An uncle, remembered with love and respect by the children of his two brothers. In words left by, Harry Mattera, his nephew: "Uncle Clement was a man about 5'3"-- the wagon he drove was more than twice as big as he was. When he had to climb up to the top of that wagon to the driver seat, he had one heck of a job. And it was hard to imagine this man lifting all that produce off the back of that horse and wagon plus handling two horses at the same time. He was tough!"
At nine years old, in his birth town of Casamicciola, he survived a devastating earthquake with a minor hearing deficiency; spent the balance of his youth very happily in Marseilles, France and in about 1896 the young ambitious man with his equally ambitious family docked on the eastern shore of the United States.
As is listed in the Philadelphia Directory, he began as an entrepreneur, buying and then selling his produce to the various hotels and restaurants. He later became a teamster, driver of a horse and wagon, for his long time huckster friend Felix Spatola and Brothers, when they opened their business.
Grandpop and my Dad enjoyed a special relationship throughout their lifetime and my Dad's fond childhood memory was sitting next to his Dad on the wagon making deliveries and looking forward to the treats obtained at the end of the day "bar" stop.
Part of the fun of going to Norristown by Reading train, was visiting him at the Reading Terminal, where he worked for Felix Spatola and Sons, anticipating my usual treat of gourmet fruit, such as lady apples.
On Saturday afternoons, he sometimes went to a nearby bar, (owned by a nephew, Angelo DeLuca) and on occasion I was sent to remind him it was dinner time and at the same time was intrigued to see the card playing scenario reminiscent of CÚzanne's painting of the card players.
My grandfather's home-made wine was pink vinegar, no comparison to my Norristown grandfather's delicious red wine, and drinking too much transformed him into the Neapolitan singer, happily singing "East Side West Side All around the town" and "The French Marseilles"; in one swoop combining three nostalgic parts of his youth.
When I was playing baseball (sans bat and with a rubber pimple ball and a roofed ball was a definite homerun) on Bouvier Street, my eye always caught him returning from his day of toil with his daily large bag of fruit and produce thrown over his back.
One Christmas my Aunt Adeline bought him a gift of a rubber Popeye with a can of spinach because he was an ardent Popeye fan --did he buy the Philadelphia Ledger, his favorite newspaper, just for the cartoon.
Because he was usually notably quiet, everyone's recollection of him is witnessing a singularly significant, sudden outburst. Aunt Mill remembers bickering with her sister Vera and with one unexpected movement , each receiving a blow with synchronized hands.
On another occasion, his quick jump from his hassock at the front window, as he bolted toward the entry startled me, only to see that (after many verbal reprimands) he was phyically instructing his grandson on how to close a door without slamming it.
When I was old enough to go to dances, he surprised me by asking why I was leaving to go out at almost 10 o'clock p.m., to which I retorted that the dance started late but I would return at my designated time and the answer satisfied him. Looking back with a sharper understanding of our relationship, it occurs to me that there were many subtle instances of protection shown by him for me.In his years as a retired driver, I recall being startled by his rage, one summer evening while sitting on the front step after dinner, he had observed a passing driver mistreating his horse by unnecessarily whipping it.
Sadly, on 30 November 1946, the black crape was hanging at our front doorway at 1737 W. Passyunk Avenue; Grandpop, ill on Thanksgiving, had suddenly died and the shock left our usually feisty grandmother temporarily immobile. My only clue that Grandpop's illness was grave was noticing my Dad tending to his personal needs and witnessing, very thought provoking, his slow walks from his bedroom to the bathroom in his "long johns".
The morning of his death, there was an atmosphere of mystery in the living room, I was peering over the stairway banister wondering why there was activity only to learn it was the undertaker tending to his duties.
Being two weeks short of sixteen years old, (an unforgettable year) my duty was to run errands, especially providing the cake for the constant flow of relatives, friends and neighbors for the three day viewing; baby-sit my cousin Charlotte the day of the funeral and assist the neighbors arranging the food table for the many returning mourners.
A very quiet man quietly left us but not without leaving his mark---in English, French and Italian.
|Louise||abt 1927||Donald Young||Four|
|James A.||1929||Marilyn L. Scheidel||1949||Two|
|Peter Robert||1948||Joan Maffei||10-07-1972||Three|
|Debora Anne||1958||Richard Livingston||01-10-1987||Three|