a member in service, or about to be.

©Copyright 2010 Frank LaPosta Visco

Next: War stories.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Chapter 13: November Surprises

Anna Caserta, matriarch of the Case family, was dead. Her youngest son, Eddie (Egidio) had committed adultery, and was found out. His strong-willed wife Esther, about to give birth, considered moving back with the Campobasso clan, but was rebuffed by her equally stubborn father.

So she locked the door on Eddie and forced him to find solace elsewhere. Fortunately for me, he moved in with his widowed oldest sister, Aunt Giovi (Giovanna), who lived upstairs with her 3 sons and one daughter, and not with Yolanda, the town “flirt” (to use a gentle euphemism), who it was said had seduced him. To tell the truth, my father was easily seduced.

It's time I introduced myself, because this is just before I appear in the saga of the Cases and the Campobassos. I'm Eddie Case Junior, or “Little Eddie” as I was called as soon as I was born to Esther and Eddie, on the last day of December, 1939. I'm the one who's been telling the story, and you'll learn more about me later.

But right now it's late November of 1939, Europe's in a mess, America's having a very slow recovery from the Great Depression, and things aren't much better at 13 Liberty Street, home of the Caserta/Case clan.

Eddie slept uncomfortably upstairs on his sister Aunt Giovi's living room sofa. She already had three mischievous teenage sons, her lovely introspective daughter Michelina and the lifelong bachelor brother Vincenzo living with her, and Aunt Giovi tried in her quiet way to effect a reconciliation between her youngest brother and his very pregnant wife downstairs. Esther's sister Rose and her husband, Eddie's brother Joe, who lived next door, downstairs, tried to help the estranged couple, as did Michele, the head of the fourth Case family in the other upstairs flat, next to Aunt Giovi's clan.

Esther, the wronged wife, visited St. Joseph's Convent House and had a serious discussion with her piano teacher, the wise Sister Mary Magdalene. A very talented musician who was born Margaret Mary Bonaccio, she had left Little Italy after high school for New York City, studied with world class musicians, sampled the favors of rich and powerful men and women, then renounced it all and returned to take her vows and devote her talents to her religious community.

She and Esther had a rapport, and while they had chosen different paths, were more spiritually attuned than Esther had ever been with her quiet, reclusive sister Rose.

The beautiful nun, the daughter of an Italian fruit peddler and a South Troy girl of Irish descent, advised Esther to let Eddie back in, make him promise to atone for his faithlessness, and rebuild their marriage. “Deal with the devil you know – it's better than with the devil you don't know,” Sister Maggie said, as a look of wistfulness appeared in her blue eyes.

Although all the relatives took credit for facilitating the reunion, it was really the nun who convinced Esther to forgive. But, ingrained in the steel-spined daughter of a long line of blacksmiths and forgers of scissors and revenge daggers was a reluctance to bend and forget.

Although Esther took the nun's advice, she would never completely trust her husband again. Eddie moved back in from his sofa upstairs, and life resumed, with more of an edge to it. Esther continued to take solace in playing Chopin's etudes on the piano next door, waiting for me to leave the comfort of the womb.

But my scheduled appearance was still a month away. Whenever Maria Campobasso, Esther's mother, could leave the confectionery store, my tiny and spry maternal grandmother would walk the few blocks to Liberty Street and visit her two daughters who were now part of the Case family. But never on weekends when the men of the family were there – only during the week when the husbands were at work. Perhaps that was because the same characteristic unwillingness to forget was engrained in her, too, having been so long a part of the Campobasso tradition.

She was generous with food from the store, even if it was day old bread and produce, or a dented can of imported plum tomatoes that wouldn't sell. But Maria Campobasso never told her husband Francesco, because he refused to forget the sins of his daughters, Esther and Rose. One had defied him and kept him from her wedding, the other was complicit in a secret that no one dared to discuss aloud.

Of course, later in life, when the old ones would be only faded photos and half-remembered stories, I would discover the family secrets, and, as writers do, use them to tell my stories. And use them I will, when the time is right in the saga I'm relating to you.

Meanwhile, I hope you'll continue to follow the ups, downs, laughter and tears of what may or may not be a typical family with its roots in Troy's Little Italy.

©Copyright 2009 Frank LaPosta Visco

Next: In Book 2, Chapter 2: A child is born.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Chapter 12: Dark October

Esther Campobasso was Esther Case now, but she found it difficult to adjust to her new role. You'd think that moving closer to her sister, Rose, who had married Eddie's older brother Joe, would have eased the transition to life as a stay-at-home housewife on Liberty Street, but it didn't.

Moving up Tory Hill to Liberty Street, literally on the other side of the railroad tracks, and across the street from “The Dumps,” seemed to Esther more like moving down. Here was a young woman who had enjoyed a taste of freedom, earning her way, rebelling against the oppressive rules of la via vecchio – the old way – finally succumbing to a traditional role, and about to become a mother.

Eddie Case had won one prize and forfeited another. His childhood sweetheart was his wife, but his dream of national and international fame was gone. He still performed in local plays and musicals with his brothers, raising money for St. Anthony's, and reveled in the attention of the community.

With the imminent arrival of a new baby, Eddie and Esther faced their growing family's budget with some trepidation. In order to supplement his wages as a pressman at the Cluett, Peabody shirt factory, Eddie and three of his friends from the neighborhood formed a band, the Music Men, and picked up some extra cash performing popular music and Italian tunes on weekends at some of the roadhouses on the outskirts of Troy.

The Music Men consisted of Eddie on fiddle, Johnnie “Helmet Head” Marano on saxophone, Rocky Agnone on drums and Lefty Bernous on piano. The sound they developed was vaguely reminiscent of the Jean Goldkette band that Eddie admired.

Besides the few extra dollars the extra-curricular activity added to the family budget, Eddie also enjoyed the attention of the crowd and the escape from the drudgery of factory work. If he were completely honest, he would have admitted that he didn't mind escaping the uneventful home life he shared with Esther, either.

Esther was seven months pregnant and “eating for two” had resulted in her gaining close to fifty pounds. The stress of daily housekeeping wore her down, although she did have whatever help her sister Rose could offer. It wasn't much, because Rose had two children to tend to.

Whenever she could find the time, Esther found solace in reading and playing pieces by her favorite composer, Chopin, on Rose and Joe's old upright piano. Occasionally, on a brisk, sunny October day, Esther would wrap herself in her cloth coat and trudge uptown to the elegant Troy Public Library, with it's glorious Tiffany windows, and return home with one of its collection of romantic novels.

As Esther lost herself in her reading and her classical music, Eddie, who craved attention, felt increasingly ignored, and on weeknights spent his evenings after supper by his mother's side. Anna was now bedridden, unable to eat, and seemed to be losing weight as fast as Esther was gaining it.

The Music Men found themselves a regular gig, out at the Country Grove in East Greenbush, and it was there that Yolanda Caputo took an interest in the handsome fiddle player. As they used to say in the 1930's, Yolanda had a reputation. Today, we might call her liberated, but her overt sexuality and obvious interest in “playing the field” back then marked her as a loose woman.

She took an active interest in Eddie, exhibiting her voluptuousness close to the bandstand during practically every up-tempo number, and stalking Eddie during the band's breaks, offering him sips from her flask, cigarettes from her case, and carnal promises from her libido.

Eddie was needy, lonely and vulnerable. Yolanda was giving, willing, and predatory. On Friday night, October 29, 1939, Eddie did not go home to Esther.

Esther would have stayed up worrying all night, but this night, she and the Case clan that Esther and her sister Rose had married into had another reason to be awake. Father Sebastiano from St. Anthony's was administering the Last Sacrament to the matriarch, Anna Caserta, who was breathing her last breaths. And with every one, she demanded to see her baby, Egidio.

But Egidio – Eddie – was in the arms of Yolanda Caputo, and they were in the middle of violating a totally different commandment.

©Copyright 2009 Frank LaPosta Visco

Next: In Chapter 13, the 1940's begin with separation, reconciliation and revelation.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Chapter 11: A Wedding & A Birth

It was almost the witching hour on a moonless April night in 1935 when the ostetrica (midwife) Viorica DiPaolo, was summoned to the home of Francesco and Rose Campobasso to receive her instructions. The last time she had attended their daughter Rose, at the birth of Joseph Anthony Case, complications required a trip to the hospital. The Campobassos wanted to emphasize that that option was to be avoided.

The old woman made her assurances, gathered her bundles and proceeded the few blocks to the Liberty Street flat of Joe and Rose Case.

The next morning, it was announced that the newest Case had arrived -- a healthy 9-pound boy, and that he would be christened Joseph Anthony, the same two names of his older brother, but reversed.

Esther, now released from her confinement, and pale from not being allowed in the sun since the previous summer, was eager to help her older sister with the care of the infant.

House calls were common then, and Dr. Positano, the physician who had attended Rose after the complications of her first difficult delivery, called frequently at the Case household to check up on Rose and the infant. The fact that Esther was there every time he visited was far from a coincidence, for the good doctor had been enamored of Esther for as long as he could remember. A shy man, he barely managed to speak to Esther, experiencing that all-too-common male fear of rejection when faced with the object of his affection.

One day, though, he spoke more than the usual banal pleasantries, and berated himself for it afterwards

After examining Rose and the baby, the doctor was offered the usual hospitality of sharing coffee and biscotti at the kitchen table, and he accepted.

Esther, aware of his interest in her, tried to keep the conversation limited to the most banal of topics, the weather, but she sensed an undercurrent of seriousness about the physician, as he nervously stirred his expresso. What she couldn't know was that he was trying to tell her something he had rehearsed over and over, phrasing and rephrasing it, never quite satisfied that he had the right words, and worried that he would be betraying a confidence and his Hippocratic oath if he revealed the reason for his speech.

Being lost in these thoughts caused an embarrassing silence that he suddenly became aware of, when he was asked the same question twice.

What's that? Oh, yes, I'll be back again on Tuesday,” he stammered out as he stood up from the table and prepared to leave.

Esther, could I speak with you, please?” The doctor gestured toward the door, hoping Esther would escort him to it for a private word. She went with him, a concerned look clouding her face.

When they reached the front door, the doctor said, “Esther, I've known you and your family for a long time. I wouldn't do anything to hurt you in any way. I – I just want you to know that if there's anything I can do to, um, help in the, you know, situation, I'd be honored.”

Despite her smile, Esther's eyes turned cold. “Thank you, doctor. I think we'll be all right,” was all she said.

As the doctor had feared, getting out of the Campobasso house and into the Case compound was an opportunity for Esther to reestablish her relationship with Eddie, despite the strong objections of the parents. Obviously, when Esther was with Rose and the baby, everyone concerned made sure that the two were never alone.

In spite of the obstacles that the families put in their way, courtship resumed, and two months later the strong-willed Esther had her way; another Case male would wed another Campobasso female, although as far as the couple was concerned, it was their second wedding to each other.

These days, when the modern-day descendants of the Campobasso and Caserta/Case families look at the June 1935 wedding pictures of Esther and Eddie, they see something unique. Actually, it's who they don't see that makes it so – Francesco Campobasso isn't there.

It's not that he was deceased in 1935; he would live another ten years, passing on just as the second world war ended. No, he's not there because Esther refused to allow him any part in it.

Esther blamed her father for her imprisonment. True, he was the enforcer of the strict rule, but it was the women of the family, led by Esther's mother Rose, who decreed the punishment, in order to clear the family name of any taint that could result from the elopement of Esther and Eddie the previous July.

Francesco had made no exceptions – Esther had had no contact with the outside world since her return from the civil ceremony in Vermont – a non-wedding in the eyes of Troy's Italo-American community.

And although he didn't say it to Esther, Dr. Positano understood what that would mean if everyone knew what he knew.

©Copyright 2009 Frank LaPosta Visco

Next: In Chapter Twelve, Double Trouble.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Chapter 10: The Punishment

Italian tempers flared. Curses and damnation spewed forth in a raging torrent of biblical proportions.

The hot July Saturday that Esther and Eddie returned from their civil wedding ceremony in Vermont, neighbors of both families, from Ferry Street to the Canal, and from Havermans Avenue to the River, closed their windows -- more to shut out the mournful wailing than the burning rays of the sun.

The shame of an unconsecrated union was almost too much to bear for the Campobasso family. While Francesco fumed and railed, the women of the clan met in what can best be described as a council of elders. In Italian families, the decisions in cases like this would come from the woman, who was the heart of la famiglia; the enforcement would come from the man, who was merely the family's figurehead.

The ruling came down. Esther was forbidden to leave the Campobasso house – for any reason – for nine months. And, obviously, she was to have no outside male visitors.

Anna Caserta was summoned to the Campobasso household to confer. Her indignation at the elopement of her son and this strong-willed young woman didn't rise to the same level of contempt as in Maria Campobasso's family, but her resentment exceeded theirs. Actually, Anna was more upset over the threat of losing her youngest son's contributions to the Caserta/Case coffers – already two sons had married, and while their brides had joined them in the Liberty Street house, more of their income was diverted away from Anna.

Eddie Case had no recourse but to follow the dictates handed to him by the Campobasso family – he would have no contact with Esther until the end of April of the following year. If he wrote letters, they would be destroyed. The Campobasso phone was in the store, so a call would be futile. No matter how anxious he was to see Esther, Eddie would simply have to go on with his life without her until the matter was resolved. He would go to work, perform in plays with his brothers to benefit St. Anthony's Church and School, but he wouldn't date and he wouldn't “go out with the boys” on weekends. But, if Esther's keepers thought that Eddie's passion would die, they were wrong.

As for Esther, Eddie was the only man in her life. Now that she had known him intimately, she knew that he would wait, and be faithful. She, on the other had, had no choice. Esther was now the princess locked in the tower, and the drama of that reinforced her determination. She understood the reason for the imprisonment – the stain of carnal knowledge must be erased in the only way it could be – by time. If at the end of nine months she were still childless, then it could be argued that the family honor had not been besmirched.

Such was the strict code of the old way. For centuries, the key to the survival of the contadini of Italy was neither the state nor the church. The rulers of the fractured Italian provinces were feudal lords; even when the country was finally united in the late 1800's, the rulers were from the north and actually increased the repression of the southerners. Although individual priests might side with the peasants, church leaders made their deal with whomever was in power.

So la famiglia was all you could count on. And if the family was dishonored in anyway, extraordinary means were necessary to restore it. Esther had committed one of the worst transgressions of the old way – she had completely ignored a basic tradition, in which the family arranges the union of its children.

As so often happens in large families, there was other news that year, and not all of it was bad. Just weeks after the shame that Esther and Eddie had brought on their families, the Campobassos and Cases had a reason to smile: it was announced that Esther's older sister Rose and her husband, Eddie's older brother Joe, were finally going to have their second child.

©Copyright 2009 Frank LaPosta Visco

Next: In Chapter Eleven, a wedding, a birth, and a break with tradition.