Looking forward to Italian festival, July 26, 2005

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 29, 2005

I'm looking forward to the Italian Festival the Suffolk Sister Cities Commission is staging Aug. 13.

My grandfather was a 100 percent Italian and never learned to speak English. He was my mother's father. Ironically, my dad, who learned to speak Italian while serving in Italy in WWII, was the only family member who could effectively communicate with him. He died several years before I was born.

North central West Virginia where I was born was teeming with people like Mike Spotloe who were brought there to work the coal mines, and these folks liked to party. Weddings and holidays were always occasions for big get-togethers with lots of food and alcohol. As one might expect, these were typically rather loud events, with everyone talking at once trying to be heard over the polka music or Dean Martin record which provided the soundtrack.

Email newsletter signup

As youngsters, it wasn't too difficult to sneak a beer after things got going good. There was always the uncle, too, who would hand it to you.

"Here, have one. I was drinking wine when I was 8," he would say, shortly before passing out.

When I was in college at Morgantown, W.Va., every Labor Day weekend we would head 25 miles south to Clarksburg, which would put on a terrific Italian Festival every year. Entire blocks of the city would be roped off and the streets would be lined with food vendors and, of course, purveyors of alcohol. There were parades, beauty contests, and several bands playing. It was a lot of fun.

While I rarely drink anymore, I miss the revelry, and while I doubt our event will be anything like those I've described, I'm looking forward to it nonetheless and appreciate the efforts of those involved in staging it.

The event will be held at Constant's Wharf and should be a lot of fun. The News-Herald will be trying to put together a special section about the event. We hope everyone joins in the fun. It should be a good warm-up for Peanut Fest.