| ANTONIO DeBenedictis, (Tony DeBenedictis), the son of Nicola DeBenedictis and Carmela Petruzziello DeBenedictis, was born in 1939, in Pratola Serra, a small village of Avellino. He was the first son after four girls and the family celebrated for three days and nights. Tony tells of idyllic days in which he roamed the neighboring villages, attended feasts and fireworks competitions, and ate big juicy figs from his family farm. |
He remembers his family hosting the youth of the town in dances, which led to his life-long love of ballroom dancing, and Tonys family also hosted the old men, (he figures they were probably in their forties), who would come to visit his father every Sunday. Starting in 1948, shortly after electricity was brought to the farm, they would gather at his family home, to listen to opera. The people of Tonys village still take great pride in hosting opera symphonies at the annual feast, and Tony carried that love and pride to his adopted home.
Having survived World War II including harrowing escapes from planes falling from the sky and limited food, the DeBenedictis family, including Tonys eight siblings, found opportunities in the Avellino area outside of Naples, limited. Tonys grandfather had worked briefly in the US at the turn of the century, but had not stayed. With great foresight, Nicola DeBenedictis brought Tony and his siblings to this country. Tony arrived via ship at the age of nineteen years. After working at piece work, (Tony still takes pride in the speed and skill he had, which enabled him to make a good living, for the time), Tony resolved to open his own business. Knowing nothing about groceries, he opened a small market, supplying meat, produce and Italian specialties. Fortunately, his community supported him in his endeavors, helping him to learn the business as he went. In this day and age, when the survival rate for new businesses in the first year or even the first twenty years, is horrific, it is hard to imagine the diligence and commitment that Tony has made to remain in business for 53 years. It attests to Tonys perseverance, the quality of his goods and services, and the continued supported of the community, that he continues to do so well.
To know Tony, one must visit him at his store, and talk with him about his family. He continues to practice his art as a superb ballroom dancer, and continues his life-long love of opera, which plays most afternoons at the store. He has settled in West Roxbury, and continues running his store in Roslindale in an atmosphere of love and caring, supported by his family. His sisters and brothers in the Boston area are: Antoniette Sellitto, Armando DeBenedictis, Giovanni DeBenedictis , and Adriana Cillo, and he still has four siblings living in the Pratola Serra region – Lisette Galdo, Lena Usai, Maria Petruzziello and Luciano DeBenedictis….not to mention scores of nieces, nephews , grandnieces and nephews. Nick, Tony's nephew, assists him most Saturdays at the store.
Having been raised on a farm where grapes were grown and wine produced, fresh cheese and pasta was made, and home grown produce and meats were the order of the day, and then having suffered the depredations following the war, food is very important – second only to the family who live, love and visit with us, at our home and in our store. Pasta is considered a staple, and the preparation and eating of meals is an event which cannot be interrupted for other activities. Tony’s world is filled with love, family, and good food.
No wonder even the Boston Globe says Tony is
the “Happiest man in Roslindale!” t
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