Urban myth: no aluminum foil in Italy

January 31st, 2011 by John Morris

This summer, I spent four special days in my ancestral home town: Teramo, Italy. My extended family in Italy is small and very hospitable. It is in towns like Teramo where you fall in love with Bella Italia. It’s the complete package of people, history and lifestyle. I miss it every day.

At Christmas, I looked for a small way to say thanks to Maria Pia Mascherini, JoAnna & Guido D’Adamo and Vittorio & Mauro Pompeilli. I wanted to send them something “American”.

I went to my two favorite sources for all things Italian: my cousin, Anthony Mascherino and my aunt, Laurie. Both advised me to send aluminum foil. When asked why, they both said for some reason it is not available in Italy. They also said it would be highly appreciated.

So I set my hand to the task of buying six rolls of Reynolds’ finest. This expense was matched equally by the mailing costs. No matter, I wanted to send the gifts. I also decided to include three tins of loose leaf tea for a more personal touch. I rounded off the package with a pair of yellow Lab socks I knew Maria Pia admired.

The package arrived and my contact there, Monica D’Adamo sent me a Facebook message. She thanked me in the gracious way Italians seem to own. Then she passed a message to me from Maria Pia that “in Italy, we got aluminum foil since 70s . . .   :-)))”

I laughed out loud when I read her message. I imagined their initial confusion after they opened the box and their following amusement.

Now my task is to track down my insightful cousin and aunt to ask them how their suggestions could be so off-base.

Maybe it was just a wonderful prank they played on me.

Italian translation follows:

Questa estate, ho passare i quattro giorni speciali che visito la mia città natale ancestrale: Teramo, Italia. La mia famiglia allargata in Italia è piccola e molto ospitale. È in città come Teramo in cui cadete nell’amore con Bella Italia. It’ s il pacchetto completo della gente, della storia e dello stile di vita. Lo manco giornaliere.
Al Natale, ho cercato un piccolo senso dire grazie al Pia Mascherini, Joanna D’ della Maria; & di Vittorio e di Adamo; Mauro Pompeilli. Ho voluto trasmettere loro qualcosa ” American”.
Sono andato alle mie due fonti favorite per tutto l’italiano di cose: il mio cugino, Anthony Mascherino e la mia zia, Laurie. Ciascuno lo ha raccomandato di trasmettere il di alluminio. Una volta chiesto perché, entrambi detto per qualche motivo esso non sono disponibili in Italia. Inoltre hanno detto che altamente sarebbe stato apprezzato.
Così ho regolato la mia mano all’operazione di acquisto dei sei rotoli di Reynolds’ il più fine. Questa spesa è stata abbinata ugualmente dai costi di spedizione. Nessuna materia, ho voluto trasmettere i regali. Inoltre ho deciso di includere tre barattoli di il tè dell’a fogli staccabili per un tocco più personale. Ho arrotondato il pacchetto con un accoppiamento dei calzini gialli del laboratorio ho conosciuto che Pia della Maria avrebbe gradetto.
Il pacchetto è arrivato ed il mio contatto là, Monica D’ Adamo mi ha trasmesso un messaggio di Facebook. Lo ha ringraziato nel senso che gentile gli italiani sembrano al proprio. Allora ha passato un messaggio me dal Pia della Maria che ” in Italia, abbiamo ottenuto il di alluminio da 70s. : -)))”
Ho riso alto fuori quando ho letto il suo messaggio. Ho immaginato la loro confusione iniziale e divertimento seguente dopo che hanno aperto la scatola.
Ora la mia operazione è di seguire giù il miei cugino e zia perspicaci per chiedere loro come i loro suggerimenti potrebbero essere così completamente fuori strada.
Forse era appena una burla che meravigliosa hanno giocato su me.

Watch how you say what you say.

January 16th, 2011 by John Morris

Once someone quotes something you’ve said you will watch your words more carefully. Even when they get it right, you are struck by the importance others give your words.

The new book, They Conquer Who Endure by Jeanne Rapp is a collection of Veterans’ stories including some of mine. The author chose a quote from one of my stories for the back cover. It’s a simple thought and reads as such, “…But cynics don’t erect breathtaking flags or build memorials. Visionaries do.” To be honest, I thought she was quoting someone else’s until I read it again inside the book.

I so impressed myself I applied additional thought to the quote. It was during this discovery I hit on two themes that apply to opposing camps. For the most part, people who ask questions with the phrase, “Why don’t they…?” won’t raise their hands to the task. Others, who will get things done, make statements like, “I’m going to …”.

While the Downingtown Veterans Memorial Committee was in its early years, the members served with another worthy endeavour. They help to erect a monster sized Flags Across America flag in the public park. The larger committee met often and was led by Chester County’s Sheriff, Carolyn “Bunny” Welsh.

To keep with the theme of this blog, I’ll offer a sparkling quote made by her, “All the work that was ever done was done by the people who showed up.” Simple, direct and to the point. There may exists more qualified people, but if they don’t show up, their higher skills are not available.

We had to go with what we had.

We had enough.

Downingtown icons- no longer, new & still around

January 10th, 2011 by John Morris

My list is just that: a list and mine. It is not complete nor objective. Feel free to add your comments.

No longer:

  • Downingtown Inn and The Farmers’ Market: how we were defined by everyone unless they lived here.
  • Roosevelt Theatre: the place to be on Saturday afternoons if you were a kid.
  • All of the paper mills: the industry who gave us our growth and employment for over a century and a half.
  • Jasper’s Restaurant:  they blazed the trail for other top rate restaurants to settle here.
  • Downingtown Savings and Loan: skillfully captained for decades by Ellen Ann Roberts, a good role model for business women and men.
  • Pepperidge Farms: this national company built a monster manufacturing plant in the Glasstown neighborhood. They filled our air with tantalizing smells of baking foods.


Still around:

  • Coffee Cup: Downingtown’s meeting place for breakfast and lunch. It is its own little world and you’re a part of it.
  • Maxwell’s Hardware: not just a hardware store, it’s a place to hang around and get all your life’s problem solved with nuts, bolts, screws and duct tape. They’ve passed along helpful advice for over 110 years.
  • Downingtown Diner:  now called Chef’s Diner after a string of other owners. It’s where we get our genuine diner foods. They also gave us our Hollywood link- the movie, “The Blob” with Steve McQueen.
  • Lou Beverage: found by an Italian immigrant, Luigi (Lou)  D’Addezio and built on hard work and cold beer. It is now in the hands of third generation D’Addezios.
  • Downingtown National Bank: our community’s anchor financial business since the Civil War.
  • Saint Anthony’s Lodge: the place where our Italians gathered for all events since the early 1900s. It’s where most of our memories are framed.

I am now finished with my this-serving exercise. I invite you to send me your corrections, changes or additions. I won’t delete an entry unless I’ve presented inaccurate information.

Carded again?

January 9th, 2011 by John Morris

Been “carded” lately?  We rejoice when we must show someone our child’s age the proof we are past the 21 year milestone for drinking. This doesn’t happen often but some places have a 100% carding policy. Good for them. They hold down the number of under-agers and give oldtimers a cheap thrill.

I learned there’s another form of carding waiting during our seventh decades. When we reach the tender age of 65, we are eligible for Medicare and its acillary bennies. One such gem is  riding SEPTA trains for $1 and their buses for free. It’s nice of Pennsylvania to chart around old folks like this. I’d like to believe this is an award for contributing to society for all these years. That would be nice, but the reason we get it at all is excess profits from the lottery games. No matter, it’s here and time to cash in, my fellow Baby Boomers.

Last week, I opted to ride the bus to my brother’s Coatesville home. I waited at the stop where a steel bench provides little comfort during the wait. These buses are usually ten minutes past the published times. My fellow travelers and I hunkered down against the winter weather until the bus arrived.

As is my habit, I entered the bus last and presented my ticket to ride – a valid Medicare card. The bus driver looked at me and asked how old I was. I said I had other proof showing I was 65. He shook his head and said, “Man, you sure don’t look it.”

This defines a really good moment for this ol’ boy.


The old boy writing this blog wears many hats: Vietnam Veteran, husband & father, salesman and techno-dude. After my service with the Army Security Agency, I operated a sign company for nineteen years, The sign industry changed after CAD/CAM machines made the task easy enough for the non-talented. I sold my company and never looked back.

Life has granted me a life partner better than I deserve. My wife, Lyn is a transplanted Kansas gal. Her bliss is teaching kindergarten and first grade.

I am the most proud of my children. My son, Adam lives an international life teaching English and living in Sozhou, China. He is married to one of life's truly lovely women, Yuri Kim. My daughter, Beth grew up in a small town and found her way in life means working and living in major cities like Chicago and New York. She and her life partner, Julie Sterling married in LaJolla, California in 2010.

I like getting the newest gadgets, but also I like to use things until they are useless, i.e., my last personal car was an 88 Honda Prelude Si.

I wrote a Vietnam Veteran newsletter for nine years. During this journey, I learned I like to write. It is a harmless exercise that rewards honest effort while tolerating failure gracefully. I been away from it for too long. My son gave me the blog, and it was a lifeline back to writing.

My best advice is to show the world what you can do but to accept only your opinion of who and what you are.

Update: In August 2008, my job became one of the half-million jobs that went away that month. I took the following year getting the home ready for my official retirement.

In October 2009, I took a part-time job as a saleman at the vaulted Maxwell's Hardware.

On November 29, 2011, I reached my 66th birthday, and I officially started Social Security. I intend to stay with Maxwell's as long as I can contribute.