COLUMNS

Memories

J.A. SOTILE

Donaldsonville is a city of memories for me. Those who grew up in the 1930s witnessed the hardships caused by the Great Depression.

A young person asked me recently if I grew up in "Frogmore." I said, "yes" and I told him that this area south of Donaldsonville was also known as Churchville. It was a large settlement of Italians.

Evans Casso wrote an article about this neighborhood called the "Seed of Sicily." It was about our fathers and grandfathers.

He said, "A large colony of immigrants settled at the turn of the century, in a suburb of Donaldsonville called Churchville. It also acquired the name Frogmore because it was formally the site of an old plantation whose owner named it after one of the English Queen Victoria's manors. The legend that the locale was named Frogmore because of croaking frogs is entirely false."

Evans recalled other information in his article. He said, "News from the old country among relatives and friends were swapped around the home fires and kitchen tables."

This exchange of information also happened when the Churchville group got together a few years ago. Many recalled the old days of growing up in Churchville.

They remembered the Mistretta and Sotile Candy Factory established in 1921 and closed about 50 years later. They recalled the five cent and one cent peppermint sticks, the five cent peanut bars and the five cent coconut rainbow candy. Children who grew up in Churchville enjoyed the sweet taste of candy and no child was turned down when they asked for a sample.

Some of the family names who grew up in Churchville are; Viso, Sotile, Ruggiero, Savoia, DeLeo, Spano, Tripode, Benedetta, Dato, Noto, Pizzolato, Fiorenza, Cataldo, Bonadona, Matassa, Canova, Scorsone, Casso, Giardina, Russo, Mistretta, Gendusa, Randazzo, Milano, Spagnola, Latino, Termini, Trepagnier, Tripani, Lupo, Leons, Salomni, Genovese, Castrogovannie, Beneditto, Sansone, Trianni, Orsina and Labrussa.

World War II (1940-45) followed the Great Depression, which added to more hardships. During the war years, many things were rationed - such things as gas, certain foods, cars, tires and many other items. In fact, you could not buy a new car during World War II. Most of the automobile plants were converted to the making of airplanes, tanks, army vehicles, etc.

When the men returned from the war, jobs were hard to find. The average salary was around $35 a week.

We think we have it tough with high gas and food prices, however our fathers and grandfathers had it tougher.