At Donato Valente's house, early 1960s
Below: Donato Valente (center, smoking a pipe), at his house in Riverside, Burlington County, New Jersey, in the early 1960s. To his right is his younger brother Giovanni Valente, and to his left Nunziata DiRenzo. (The other card-players are unidentified; they would have been Donato's friends.)
Donato Valente (1885-1965) left Italy at the age of 17 and never went back to visit. But his daughter Anna (called "Anna-v") visited Gambatesa in 1960 with her cousin Esther Valente (1930-1994) and Esther's father Giovanni (1887-1969).
In the photograph the face of Donato's wristwatch is on the inside of his wrist. That is, the watch's face is facing the same way as the palm of Donato's hand. Giovanni Valente also used to wear his wristwatch this way. So that, instead of turning the back of his hand toward his eyes to read his watch, he turned the palm of his hand toward his eyes.
Angelo Abiuso wrote that in their native village of Gambatesa many old people used to do the same. Being "inside" the watch is protected. Years ago wristwatches were expensive.
Italian board and Rolling Pin
Just beyond the doorway is the type of very long, thin (reddish-brown) rolling pin that the Italian women in Camden used to make pasta. In Gambatesa this is called u lainator[e].
This is the type of board and rolling pin that the old Italians used to use. Note that at the lower end of the board there is a strip of wood underneath the board. This strip is only about 2 inches wide; it is placed in front of the end of a table; its purpose is to prevent the board from sliding away when dough is rolled or kneaded. The rolling pin has a hole near one end so that sting can be looped through it to provide a way to hang the pin up when it is not being used. The rolling pin is about a yard [36 in. = 91.44 cm.] long.
The board was made for Lydia Valente by a lumber yard (South Jersey Lumber) in Camden in the late 1950s, and it cost $10 at that time. But at the lumber yard the workers made the board, with the two ends and then between those two ends the different slats of wood, and then on the bottom the small block of wood to hold the board in place, to keep it from moving.
Visits to Uncle Dan's house
When Vittoria Valente stayed with her Uncle Dan, she would go for about two weeks. Uncle Dan would come to Camden by train for her; travel was free for him because he worked for the railroad. Vittoria would stay with him and his wife and their daughter Millie. Every evening after their meal, Uncle Dan and Vittoria would go for a walk and he would stop to buy an ice cream cone for her. Maybe she was about 10 or 12 years old.
Uncle Dan used to bring the Valente children, one at a time, to visit "the country", that is, to his house in Riverside, New Jersey. The house was beside the railroad. He liked children; he used to telephone his son Nicholas everyday. At Uncle Dan's house, his wife Victoria made ice cream in a machine they had, and it was very good ice cream. Their daughter Millie was "a real Italian girl": she knew how to cook and sew; that was how her mother had brought her up. Millie's daughter "married up": a boy from Mount Holly whose family had money; "when they came to visit us in Camden they were coming to the ghetto," Donato's niece Vittoria said.
Vittoria says that Uncle Dan used to take them many places. The children have good memories of him. He treated them well, and he never lost touch with their father, his younger brother Giovanni. Vittoria later thought they did not appreciate how good their uncle was to them.
The URL of this page: https://www.roangelo.net/valente/valdonat.html
Last revised: 6 March 2007 : 2007-03-06 and 29 December 2019 by Robert [Wesley] Angelo.