Sunday, July 22, 2007

Interview: Fastuca Family, Part Two and a half

As promised, a current picture of Uncle Tony and Aunt Lorraine!

Thanks, Maureen, for bringing my camera home with you today ...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Interview: Fastuca Family, Part Two

Starting from the end and then jumping back to the beginning ...

JoAnne: What direction do I take once I get to Route 70 to go home?
Uncle Tony and Aunt Lorraine, simultaneously: WEST - EAST

Bring back any memories?

Yesterday, I spent a couple of hours with Uncle Tony and Aunt Lorraine Fastuca at their home in Whiting, NJ. We chatted like we had just seen each other a couple of months earlier, instead of what was probably more like the 30 years since we had the chance to sit down with each other. We caught up on their grandchildren (three boys and a girl) and children -- Mike is in Guam this week, Gary lives about 45 minutes from them in Florida and is doing well, Lorraine and her family are living in Perth Amboy and make the trip south for Sunday dinner each week, and Maureen, who lives in Bedminster, will be bringing home my camera for me (more on that later).

Aunt Lorraine shared with me how she and the family first got involved in the corps. After Mass each Sunday, she would have Mike and Gary help to gather the missalettes to neatly stack them back at the beginning of each pew. Ray Chmieleski, an usher at Our Lady of Peace at the time, stopped her one day to invite her to participate and her sons to join the corps he was beginning to organize.

Fast forward a bit to the famous Spaghetti Dinners ... as Anne DiGaetano got ready to move her family to Florida, she passed the ladle (so to speak) to Aunt Lorraine, and she became our Executive Chef in charge of Meatballs. Ever the devoted husband and father, Uncle Tony got involved as well, and the corps gained a Treasurer, Quartermaster, and Bus Driver.

Speaking of driving the bus ... maybe undeservedly, but certainly part of the corps folklore, Uncle Tony is well-remembered for missing exits, even on the way home. He was immortalized at one of our Christmas parties with a sign to be worn around his neck which read something like, "This is Tony Fastuca. If lost, please return him to the Saints Drum and Bugle Corps of Fords, NJ." Have things changed? Not too much ...

In calling them on Monday, I asked for directions from south of their location on the Garden State Parkway. Uncle Tony confidently shared with me that I should take Exit 88, and then gave me more instructions from there. About 5 minutes later, Aunt Lorraine called me back with a new set of directions, including getting off the GSP 30 miles EARLIER than Uncle Tony had suggested ...

Luckily for all of us, Uncle Tony and Aunt Lorraine still find their way back to NJ each year from their other home in Florida. They are both very excited about connecting with their Saints nieces and nephews and would love to see everyone -- I did warn them to be careful what they wish for, because I know so many former members would love to have the chance I did yesterday. They asked about so many of you, it would be impossible to list you all. They'll be in NJ until September, and then heading south once again.

After I got home, I pulled one last message from my cellphone. "Hi JoAnne, it's Aunt Lorraine. Call me to let me know you got home safely." My own parents don't even ask me to do that -- and that's just one of the many reasons I love the Fastucas ... I also feel honored to share an anniversary with them -- Uncle Tony and Aunt Lorraine were married on January 19, 1952, while Richard and I were married on that same day in 1990.

In the excitement of seeing them, I left my camera at their house. Once Maureen brings it back to Somerset County for me after Sunday dinner, I'll share a current picture. While you're waiting, make sure to check out the posting for Mrs Fastuca's Famous Meatballs here in Saints Stories!

Mrs Fastuca's Famous Meatballs

300 MEATBALLS (Italian) from Lorraine Fastuca
  • 3 gal. favorite sauce
  • 25 lb. chop meat
  • 3 large cans (45 oz.) Italian bread crumbs
  • 2 doz. eggs
  • garlic salt
  • Italian cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • parsley, if not in crumbs
  • onion salt

Work with about 2 1/2 pounds meat at a time.

Break 2 eggs into meat, sprinkle with seasonings to taste.
Grate cheese over meat.
Add a few tablespoons of sauce, cover with plenty of crumbs and mix in. Don't be afraid to use plenty of crumbs; they keep the meatballs soft.
Roll and bake in oven until brown at 350 degrees.
When done, place in sauce.

(Recipe first published in Drummin' It Up in the Kitchen, edited by Grace Antol. A PDF version of the recipe is available on on the About Us page).

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Interview: Fastuca Family, Part One

This is the first of a multi-part interview on the Fastuca Family, one of the First Families of the Saints.

Fastuca Family Recap:
All immediate family members participated in marching or running the Saints

  • Tony: Assistant Director, Treasurer, Trustee, Quartermaster, Bus / Truck / Van Driver
  • Lorraine Sr: Executive Chef in charge of Meatballs, Other Member Support
  • Michael: (original corps member) drum line, horn line
  • Gary: (original corps member) drum line
  • Lorraine: color guard
  • Maureen: color guard

On Friday, June 29, 2007, I had the great and grand opportunity to spend a few hours dining and chatting with Michael and Maureen. I've seen Maureen off and on over the years, most recently at the Menlo Park Mall gathering earlier in June. Mike, on the other hand, I've not seen in LOTS of years!

Not surprising to me, they both had lots of marching memories to share. When asked about the member / board member / instructor who had the greatest influence on them, both spoke very lovingly about their parents, Tony and Lorraine. Having their parents so actively involved in what we did as a corps is something both still treasure deeply.

Next, they were asked, "If there was one person you would like to thank for something during your time in the Saints, who would it be and why?" Here's how they answered:

  • Mike: "It would be Mrs. French. She kept me out of trouble and didn't squeal on me."
  • Maureen: "Tony Cataneo. He gave me lots of encouragement and confidence, especially towards the end of the corps."

One question seemed to give them both pause; I'm guessing it's because the answer seemed obvious without need to ask the question to begin with.

  • What was / is the best thing about being a member of the Saints family?
    Both answered simply, "The family."

Here are the rest of their answers:

  • Corps Number: Neither could remember
  • Which Bus: Mike rode the Boys Bus (also known as the Cage);
    Maureen rode the Girls Bus, and then Bus 8
  • Membership Years: Mike was an original member; Maureen joined late in 1973
  • How Competed: Mike competed winter season in the ensemble;
    Maureen competed winter season with the Sematics. Both competed summer season.
  • Corps Organizations: As a member of the Baritone Line, Mike was available for weddings, funerals, Bar Mitzvahs, and other occasions. Both were members of the Saints Italian-American Club.
  • Prior / Post Corps Experiences: Neither marched before nor after their time with the Saints
  • Favorite Season: Both agreed on the 1975 Summer Season
  • Favorite Piece of Saints Music: Both agreed on the 1975 repertoire
  • Favorite Show: Both agreed on the 1975 summer show in Virginia
  • Why Joined the Saints: For Mike, it was a personal invitation. Ray Chmieleski mentioned to their mom that he was starting a new drum corps in the parish, and he asked if her boys would be interested in taking a look. Maureen was too young to start marching in 1967, but she remembers hanging out at rehearsals, parades, and shows with her family before she and Lorraine joined their older brothers in the corps.
  • Why Left the Saints: In Mike's case, work called ... Maureen was there until the end.

These days, Mike is still globetrotting as a consultant, though the trips are less frequent than before his retirement from the federal government. He lives in Manassas, Virginia. Maureen is a manager with AT&T, both working and living in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Thanks to Mike and Maureen for sharing their SaintsStories with us!