My father’s passing a few months ago has caused me to take some time and reflect on a life well lived. A flood of memories came back to me: memories of a great man who strongly believed in being patriotic, doing the right thing, helping out family, friends, neighbors, and strangers alike wherever help was needed. He always had a smile and a joke for you, and he never forgot a face. Through him, I learned the value of family, hard work, and appreciated my Italian heritage. He kept his promises and was a loyal friend to many people he met over the years. This included four Easton families who, along with my parents, influenced my future.
Dad always liked antiques, and he dabbled with them when he could. A few pieces of old glass items, an old clock, a box of “junk” that might contain a treasure or two, brought him much enjoyment. While working for Robert and Shirley Hatchfield who owned Merchants Alarm Company, he met the late attorney Abraham Brooks and his wife Mae. The Brooks had a collection of early American pewter and early American lighting, and their love for all things historical was passed on from them to my Dad, and then to me. I came to appreciate old things and wanted to learn about them and the stories of the people who created them.
While Dad was working for the Hatchfield family, he was fortunate to have the use of a company car. The Hatchfields bought their cars from the Mitrano family, owners of Mitrano Chevrolet in North Easton, and all of the gasoline and repairs were purchased from the late Harry Sundell at his gas station in North Easton center. In a time when there were a lot of one car families, we never had to worry about having transportation.
That transportation played a major role in forming my love for museums. Once in a while, during summer vacation or a day off from school, the Hatchfields allowed my Dad to take one of his sons with him to work. For me, this was a real thrill to see what Dad did and to spend time alone with him. Usually we were on the road to see customers. During the course of the day, we would stop for lunch somewhere (he knew all the good places to eat!). But the best part was seeing things wherever we were. I have fond memories of going to the New Bedford Whaling Museum, museums in Fall River, and antique shops. Some of my favorite memories were of the times we spent in Plymouth, visiting various museums and historic buildings there. We also visited ancient cemeteries where I marveled at the old grave stones, full of beautiful carvings and honored names. It was during those times that I developed a deep appreciation for people and places long past and first understood the importance of preservation. Thanks, Dad, for seeing something good in me and nurturing my love of history. And thanks to the Brooks, Hatchfield, Mitrano, and Sundell families for providing the influence and the means that would prepare me for the work of preserving the history of Easton.