view of Salandra, Matera, Basilicata, Italy by Antonio DiPersia

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Remembering Felicia Ambruso and Lawrence Mancini

Phyllis Ann Mancini Pernia, daughter of Rocco Mancini and granddaughter of Felicia Ambruso and Lawrence Mancini has recently posted photos and memories of her grandparents on  The photo above shows Felicia and Lawrence on the couch in their Garfield home with son Rocco.  It was taken about 1950.  Phyllis Ann’s remembrances of her grandparents stirred memories of my own.  I remember being in that blonde-colored brick house on Harrison Avenue that was built by Lawrence himself.  I remember the house was always very neat and proper.  Felicia took great pride in the cleanliness of her home.  She was a bundle of energy and enthusiasm.
When I was a young boy, Uncle Lawrence always pinched my cheek when he greeted me.   I hated it, but he was always smiling and did it in a loving way.  For some reason, I remember him as always wearing a bow tie.  He was a bricklayer and stone mason, but he was also a stone carver.  I remember the impressive fireplace he personally designed and built in their living room.  He had carved the heads of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln and himself in marble.  He was an artist.
His oil paintings were on display throughout the house.  I was never impressed with his simple style of artwork, but I was always fascinated by the fact that someone in my family actually had the initiative and desire to take brush to canvas and created a painting.  No one else in the family did that.  At that point in my life, he was the only real oil painter I had ever met.  Without realizing it then, his creative spirit probably contributed to my own artistic attempts in painting when I was young.   Today, art is an important part of my life and I can totally understand his need to create art and express himself.  Thank you, Uncle Lawrence.

Oil painting by Lawrence Mancini

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