Dinner at Nana Geremia's

Dinner at Nana Geremia's

After Geri and I were married, I discovered that I had inherited a couple of new families; the Pashley's and the Geremia's. The Pashley's mostly lived down the shore (that's how you say it in South Jersey) in Cape May County, NJ and we didn't see them as often. The Geremia's were mostly in Pennsylvania near Lansdale, but the matriarch and patriarch lived in Pennsville, NJ about 8 miles away from Quinton where Geri and I lived.

Geri's mom had been born to immigrant parents, her Grandmother had been born in England and had come to the US via Canada {I've often wondered if she were legally here!!} and her Grandfather had been born in the US from immigrant Sicilians. In the early 1900's it was unusual for ethnic groups to marry outside their own group and how they met is a cool  story which will now interrupt the main story to be told.

The Geremia's and the Votta's were related by marriage and had all come here at the same time. At the beginning of the 20th century, they were all living in Philadelphia in the Italian neighborhood there. The Stoner's (Nana Geremia's family) lived in a nearby neighborhood and consisted of Clara (Geri's Grandmother), Lilly and George (who were twins) {later we found out that there was an older sibling, Isaac, who had been left in England since he had been born out of wedlock - but he plays no role in this story}. One day Salvatore Geremia and his cousin Frank Votta were standing on a corner when these two English girls, Clara and Lilly Stoner walked by. That was that, eventually they successfully courted and married them. So at family reunions we had the Italians and since George (Clara and Lilly's brother) married an English girl, the English, all of which made for some interesting and memorable times.

Enough background, it's time to get back to dinner. The families were fairly close knit and since Nana and Pop-pop Geremia lived close and Geri's parents lived about 10 miles on the other side, it was expected that we would have dinner every Sunday after church with them.

It is hard to describe the scene, but I'll try. Imagine six of us at the table, many talking at the same time and all of trying to out volume Nana, who by the time we sat down, had consumed at least 3 beers. My father in law and Pop-pop were the quietest at the table. The meal would be spaghetti quite often whose sauce had been learned by Nana from her mother in law. Occasionally, we would have an English meal, often Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding {which I love to this day}. During the meal, if Nana got too noisy or mouthy, Pop-pop would suddenly say, "Clara, shuuuut upppp!" {there is no way to type it exactly how he said it, you just had to be there}.

After dinner, the women would do the clean up and would not allow us to participate {remember - these are old fashioned European values}.  If the weather was nice, the men went outside to smoke or if the weather didn't permit it we went to the basement. This was probably the most peaceful times of the afternoon, at least for the men!

After all was cleaned up, we retired to the living room, where Nana would often try to start an argument with me, since she knew she could and because I would always take a stance on the opposite side. The TV would have Roller Derby blaring away and Nana would shout at the teams, the refs, and the announcers when things went badly for her team {the SanFrancisco Bay Bombers - who by design, never lost}. She would violently argue if anyone tried to tell her it was mostly acting and fake. Heaven forbid if I asked to watch a baseball or football game, when roller derby was on.

Even when Geri had to work on the weekend at the hospital, I was expected to be there and could only occasionally get out of it if I said I was eating with my family. I couldn't fib about this since Geri's mom and dad knew mine personally.

Around five o'clock (sometimes earlier if we could slip away), we would take our leave and prepare ourselves for next week's dinner. Ahh, peace and quiet at last!

Davdan @ 2008-2018