A March Minestrone is served

March 3 of this year 2013 marks 81 years since “The Star Spangled Banner” was made the U.S. Anthem.

 

Dear Readers,
A March minestrone is served:
 
An Albanian society meeting hall in Los Angeles was once the scene of many joyous Italian wedding receptions, dances and happy memories for Signor A.C. who wondered whatever happened to the “Ghe Ghe” hall? “Grazie” to Signor L.G., a long time reader of our “giornale”, I have an answer:
 
“The ‘Ghe Ghe’ hall on North Broadway in Los Angeles was Giorgio Castriotta Hall (his proper name), a smallish auditorium located in Lincoln Heights on North Broadway.  It was an Albanian Society’s meeting hall and was used for many social functions. The term ‘Ghe Ghe’ is derived from the dialect (called Gheg) spoken by the majority of Albanians and is southern Italian slang for Albanians.
During the 50’s and 60’s I had a band that had occasion to play for many dances at the hall. My cousin’s wedding reception was held there.  With the changes in the neighborhood ethnicities the hall was little used after 1980.
In the early 90’s a Chinese-Vietnamese Buddhists group bought the property and built a Buddhist temple on the site. Two years ago they built a Buddhist school next door and when we went to explore the facilities they were both well attended. I had a problem finding an English speaker there for further information.”
 
Bruno left us one year ago in March. He was a black Labrador mix, apparently abandoned, dangerously walking on a traffic-filled freeway, when my daughter Angela found him seventeen years ago. They say one human year is equivalent to seven dog years, so doing the math, when Bruno left us he was one hundred nineteen years of age.  For us it was still too soon. We miss him.
 
Caesar, Julius 100-44 BC laughed at a soothsayer’s warning to “beware the ides of March” and a successful plot for his assassination did indeed take place on March 15, and included the hand of his trusted, adopted son Brutus and is considered he most famous of classical betrayals. Julius Caesar was assassinated by members of the Roman Senate in part because they feared his dictatorship.
Ides, my dictionary informs, were in the ancient Roman calendar, the 15th day of March, May, July and October and the 13th day of the other months. The soothsayer, who in reality may have just overheard the plot was very specific as to the day Caesar would be dead.
***
  Francesca Cabrini

  Francesca Cabrini

 
DiMaggio, Joe left us in March of 1999. The “Yankee Clipper” was born in Martinez, California but grew up in San Francisco’s North Beach district.  In 1936, Joe was in New York playing his first World Series. As the World Series began, Roosevelt’s touring car rolled past DiMaggio in center field, and the president gave him a big smile and a “thumbs-up” sign. The Yankees won the Series, four games to the Giants’ two.
 Erin’s archeological discovery in 1996 of an old Roman fort some 15 miles north of Dublin, beneath the soil of Drumanagh, indicates there may have been “Italian” connections on the Emerald Isle as early as from 79 AD to 138 AD.  It is thought the Roman fort was built to protect Roman merchants and perhaps to expand colonization into the interior of this rugged part of the Irish east coast. Roman coins bearing the names of the emperors Titus, Trajan and Hadrian were also unearthed at Drumanagh. Roman ornaments, jewelry, coins, artifacts indicate that Drumanagh was not just a military encampment but a thriving center of commerce.
***
 
Francesca Cabrini, later Saint Mother Cabrini, arrived in New York on the last day of March 1889, with a band of five sisters and spent her first night in America in a flea bag room on New York’s Lower East Side. Expecting to find a small convent available to house her sisters, Cabrini called on New York Archbishop. He did not give them a warm welcome. He advised Cabrini and her sisters to take the next boat back to Italy.
 Sister Cabrini instead found a basement and opened an embroidery school to teach adolescent girls a trade. In a couple of empty stores, she established a day nursery to keep four hundred slum children off the street. With $250, enough to pay one month’s rent and but ten beds, she launched a hospital in two adjacent buildings on Twelve Street.
 
The future Mother Cabrini named the hospital Columbus, the “first Italian immigrant”. The nuns became known as the Sisters of Columbus. It was her first major undertaking; today there are seven Columbus Hospitals, three in Chicago alone. Her method soon established itself. Once she had gained the confidence of the community, Mother Cabrini left her sisters behind and moved to another locality to find some dilapidated home, abandoned mission or run-down hotel that she could transform as she saw fit. Those who tried to take advantage of the Little Mother were seldom successful. While dickering for the purchase of the North Shore Hotel in Chicago, she suspected the operators of unfair dealings. Cabrini and her nuns, but the dawn’s early light, took chalk and string in hand and carefully measured the property.
 
Mother Cabrini feared the hotel owners were reducing the value of the property by secretly cutting off a corner strip, twenty-five feet wide. When the documents of sale were ready, she produced her measurements, demanded the whole length of the block, and got it.
     At the age of sixty, Mother Cabrini was still active, white-washing the outer walls of Dobbs Ferry Orphanage, buying a farm outside Chicago to supply her hospitals with company-owned farm products, and selecting the cows herself.
     But her health was rapidly failing and in her last years her body was often racked by fever from malaria contracted during a stay in Brazil. In 1917, she suffered a malarial attack while wrapping presents for five hundred children in the Chicago hospital she founded and died a few days before Christmas. She had become a naturalized American citizen many years before her death, therefore, when she was canonized in 1938, accredited by the church with two miracles, an Italian-American became America’s first saint.
***
 
March 3 of this year 2013 marks 81 years since “The Star Spangled Banner” was made the U.S. Anthem. While the lyrics to this tune are well known by Americans across the country, the history behind the song may not be.
 The song was originally written in 1814 during a battle between Britain and the U.S. at Fort McHenry. Francis Scott Key, who witnessed the battle while being detained aboard a British truce ship, was inspired to write “The Star Spangled Banner” when he awoke the next morning and saw Old Glory still flying high above the fort. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed it the national anthem.
***
 

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