THE CASTANZA'S RENT HOUSE
We moved from Mr. Fils Gary's rent house to Mr. Joe Castanza's rent house in Kaplan so my Dad could be closer to his machine shop. This house was much smaller, having only two bedrooms, but it was a nice little house with a front porch where Dee could hang her porch swing. (She carried that swing with her every time she moved!) My older sister, Alice ("Nan") was married by that time and living in Texas. My parents slept in the larger of the two bedrooms and Grandpa Parks had the smaller one. Dee's bed was in what was the living room in the daytime, and little Jerry slept with her. I slept on a pallet on the floor by her bed, and if the older boys were at home, so did they.
Rosa was Mr. Joe's youngest daughter and became my best friend. She let me go with her when she went to her dad's corner grocery story to help with the daily sweeping, mopping and dusting, and both of us were "paid" with a box of Cheese Bits. We usually went to my house to sit on the porch swing and eat our treat. I was amused when Rosa licked the salt off her fingers every time she ate one of those little crackers, but I never laughed at her about it. After all, friends don't make fun of or tease friends!
Rosa's family was a typical Italian-American family. Her parents had come to Louisiana from Italy and settled in Kaplan. I do not know if any of their children were Italian-born, and none of that would have mattered to me, anyway, since I have never been concerned about such things. You are who you are who you are - and that's it!
Saturday was baking day at Rosa's house. Under Mama Castanza's direction, Mary and Virginia, the two older daughters, baked a week's supply of bread for the family, and made pans and pans of such delights as cream puffs and raised doughnuts. Rosa and I got to sample everything. I have never in my life tasted any thing better than those cream puffs!
Mama Castanza spoke no English, and of course I did not know Italian, but I was used to conversing with my Grandpa who spoke only French. The two languages are very similar, you know, so I found that I could understand her as well as I understood Grandpa, and she, like him, understood what I said in English. She was a sweet, caring motherly lady.
The Castanzas tried to arrange a marriage between Dee and their son, Tee-Joe, but that did not work. After a while, they stopped trying, but my friendship with Rosa never changed. I cried when we moved to Perry, because I knew I'd miss her. A few years ago, I heard that all of this family were deceased, except for Rosa, who was married and living in Beaumont, Texas. I wonder if she is still here.
Copyright © 2001 Aline T. Meaux, Abbeville, LA
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