May 15, 2014

My grandfather Ignazio LoDico passed away on March 22nd, 1922 in Mansfield, Massachusetts.

My Uncle Frank, was 36 years old at the time and the elder son of the family.

Frank purchased a cemetery plot at St. Mary's Cemetery in Mansfield.
I believe at the time, it cost $5 for the 'perpetual care'.

Frank purchased the headstone and my grandfather was laid to rest in the New World.
I was told my uncle cut a deal with the stone mason and he had his own headstone prepared as part of the deal.
Sicilians never pass up a chance to barter or get a good deal.

My cousin Joan, Franks daughter, told me she was deathly afraid of going down the cellar at our Newton Street home, when she was a child.
Her father kept his gravestone down there with his name and birth date on it, awaiting the last etching of his death date.
She would start crying whenever her dad asked her to go down cellar and get some brined olives or peppers.
She was afraid one day there would be a new date on the stone.

Frank would be seen often at Ignazio's grave site, taking care of the grounds and bringing flowers.
Very soon after the purchase of the plot, he purchased a small tree and planted it close to the gravestone.
It is part of the Sicilian culture to nurture a new life after a loss of a loved one.

One day Frank came to the grave and noticed the tree was removed.

Within minutes my uncle was at St. Mary's rectory on Church Street and asked to speak with Father Hugh Harrold.

My uncle Frank was known to be rather quiet, and mild mannered, in fact, some said he was very subdued.
While not much is known what was actually said, it is safe to assume it began quite cordially.
But this was a conversation between a young, proud, and stubborn Sicilian-American and an older, proud, and stubborn Irish-American.

The 'Sir' and "Mr.' and 'Father' no doubt turned into a heated argument of name calling.

Frank stated that he had paid for the plot and he had the right to plant a tree there on HIS land.
Father Harrold insisted that he did not have the right to plant anything in HIS cemetery.

In a final salvo, as my uncle departed the rectory, and with a shout of defiance, he yelled:

"And furthermore not only will I never go to your church again but I will NEVER be buried in YOUR cemetery !!"

True to his word, my Uncle Frank is one of the very few Italians buried in Spring Brook Cemetery in Mansfield, Massachusetts.

Uncle Frank's headstone at Spring Brook Cemetery, Mansfield