First Posted: 8/1/2013
You know the saying, “You can take the girl out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the girl.” That’s how I feel about the Pittston Farmers Market. For almost 20 years during market season, every Tuesday was earmarked for the Pittston Farmers Market and I loved doing it. However, there comes a time in life when you just know it’s time to move on and act upon it. It does not mean you walk away and forget it. No! It merely gives one the freedom to come and go at will without shouldering the responsibilities.
I did not stay away too long for on this past Tuesday I was back under a white tent arranged by our new coordinator Mary Angelella selling raffles on a “Back to School Basket.” The basket is sponsored by the Friends of the Pittston Memorial Library with the proceeds being used for children and grownup programs.
It was a perfect day as the sun shone, complimenting a soft blue sky with puffs of clouds lazily drifting by. A welcomed soft breeze filtered the air, making it comfortable to browse and shop. What came to mind was, “This is a day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad.”
Settling in felt like coming home. Between working time and quiet time reflections and memories of the many friends, patrons and incidents that occurred during the past years were remembered. I smile when I remember Helen Brigido walking through the lot with a positive stride and heart-gripping smile on the way to Quality Roofers, her business. There was always a greeting and hug and sometimes she would say to me, “I remember your sweet mother and the little girl with the baloney curls.”
I imagined there was music playing and it was the sound of the Big Band Connection with Jack Brogan, Lino Marchetti, Gino Marchetti, Jerry Stone and Jimmy Bone, the Harry James of our area. They were playing the music of the 1940s era and the senior citizens who were celebrating a special day in their honor were tapping their feet while Geraldine Bufalino and Felix Greco were swinging and swaying to the beat of a jitterbug.
Seen in the crowd and enjoying the festivities were Ann and Joe Testa, Ruth and Carmen Colarusso, Rose Chiarelli, Rose Arfanella, Gloria and Lou Vullo, Joe Guarneri, Buddy Licata, Carolee Aycock, Marion and Ray Giraldi, Lee Bantell, Val Delia, Joann Pendolphi, Carmella Salerno and Charles Schifano.
As cars moved in and out of the lot, I remembered that soon it will be Tomato Festival time. The tents begin going up on market Tuesday, presenting traffic congestion. Chet Montante, self-appointed traffic controller of the market, directs cars in and out of the lot. On festival Tuesday, he was reprimanded by a driver who almost had a fender bender, accusing him that he was giving the wrong signals. There was a lot of head shaking going on by both parties.
There were several children laughing and jumping behind me. As I turned, it was a delightful scene and brought back memories of our yearly Children’s Day when Len Charney played the accordion and gave children the microphone to sing with him or as a solo. What talent those kids had but, more importantly, what confidence.
All children were invited to attend this fun day with face painting, storytelling and games. Each child received a $1 certificate, compliments of the Pittston Tomato Festival Committee to make a purchase at the market. Brace’s seemed to be the most popular stand with candied apples, donuts and lollipops.
Not from memory but from notes, in 2004 the children of Magic Years, accompanied by their teacher Jay Ostrander, set up a stand for face painting. The young artists were Caci Kern, Alleysha Reynolds, Kristen Ozack Kalyn Girman, Ariane Colarusso, Ashley Ostrander, Samantha Barge and Olivia Ozack. (Would love to see those children and how they have grown).
The first hour and a half, I sat alone under the tent. Friends stopped by and asked about Chet. Is he alright? . He was off with my brother Joe Manganaro, taking care of his license renewal. My friend Ann Marie Conroy joined me for the remainder of the day and we talked and had a few good laughs. Charlie Macaluso, a neighbor on Johnson Street, looked at Ann Marie and me and stated, “You two are still friends? You have quite a long history together.” That we do. Our friendship dates back to seventh or eighth grade with a few interruptions. We’re still going strong!
Friends, acquaintances and shoppers stopped by to chat and purchase a ticket for the basket of school supplies. Mary Ann Infantino came early to purchase her weekly vegetables. “I cook all day on Tuesday; I love it.” Michael English who recently celebrated a birthday enjoyed the market and voiced, “Pittston is the Best.” Corrine Milazzo, weighed down with two large bags of vegetables, announced she was going home to make a pot of minestra. This is usual the role of Leona Montagna who makes the Italian specialty for her nieces and nephews.
On a quiet moment, my eyes are attracted to our glorious flag located on the Burger King lot, gently unfurling by direction of the wind, and a memory etched in my heart is remembered. I had the pleasure and honor of meeting a young soldier s standing beside his father at Brace’s stand. In our conversation, he related how proud he was to serve our country and that he had done three tours of duty in Iraq. He stated our people don’t realize the good we are doing for the people in Iraq and how much we are appreciated there. He was leaving to do his fourth tour of duty that would end in December of that year. The young soldier was the late Sgt. Dale Kridlo.
By 2 p.m., it was time to call it a day. Ann Marie and I were getting tired. Chet had arrived to help us gather up our belongings. As we prepared to leave, I could not help but think Tuesday at the Farmers Market was most enjoyable and I will be back. Thank you, Mary.