Tuesday, January 15, 2013

1172. Vincenzo and Angelina Chimenti

Let me just say right here and now how proud I am of my nineteenth century Italian brethren, my goombahs. They forged a life here in the late 1800s that made it possible for me to live a normal existence, mostly without fear of prejudicial treatment. There are still stigmata out there, stereotypes, etc., but they affect all of us. We're different; revel in it. Compared to what the first Italians to step into this country faced, I've got it pretty damned good.

It was people like Vincenzo and Angelina that led the way. They married young. He was 18 or 19, and she was around 26, and I don't know where the wedding took place - here in the Philly area? back in the old country? - but the fact is it doesn't matter. It's the math that matters, simple equations drawn from the only words on their marker outside of their vital records. Married 1901.

There were lots of people married in 1901, but how many stayed married for 74 years like Vincenzo and Angelina? I'm sure they had their troubles here and there, for as Frank Burns said on M*A*S*H, "marriage is the chief cause of divorce." But many of us will be happy to reach 30 or 40 years together. Seventy-four years! American males are only expected to live for 75.6 years. What's more, Angelina, who was seven years or so older than Vincenzo, lived six years after he passed on, meaning she died somewhere around, oh, 106 years old.

Gino Cappeletti, former New England Patriots football star, said olive oil kept him young one day on the radio, that it kept the joints well lubricated. I wonder what it was that let Vincenzo and Angelina live such a long life together?

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