Libby DelGiudice hasn’t lost her Italian accent even though she was born in this country 104 years ago.
Libby, who lived in Cranston for 65 years before moving to be with her daughter Victoria Gibb in Coventry, celebrated the occasion with lunch Friday at Avvio Ristorante in Garden City. It was a low-key affair with Victoria, her niece Diane DelBonis and the youngest of her siblings – “the baby of the family” – Rose Antonelli, who is a mere 87. Her brother, Frank Montecalvo, who lives in Johnston and will be turning 100 in December, didn’t join the party but was certain to be in attendance at a slightly bigger family gathering Sunday with strawberry shortcake and, surely, red wine. Libby has a glass every day and she credits it, along with good eating, for her longevity.
At the age of 4, Libby and her parents left Rhode Island to live in the seaside village of Vieste Foggia until she was 17 – hence the accent that she never lost. Her father and brothers owned a company that canned tomatoes and olives. When they returned to Rhode Island, her father opened Montecalvo’s market.
The connections with Italy remained strong, and not that much longer after arriving here, she returned to Italy to marry Andrew DelGiudice. It was 1937.
The young couple returned to this country, where Andrew went to work for her father. He later owned and operated his own market, DelMonte Market in Cranston. They were the parents of Victoria and a son, Michael DelGiudice, who lives in Florida.
The pandemic threw a wrench into Libby’s plans to visit Michael this year and like many of us she’s reached the point where she says, “this has just gone on too long.”
She adds between bites of calamari, “I don’t like it (the pandemic), I can’t do what I used to do before.” What she is missing out on is the occasional visit to the casino and playing cards with friends.
She works on jigsaw puzzles, does some needle work (she once worked as a seamstress) and stays in tune with what’s happening politically, although she is wise enough not to share her point of view.
“Talk about politics or the church and you have a fight every time. It’s not worth it,” she says.
Such wisdom brings approving smiles from those gathered around the table. They’re wise enough to let the conversation move on to driving.
While, indeed, it would be remarkable, Libby is asked whether she still drives.
Now that’s a topic she’s prepared to comment on.
She declares with a tinge of resentment that the family made her give up her license at the age of 99. There are a few awkward looks from her party, but that’s the way it happened.
“Family is everything,” Victoria says when asked about her mother on Monday. On second thought she says, “family and food.”
Victoria said Libby has a routine of calling family members at least a couple of times a week to check up on what they’re doing as well as asking “what are you going to have for super?”
And as Victoria points out, if pasta is on the menu then you best say it’s with gravy, “not sauce.”
There’s no arguing with someone who’s found the right sauce for a long life.