Tanti amici! Tanto parlare! Tanto mangiare! And free ciopette! That is the perfect description of the Alumni Mass that took place at St. Anthony’s on April 25. It was more of a festive celebration than a mere gathering of former parishioners.
Danny Bovino, I and my brother Chester went to Rockford to pick up the ciopette. It turned out that Steve McKeever, Piemonte’s master baker, had made ciopette for the alumni mass — literally — because he insisted on donating them.
Steve also had a surprise: He’d found a promotional piece for the original Piemonte Bakery that his grandfather, Luigi Dodaro, had started in Chicago, before moving to Rockford. The item of greatest interest is that it listed a “Branch Bakery” at 159 E. Kensington Ave., which adds to the history of Piemonte Bakery because I always thought the first Piemonte was where Gonnella is now at 318 E. Kensington. I was so impressed with Steve’s generosity and excitement that I gave him my extra copy of Fra Noi, which I had purchased at Calabria Imports on 103rd Street.
To complete our Rockford trip, we headed over to D’Tullio’s Market & Café, where we introduced ourselves to Tony D’Tullio and his brother Michael. As it turned out, Tony and their dad had just returned from visiting with Steve at Piemonte, where they had discussed Steve’s baking bread for them as their local supplier. Tony also showed us his copy of the November 2009 column where I had mentioned D’Tullio’s. He had no idea what his Fra Noi customers were talking about until the copy was given to him by Cynthia Chmell, the daughter of Don and Gloria Strazzabosco of the Veneti nel Mondo.
Tony insisted on creating and sharing a large antipasto platter. We loved the fresh ingredients and spent more than an hour with him sharing our ciopette and talking about our common ties. The D’Tullio’s are related to the Castrogiovanni family. Grateful and with our stomachs full, we headed back to Chicago to prepare for the Alumni Mass.
On Sunday, Danny Bovino, I and LouAnn Sola Pretto arrived at 7:30 a.m. to prepare everything for the reunion that would follow the Mass. Steve had donated 40 ciope and LouAnn had bought salami, sopressa, grapes, and mozzarella cheese — in other words, a perfect Italian repast! We debated how to pass out the ciope and finally decided on putting out one large basket that we kept refilling throughout the morning like the endless loaves and fishes.
Second Ward Alderman Bob Fioretti read the first reading in English, and I was privileged to read the second in Italian. Everyone was more than kind in complimenting my Italian reading skills. Immediately after the Mass, approximately 100 attendees went downstairs to the hall for the reunion.
Among the most excited attendees was Len Chiaro, who has been with South Suburban College for over 20 years and promised to put me in touch with Bob Dodaro, Steve McKeever’s cousin. Also very happy to be at the reunion were Margherita Albarello, her mother Ria and her brother Bruno. Margherita had actually ordered 10 ciope from Piemonte in Rockford but couldn’t pick them up on Saturday. However, by attending the reunion she got to eat her ciope and to see people she hadn’t seen since attending St. Anthony’s grade school. Everyone is looking forward to the next Alumni Mass and ciope.
Note e Notizie
Fr. Mark Krylowicz of St. Anthony’s asked that I be sure to thank the Veneti Nel Mondo for their generous donation that was used to re-finish the Tabernacle Doors on the main altar. … June 13 is St. Anthony’s Feast and 9:30 a.m. Procession. … Lisa Pesavento, with her dad Roy, who was visiting from Florida, mentioned the Fenger 1970 Class 40th Reunion Party at 6 p.m. on June 12 at 94 West Steak & Seafood Restaurant in Orland Park. Contact her at email@example.com or Paul Freberg at firstname.lastname@example.org. … Gail Sosnoski Willich, 630-325-9392, and Lori Swiontek Curci, 708-642-0895 are organizing Fenger 1963’s 47th-year reunion, August 21, at Tinley Park Convention. … Dominic DiSanto from Lemont called to let us know Sr. Mary Ricardo DiSanto, his sister, was elected into the Nazareth Academy Fine Arts Hall of Fame. She has been a Sister of St. Joseph music teacher and in the convent since 1945.