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Do you ever have stories that you have always wanted to tell but never knew you would ever get the chance?
Well here is the perfect occasion, place and time for me to do just that.
Its upcoming Fathers Day 2013 and of course I wanted to talk about a man, whom I never knew but whose life has impacted mine and that of my children, in ways that perhaps even his own son doesn’t know.
I don’t necessarily believe in ghosts, but I do believe in angels, and especially guardian angels. If you don’t believe in either one, then remember a time in your life when you found yourself in a bad situation — that could have been worse, but by a sheer stroke of luck it wasn’t. Well I believe that sheer stroke of luck was your guardian angel. But I am getting a bit off topic, now, as I will do from time to time.
The man that I am talking about is my husband David’s father Vincente, and I hope that he is looking among is his family now and being our guardian angel, but through his life he left us with his guardianship.
What I am about to tell you about his simple and extraordinary life are a compilation of the stories that David has told me. Through his hardwork, knowledge of the trades, quality workmanship and love of land, his legacy lives on.
David tells me that he started off in Little Italy, where in their basement they used to make their own wine. Some grapes were grown in his backyard, but most were bought by the bushel at the market (no, not the grocery store as we know it!)
In the basement there was the metal container where they would squish the grapes with their feet, like I have only seen on tv and in cartoons. (In fact in the 70′s when I was about 8 years old, I saw it on tv, then ran into the fridge, got the red grapes, and put it on my parent’s white shag rug, and squished the grapes!)
Then he would squeeze it out through a grape wringer thingy (please feel free to tell me the proper names!)
And he was determined to squeeze every last bit of juice from the grapes, he would keep wringing and wringing with all his might and muscles, until the grapes were bone dry!!
Nonno Vincente worked most of his life at CN rail, he eventually left Little Italy in Toronto and moved up to what then was “York, Gore”. and bought 10 acres of land at Clarkway and Mayfield which is now known as the east end of Brampton.
Hardly missing a day of work, he worked on the rails, then would come home, and work on his hobby farms, with his 3 sons, Joe, Pasquale and 10 years their junior, my now husband David.
On his farm, he had, goats, chickens, geese and of course all kinds of vegetables and fruit trees.
David told me, how as a boy, he raised geese and sold 100 geese at Kensington Market, back when there was livestock being sold at Kensington (I grew up in Toronto and had never had the opportunity to see this 🙁
David said he kept one pet geese, that he didn’t want to sell, but he hadn’t tagged him, and when it came time to go to the market, he got mixed up with the rest of the geese, he looked and looked but couldn’t tell which one was his pet geese and was saddened that he went with the pack.
Another story was about how his Dad would make hybrid, fruit trees, (forget lab borne GMO) this was the real and natural deal. He did this by cutting a limb of one fruit tree (say an apple), then mending onto it a limb from a (say peach) tree, and he would grow an apple/peach tree!! It did work!
David told me of another story how one time at his work at CN, a box car, came flying down the tracks and flipped and flew into the air and landed close to the table where the guys and his dad were having lunch. One CN worker died in that day.
David told me how he would get so P’O’d, when he would come home from work on an winter day and the 50 feet long drive way was not shoveled by his sons. (They did not have a snowblower back then)
Here are just a few stories that David so lovingly remembers and passes on.
Nonno Vincente, retired at the age of 65 with a healthy pension from CN, he had sold the 10 acres and he lived a few happy years in great retirement home in Woodbridge, before he fell ill with cancer. After a round of radiation treatment, he was unable to walk and got dementia, he lived the rest of his years in a nice long term care home in Barrie, where we would go visit him until his passing.
He had sold the 10 acres of land for a surmountable amount of money, his mortgage had been paid, long before by his CN rail salary. The profits from the land were shared equally amongst his three sons, whereby they had been able to do well with it and take care of the families in comfort.
David’s brother Joe has bought 2 acres of oceanfront property in Prince Edward Island, where he expects to retire there from his teaching tenure.
Because of you David his on a quest to look for that perfect piece of acreage property, on the outskirts of the city. And one day retire with a small farm, I’d like a few chickens and lots of vegetables and a big greenhouse. We also hope this land would eventually be a great enough investment, for us to leave to our children, just as you had yours.
Nonno Vincente, I wish your youngest granddaughter my daughter Davianna (named after your youngest son Davide) had the chance to meet you. But I hope you know that you do live on through Davide’s loving memories of you and in our hearts forever.