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“Uncle Anthony,Loved reading through the obituary. Really felt I got to know your mother through this. A lifelong New Yorker in the heart of the city...Read More »
1 of 3 | Posted by: Christopher Stack - Jersey City, NJ

“My father Umilo and Marie's mother were siblings. Both my parents loved Aunt Mary and every feast of San Gennaro or St. Anthony my mother and I would...Read More »
2 of 3 | Posted by: Joseph Montebello - Litchfield, CT

“Beautiful tribute to your wonderful Mom, Anthony! So sorry for your loss. ”
3 of 3 | Posted by: Liz Stack - Rockville Centre, NY

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Marie Cafaro Verde passed away in Manhattan on December 24, 2021 from complications of a stroke. She was 91 years old. Marie is survived by her husband, Frank Verde, her daughter Frances Demsak (married to Gary), and her son, Anthony Verde (married to Kathleen). She was blessed with four grandchildren, Angela Arce, James Demsak, Benjamin Verde and William Verde, and two great-grandchildren, Zoey and Maverick.

Marie's son Anthony would like to share some reflections on Marie's life:
Marie Donata Cafaro, was born March 12,1930 on the 5th floor of a tenement apartment on the corner of Broome and Mulberry St in Manhattan, not a fancy "modern" hospital, as my family might say. Marie didn't know it at the time, but right up the block from where she was born, her future husband, Frank, had been born 8 months prior.

Marie was one of six children, the only sister with five brothers. In her apartment were her mother, Maria, and father, Guisseppe, the six siblings and, at times, her paternal grandparents. That would be 10 people in a two-bedroom apartment – "tight quarters" to say the least. When I asked her what it was like to live in a crowded apartment she said, "that's how it was then" and would add "we didn't have it so bad; there were neighbors with bigger families than ours. We managed."

Their apartment had a bathroom in the hallway that was shared with another family. Their rooms were heated by a single woodburning stove. She told me no one wanted to be the first person out of bed on a winter morning because you would have to add wood to the stove to get some heat going. She said it was so cold you could see your breath. Understandably, everyone wanted to stay in bed, under the covers.

Of course, in 1930 the Great Depression was just beginning so there was not a lot of money to spend for wood or coal to burn. My mother told me that her brothers would scavenge wood from shipping crates that were found around the factories on Crosby and Mercer Streets They had to be a resourceful group to figure out a way to get what they needed for those cold winter days. Story goes that Marie was a good child. She worked around the house as expected.

To entertain herself as a child she often looked out their 5th floor window. One of the windows had a fire escape that she said she would sometimes go out and play on. (She let me do this too when I was young.) On the fire escape she would breathe the fresh air and enjoy the view. One day, the 4 or 5 year old Marie was out playing on the fire escape and she slipped, and rolled down the stairs. Luckily, she didn't fall off the stairs to the sidewalk below. She landed a flight below with cuts and bruises and probably shaken and scared. She survived what could have been a fatal accident. I'm sure her mother cleaned her up and kissed her and that was that. The doctor wasn't called. That was only for real emergencies. A very dramatic event in anyone's life, but Marie showed her inherent resilience, her simple toughness. The world around her might be unpredictable, chaotic, and crazy at times, but she was going to be "low drama."

All the children in her family were expected to contribute to the good of the family. Any money or contribution you could bring home would be put to good use. Her brothers were shining shoes for a nickel a shine from the time they were six years old. Since she was a girl, Marie had different jobs. She would accompany her mother on shopping trips to act as an interpreter and to read the pushcart signs for her. They would walk up and down Mott St going to the various pushcarts to see what was available and for how much.

From a very early age, she was helping in the kitchen. All her cooking was taught by watching her mother and other family members, the techniques were ingrained in her. She has no recipes written down except for baking recipes and measured everything by eye and by tasting. If you asked her how to make something, she would offer to come over and cook it with you. She was a great cook of Italian American classics. Anyone who was lucky enough to taste her eggplant parmigiana knew it was something very special. (I've eaten eggplant in Italy, in high end NY restaurants, in friends' homes and no-one could rival the special deliciousness of her dish) All of us would like to think that we can do at least one thing very well; Marie's eggplant was one of her food super powers.

One of the stories I heard passed down about her was that when Marie was about 10 years old and her mother would leave the house, Marie would surreptitiously wash the windows – not just the inside, but the outside! Remember: they are living on the 5th floor and washing the windows meant that she would open the window, sit on the outside of the window frame, then close the window behind her, so picture half of body sitting outside the window on the 5th floor with one hand holding the bottom of the window frame and one hand cleaning the glass. This went on until someone from across the street told my grandmother what they saw. She was told not to do that again, or at least until she was a little older.

I get the impression that Marie was always a very reliable young lady; her responsibilities to her mother and family were always met. Laundry, house cleaning, cooking, shopping were all part of the daily work she would contribute to. She was a good daughter. As she grew a little older and had a group of friends, they like many others of their time, were fans of Frank Sinatra.