The Magro family emigrated to this country in 1906 and settled in Chicago, Illinois. In 1914, Maria and her husband, Vito Gervasi, moved to South Murray Street in Madison in a three-story apartment building where a market and butcher shop was arranged on the first floor. The building had two apartments on the second floor and two apartments on the third floor, one of which would serve as bedrooms for the Gervasi family. Maria tended the store, cut meat, cared for her family and studied at the Neighborhood House to become an American citizen. When friends and family from their village in Sicily arrived in Madison, they would stay in the rooms upstairs until permanent lodging was established. Although Maria relaxed by knitting and crocheting beautiful items to give to others, she also loved to play Scopa. Her talents as a story teller stimulated the imaginations of young and old during precious hours shared around the potbellied stove.
"I remember Mom and her neighbors, Josephine Corona, Maria Pellitteri, Sasida Provenzano, and Felicia Pullara gathering in the afternoon to knit, crochet, mend and tell stories. Sometimes, when the stories were a little on the 'shady' side, they would burst out laughing in embarrassment. Late in the summer, when the tomatoes ripened, they'd put their needles and crochet hooks aside to stir and cook tomatoes to spread on large boards to dry. After the tomatoes had thickened in the hot sun, the paste was shaped with their hands and placed in crocks. When each ball of paste had been covered with a layer of olive oil, the crocks were stored in the basement. A small amount of this was used throughout the year when spaghetti sauce was made."
Lucy Corona and Ann Schiro, daughters
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