The Old House

Lucia and Eduardo’s first apartment in Brockton was located on Summer Street. This is where they welcomed their next 8 children into the world: Tony, named after Eduardo’s father Anthony; Jennie, after Eduardo’s mother Giovanina; Angie, after Lucia’s father Angelo; Mike, after Lucia’s brother Michael; Eddie, after Eduardo; Helen (my grandmother), after an Italian princess; Rose, after Lucia’s sister Rose; and Louie, after Lucia’s uncle Louis.

Since this once small family had now grown into a family of 11, it was time to move to a place that could better accommodate them. They moved to a large house on South Skinner Street that they rented from the Frank Villa Family, who owned many rental properties in the area.

The house was very large and had 12 rooms: 4 on the first floor, 4 on the second floor, and 4 large rooms in the attic. On the first floor there was a kitchen, a parlor, a small back room, and a sink room. In the sink room there was a small pantry, a small toilet room, and a laundry room. The laundry room had 2 soapstone set tubs: one to wash the clothes in, and the other to rinse them in. This is where Lucia did her laundry with the help of a washboard. On the other side of this “L” shaped room was a soapstone sink with brass faucets. There was a cupboard under the sink to store soap powder and etc., and this is where they washed the dishes.

In the kitchen stood a table and chairs, an oak ice box, and a large black cast iron stove. In the corner between the windows stood a tall stand which held a birdcage with a yellow canary inside of it. Lucia loved canaries and there was always one chirping away in her kitchen.

In the corner nearest to the sink room stood the black cast iron stove which was fueled by wood or coal. This stove provided the only heat in this large house, as no one had central heating at the time. There was also a small stove in the parlor which was used only on Sundays, holidays, and other special occasions.

For safety reasons, the kitchen stove stood 18” away from the wall and its legs about 12” off of the floor. This made it possible for Eddie, Rose, Louie and Helen to scoot behind the stove to keep warm on cold days. Eventually, each one of them grew a little too large to fit back there any longer, but brother Louie fondly remembered this as the warmest place in the house.

Lucia was a fine housekeeper, and although 11 people lived in this house, it was always neat and clean. About once a month before she lit the fire, she would bring out her bottle of “Black Iron Stove Polish” and proceed to shine every inch of this stove. Then with a cake of “Bon Ami” cleaner, she would polish all the chrome trim. When she was finished, that stove just gleamed.

This same cake of “Bon Ami” was used to wash the windows and mirrors. You would wipe a damp cloth across the “Bon Ami” cake and apply it to the glass panes. As soon as it was dry, it had to be wiped off quickly or else it was almost impossible to remove. These were small panes of glass so this was quite a chore, and it seemed that no matter how hard you’d try, there were always a few streaks of white cleaner here and there.

Upstairs in Lucia’s and Eduardo’s bedroom stood a large brass bed, with 2 feather mattresses, one over the other. As a child, Helen remembers watching Lucia make this bed, as it was quite the operation. First she would remove all the bedclothes. The top feather mattress had 2 slits in the top half and 2 slits in the bottom half, and she would insert her hand in each of these 10” slits and loosen and fluff up the feathers, first on one side of the bed and then on the other. When all the feathers were fluffed up, she would replace the sheets and lay down a pretty white chenille spread and then the pillows, in pillowcases edged with white crocheted lace that Lucia made herself. Then she would take the broom and run the long handle back and forth across the top of the bed until it was perfectly smooth. She did this every morning.

While they were still living in this house, Fanny, Jennie, Angie, and Tony got married (all about a year apart from each other). In 1938 Jennie and her husband Sante bought the house on Lawrence Street, and the rest of the family relocated there as well…
Fanny
Jennie and Tony

Angie

Mike

My grandpa Frank (left) and Eddie (right)

Grandma Helen

Rose and her husband Jimmy

Grandpa Frank again with Louie

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One thought on “The Old House

  1. Pingback: February’s Lent: The Gratitude Journal | 12 Months of Lent

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