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Echoes From the Family Kitchen

345 pages4 hours


Excerpt from Echoes:

The year was 1932. It was a typically cold February. Mary (Emasie) Caccamise was in her first month of pregnancy with her next (and soon-to-be last) child. Despite the love and closeness of the Caccamise families living in the Le Roy-Batavia region of Western New York, the 1930s--for them--was a time of trial and deep sadness.
You see, it was just like any other February school day on a Wednesday in Western New York, except that it was George and Mary's second-youngest daughter Lena's third birthday. Undoubtedly, plans were afoot in the small, but crowded, family household for a splendid celebration that evening. The fourth-oldest sibling, Mickey, was ten years old at the time. Like usual, he thought of rushing to school to avoid being seen wearing his sister's coat, but today he decided instead to wear a thick brown sweater, high topped shoes, and a blue and white stocking cap.
Like most pre-teen boys, Mickey was full of energy. He was a beautiful young child with an angelic face. He knew he would be bored going directly home to his crowded house, so he decided to go to Tonawanda Creek with his nine-year-old friends, Harry Campobello and Frank Bezon, to play "shinny," a form of ice hockey. After all, the creek was not far from his house, and he'd be home in plenty of time for supper and Lena's birthday celebration. So he struck out from home with his dog, Prince, in tow.
My mom claims she was the last of the family members to see her brother Michael and his friends going to the creek that afternoon at 4:00, but Jennie and Mom disagree about that. Mrs. Eugene Pratt, whose home was near the Attica branch of the New York Central railroad, said she saw three boys some time between 4:00 and 4:30 walking along the tracks toward the creek. What is certain is that upper-classman Sarah Peart, returning to her home at No. 14 Law Street along the Erie railroad tracks, saw the three boys at 4:30 on the ice near the bridge at the Doehler Die Casting Company's brass plant, and warned them that the ice was thin. The boys shouted "... 'fraid cat," and continued with their game.
Later that evening, Prince returned home without his master.

"Echoes From the Family Kitchen" weaves together the story of two Sicilian-Americans and their loving families from small-town Western New York from the turn of the 1900s to the present, as told through the discovery of two hundred letters (plus other original documents) between a new bride and her U.S. Navy Seabee husband serving in North Africa during World War II. Through their son's quest for clues to the past, we glimpse America, not as through the perspective of distant parents, but through two people as seen through the eyes of countless other fellow travelers--the fun-loving children of Depression-Age America, the frightened but hope-filled young adults of a world at war, and the established citizens of a prosperous nation. "Echoes From the Family Kitchen" will bring tears of joy and sadness to the eyes of those who read it.

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