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Enter at your own risk an eclectic journey through a cluttered mind, streaming consciousness, not to be understood by all, but freed by me to you...

Monday, February 20, 2006

Ranelli, St. Ambrose, East Side, Inheritance

Concettina & Sam Ranelli, 24 Phalen Creek, Swede Hollow; 693 Bedford Street
Gina Ranelli Gregory, 1998. American Birkebeiner, 50 K (32 Miles) 4 hours 5 minutes, 16 sec. # 1 in 16 & Under, Women. This was the first time that age group was allowed to compete in the Birkie, prior to that one had to compete in the Kortellopet, a shorter distance competition, Cable to Hayward, Wisconsin. Co-Captain of Mounds View Cross Country Ski Team, previously received, Most Improved Skier, and Coaches' Award.

I'm the flower girl for my aunt Celia & Uncle Ed Sikorski, probably 1954. My mother Jennie Ranelli is on the far right holding hands with her father Pasquale. My twin brothers, Geno & Mario II, are in white shorts. My yellow satin dress w/ taffeta was made by Mary Monno Zappa of Cumberland, Wisconsin. She made one just like it for my Ginny doll made by Vogue, which I still have over 50 years later. Ginny also had a chartreuse and fuschia cow girl outfit, a black velvet and red tartan plaid outfit, too. I don't buy e-bay, because mine have to BE the ones I used to play with, not LIKE the ones I used to have.
I was 21, a public school education all of the way, except for college at CSC. St. Catherine's, a private Catholic, all girls college where I received the Louis Dorshow Jewish War Veteran's scholarship. Never getting the Unico scholarship for Italians is a sore subject. I needed it, even when tuition was guaranteed at $1100 a year! My best friend, then & now, Jo Ann Puccinelli, was headed there, too. We were day students. Jo had a car but I took the 14A Randolph-Payne
which was a 45 minute ride from the Italian East Side to the Jewish Highland Park. I bought that wedding dress on the Rue d' Rivoli in Paris with the $100 I had left as I was flying home from Paris. I remade it, added a collar from the round plate sized mantilla tht cam ewith it & made the veil and odd numbered Italian cumbits cancy coated almonds( Sulmona, L'Aquila is the confetti capital of the world), confetti = bonbonieri, sp.

I was leaving the country after five weeks of Eurailpassing (wake up, new verb a la Pioneer Press Bulletin Board style twincities.com) during January term with Deb Hoffman & Janet Dolan. I needed 4 credits of philosophy to graduate so I was allowed to design a course which was based on DBAE (Discipline Based Art Education) critiquing the editorial cartoons of European newspapers. It was awesome because concise language in a foreign tongue involving juxtapositions, metaphors & simile are difficult for some in their own language.

A good rule, never be arrogant. Knowledge is immortality, not deity. Our wedding had 2 colors of invitations, olive green & calligraphy for my friends, & formal white for others. The reception was in the basement of St. Casimer's Catholic Church, a Polish enclave on Forest & Edgerton. There were huge pink pillars and a linoleum tiled floor. It was at 7:30 on a Friday evening, July 31, 1970, & no air conditioning. I fainted on the altar, maybe it was the combination of nerves, high humidity & the high, tight neckline which I designed. I am really Miss Havisham, Dicken's Great Expectations, as I have my dress on a form in my spare bedroom with no bed. The cake below has a photo of St. Ambrose Catholic Church, at 711 Bradley, really Burr & Minnehaha. Grandpa Sam owned a garden up the hill on Rivoli Street, where he was self sustained: a wine bottle buried underground for coolness, a 50 gallown drum to catch the rain for his peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, corn, beans, etc. Having started out in Swede Hollow in 1911, 24 Phalen Creek, artesian well water under Hamm's Brewery, 2 children born there, Mario I and Lucy Ranelli Carchasky, Johnny came later at 693 Bedford Street by Payne Avenue. He was born with rickets and went to special Christ Child schools. He never learned to read, write or drive. He could sign only his name. He couldn't make change, and hid this pretty well as he was employed by Northern States Power on Rice Street for 33 years. Your 1984 will divided the estate equally between Mario & Lucy, but as soon as my dad died, not even 4 months after October 26, 1997, NOT EVEN 4 MONTHS to the date, 3 people walked into the lawyer's office and changed the will to give everything to Lucy, the 693 Bedford Street house which had been my grandparents since 1924, almost 70 years! Grandpa's WWI memorabilia which I framed & proudly displayed for the family. His "souvenir" of war, the Nazi helmet with the spike, EVERY LITTLE THING INSIDE, including gifts we had given, baby, family & wedding pictures. You called Jennie in Arizona the day Johnny died on your door step, waiting for you to get home & told her you had to take the safe to your house because Johnny had broken the lock. You never let us into that house the minute after Johnny died, YET HE HAD INVITED ALL OF US FOR CHRISTMAS 3 MONTHS EARLIER TO SHOW HOW MUCH HE HAD IMPROVED IT, NEW EVERYTHING. Mario died Oct. 26, 1997, the will was changed by 3 people on February 26, 1998, 4 months later. Dad got him the disability from NSP, took care of all his business and finances until the day Mario died, and you let the neighbors take what you didn't want, even when Denise asked for the china cabinet and tools. You said in the affidavit that you gave the table to a friend, but you had to ask Lori Jean what the friend's name was. It was Angela's boy friend's mother. You gave him a daily diabetes shot for 20 years because he was mentally handicapped, a paranoid schizophrenic and suffered bipolar depression, & according to the lawyer's notes he came in with 3 people, his sister & HIS brother (was it Uncle Bob whom the lawyer thought was his brother) great lawyers considering they were my dad's lawyers, too. Your lawyers said that Johnny "read" and okayed the new will by himself. Who was that 3rd person with you two, it could not have been Johnny's brother, Mario, as Mario had died 4 months earlier?

Johnny said he needed an eye exam to get glasses so he could drive, but it was noted in the charts that he couldn't identify any letters. Did he have everyone buffalowed, sp, even YOUR lawyer? You called me up and screamed, "I deserve everything. You and your sister have big houses and you go to Italy" and then hung up on me. You are so lucky that Mrs. Sadie Gregory, Mark's mother, died the same week of the court date. You have to live with yourself. I can't believe it still. No one can. Nessun dorma. Why would you let me help you? Meeting w/ Fr. John Malone with you, letting me pick out the his interment plot, the lot, the kind of Holy Family tombstone design, the flowers, the obituary, the eulogy, the music, the designing, typing, & printing of the program, writing the thank yous in your kitchen, the 100's of obit notices from the school pool of newpapers, typing all yet you wouldn't let us clean out his frig. Dio Benedicti! I should have seen it coming when Uncle Bob died, you didn't even list my mother as a survivor. Even Furby the dog was listed. I took Jennie to see Bob the day before his surgery. He said, "Don't buy any green bananas for me." I even painted Knife Lake, in Mora, MN. for you. We only went there one time in my life, when Geno, dad & I were in the boat. I have the picture I took of Geno with the big Northern Pike. He was shaking like a leaf. Thanks for the entire history of Sam Ranelli in America swallowed up by your achievements. Grandpa Sam lived until June 21, 1995. He was 96, dying at the old Veteran's Home by Fort Snelling, wearing his coin of John F Kennedy, praying to La Papa (the Pope) & Padre Pio. I have a video of him on Memorial Day, 3 weeks before he died, calling Gina, "Ginaginetta." He was so proud of Mario, "Numero Uno," and me, "La professoressa, the maestra." He was so proud of his first grandchild, Donna Jean and his first, great grandchild, Gina. Is that why? Numero due, #2 was a girl, and #2. Grandma Concettina died at 93 in 2001. I read wildy funny Italian jokes to her the week before she died. I remember her laughing so hard about the one where your breasts are like melons, cantalopes.
The city of St. Paul, MN, was divided by the ghettos of those who chose Minnesota, the immigrants. Native, original people included the Dakotah, Lakotah, Sioux, Ojibwe (Chippewa), Winnebago, Midwankan, & Winnebago to name a few. (We name our cars & trucks these names). Our streets, once derived from cow paths have Indian names...Algonquin, Mendota...We also have Mounds Park, Battle Creek, Hiawatha Park, Minnehaha Falls, & Chippewa Falls. Regentrification along the Mississippi River bluffs wants to reclaim Mounds Park but it is the Indian burial grounds. Cemeteries in Italy are handled a little differently,
if the grave site is not tended by someone, one just buries new bones. I was lucky enough to photograph Pasquale Monno's only sibling's grave site. His sister, Caterina Manna, was buried next to her husband, Domenico Salvadore. It is interesting to note that to this day Italian women keep their birth names. Sometimes I wish I had but the alphabetical hyphenated stuff seemed so complicated that I incorporated my 21 year old identity into everything, as did my sister, since we are the only surviving Ranelli issue carried by the male surname, cognome. What's interesting is that I finally had proof of how our mother's family name was actually spelled: Manna, according to the tombstone near Santa Lucia del Mela, between Messina & Barcellona, on the northeast coast of the island of Sicily. One usually crosses from the toe of the boot, Reggia Calabria on a short ferry ride to get to the island of Siciglia, home of the La Casa Nostra & Mafioso. My sister, Denise & I, were warned by the brother of my Grandma Concettina Di Nino Ranelli, not to ever go there, especially alone. Zio Mario Di Nino, currently of Salerno, & about 80 something had been a carabinieri (military polizia). I call this stream of consciousness writing so don't expect perfection from a retired English teacher when I'm streaming, because my brain has too much info that I must share before it is too late. The baby boomers are having a much harder time staying alive that all four of my grandparents. Longevity favors my genes. Paternal grandfather Salvatore Ranelli left Paterno/Celano in L'Aquila and his 17 brothers & sisters to go to America. The only other one that left was Riccardo, but when the Big War (WWI) broke out, Salvatore stayed & fought for the Americans and Riccardo fought with Italy. The Americanized/English version was now Sam, that is, Sam in America, but Salvatore is Italia. Broken Italian language is the norm. We grew up hearing it, but the dialect depended on the province or region. Salvatore went back to Italy at 27 to find a young 18 year old bride from nearby Corfinio, a few mountains over in Abruzzi. Her mother was from Roccacasale (roughly translated as Rocky Castle) & her father, Antonio Di Nino was from around there, too, I think Roccararso. They fathered (I think that's a Mixed Metaphor for sure) son Rizier, who grew up in Chicago, Concettina (little conch shell) (she was never Concetta, oh no!) Grandma was tiny-boned, a shell that carried the fresh mountain waters of Corfinio, the salty Adriatic Sea crossing, next the salty 3 month Atlantic Ocean crossing & finally landing at Ellis Island, welcomed by the Statue of Liberty, hoping they were one of the lucky ones healthy enough to walk down the 45 degree gangplank. (The Steering, by Alfred Stieglitz). I often wonder if I could pick out my ancestors on that diagonal white gangplank against the chiarascuro ship photographed by the father of mother photography & bold enough to show the first Degas, nude scribbles, Picasso & others that were thought to be revolutionary on this side of the Atlantic.

The good old boys club gallery, 291, at 291 East 5th Street, NY, secretly exhibited Georgia O'Keeffe's work without her knowledge. This tall, gangly looking 30 year old later was a smitten kitten over the older, mature married Jewish photographer. He died in 1946 where they lived in New York & she in 1986 age the age of 98 at Ghost Ranch (a dude ranch), in Abiqui, New Mexico, 70 miles north of Santa Fe, in a mission church with a wood door. It took her 10 years to get it away from the Catholic Church, but she had to have that door with a stone patio, isolated from almost everyone. They had no children, nieces & nephews were sufficient. (I digress, but remember you learn more from the digressions than the main stream).

I know it's confusing, but try to remember the rules, I don't care if you understand my streaming conscious (reread the part about entering at your own risk, cluttered mind, journey), I do this for myself in a public forum (Il Foro Romano). Ok, I sometimes try to make sense, but water flows as freely as my streams. Streams puddle and regroup and sink even deeper into the ground.

I designed my fireplace based on one of one O'Keeffe's...black tiles, no mantle or stone still upon which to sit, no clutter! I hung Oriental Poppies, 1927, over it. The U of MN, Weisman, has the original but it was catalogued wrong and hung incorrectly for about 50 years. She didn't care, the compostion worked successfully whatever its orientation was. Wish people would allow others of a "different" orientation to work successfully, too. My paper in grad school for Abnormal Psychology was I'm OK, Your'e OK, and Gays are OK, too.

Written in 1970 this was radical thinking but St. Kate's teaches people how to think, not what to think. I think Georgia may have had a same sex experience, as did Frida Kahlo, daughter of Hungarian Jewish father and Mexican mother. She was Frida Calderon who married the womanizer Diego Rivera, a muralist and they were Communists.

I used to show Frida, the unrated Mexican film in Spanish (& French of her love affair with Lenin) because Salma Hayak's version was rated R, and it might get one in trouble with the administration They would protest, not the administration, but the students because they're were no subtitles but I always interjected. Notice my writing style.

Even now, this weekend, I enjoyed 6 hours of Giordana's, the best of youth, (lower case on purpose) in Italian with English subtitles. There are 10 reels of probably 16mm film. Even my husband was transformed and that takes a lot for a man with graduated from St. Thomas in 1968 with a BA in Accounting. He graduated from Cretin in 1964, a boys military prep school.
Numbers were always the only way he interpreted life, a concrete, sequential, linear learner, probably a High Green/Gold. he was the middle of 6 children in an Irish Catholic family that achieved 629 Summit Avenue at Dale, the one with the Queen Ann round turret and wrought iron Stars of David on the double doors. t The draft #'s were imprinted one his brain. It was the Viet Nam war era, and some went to school only to escape the draft, but when school was over the government was still drafting. He graduate in May, 1968, and the draft board called his #. It was time to fight. Read Tim O'Brien, The Things I Carried, and his other books. Tim was from Macalester and a local. We're definitely a hotbed of radicals hiding out here in the Midwest. Anybody who can survive the cold here (-30 degrees Fahrenheit this week, I think that's about 8 degrees Celsius but my Italian-Irish godson is not here to do the math for me) & the high humidity of summer can survive anywhere. We breed resiliency, adaptability and compromise as a way to exist. We breed SURVIVORS.

Mark's # was up for the selective service but he checked the reserves. He had been on an endless waiting list but the list had now grown short as everybody had already been drafted. He signed up in the Army Reserve and got IN. JOY! They noted his BA and made him an accountant. After basic training in Fort Leonard Wood on the Missouri border, he was assigned to an accounting school at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indiana. He was gone short of 6 months, they make sure you get out, so you won't get Veteran's Benefits, and served 2 weeks in the summer and one weekend a month for the next six years. He wore a military uniform to an all boy's high school for four years, went to an all male college, spent the next 6 months in basic in a uniform, and uninterested with being a CPA after working for CPA's, he achieved one of the big 8, Taylor, McCaskill when we were married in 1970. He then worked for a non-profit, the Wilder Foundation & then decided to be a mailman, where he will retire in June after wearing lots of government issue blue uniforms. No wonder he's so regimented and linear thinking and has difficulty dealing with his two artistic loves, his wife & his daughter, complete opposites to him (both High Oranges in the True Color Scale of Learning & Life), but whom he shares the same core values. I'm not sure what the order of importance in his life is; sometimes I rate The Bike #1, Any Sports #2 & his testosterone/Gregory competitiveness #3, #4 deer hunting. He trains religiously, at the expense of everyone. No, this is not his eulogy, but it could be, the way he drives himself. At age 60 (June 21) he rides with the Twin City Bike Club as if he's Lance Armstrong & the US POSTAL SERVICE. Greg LeMond, a local Minnesotan was and still is his hero. Lance, divorcing your wife after her devotion to you when you were down, doesn't look good. Gina & I enjoyed seeing Armstrong in Hautecam, France, near Lourdes, freezing in the moutain elevation in 2000. We had just survived watching the Feast of San Fermin, the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, and wanted to be in Paris for Bastille Day, at the turn of the millenium. The Eiffel tower was aglow with a big 2000 in lights and the fireworks spit everywhere.


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