With the Italian Festival this weekend, Erie natives sharing stories of what the neighborhood was like more than 50 years ago.
Thousands of italians immigrated to erie around the turn of the century.
David Cacchione said Erie’s Little Italy is a special neighborhood. He wrote a book about what it was like growing up there in the late 1940’s.
“I look back on those days thinking we had a wonderful time. It was a pretty humorous fun filled time. The tragedies were there but it was mostly everyday humor,” Cacchione said.
Cacchione said the neighborhood was divided east and west of the Columbus School. He said things could get competitive.
“We played baseball, basketball, horse shoes, whatever we could play, and it was a lot of rivalry amongst the groups from those different sides of little Italy, but the whole community sort of came together at the St. Paul Festival,” he explained.
Another erie native who grew up in this neighborhood said when his family settled in erie they opened a market. Nearly 100 years later he continues that legacy.
“There’s only four meat markets in town anymore. There was one on every corner before. You just get up in the morning and go to work. That’s it. You have a little luck, you got to make it happen,” said Larry Adiutori, owner of Larry’s Central Market.
Adiutori said it was a tightnit community which could soemtines get you in trouble.
“You do the right thing. Everybody was watching everybody to do the right thing,” he said.
“We knew everybody and they knew you, and if you were bad they’d call your mother and father or they’d call your grandmother which was worse,” said Michael DeDad, celebrating Erie’s Little Italy.
Adiutori and DeDad said from then to now, St. Paul church brings the community together.
“The club anymore is the anchor. The church is an anchor too,” Adiutori went on to say.
“When I was in the service I was in California. I said no. I came back to Erie. I could’ve lived out there easily but I said there’s no place like home,” DeDad recalled.