Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Names you don't forget: like Sclafani.

There are certain names you don't forget. They are unique. Or are tied to someone who had a huge effect on you - positively or negatively. They stick with you. Like the name Margaret. It reminds me of a big, red-headed girl in gym class that could throw the dodge ball harder than any boy. I have secretly feared the name Margaret ever since.

Then there's the name Sclafani. I once knew a family named Sclafani that was unlike any family I had met before. I haven't seen them in thirty years. But I remember them.

I thought of Donna Sclafani the other day when I wrote the story about the Italian one pot meal. She's Italian, her mother was always cooking, and it just made me think of her.

We were friends in 8th grade. She lived down the street from me in a split level house. I have no idea where she is now. But at the time, I had never met a family like hers before.

They were very New York. I don't remember where her parents were from. But my guess is Brooklyn or the Bronx. She had really dark, curly black hair and fair skin and dark brown eyes. She was a bit of a tomb boy - with a very pink bedroom. Which always struck me as a bit odd. Her family was loud. They didn't speak to one another in a normal tone. They were always yelling like George Costanza and his parents on Seinfeld. Or Jerry Stiller in real life! It kind of scared me.

"D-O-N-N-A!!!!" her dad would yell.

We became friends shortly after I moved to Connecticut from Michigan. I was the new girl and she was nice to me. So we hung out for a while in middle school. We eventually parted ways when we went to high school.

Weird things I remember:
  • They had doilies on the furniture.
  • She was the only girl in the family, and had a canopy bed and a tv in her room which made me extremely jealous. 
  • She had a little white dog named Corky that bit me.  I kinda hated that dog. I never told them he bit me. I was embarrassed.
Her mom was always in the kitchen, wearing an apron and cooking with great big pots. Their house always smelled like food. She cooked things that seemed exotic and a little strange to me. I remember seeing unfamiliar ingredients and smelling things I had never smelled before. I'm sure I gave her my wide-eyed "I-have-no-idea-what-that-is" look on more than one occasion. I'm sure she thought I was a curious little thing.

I bet she made things like Piaaziola, Puttanesca, Giambotta and Baked Ziti - all stuff with funny names that is served on giant platters, to a large family just like on the Soprano's.

The funny thing is I didn't eat at her house very often. We would hang out after school and then have to be home at our own house for dinner. I wish now that I could go back in time and see what she had cooking in the kitchen. I bet it was fantastic.

I don't know if her family is related to the Sclafani line of food products. I would bet anything they are.  I did a little Google research but didn't find much history - which is odd since the company was started in 1911. They were sold in November 2010 to a big food company called B&G Foods. Seems like I might have found out something. huh.

It's just occurred to me that all this stuff I remember is taking up valuable space in my brain. I need a separate hard drive to download some of this old information to make room for new stuff I want to learn.  Like what all the <+>"" stuff means in HTML code, and new recipes, and the names of actors in movies, and how much money I made at my last job. Useful stuff. Not a brain cluttered with old doilies.


  1. Reminds me of our neighbors across the street in Bethel, CT - the Bonomo's (sp?) - same thing!! Jackie Bonomo.....

  2. Loved your piece about Donna and her family! They were definitely a trip. But what I really liked is the fact that you are well on your way to writing your Autobio. I encourage my students to write things about their lives just like Donna and her family.These are the things people love to read about - think how much fun your grandchildren will have reading this in the year 2050! Let's see. How old will you be then?
    Anyhow, I loved it. Wonder where she is now? Probably still in the Danbury/Bethel area somewhere.


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