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Published by bmarx333, 2018-11-15 23:20:24

Growing up a Gatta Book 111318 Email

Growing up a Gatta Book 111318 Email

Barbara Growing Up
47 Albion Street
Scotia, New York
Cheryl Dave

Tricia Ricky Carmen
Tom Tom & Sally
Clara & Sam Regina

Stan Marlene
Mary Joe

Mark Tina John Cindy
Joey Susan

Debbie Carmen & Gen

JoAnn George
Gregg Stephen
Joe & Agnes Kenny

Maria George & Phyllis


Bob Teresa Robert & Marianna


Mary Ann & Jim Jimmy


Joseph & Mary




I wish I had written this story 50 years ago so that my mother, father, brother-in-law
Sam, sister-in-law Gen, and brother George, would know how much I loved them. I know they
knew, but I never said those 3 beautiful words which are as important to hear as to say. So, I am
not going to miss this opportunity. Wishing you will do the same.

I love you Dad, I love you Mom, I love you Clara, I love you Sam, I love you Tom, I love
you Sally, I love you Carmen, I love you Gen, I love you Joe, I love you Aggie, I love you George, I
love you Phyllis, I love you Mary Ann, I love you Jim, I love you Marianna, I love you Bob, I love
you Deidre, I love you Maria, I love you Tom, I love you Teresa, I love you Casey, I love you
Cathy, I love you Rafe, I love you Nicole, I love you Bill, I love you Joe, I love you Anna, I love you
Marcy, I love you Tommy, I love you Bobby, I love you Mia, I love you Chloe, I love you Phoebe, I
love you Casey, I love you Grant, I love you Sophia, I love you Connor, I love you Ella.

This story is mostly about my life before marriage. I felt it was important to write
because I did not ask my mother or father enough questions about their early life, which I now
regret. I want my children to know about my early childhood and hope they can feel the love I
had growing up. I hope my wife, Marianna, and I have done the same for you. It is extremely
unusual for such a large family to live so close together, for so long, and to show so much love
for one another. We enjoyed being together, celebrating birthdays, holidays, any event, as long
as the family was together. These are loving memories that no one can take away from us. I
hope you and your families will continue the traditions we began, because if you do, you will
have a life filled with fun and love.

I first intended this story to be for my children, that is why I have included my high
school and service days. As I began to write down some of these stories, I thought some of my
nieces and nephews would also like to know about their parents’ childhood.

So sit back and start reading. For my nieces and nephews, skip the pages containing my
high school and service years. For my children and grand children, I WILL ask you questions, so
be prepared.

Uncle Bob
Great Grandpa
Great Uncle Bob

Started: April 2018
Ended: Never

George 2nd Floor Carmen
Joe Tom
Dad 315sqft

47 Albion St.


1st Floor



I was born during the most economically difficult time in America’s history, the
Depression. The date was July 24,1933, in the front, first floor bedroom, on 47 Albion Street,
Scotia, NY. The following story was told by my sister Clara on my 80th birthday.

“80 years ago, on July 24 around noon, Dr. Marra came to the door and said ‘I’m here to
check mom; why don’t you take your brothers across the street in the field to play ball’. I was 11,
Tom 9, Carmen 7, Joe (Junior) 5, George 3 years old. Sometime later he came out on the porch
and waved to us to come back in. Dr. Marra asked us if we would like a baby boy or girl, I said a
girl, the boys wanted a boy. He said this time I have a boy baby in the bag”.

When Clara repeats this story now, she adds, Dr. Marra must have thought we were
‘dumbbells’ to think he had a baby in his bag. Clara is 96 this year and her mind is as sharp and
witty as ever. That’s what we love about her.

This picture was taken when I was about 3. I truly believe my mother did not cut my hair
because Clara wanted a girl.

We did not know we were living during the depression since we were never deprived of
food, clothing or anything, Especially love. Our home had 4 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, living room
(which was also our family room, dining room, music room, bowling alley and basketball court),
and an 8-foot square kitchen, where the 9 of of us would have dinner every night, at about 5:30
pm, without exception. Looking into the kitchen from the living room, my brother Tom sat near
the entrance. My father sat at the far end. Four of us sat on the radiator under the kitchen
window. My Mother, Mary Ann and Clara sat on the opposite side, next to the sink and stove.
My mother would be able to easily reach for whatever we needed. We talked and laughed


throughout the meal sharing what we had experienced that day. I do not remember any
arguments, misunderstandings or ever being upset by any member of the family. We never told
any of our siblings that we loved them. We never had to. It was shown. It was understood.

In this photo you have some idea the size of our kitchen.
This night there were only 5 having dinner. From left: My
mothers left arm, Tom, Sally, Mary Ann and my father are
on the radiator. Can you imagine adding 4 more to this
table? What FUN we had.

Our kitchen, in the early years, had an ice box since refrigerators had not yet been
invented. It was located in the little room to the left of above photo. Ice was delivered by Mr.
Betts, who would come down Albion Street on his horse and wagon. He would pull up to the
front of the house. With an ice pick, he chopped out a block to fit in the top of the Ice Box. All
the kids in the neighborhood would run to grab pieces of ice that would fall off the wagon. On
hot summer days these ice pieces were very refreshing. The Freihofer horse and wagon also
stopped at each house. The driver came up to our door holding a basket full of fresh pastries.
He would come into our living room where we would gather around to pick our favorite. What a

We did not have a basement; we had a cellar. The coal room was in the cellar. Our
furnace was originally a wood/coal burning, hot air system. The coal man would drive his truck
to the back of our house, get out his long silver chute, place it into our cellar window and shovel
the coal down the chute into our coal room. There was a huge round vent located on the first
floor hallway between the living room, bathroom and bedrooms. There was a smaller vent on
the second floor hallway. The heated air would rise up the round vent to heat the first floor, and
then rise up through the smaller vent to heat the second floor. The hot air heating system was
converted to a hot water radiator system and the coal furnace to an oil-burning furnace. I believe
Uncle John Ciabotti installed the system.


The upstairs bedroom, on the left, had two double beds. The bed on the left is where my
father and I slept. Joe and George slept in the other bed. My brothers Tom and Carmen slept
upstairs in the bedroom on the right. My Mother and Mary Ann slept in the downstairs front
bedroom. Clara slept in the back first floor bedroom. When we got into bed, I remember my
father often saying “We should have come to bed earlier”. I still say that many times when I get
into bed and feel safe and comfortable. When Clara got married, and Tom and Carmen went into
the service. Mary Ann moved into Clara’s room. My father moved back in with my mother. My
brother Joe moved into the bed occupied by Tom and Carmen. Although that left 2 double beds
in the other bedroom empty, I chose to sleep with my brother George. When Joe and Aggie got
married in 1948, they moved into the back first floor bedroom. George and I moved into the
bedroom Joe occupied. Can you imagine a teenager allowing his younger brother to sleep with
him when other beds were available? That’s George. He always looked after me and every
member of the family. If someone was ill, George would be the first one there. I followed him all
summer long, going to the park, playing basketball, anywhere, and he never complained. One
night during my first basketball season at Scotia High, we were playing an away game against
Mechanicville High. These games were always rough and heated. The game was nearing the end,
with about 2 minutes left. I was on the bench. George came over to me, grabbed my arm and
said “Let’s go”. We got into the hall and heard the fight that had just broken out.

WOW!!! Have I gotten off my story. That’s what happens when I start talking about
anyone in my family. Lucky for you I did not start on HIS basketball, baseball, and football days at
Scotia High. He was the athlete of the family. That’s a book of its own.

Before I continue with my life, let me go back to when my parents first got married. They
were married on September 1, 1921 and until 1927, lived on 7th Avenue in Schenectady. It was
there that Clara (1922), Tom (1923), and Carmen (1926) were born. My mother told Marianna
that one day in July, before she gave birth to her third child, she was sitting on the upstairs front
porch of their home and could see the crowd enjoying the Feast of Mt. Carmel. It was then that
she decided to name her new baby Carmen, born on July 17.

From 7th Avenue they moved to 5th Street, Scotia (either the second or third house on the
right) from Ballston Avenue. It was here that Joe (1928) was born. On February 22, 1930, my
mother was in Ellis Hospital giving birth to her fifth child, George. Luckily, he wasn’t born on
February 12 (Abe). While she was recovering at Ellis, my father and the rest of the family was
moving into our newly constructed house at 47 Albion Street. It was here that I was born. My


sister Mary Ann was born at Ellis Hospital on July 4, 1939. She is our “Yankee Doodle Dandy” in
more ways then you can imagine. Mary Ann is our event planner, treasurer, the one who
searches the internet for labels, trinkets, anything to make a birthday or special occasion more
special. We never know the surprises she may have in store. When a birthday comes around you
may find on the table a bottle of wine with the label “Happy 85th Birthday Bob” or a Huge
drinking glass engraved “Happy 80th Birthday Jim”, a box of Whitman’s candy and for dessert, a
delicious cake from Villa Italia. She does so much more, impossible to list.

Now, back to my story. When I was 5 years old, I started kindergarten at Lincoln School
on Houston Street. My mother would walk me to school, about a five-minute walk. Soon after
she would leave, I would go to the nurse complaining of a stomachache. My grandfather,
Gaetano, lived two houses away from the school on Houston Street. The nurse would walk me
over to my grandfather’s house where I would stay until my mother picked me up. This
happened so regularly that each morning my grandfather would be waiting for me on the front
porch. Missing so many days of school became a problem. The principal of Lincoln School set up
a meeting with my parents. They believed that the reason for my stomach ache was that I
wanted to go to Sacandaga School with my brothers. The principal said that I did not have to
complete kindergarten at Lincoln; that in September I could attend First grade at Sacandaga.
So I became a kindergarten “drop out”.

Clara, Tom

Joe, George


In 1941, I was 8 years old and in third grade. In January, I complained of an ache on the
right side of my stomach. My parents called our family doctor, Dr. Marra. During those days,
doctors made house calls. He thought it was probably something I ate. The pain did not go away
and my father brought me to Dr. Marra’s office. Dr. Marra made an appointment at Ellis Hospital
for tests. They found that it was my appendix but did not believe I needed to have it removed at
that time. I was sent home with medication to relieve the pain. My parents had me sleep in the
back first floor bedroom. That night I gave a scream and rolled off the bed. I was taken to the
hospital where a surgeon, Dr. McGauley operated and found that my appendix had ruptured.
The infection had spread throughout my body. Dr. McGauley told my parents that the only hope
at this time was a new drug called the “Wonder Drug” (Penicillin).

At one point, Dr. Marra went to my parents and said that medically nothing more could
be done. He said to continue praying. My parents spent any extra time they had at St. Joseph’s
Church. There was a picture of “Our Lady of Perpetual Help” located on the right of the altar. It is
now located on the left side of the main altar. My mother said she saw a “tear” flow from one of
Mary’s eyes.

After the operation my status was critical. I was placed in an oxygen tent with a gastric
tube in my nose and drain tube in my stomach. One morning my sister Clara remembers talking
to me (she would talk to me even if I was not conscious) and said “If you get better I will get you
a bicycle.” I opened my eyes and asked her for chocolate milk. She immediately went to the
nurses’ station and told them about my request. They were surprised and happy to hear that I
was awake and responsive. I was in Ellis Hospital for over 20 days. I had 3 private duty nurses


from January 27th to February 16th. They were each paid $35.00/week. My father could not
believe when Dr. McGauley presented him with a bill for only $10.00. He told my father he had a
son my age.

My parents purchased a picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and
placed a small electric light in front of it. It stayed lighted until my father
died in 1993. My daughter Maria now has that picture.

I recuperated in the back first floor bedroom for another few weeks before going back to
school. I had missed so much school that the principal recommended repeating third grade. So
here I am, a kindergarten “drop out” and a repeat third grader, later to become a teacher!

My parents were so thankful for my recovery that the whole family wanted to thank our
Blessed Mother. We attended the Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help at St. Joseph’s Church
every Monday night at 7:00 pm to thank our Blessed Mother for answering their prayers. My
brother, Joe, was the altar server. We continued attending the Novena during World War II for
the safe return of our brothers, Tom and Carmen. Our prayers were answered.

I attended Sacandaga Elementary school from 1st grade through 6th grade. I still do not
know how we were able to get ready for school in the morning, with only one bathroom. What
time did my father have to get up to get ready for work? I know it was before us. Also, can you
believe my mother made seven lunches every morning? They were not common peanut butter
and jelly sandwiches. She made what we now consider “gourmet” sandwiches. I would not have
changed my childhood life for ANYTHING. I had the very best; it could not have been better. I
can’t imagine living without my 4 brothers and 2 sisters. I would not have wanted a bedroom of
my own. Our house was full of love and fun. My mother and father loved to laugh and joke


They also loved to have parties, especially if it was family parties. I think “Gatta” means “family”.

Photo: Back of 47 Albion Street
Philomena Angelo, Dad, Mom, Angie, Art,
Grandpa, Me, Uncle Louie, George Malizia,
Tom, Uncle Paul, Aunt Rose (kneeling)

One reason we are so close is because we always know we have each other. We never
feel alone. We have “unconditional love” for each other. No one could say or do anything hurtful
to another. That extends to our children, nieces, and nephews. It really is quite a blessing.

Respect for others was never discussed, it was shown to us by our parents. My father
would “tip his hat” whenever we drove by a church or passed a women walking on the sidewalk.
I couldn’t wait until I grew up to wear a hat, so I could “tip” my hat. He would give help to
anyone, anytime. His famous saying was “He’s a peach of a fella”.

One night when I was in high school, two of my friends came over and asked if I wanted
to go to the show. I didn’t work and didn’t have any money. I asked my father for 2 dollars. He
said “Here take this five”. I said “No, all I need is two”. He said “Take the five”. We went back
and forth, and guess what happened. You guessed it. I took the five. When we got in the car my
friends asked “WOW, what’s wrong with you? Why didn’t you take the five at the start? If I
asked my father for 2 dollars, he would give me one”. I thought about that. I realized that my
father knew I would only ask for what I really needed.


My mother liked the horse races, especially during the summer when racing came to
Saratoga. She liked both the Flats and the Harness. She loved playing the Daily Double. Once
driving home after the races my mother said “We should have had that daily double 2-3. Look
there were 2 sitting in the front and 3 sitting in the back”. Another time she said “We should
have had that double 2-9. In my pocket I have 2 dimes, a nickel and 3 pennies”.
I said “Ma, that adds up to 28”. She quickly answered,
“Ah for one penny you’re calling me a liar”? Ha Ha Ha!
That was my mother and BOY did we love her.

I just had to include this photo. I love it so
much. This is a good spot since she’s wearing
riding britches, unusual in those days.

Whenever anyone got sick, my mother would get extremely worried. Whoever was sick
would sleep in the first floor front bedroom. She would sit on a chair next to the bed all night
long. If you were scheduled to take a pill every 4 hours, she would wake you up at the 4th hour
with the pill.

She loved to joke around and have fun. Halloween was
one of her favorite times. One Halloween she dressed up in old
clothes and went over to our neighbor, Mrs. Jorgensen. She had
a note that said “Please give me a cup of coffee.” My mother did
not say a word. Life was different in the 50’s, you could do that
then, now you could be arrested or shot. Mrs. Jorgensen got her
a cup of coffee. When my mother started to laugh Mrs.
Jorgenson then realized it was my mother. She said “Just a
minute Mary, let me give you a new cup.” The cup she first gave
her was chipped. She loved my mother; everyone did.


You might have noticed that, in the past, we never talked much about our mother or
father; it was too upsetting. After all these years I am still having difficulty writing this, starting
to tear up. I am going to take a break.

I'm back, and I better get back to my school days.

I loved school. I had the benefit of following five of my siblings. On the first day, of every
school year, the teacher would take roll call. When they got to my name they would say “So I
have another Gatta”. I knew right then, I had it made. Thanks to the wonderful way my siblings
performed before me.

I entered Scotia High School in September 1949. Graduated in June 1952. High school at
that time had grades 10, 11, 12. Scotia Junior High, located where St. Joseph’s Church parking lot
is now, had grades 7, 8, 9. You could not play high school sports as a 9th grader.

Quite active in high school, I was elected President of Sophomore Class, Treasurer of
Student Council (11th year), President of the Boys Athletic Association (11th year) and President of
Student Council (12th year). In my junior year, my Guidance Counselor, Mr. Day, nominated me
to apply for The Syracuse Citizenship award. He filled out the application and I had to include a
letter explaining my involvement in school. I was chosen and a letter was sent to my parents
congratulating them on my receiving this award. In February of my junior year the French
Department put on a Mardi Gras Dance. The entire student body voted for a boy and a girl to
represent them as King and Queen of the Mardi Gras Dance. When the votes were counted they
announced that I was chosen as King and Sheila Waters, a senior, was chosen as Queen. I was on
the Varsity basketball team for 3 years (the first player to make varsity as a 10th grader), and on
the baseball team for 3 years. I was selected to the Second Team of the Schenectady All County
Basketball during my 11th year. In my senior year I was selected to the First Team of the
Schenectady All County Basketball Team and also selected to the Schenectady All County
Baseball Team.

In my senior year, the Schenectady All County Basketball Team competed in the Sacred
Heart Tournament at the Troy Armory. We lost in the finals to Saratoga County 59 to 44. I was
selected along with team member Len Riley (Pat Riley’s younger brother) to be on the All
Tournament Team.


Both coaches from RPI and Union were interested in me. Mr. Skinner, a Union alumnus,
often invited me to Union to tour the campus, and have dinner. I did not have a car and since
Union was so close, I chose Union. The entrance requirements were very high. Entering freshmen
had to have an A average and be very active in high school. My average was a B+. I was
accepted on condition that I maintain a B average.

I started at Union in September 1952. Basketball practice began November 1st. One day
during the first week in November, I was on campus going from one class to another. Frank
Parisi, a senior and member of the Varsity basketball team, came up to me. He said, “The varsity
coach is wondering why you haven’t come out for the team”. I told him I didn’t think I was
eligible for the varsity team but was going out for freshmen basketball. He told me that I had
better talk to the coach right away. The coach told me I was eligible, so I tried out and made the
varsity team as a freshman. I was the 6th man. My high school coach, Doug McManus, would
attend a number of our practices.

My faculty advisor was my math teacher, Professor Dr. Maddaus. He was upset that I was
on the team. He said that the Mechanical Engineering program was a difficult program. To be on
the varsity basketball team would require much valuable time taken away from my schoolwork. I
had an additional problem, I did not have a driver’s license. In my Mechanical Drawing class, we
were required to go back into the lab to finish drawings we started in class. I found it very
difficult get back to Union to complete my drawings.

We lost the first away game to Williams College. The second game of the season was at
home against a taller and favored Amherst team. We won 61 to 58 in a come- from-behind
encounter. I entered the game at the beginning of the second quarter and played the rest of the
game. I ended up with 8 points. By making a foul shot in the last minute ensured the win. I was
in the starting five for the third game against a 20-point favorite, Hofstra College. The score at
the end of the third quarter was 48 to 42. Hofstra pulled away to win 66 to 55. The first semester
was coming to an end and we had final exams. I ended up with a C+ average at the end of the
first semester. I was unable to finish two drawings in Mechanical Engineering and received a D.
As a result, I did not maintain a B average, so I could not return for the second semester. I should
have listened to my Math Professor, Dr. Maddaus. I was too young, foolish and in love with
basketball that I could not give it up.


The Korean War was on during this time and since I was no longer a student my status for
the United States draft changed from “exempt” to 4A, the highest. This meant I would be drafted
into the Army and sent to Korea. Instead of being drafted, I chose to enlist into the United States
Air Force for 4 years on April 23, 1953. My brother Joe took me to be sworn in. I was supposed to
enlist on April 22, but Aggie gave birth to Becky on that day, so my brother Joe brought me on
the 23rd. I will always remember Becky’s birthday.

I took my basic training at Samson Air Force Base, Geneva, New York. The training period
was from April to August. I had a one-week furlough before I had to report to Keesler AFB, Biloxi,
Mississippi. All of my clothing was shipped from Sampson AFB to Keesler AFB so when I arrived
home all I had to wear was my uniform. One night some of my friends came over and wanted me
to go out with them. I did not have anything to wear except my uniform (see photo below). My
brother George asked me to go with him into Clara’s bedroom. I had no idea what he wanted. He
then changed clothes with me and I was able to go out with my friends. This tells you a little
about our closeness and how he would always be there for me (and everyone else).

The photos below were when I came home from Sampson AFB after basic training.
Notice the haircut. They shave off all your hair the first day of basic training.

I was stationed at Keesler AFB from September ‘53 to July ’54; training to become an Air
Traffic Control Radar Repairman.


In October 1953, the base had a week of try outs for the Keesler “Tarpons” Basketball
Team. It meant traveling all over the US to play a schedule of 32 games with various college and
teams representing other Air Force bases. Selected team members would be relieved of
afternoon duties by the Base Athletic Department in order to to practice and play games.
Everyone wanted to be a member of the team. I tried out, along with over 100 other airmen.
Every evening there would be a list of those remaining. I made it to the final cut. The coach came
up to me after the final cut and said “I did not want to cut you, but I had to get the number down
to 14”. He said that the only reason I was cut was because of my height. I was 5ft 9in. That was
the first time I was ever cut from any team.

I completed my training for ATC Radar Repairmen and was sent to England for 3 years.
My first assignment was at Upper Heyford Air Force Base, Oxfordshire, England.

My job was to keep the radar equipment
functioning properly for the Air Traffic Control Operators.
The radar equipment was located in a large radar unit near
the main runway.

It was 1954. Every base in England had a Base Basketball Tournament. I decided to enter
our unit into this tournament. Our unit was known as AACS, the smallest unit on base. We were
in the finals against the Military Police, the largest unit on base, for the Upper Heyford Base
Championship. They came out in full force. Their challenge for the day was “Beat AACS”. The
whole unit, including the MP band, marched into the stadium for the game. It was an impressive
sight. The game was close, and in the second quarter, one of our players was fouled. Since he
had to take a foul shot, I stayed back to prevent a fast break. He missed. They rebounded and
had two players come down the court against me. I faked to the left, going after the ball handler,


and quickly tried going to the right, to intercept the pass. I did a split and fell on the floor. I tried
to get up, but could not stand or walk. I was carried off the court into the dressing room. I had
torn a groin ligament. The Commander of the Military Police came into the dressing room to see
how I was. He said “We wanted to win but not this way. You were having a great game. Good
luck.” We lost the game. I was on crutches for about a week.

In 1956 I was assigned to the AACS unit at Lakenheath Air Force Base in Suffolk, England.
We entered a team into the Lakenheath Base Basketball Tournament. Again our unit was the
smallest on base, about 25 men. We were the AACS unit. We won the Base Championship and
then entered into the District Tournament to represent Lakenheath Air Force Base. As you can
see in the photo, the District Tournament was from March 11 to March 16, 1957.

My tour of duty was to end on March 22, 1957. There was a lot of paperwork to
complete besides packing all my belongings in preparation for my return to the United States. I
told my coach that I could not compete in the District Tournament. The Commander of our unit,
Major James Hull (in photo above) called me into his office. He asked me if I would re-enlist for
one more year and then I would be able to play in the District Tournament. I told him I would
not, that I wanted to get home to my family. He said that he could make me remain in the
service, since there was a need for AFC repairmen. I told him he might be able to extend my
service, but he could not make me play basketball. I was on “pins and needles” until the end of
March when my discharge papers came through.


Here’s an interesting story: In April or May, about 4 years ago, our phone rang. The
person on the other end said “I am trying to locate Bob Gatta. He was in the Air Force and
stationed in England”. It was Jerry Berger, who now lives in California. In 1954 we were
stationed together in the AACS unit at Upper Heyford, England. We were all close friends. Jerry
called because he was watching the NBA Championship Game where his favorite team, The
Golden State Warriors, was playing. He said “I am watching
the Warriors play and one of their players, Seth Curry,
reminds me a lot of the way you passed and dribbled. I just
had to call you.” I am glad for Golden State that he didn’t
shoot like me. I am so happy that this was what
reconnected us. We continue to correspond by e-mail
almost daily. Jerry is the first on left located in the top row.

During my last year in the service I was promoted to
the rank of Staff Sargent. This made me an NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer). Any NCO could
buy a car overseas and have it shipped to the United States, free of shipping charges. I bought a
1957 Volkswagen in England and drove it until I was sent home. Too bad I didn’t buy a Rolls
Royce. The following photo is of my car.

This is an amusing story: I never took the New York State test to get my driver’s license,
but I did have a learner’s permit. The British Government had an office on our base. I asked the
police officer if I could apply for a British driver’s license. I showed him by learner’s permit,
which, to him, looked like a driver’s license. Without hesitation, he issued me a British driver’s
license. No driving test. No written test. No questions. So there I was with a brand new car
with a manual stick shift, a British driver’s license, and I didn’t know how to drive! Complicating
matters is that in England one drives on the left side of the road. I had the car built under U. S.
standards with the steering wheel on left side. With the help of fellow service men, I learned how
to drive a manual stick shift. When I got home, I went to the New York State Department of
Motor Vehicles to get my NY State Driver’s license. I showed them my British License and was


issued a temporary license and told that a permanent license would be sent in the mail. I never
had to take a road test or written test!

I was discharged on March 22, 1957. My sister, Mary Ann, was in her senior year at Scotia
High. The Senior Ball was coming up and Mary Ann was involved in decorating the school gym.
The theme of the Senior Ball was “Pink Champagne”. During our high school years, the Senior
Ball was held in the school, and everyone helped decorate the gym. (Wish they had not done
away with this tradition) George and I helped Mary Ann and her classmates with the decorations.
It was so much fun! We made two HUGE elephants out of cardboard, about 8 feet tall, and tied
them with wire to the balcony of the gym. A few days after the event, someone looked out the
school window and saw the elephants being discarded. Mary Ann was told and she ran out to
retrieve a small part of them. She may still have a memento!

I applied and was accepted to attend Siena College in September 1957. I enrolled in the
Education Department, majoring in mathematics. Marty Finn, my closest friend from high
school, was in his senior year at Siena and was to graduate in June 1957. Siena College had a
Senior Dance at the Schenectady Airport Hanger on Route 50. He suggested that I get a date so
that the four of us could go to the dance together. I told him that I did not know who to ask. He
said his brother Mike’s girlfriend was friends with Marianna Lirosi and suggested that I ask her. I
remembered Marianna, but only saw her in church. I told him I would call her. When I called her,
the phone rang about 6 times with no answer. In our house if the phone rang more than once,
no one was home. She did answer and said she was on the way out when the phone rang. Boy
was I lucky I didn’t hang up, because she said “Yes”. Wow, I couldn’t believe it. We had a great
time and when I brought her home and walked her up to her door, I told her “I love you”.
WHAT??? I never used the “Love” word to any girl I dated in high school or in the service. What’s
happening here!!!! That was the beginning of a wonderful love affair, which is stronger now than
when we met. In fact, one day during our courtship I said “I loved you more today than I did
yesterday and I know I will love you more tomorrow”. Well don’t you know, one day after we
were married we were shopping in Montreal, Canada. There in a jewelry store was a pendant
inscribed in French, “+ yesterday – tomorrow”. I had to buy it for her. She wears it often.

There would be times when I went to pick up Marianna for a date and she would not be
ready. Did that bother me? Heck NO. I would sit with her father at the kitchen table and we
would have a glass of wine with some appetizers. Sometimes I would go early hoping she would
not be ready. My father-in-law was a Jokester. He loved to play jokes on me. At the end of


winter, he bought a head of lettuce and planted it in his garden. He asked me, “Would you like
to bring your mother some of my homegrown lettuce”? Then I followed him outside to his
garden and with a knife, he proceeded to remove the lettuce from the garden. He did the same
thing with tomatoes, tying store bought tomatoes to his plants. We had a lot of fun together. He
also made wine every year. My brother, Tom, made wine and one year it was not fermenting.
Tom asked if I would ask my father-in-law what he should do. My father-in-law was a man who
liked to use examples to explain things. I took him over to Tom’s house. He looked over the
barrel of wine, then said “What do you do when you don’t feel good?” My brother said “I stay
home and don’t go to work”. He said “That’s the problem with your grapes; they don’t feel good
and they are not working. Put some blankets around them to warm up the barrel”. He did and
in a couple of days the grapes began to ferment. That year he had delicious wine. I could go on
writing about him, his peonies, the work on his camp at Galway, but I would never finish this. I
will leave that for my wife, Marianna.

We were married at St Joseph’s Church in Scotia (where else?) on August 26, 1961.
My Brother Tom (Best Man)

My Nephew Sammy (Altar Boy)


That day we had a heavy rainstorm. It
set an all-time record as far as amount of rain in
a short period of time. Marianna’s street was
flooded. In order to protect her in her wedding
gown, she was partially covered in a plastic
tent. Uncle Henry Wiethake and my brother
George held umbrellas over her as she entered
the church. She had not a drop on her.

Our reception was held at the Van Curler Hotel, now Schenectady Community College. It
was a beautiful dinner followed by a reception. After the reception, the sky cleared, and we left
for our honeymoon to Hyannis Port, MA. That rain was a sure blessing, because since then we
have been poured on with many, many blessings (and they still keep coming). Thank you Jesus!!!!
This year will be our 57th wedding anniversary. Everyday I wake up, my love for her is the same,
‘+ yesterday – tomorrow’

We first lived in the front apartment on 5 Mohawk Avenue, Marianna’s parent’s house. It
is a two family house, my in-laws lived downstairs and we lived in the front upstairs apartment.
We lived there from July 26,1961 to Spring of 1962. We then bought a three


bedroom ranch style home at 12 Lillian Drive in Glenville ($17,000). Three of our children, Bob
(1962), Maria (1963) and Teresa (1965) were born when we lived there. We felt we needed more
room, so we sold our home on Lillian Drive in Spring 1965 when Teresa was 2 months old. We
bought a lot adjacent to my brother-in-law, Joe’s house. As our new house was being built, we
moved into the downstairs flat of 5 Mohawk Avenue. My father-In-law had died, and my
mother-in-law moved in with her son, Joseph, on Van Buren Road. Harold Rockland started
building our house on 4 Berkley Road ($28,000) in November 1965. We moved into our new
home in April 1966 and Cathy was born on August 17, 1966.

Well, that does it for my first attempt at writing about my life up to the birth of my
children. I thought it would take maybe 2 or 3 hours, but it has taken several months. Thank you
for reading this, I hope it has given you some insight into how fortunate I have been, to have had
such loving, caring, and devoted parents and siblings. My next writing project will be about “My
Life after Marriage”. That should take years and tears. Just thinking of my wife, our children,
their spouses, my grand children and great-grandchild makes me extremely emotional. The “joy”
and “love” they continually give me, daily, could never, ever, be expressed. So, I better stop
because this keyboard is not waterproof.

PS: Perhaps there has been an overload of stories about basketball, which I was reluctant
to write about. But basketball was such an extremely important part of my life that I felt it had
to be included. I still wish I could get on the court and have another “five on five”.

PPS: I can’t leave out my nieces and nephews because they have always been an
important part of my life.

We are also so blessed to have such wonderful nieces, nephews, great nieces, great
nephews and even great great nieces and great great nephews. I wish I could start mentioning
their names, but as you know that would include over 100 and I would NEVER leave one out. So,
if you are one of them reading this, this message is for you:

“You are EXTREMELY special, and you continue to make us proud of you. I know you will
always make us proud. We love you and you have truly blessed our life.”

I now think you deserve a glass of wine and some St Anthony’s pepper cookies for finishing this.
That’s what I am about to do.


PPPS: I am back and now I am just going to ramble, not in any order, whatever comes to

Whenever my parents would go out grocery shopping, Joe (Junior), George, and I would
strip down to our underwear, get a wire hanger to make into a basketball hoop and place it on
top of the door going upstairs to the bedrooms. We would move the furniture around in the
living room, get a tennis ball and have a basketball game. I wish I had photos.

We were an extremely close family, which included in-laws. I don’t ever remember any
one of my brothers or sisters, including my spouse or siblings’ spouses, ever getting angry or
upset at another. Here is an example: Joe has a timeshare at Myrtle Beach, SC. Every summer
for about 4 years, Tom, Carmen, Joe, and their wives, would drive down and spend two weeks at
that resort. They all got along extremely well, never had a misunderstanding, just enjoyed being
together and having fun.

We made many trips together. One memorable trip was to Sam and Ronna Coppola’s
home in Portland, Maine. My brother-in-law Sam, Clara, Tom, sister-in-law Sally, Carmen, sister-
in-law Gen, Joe, sister-in-law Aggie, George, sister-in-law Phyllis, myself and my wife, Marianna,
got into three cars and drove to Portland. We did not have cell phones at this time, so we
bought “walkie talkies”. Can you imagine the conversations going on between cars on those
talking machines? No trip we took would be without loads of fun, laughter, jokes, and story
telling. On our way home, we stopped at our son Bob and Deidre’s home in Maine. They, with
the help of Deidre’s parents Anthony and Florence DeGuglielmo put on an unbelievable dinner.
What a great way to end a wonderful trip.


Another trip was in 2007 when George and Phyllis hired a bus to go see their grandson,
Chris Hurley, who was a member of Boston College High School’s basketball team, play in a
championship game in Worcester, Mass. It was packed with uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews. It
seemed like a two-minute drive with all the jokes and laughter. We were a little late for the
game because the bus driver went to Lincoln School in Schenectady to pick us up instead of
Lincoln School in Scotia.

One year, Marianna and I had visitors from Italy and we wanted to bring them to a nice
Italian restaurant. We heard of one in Pittsfield, MA, one hour and 15 min. away. After dinner we
found that our car would not start. What would a normal person do? Rent a car and drive home.
What would a Gatta do? Call one of his brothers. My brother Carmen had a station wagon and
he said that he and Gen would be right there. He not only came and drove us all back home but
took me back the next day to pick up the car. He never complained, in fact I believe he would
have been upset if I didn’t call him. The car’s seating arrangement was different in those days.
The front had one long seat that sat three people. There were no limits as to how many people
could be in a car. I remember, a number of times, three people sat in the front seat. People also
sat on laps in the back seat. NO SEAT BELTS.

My brother-in-law Joseph Lirosi lived across the stream from our house. He had a 20 by
40 foot in-ground pool installed in 1962. Every summer my brothers, sisters, their spouses,
nieces, and nephews would pack into their cars and drive up to go swimming. What fun we had.
They would bring popsicles, fudge sticks, watermelon and much more. I don’t know how many
were in a car; I would guess nine or ten. So many of our nieces and nephews first learned to
swim at that pool.

There are two events that need mentioning: One was when my brother George jumped in
and began swimming in the pool. He had never been in a pool. I think that was the first and last
time he ever went into any pool.

The second was when my sister, Mary Ann, saw how much fun all the kids were having
going down the slide, so she decided to try it herself. She did not know you had to stand after
you landed in the water. She sat on the bottom before realizing she had to stand up. She now
laughs every time she thinks about it.


Before Tom and Sally lived on Broad Street, they lived in Utica, New York. One day,
friends, Joe and Buttons Reilly, were traveling through our area and decided to visit Tom and
Sally. They drove over the Western Gateway Bridge and on the next block stopped at the Shell
Gas station for gas and directions. At the time it was owned by Arkley Mastro. My brother-in-
law, Jim, was working there that day. During those years, no one pumped their own gas. Gas
station attendants would run out, not only to pump the gas, but to check the oil, and clean the
windshields. While Jim was doing this, Joe got out and asked for directions to Broad Street. Jim
gave him the directions and asked, “Who are you looking for?” He answered “Tom Gatta”.
Jim said “Oh, that’s my brother-in-law, but he’s not home now. He’s at the K of C Hall celebrating
a baptism”. Jim directed them to the K of C Hall. When they got there, Joe said, “We heard
Scotia was small, but to stop at a gas station and have the attendant not only know your address,
but whether or not you’re at home, now that’s amazing!”

Tom, Carmen, Joe, and George all played on the Scotia White’s baseball team during the
summer. Scotia White’s team competed in the Schenectady Twilight League. Most of the other
teams were from Schenectady. Every player on each team got to know one another. Tom was a
freshman at Clarkson College at the time. One day, 5 students from Clarkson were driving back
to college from New York City and had to pass through Schenectady. They were exceeding the
City’s speed limit and were stopped by a Schenectady policeman. He asked “Why are you driving
so fast?” They said “We are on our way back to Clarkson College”. The policeman, who
happened to be Bill Broady, a player on one of the Schenectady teams, who knew the family
quite well, said, “Do you know Tom Gatta”? They answered “YES”!!!. Bill answered “Say hello to
him for me.” He then let them go. NO TICKET. Well, when those students got back to Clarkson,
they would not leave Tom alone. Every time they saw him on campus they would say “Hello

I will not forget, when my son-in-law, Tom, invited us to dinner to celebrate Maria’s
birthday. This was before their children went to college. We went to a restaurant in Saratoga.
We had a great time, full of stories and fun. The next day someone asked me what we did on
Maria’s birthday. I told them “What a great time we had at dinner in Saratoga”. They asked
what I had for dinner and what was the name of the restaurant. I had to think about both
questions. Those things had little effect on “why” I had a great time; it was just being together as
a family and laughing together, that mattered. It could have been anywhere.


Our house was open to everyone; no one was ever refused to stay overnight, or to have
dinner with us. You would not believe the number of families (relatives) who moved in with us
when times were difficult for them. In 1936, my Uncle Henry an Aunt Rose Wiethake lived in
New York City. Aunt Rose was expecting twins and wanted to give birth in Schenectady. So, what
should she do? Move in to 47 Albion Street. When Aunt Rose and the twins left Ellis Hospital they
moved into the back bedroom. That made the number now living in our house either 12 or 13 (I
don’t know if Uncle Henry moved back yet from NYC). Where they slept is still a mystery, you
have heard of the miracle of “two fish and five loves of bread”?

My Aunt Phil had two boys, Victor and Louis. Her husband was killed in World War II. She
had a job and asked my mother if she would babysit the boys during the day while she was
working. She accepted them willingly.

In addition to our family, you would never know who might show up for dinner, especially
on a Sunday. Sunday’s menu was always the same. Home-made macaroni (we did not call it
pasta) with meat and sausage tomato sauce. My mother would start the sauce early Sunday
morning. We boys would not get up until around 10:30 am, just in time to walk to 12:00 Mass.
During the 40’s and 50’s you could not have anything to eat before receiving Holy Communion.
When we came in through the back door after church, my mother would have Italian bread
waiting for us next to a simmering pot of delicious tomato sauce. You can’t imagine the taste of
Italian bread dunked into her sauce.

If we had guests for dinner, we would all eat in the living room. There is also a radiator
there where four of us sat. My mother always had enough food and space for all of us. If you
came to our house on a Sunday, count on staying for dinner!

Here we are in the Living Room (Dining
Room). Mary Ann’s hair can be seen on the left,
Me, Sally, empty chair since Tom is taking photo,
Aggie, Joe, George who is looking down on George
Jr., Phyllis, Mom, and Dad. If you look closely at the
top of the door, behind Joe, you can see where we
would put our basketball rim (clothes hanger)
which made our family room/dining room become
our basketball court.


In the late 40’s we had a ‘Party Line’ phone system. This meant that in a neighborhood of
three houses, all the phone numbers were the same, with the exception of the last digit. The last
one would be a 1,2, or 3. If your last digit was a 1, your phone would ring once. If your last digit
was a 2, your phone would have a double ring, ex: ring ring, ring ring, and if 3, ring ring ring, ring
ring ring. The problem with a party line is that if you are on the phone, someone on your line
could pick-up and listen in on the conversation. One day my brother Carmen was on the phone
with his friend, and before he hung up, he said “OK, Mrs. Vioci, you can use the phone now.” He
heard, “OK, Carmen. Thank You.”

My mother often sent Carmen to buy food items from Corino’s Meat Market on Vley
Road, which was about 5 minutes walking distance from our home. She would give him some
money and say “If you have any change left buy yourself some candy”. Well, a number of times
there wasn’t any change left over, so Carmen was unable to buy candy. The next time she asked
him to go to Corino’s and buy candy with the change, Carmen came home without the food.
When asked “Where is the food?” he answered, “I bought the candy first and didn’t have
enough money for the food.” My mother got the biggest kick out of that.

Another tradition was started in 1996. Tom and Maria bought the Turf Tavern and we
began celebrating birthday parties at the Turf. We celebrate every one of the brothers, sisters,
brother-in-laws and sister-in-laws birthday with dinner. There would be 14 of us. WHAT FUN we
had. Phyllis and I would bring jokes and tell them along with stories from the past. The laughter
would go on through out the dinner. As you can guess, with 14 birthdays, we got together quite
often in one year. As we got older, we would repeat the same jokes and the amount of laughter
would be the same each time. These were very cherished moments.

As the years past, we lost our brother-in-law Sam (January 25, 1997), George (February 9,
2016) and sister-in-law Gen (March 20, 2016). Now, Clara is 96, Tom is 95, Sally is 89, Carmen is
92, Joe is 90, Aggie is 90, Phyllis is 86, I am 85, Marianna is 81, Mary Ann is 79, Jim is 80. The
physical problems of aging have prevented everyone from being able to attend all birthdays. But
if able, one would definitely be there. To accommodate for the problem of night driving, we
changed our birthday celebrations from dinner to lunch. The Turf is normally closed for lunch but
opens at 12:00 noon on Tuesday for Rotary. We took this opportunity to have lunch for our
birthday celebrations and kept it at the Turf. We choose the Tuesday that is closest to one’s
birthday. We sadly miss those that have passed on, but the love we share is still the same. We all
still look forward to the birthday parties. We just celebrated my 85th birthday and Joe and


Aggie’s 70th wedding anniversary. They were married on my birthday. My brother Tom gave a
beautiful toast, since he was the best man at each of our weddings.

Another important tradition is celebrating members of the family going away to college. It
started with our nephew, George Jr. He was going to Kent State. All the aunts, uncles, nieces
and nephews get together at a designated house the week before they left for school. We would
gather around a table to make up lyrics to a well-known song that relates to the person’s life and
the college to which they are going. One song we have had success putting words to was “I’m a
Yankee Doodle Dandy”. We make posters containing phrases, pictures, crossword puzzles, etc.
and fill a duffel bag with goodies that they would enjoy at college. The night before they leave
for college, we would meet near their house. Sometimes there would be 20 of us. We would
then march to the house of the student going away carrying posters, using noisemakers and
singing the song we made up. We would gather in the house to watch the person take out the
items from the duffel bag. For George, we gathered at Mary Ann’s house and marched up Albion
Street holding posters, shaking noisemakers and singing his song. It was a fun night. Most, if not
everyone, have kept their posters. A note was just put on Facebook by Debbie Gatta, that said
“John still sings his going away to college song”.

The above photo is of Sophia’s “going to college”
We will be getting together soon for our granddaughter Mia, who will be going to Pace in NYC.


For Christmas 1955, I took a 30-day furlough and flew home from England. I was home for
Christmas and New Year’s. My flight back to England left from New York City. What would be
the normal way for me to get to NY City? Get on a train by myself from Schenectady, right?????

There were 3 cars that drove down to the City with me. On our way down, we stopped
off the highway and had pepper and egg sandwiches that my mother made. It turned out to be a
party. The family did everything together and that holds true to this day. This is just part of what
keeps the family so close and loving.
My mother loved to go on picnics during the summer. She would often prepare dinner to
bring to Brown’s Beach or White’s Beach where we would have a picnic. She made sauce,
meatballs, sausage and wrap them tightly in newspaper to keep warm. She included salad.
When everyone got home from work we drove to one of the beaches. It was about a 15-minute
drive. When we got there my father would light a fire on one of the grills provided and boil up
some water for the macaroni. We would go swimming while the macaroni was boiling. What
fun we would have both in the water and eating a delicious meal around the picnic table.

Look at that table. Do you see any hot dogs,
hamburgers, potato chips or paper plates?

From left: Aggie, Dad, Mom’s head, Phyllis,
George, Mary Ann.


My parents would rent a camp every summer for a week, at either Galway or Sacandaga Lake.
Can you imagine the fun we had from the following photos? Look at the one where my mother is
fishing. You can see the enjoyment on everyone’s faces as they watch my mother.

In the photo are George, Phyllis, Dad holding George Jr, Carmen, Barbara, and my mother.


Tom, Carmen, Dad, George Jr, George
Dad, Sammy, Cheryl, Mary Ann, Mom

I wish I could jump into this photo just to hear what my sister Clara is saying to have put
such a beautiful smile on my mother’s face. Clara has that same expression today whenever she
comes up with a witty remark. She keeps us laughing every time we are together.

Four Gatta generations: George Jr., George, Dad, Gaetano (our grandfather)


During the racing season at Saratoga, the boys would get together at one of our houses to
watch the races on TV and do some betting. The following photos were taken at our house. We
had a family OTB account which allowed us to call in a wager. We brought a TV outside and had
loads of fun rooting for our selections. One year we made out so well the whole family went to
dinner at the Saratoga Harness Track. A GREAT EVENING!!!!

At our house choosing the “winners”???

Family at Auriesville, New York

We always liked to go to different siblings’ houses to play games. One night we went to
Carmen and Gen’s house on Ford Avenue and played Charades. The category was “Movies”. The
girls went into the bedroom to make their choices and the boys stayed in the living room. One of
us boys, don’t remember who, went close to the bedroom to hear what they were choosing. The
two we heard were “How Green was My Valley” and “Perfidia”. We decided that whoever got
“How Green Was My Valley” would run his fingers through his hair and then raise his arm. At
that clue we would all yell out the name. We also had a way to signal “Perfidia”. When our turn
came, the first person picked the slip, put his fingers through his hair, raised his arm and the boys
all shouted, “How Green Was My Valley”!!! You would not believe the bewildered look on the
girls’ faces when with just raising his arm we got it right. When we also guessed Perfidia with just
one gesture, they knew “something was rotten in Denmark”. Everyone took it well, because
they knew we were together to have fun, not win.

My mother often made homemade macaroni. She placed a large 3’ x 3’ wooden board on
the table and with a long rolling pin, rolled out large sheets of dough. There was no machine to
do the cutting. She cut the dough in strips, then gathered and carefully placed the strips on a
white bed sheet in the back bedroom to dry. When it was time to eat, she gathered the
macaroni from the bed to cook it in a pot of boiling water. When my sister, Mary Ann, was just
learning to talk, she watched mama making macaroni and called the macaroni “kook on the

Mom and Reggie

This is an interesting story:

First the background: During Christmas vacation, Scotia High would have an alumni
basketball game. The first game, made up of older alumni, was played between the “River Rats”,
those living below Mohawk Avenue, and the “Hill Skunks”, those living above Mohawk Avenue.
The second game was made up of younger alumnae. In 1949, the committee who organized the
event asked my brother Tom if our family would play against the LeGere family in the first game
instead of the older alumni. There were two reasons for this. First there was a school rivalry
between Draper High School and Scotia High and the LeGeres were from Draper. The second
reason was that the LeGere family had eight boys and we have five.

Now the story: When school started, after the Christmas school vacation, Scotia had a
“home” basketball game against Gloversville. After the JV game, the Scotia varsity team came on
the court to warm up. The Gloversville coach came out on the court, went over to the Scotia
coach, and said that his team would not come out until George Gatta got off the court.
According to the NYSPHSAA, any student playing a high school sport would not be allowed to
participate with any other organized team in an organized game. But we were not an organized
team and the game was a fund-raising event. That did not matter. George was ruled off the
court. He was later reinstated and finished the season. He had a fabulous final season.

Since I’m writing about the Christmas Season, it’s a good time to share memories of our
annual family Christmas Eve celebration.

Celebrating Christmas Eve together as a family began in the early 1950’s. We first met at
our brother-in-law Sam and sister Clara’s home on Crane Street in Schenectady. As the family
grew, the location changed to accommodate the size. Some of the sites were the K of C Hall on
Sacandaga Road, the Masons Hall on Schonowee Avenue, and the Glen Sanders Mansion in
Scotia. In 1996 our son-in-law Tom and daughter, Maria, purchased the Turf Tavern in Scotia.
From that year until present, we have celebrated Christmas Eve at the Turf. Last year there were
126 adults and 42 children in attendance.

The week before Christmas Eve, a meeting is held to discuss food assignments. The menu
always includes baked macaroni, meatballs, sausage, salad and rolls.


The celebration begins at 4:00 pm with cocktails at the bar. The family then gathers in
the Banquet Room for the Celebration of Mass. A table is set up in front of the fireplace where
homemade unleavened bread and wine is set. For many years, up to his recent death, Father
Girzone, a close friend of the family, was the celebrant. Before Mass, the small children of the
family perform the reenactment of the birth of Christ.

A wooden stable was made by our brother Tom and nephew Tom Jr. Costumes were
made by Mary Ann. Children dressed and performed this beautiful nativity narrated by an older
member of the family.

Following Mass, we pass through the kitchen, where dinner is set up as a buffet, pick up a
plate and fill it with our dinner choices. We all have dinner in the restaurant area. Wine, beer,
soda and water are available.

After dinner, around 7:15 pm, everyone returns to the Banquet Room to sing Christmas
songs while awaiting Santa’s arrival. He and Mrs. Claus enter wishing everyone a Merry
Christmas while the children sing “Here Comes Santa Claus”. Santa shakes a string of silver bells
and has a huge bag filled with gifts on his shoulder.

After each child has received a gift and talked with Santa, the gifts are opened. Coffee
and homemade dessert is then enjoyed by everyone. WHAT AN EVENING!!!!

When our daughter, Maria, was a student at St. Joseph’s Elementary School, she was
asked what she enjoyed most about Christmas. She answered, “Christmas Eve at the K of C Hall”.
Little did she know that one day she would host this event!


Quick Notes:
After graduating from Ithaca College, our daughter, Teresa, was offered the position of

Coordinator of Student Accounts at the College of St. Rose. One day, while Teresa was working
there, a Freshman with questions about her account stopped in. After Teresa helped her and
suggested she stop back if she ever had any further questions she asked “Is your last name
Gatta? Teresa answered, “Yes, why?’ The girl answered that she had just graduated from Liberty
High School in Liberty, New York, and said her teacher was Mr. Paul Gatta. He knew she was
going to St. Rose and told her that there were a lot of “Gattas” in the area; that if she ever had a
problem, ask for a Gatta. Both she and Teresa could hardly believe this happened.

While I was teaching at Van Corlaer Junior High School, Bill O’Neil was principal. He was a
close friend of my brother-in-law, Sam, and knew about our large family in Scotia. One Monday
morning he came into my room to tell me about his week-end. He attended a wedding and while
socializing during the reception he learned that one couple was from Scotia. He jokingly said.
“You must be a Gatta”. She answered “No. My name is Scirocco, but my uncle is Joe Gatta”. He
could not wait to tell me this story.

As I have mentioned, Joe and Aggie celebrated their 70th Wedding Anniversary on July
24, 2018. At that time there were 97 members of their family; 7 children (7 spouses}, 25
grandchildren and 35 great grandchildren. If you ask, they will tell you not only the names of all
97, but where they live.

Scotia High School was built in 1928 on Sacandaga Road, now the home of Mekeel
Christian Academy. Scotia High’s football team played all their “home” games on Saturday
afternoon behind Sacandaga School. The building that housed the locker rooms is still there.
The Scotia High School Band would play at all of the home games during and especially at half
time. They marched up Sacandaga Road passed my grandfather Gatta’s house which was directly
opposite the Park Cemetery entrance to the football field. The conductor, Ralph DeRubbo,
would lead the Band as the snare drum beat out the cadence. My grandfather, a music
aficionado, went to the high school to ask if the band would play music as they passed his home,
instead of just the cadence. They consented, and from then on, the band played music as they
passed Grandpa Gatta’s house. Grandpa stood on the porch and tipped his hat in appreciation as
the band played on.


During World War II, around 7:00 pm, my father would gather the family to recite the
Rosary for the safe return of Carmen and Tom. My mother, Clara, Mary Ann, Joe, George and I
would kneel around their bed and my father would lead us in the 5 decades of the Rosary. God
answered our prayers when our brother Carmen, stationed in the Pacific, and Tom, stationed in
Europe, arrived home safe and sound. The power of prayer.

My brother Joe loves clambakes. For a number of summers, Joe and Aggie would host a
Clam Bake at their house. Their yard is equipped for many activities: volleyball, bocce, basketball,
and swimming. The food, cooked in a steamer, held little neck clams, chicken, corn, and
potatoes. Juice from all of these foods would collect in the bottom of the steamer where we
would draw the clam broth. Oh, so delicious! One of their summer parties started out with
sunny weather, but then turned cloudy and it began to rain. Despite the weather, it turned out to
be one of the best. We all went into their garage. Father Jim played the guitar and sang songs by
John Denver. The highlight of the entertainment was performed by nephew George. He
performed a “Da Da Da Da” skit that we still talk about. Ask him about it.

My mother wore many hats: nurse, cook, psychologist, comedian, healer, painter (she
loved to paint the walls using either stencils or sponge), referee, lawyer (my father was the
Judge). She also had many health remedies:

Vicks VapoRub: Whenever I had a chest cold my mother would rub Vicks on my chest,
then cover it with a wool cloth. It was a sure cure.

Vapor Tent: Whenever any of us came down with a cold, my mother would boil water in
a small pot and drop a teaspoon of camphor oil in the water. A sheet was placed over our head
to form a tent, and the steam from the camphorated water would break up congestion.


The following photo is the celebration of my brother Tom’s 95th birthday. We were
hoping that Carmen would attend but was unable due to sore legs. We had a wonderful time, as

As I have mentioned before, we tell jokes and stories. Here are 3 of our favorites:
Anthony was celebrating his 95th birthday at a nursing home. The staff at the home
wanted to make this a special birthday for him. They decided to hire a prostitute and send her
up to his room. On his birthday, a beautiful, buxom blond, goes up to his room, SWINGS open his
door and says, “I am here to give you SUPER SEX”.
Anthony: “I’ll take the soup”.

A priest was conducting a retreat for young couples celebrating anniversaries. He noticed
Dominic, a parishioner, sitting in the back of the church. Knowing Dominic soon would be
celebrating his 50th anniversary, he called on Dominick. “Dominick, you have had a long, happy
marriage. Can you give these newly married couples some advice? For example, what did you
do for your 25th anniversary?”

Dominick answered: “I took my wife to Italy”.

Priest answered; “WOW, did you hear that? Dominick took his wife to Italy for their 25th
anniversary. Now Dominick, tell all these couples what you are planning to do for your 50th

Dominick; “I’m going to pick her up!”

An Italian boy, who recently graduated from college, lands a job in New York City. He was
so excited that he called his grandmother. “Grandma I want you to come for lunch, see my new
apartment and meet my new roommate”. When she arrived, Anthony introduces her to his
beautiful, female, roommate. “Grandma before you get any ideas, let me show you are
apartment. This is HER bedroom and HER bathroom, next is OUR kitchen, then OUR family room,
now MY bedroom and MY bathroom. She sleeps in HER bedroom. I sleep in MY bedroom.”

They had a delicious lunch and grandma left.

The next morning the roommate says, “Anthony, I can’t find the sugar bowl. I think your
grandmother took it”. Anthony: “Let’s wait a few days. My grandma would not take it. It will
turn up”. After 3 days the roommate is angry. “Anthony, you call your grandmother and tell her
to bring back the sugar bowl”. Anthony, sheepishly, goes to the phone and calls his
grandmother. “Grandma, I am NOT saying you TOOK the sugar bowl, NOR AM I saying you
DIDN’T take the sugar bowl, but ever since you left we can’t find the sugar bowl.

There’s a long pause on the line. Then:

“Anthony, I am NOT saying your roommate sleeps in her bed, NOR AM I saying that she
DOESN’T sleep in her bed, but if she DID sleep in her bed, she would have found the sugar bowl!


After reading my story, certain important words have been repeated more than once. I
believe that these words are the secrets to a long and happy life. Here they are:

Unconditional Love: The blood flowing through your veins has the same DNA of that in
every member of your family. I believe, not yet medically proven, that there is an “unconditional
love” gene in every member of our family. You have to use it to activate it. Be careful, it’s

Family Get Together: Do things together as a family. It does not have to be held in some
fancy place with expensive food. Pizza and a beverage is enough. It can be in your backyard. It’s
being together, sharing stories and telling jokes that is important. Get your children to know
their aunts, uncles, cousins. We never felt that we were alone.

Power of Prayer: Faith is an important part of our lives. We know and believe in prayer.
Miracles happen with prayer. We’ve experienced it. Try it. You’ll be amazed.

Here is one prayer I say regularly: “I love you Oh my Jesus, and I repent for ever having
offended you. Never permit me to separate my soul from you again. Grant that I may love you
always and then do with me what thou will”.

Laughter: Life can be stressful. Laugh your stress away. Be witty. Tell funny stories.

Say” I love you” to family members: Three very small words. Seven letters.
They may be small but extremely powerful for you and the recipient.

OK. For those who say “WAIT!!!!! “I love you” has 8 letters”, I say, “Are you going to call
me a liar for 1 letter?” (I told you to add humor! Lol)


Family Photos

Dominick and Mary Ciabotti Mom & Dad @ Retirement Party Clelia and Gaetano Gatta

Dad Grandpa Ciabotti The 7 of us with Dad @ Picnic

Christmas Party @ Beukendaal FD Carmen home from Navy Our backyard before addition

Mom on left of net, Dad on right Carmen showing # of fish caught


Gen, Mary Ann, Reggie, Mom Sally, Dad Grandpa, Mom, Dad

Uncle John Ciabotti, George, Joe, Carmen, Me, Tom, Mom holding sunfish,
Clara holding a baby, Aunt Marie Ciabotti, Bob Ciabotti

Phyllis, Joe, Aggie, Mary Ann, Jim, Marianna, Me, Tom, Sally, Clara
Celebrating my 85th Birthday and Joe & Aggie’s 70th Wedding Anniversary.


What’s the saying “If you build it they will come”.
Our saying is: If a family member has a game the “Gatta’s will come”


ADVISOR: Mary Ann Marx for her stories and photos.
Brian Marx for his photos

EDITOR: Marianna Gatta for her hours of editing.

PUBLISHER/DESIGNER: Brian Marx for his unending help in printing family documents.


Other family traditions will be written in my second writing project. A tradition is our Family
Summer Picnic arranged annually by my sister Mary Ann who is central to all the Gatta events. It
usually takes place the second Saturday in August; presently held at the Lyon Pavilion at Collins
Park in Scotia. Before the Lyons Club Pavilion was erected, the Summer Gatta Reunion was held
at the New York State Park in Saratoga at the Columbia Pavilion.



The following note was written by my brother Tom:

Thanks Bob for allowing me to tell the family something that I have been wanting to tell
them for 74 years.

During my “front-line combat duty, while our infantry unit was
involved in France, Belgium and Germany, there were many battles that
got extremely bad…..bad enough to make me wonder if I could make it
or not. The thing that got me through those times was that I told
myself that everything was going to be OK since there was my big family
back home and I’m sure they were saying prayers for me. That would
be enough to provide me the support and comfort needed to get
through those tough, difficult times.

After the war, there were many times while at family get-togethers, that I wanted to get
up and thank the family for their prayers. However, each time I would back-down at the last
minute, because I knew I would get emotional, and make a fool of myself. And also, I wasn’t
quite sure about “their saying prayers” part. Well, about 6 months ago, while at another family
dinner, my involvement in World War II came up in the conversation, and Bob said, “I
remember when you were in the war, at nighttime before bed, mom asked us to kneel at
bedside, and say prayers for you.” Wow – There it was -- something I thought was happening a
long time ago during combat did actually take place.
Again, at many family gatherings since then, when I wanted to say thank you, I would back-
down at last minute because of the emotional thing. Well, now is the time.

Thank you to all my family for your support and prayers. You will never know how much
they meant to me. I agree with you Bob, how fortunate and blessed we are to be part of a
large, loving family.

Love you all.

P.S. I am emotional right now, and tears are running down my checks, but I am alone so it’s OK.

Map of Scotia, NYSOopuerncSetsr:eEetsMri,aHp EcoRnEtr,ibDuetLoorsrm, aen,dUtShGe SG,ISIntUesrmeraCp,oImNmCuRnEitMy ENT P, NR

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