Bob Corriston

I get up at 5:30 a.m. to go to work at Cassella Brothers in Elmwood Park, NJ. The store got its name because two brothers, Hector, (my father-in-law) and his brother, Rolly, started the business. When I arrive, my brother-in-law, Bobby, is either on his way or is there.

We get there early because we have to put the newspapers together. Some of the sections of the papers come in during the week, but the main part comes in on Sunday, early morning.

One of the regular customers, Joe DeMaso, is always at the door when we open at 7:00 a.m. for business. As customers come in, most of them are regulars, including John Vitale. Yes, the dad of Dick Vitale, well known sports announcer. People mostly buy their papers and coffee plus lottery tickets. The morning goes quickly when you are busy.

After we close the store, around 1:00 p.m., It’s off to home to take a shower and pick up Mary Margaret to go over to East Rutherford for Sunday Dinner.
I remember the Sunday’s spent at the Cassella household. Mary Margaret, my wife, and I would arrive from Nutley to East Rutherford at Mom and Dad’s house. Bobby and Larry, Margaret’s brothers, were there as they still lived at home with their mom and dad, Emily and Hector.

We would all sit in the living room and everyone would talk about their week. We waited for Uncle John to join us. Uncle John was a Franciscan Priest. We didn’t have to go to mass in the morning because he would say mass when he arrived. After the mass was over, we would have appetizers and a drink
When it got close to dinnertime, Mom, who spent most of her time in the kitchen with Mary Margaret helping, called us to the table.

When the water came to a boil, she would call out and say, “Hector, it’s time for the mac’s,” (you didn’t call it pasta then.) After he put in the macaroni, he would wait until it was al dente. Then we would put a colander in the sink and put them in to drain them before putting them in a bowl. The next thing was to add the “gravy,” as it was call then, the grated cheese along with the ricotta cheese. Mom would say to keep Bob’s separate as he doesn’t like ricotta cheese. Dad would say, “What’s the difference? When he is finished, he will eat ours anyway!” (said in a joking way.)

The table was off the kitchen, in a narrow area. Once you sat down you didn’t get up because there was not enough room to move in and out.
There was always a tablecloth and on top of that, in the middle, sat the mac’s with ricotta cheese. My plate was always separate. We consumed the mac’s and the next thing put on the table was braciole, an Italian way of stuffing and rolling very thin flank steak along with meatballs and sausage. Also, there was eggplant. I had never heard of or seen one before. Coming from an Irish background, we would have ham or beef for Sunday dinner.
After dinner, the men would go back to the living room to chat or watch a game, leaving the women to clean up.

After the kitchen was cleaned up, it was time for coffee and dessert. Put the coffee on and everyone gets read to leave. But we’ll be back next Sunday for sure.

Mom and dad are going, but the memories go on.