I visited my new neighborhood again. Usually when I come to Taylor Street it’s just to check on the building, meet with an oven or insurance guy, or eat somewhere nearby to size up the competition. Since I haven’t moved in yet, I don’t quite feel like I’m part of the neighborhood, more like a lurking tourist or something. This day wasn’t supposed to be any different. I was there picking up the mail and checking out our new paint job.
We’re really excited about this since it’s our first notice to the public that Scafuri Bakery will indeed be returning. So after marveling and snapping some photos, I made my way down the block to the hardware store for a couple things. While the kind old man helped me find what I needed and made copies of my keys, I noticed a sign above the window that read “Wine Making Supplies”. I knew I was in the right place.
Paul, my new friend’s name, told me he does indeed sell wine (and beer) making supplies, and that he makes his own wine all the time. I told him that my great great grandfather, (Annette’s father, Italian immigrant and founder of Scafuri Bakery), used to make his house wine in the basement–and apparently that’s how everyone did it back in the day. I think I might have to take this up as a new hobby, (along with gardening, composting, etc…I have a lot of ambitions).
Paul has been working at this hardware store for the past 50 years, and he knew Annette and Nettie and everyone else at the old bakery. Annette is my great-great-aunt who ran the bakery for most of her life, (up until she was 90 years old!) and one of the most amazing ladies I know. Her friend Nettie has been around for almost as long, (or as long as I can remember). They recently moved closer to Annette’s son in Nebraska. Also at the bakery were Maria, who worked in the kitchen but also cared for Annette and Nettie up until they moved, and Carmen, the very outspoken and loud lady who worked the front counter. And this was just in my lifetime. There is so much history in this place, I hope to share as much as I can in future posts.
When all the keys were done, I left the hardware store in high spirits. I had made a friend in the neighborhood! Not only that, he could probably teach me how to make my own wine, not to mention tell all his friends that Scafuri is coming back.
Back at the bakery door, where I was testing out the keys, an adorable old man came up to me to ask if Scafuri Bakery was really opening up again. I told him yes, and introduced myself as Annette’s great great niece. He seemed happy to hear this, and told me he goes to Our Lady of Pompeii, the same church Annette was involved with. He offered to hand out flyers in the church for me, even telling me which mass he usually attends, so that I might be able to find him again. How cute is that?! I don’t know if you noticed from all the pictures of cute old Italian men I posted from Castellina, but I have a serious crush on old men. They are just adorable.
The neighborhood, like countless others, has changed so much over the years, and Little Italy today is more a place of nostalgia than an ethnic neighborhood. So you can imagine my delight to find some old school Italian men still chillin’ in their hood. I can already tell you they will be my favorite customers.
I would also like to share that we found this ancient food mill in the kitchen closet. It’s ye old Cuisinart food processor. I have little hope this thing could be anything but part of the decor, yet I think it’s awesome just as well.