Sam and Teresa Amelio share memories of Teresa’s mother, Rosalinda Sauro Sirianni. Rosalinda and her husband Luigi were immigrants from Gizzeria, Italy (Calabria).
They had a large garden in a suburb of Pittsburgh from 1930’s until the 1980’s. The garden not only fed them and their family, but also provided the additional income needed to pay for college for all five children.
Teresa recently donated the family property to the North Hills Community Outreach in Pittsburgh, PA to grow organic food for its food pantry. (Read more)
See Sam talk about a fond and humorous memory of his mother-in-law in Stories from the Garden: Sam Amelio.
Hear Teresa’s memories of her mother in Stories from the Garden: Teresa Amelio.
Teresa wrote the article below for a local newspaper as a tribute to her mother on Mother’s Day in 2004:
Tribute to My Mom, Rosalinda Sirianni
By Teresa Sirianni Amelio, Pittsburgh, PA
I can still see the sharp edges of opened tin cans as my mother dug them out of the vegetable garden where the Bellevue Borough dump used to be. And I can still smell the garbage dump that was only yards away, not to be out-done by the chicken manure smell that constantly reminded me that our grandfathered-in chickens would be with us always. As my mother shoveled chicken manure into our organic garden, I held my breath as I went under the old wooden garage to gather the slightly warm, light brown eggs that awaited their special place at our breakfast table or in our lunch frittata.
So there my immigrant mom stayed for half of a century (1933-1983) until the day she died. She continuously cleaned up the garden, shoveled the manure, planted, weeded, hoed, watered and moved the plants that my dad had planted the day before to where she thought they would be better. She worked till dark and then more.
With her third-grade education from the mountains of Southern Italy, she emphasized how important education was and encouraged us all to go to college. When it was time to go to college, mom went into her canning Jars filled with money that we all had made selling our organic vegetables around the Borough. She joined this with our savings so we could take two streetcars to go to the University of Pittsburgh. I remember the day that the last one of us graduated from Pitt, Mom dictated a letter to me that I sent to the newspapers. She thanked God and America for the blessings bestowed on our family.
Here’s a list of her mother’s sayings that Teresa compiled for her grandchildren:
Nana Rosa’s sayings
By Teresa Sirianni Amelio, as remembered from my childhood.
Salute prima – health first
Fa progresso – make progress; improve yourself
Centa misura, una tagliata – hundred measures, one cut
Tutte Ie cose rosse, non sono cerasa – all things that are red are not cherries
Da ogni male, uno bene – from every bad, something good
Pane e manto non gravano tanto – bread and blanket are not so heavy
Dove non mettete I’ago, metterete il vostro capo – where you don’t put the needle, you will put your head
La via corta ha potuto essere la via lunga – the short way could be the long way
Se stiate andando affogare, affoghi in un grande stagno – if you are going to drown, drown in a big pool
A la vicina, vada con una cesta chena – go to your neighbor with a filled basket
Tarda arriva, malo loggio – late arrival, ill lodging
Casa stretta, femmina destra – narrow house, clever woman
Mangi questo minestra, o getti dalla finestra – eat this minestra (minestrone) or jump out of the window
Ogni pietra alza Ie muro – every stone raises the wall
Insegni I’Ave Maria; il bambino decidira se vuole dirlo oppure no – teach the Hail Maria; the child will decide if he wants to say it