, Gloucester, MA


October 31, 2012

Old cookbook sparks memories

Two weeks ago I received a hand-written note from a woman in Methuen who asked if I would give her a call. She wished to talk with me about a column that I had written back in 2008. She had clipped it from the food page in The Eagle-Tribune, and saved it on her refrigerator for quite a while, but never forgot about it.

I called her and after chatting for a few minutes, we made a date for me to come for tea. She was very interesting to talk with, and her memory was clear and vast.

The column she was speaking of was about Mama Leone’s restaurant in New York. It brought back memories of her living and working in New York City.

Antoinette Gebala, who is called Ann, said her family moved from Methuen to the East Side of New York when she was 2 years old. As young women, she and her sisters went to work in the Knickerbocker Toy Co. on Sixth Street. There were other Italian girls there and soon she had made many friends. “The Italian girls,”, as she called her group, would go to lunch together and one of their favorite places to eat was Mama Leone’s restaurant close by in the Theater District. She spoke of the fun and camaraderie of those lunch times.

One of Ann’s clear memories was when Mrs. Roosevelt came to the toy store to shop. This is only one of so many fascinating tidbits of her “New York City life.”

Ann returned to Methuen in 1947, met her husband and was soon married. She is proud of her Italian heritage, but very much has embraced her husband’s Polish heritage. Ann and a friend love Polish dancing, and when they can find one, like to attend the Polish clubs’ old-fashioned picnics.

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