Diane and I have many strong emotional ties to Cleveland OH. Not so much to the city itself, but to some of our very close and cherished family and friends that live there. We spent three and half days in Cleveland and enjoyed every minute of our time.
My twin cousins Ralph and Sam Genco grew up in the Cleveland suburb of Parma and still live in the area. They have been a part of my life as long as I can remember. We spent a glorious day with Ralph and Sue and Sam and Donna Genco. We started the day spending a couple of hours with Ralph and Sue at their house talking, laughing and eating Sue's Cuccidati cookies and and Zucchini bread. The four of us then headed to the Murray Hill Italian District within Cleveland.
The food and atmosphere were wonderful on Murray Hill. We had lunch at Presti's Italian Bakery. Unbelievable! Imagine having a slice of pizza with a huge whole piece of Italian sausage on top, or a crisp Stromboli pastry crust filled with spinach, cheese, and more Italian sausage. Diane and I finished our lunch at Presti's by splitting a piece of ricotta based cheese cake that had a delicate, light texture and a slight flavor of Amoretto. The four of us then marched over to Corbo's Italian bakery and washed our preliminary courses down with coffee and Italian biscotti. These two casual dining establishments are Cleveland legends and their food rivals that found in storied Italian neighborhoods like the North End in Boston or Little Italy in New York City. We walked around Murray Hill looking at houses and the famous Bocce courts where some of the greatest Bocce contests in the city of Cleveland take place.
While going through an Italian wine and gift store in the neighborhood, I found T-Shirts that read: "Genco Olive Oil Company, Mott St., Little Italy, NY." This was a reference from the movie, The Godfather. In the movie, Marlon Brando's character operates his crime syndicate out of a front company, the Genco Olive Oil Company. Ralph, Sam, and I are all related through the bloodline of the five Genco brothers who immigrated to the United States from Valedomo, Sicily, We have all laughed about this movie reference over the years. Seeing these shirts, I immediately bought one for each of us to wear. They were a big hit. You will see the three of us wearing them in our pictures from Cleveland.
Ralph then took us on a driving tour of downtown Cleveland. We saw the famous Lake Cemetery which houses the remains of President Garfield, Allan Freed who invented the phrase "rock and roll" and has a juke box gravestone, and the grave markers of many leaders of Fortune 500 companies. According to Ralph, in its heyday, Cleveland was the headquarters city for more Fortune 500 companies than any other city in the country including New York. We also drove around University Circle and the downtown where we saw numerous museums and university buildings. We finished our "Genco" day with Ralph and Sue and Diane and I all converging on Sam and Donna's place, where we ate, drank, talked, laughed and reminisced some more. (You might sense a pattern by now. This is just what Italians do!)
Our past experiences are the roots from which the people we are today evolve and grow. The Genco's and Millers (profiled below) are important people for Diane and me. They are close friends that we have known for large parts of our lives. They are a part of our most cherished life memories. The moments we shared with them over our lives are an integral part of who we became, who we are. The ability to spend time with them again is one of the many, many wonderful benefits of our undertaking this challenging journey. We hope you enjoy our pictures. Thanks for riding with us!
We spent the rest of our time in Cleveland with our wonderful friends Don and Jean Miller. Don and Jean and their lovable Golden Retriever, Finlay, joined us at our campsite, Country Acres Camp Ground in Ravenna, OH the afternoon of the day we arrived. We spent time showing them Amelia, our coach, sharing wine and good conversation, and then walking around the camp, which has a very nice private lake. We learned from our visit to Deb and Dan Christian in Indianapolis, that camping an hour away from someone means you lose a lot of time commuting that you would rather spend with the people you came to visit. We followed Don and Jean back to their place, stayed with them during our time in Cleveland, and left our coach, Amelia, back at our campsite.
We have known Don and Jean for over 21 years. We met in Northern Virginia where Don and I both worked at Oracle Corporation. Don and Jean and Diane and I and our friends Dan and Abby Kimball all rode our Harley Davidson motorcycles together over most of Northern and Central Virginia, eastern West Virginia, and parts of southern Maryland over a five year period. Our three couples had scores of adventures and unforgettable times together over those years. Eventually, first the Millers, then the Kimballs, and finally Diane and I moved out of the area. We have stayed close friends with the Millers and Kimballs to this day.
For many years, when we were in Northern Virginia, the Millers and Lanciones celebrated family holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and the Fourth of July together. Don and I had a tradition of taking a motorcycle ride on New Year's day each year (without the girls, of course). Unless there was ice on the road or pouring rain, we did it. Why? I don't know. I think we just wanted to prove we could. Our two families' everyday lives were intertwined. We helped each other through good times and bad. We attended each other's daughter's weddings, and other life milestones. We were an integral part of each other's growth and personal history.
Don and Jean and Diane and I spent a great day touring the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. The venue is huge and takes many hours to tour in a thoughtful way. We spent the rest of our time together just hanging out, reminiscing, going out to eat, and having some deep and important conversations about our country, our culture, and what can be done so that our grandkids inherit a world worth living in.
As you get older, your birth family members begin to pass away. Especially if you no longer live where you grew up, your friends become your family. They are the ones who are the witnesses to your life, They are the people you rely on when you need help. They are the ones you celebrate with when you succeed. For over twenty years the Millers have been an important of our life and we are grateful to have them as friends. We hope your enjoy our pictures. Thanks for riding with us!
High School is a challenging time. Think about it. It’s all new. It’s all mysterious. You are trying to figure out where you fit into things, who you are. Maybe that’s why the people who lived through that time with you and stood by you through your High School years ups and downs hold such a special place in your heart – forever. Diane and I are camped in Westfield, New York, about 25 miles from Silver Creek, New York where I grew up. We are spending time with two very important people in my life: Ted Kennedy and Jackie Foreman.
Ted was my best male friend growing up. Our dads worked together at the Ford Stamping Plant in Buffalo, New York. Our families did things together. I was Ted’s best man when he married his wife, Chris. Ted was my best man when Diane and I got married. Jackie was my best female friend in high school. We were co-editors of the high school newspaper and classmates in the ‘college prep’ track. I took her cousin to the Senior Prom where Jackie and I ended up being crowned Prom King and Queen.
Ted and Chris Kennedy and Jackie came to our campsite to spend the day together. What a great time! As usual, a lot of talking, laughing, reminiscing, and eating and drinking ensued.
Ted and Chris have big Ford F-150 Platinum truck they use to pull a travel trailer. Like us, they have used their rig to tour the West. We spent a lot of time comparing notes on our experiences at places like Bryce Canyon and the Badlands. We also talked a lot about camping together in the future now that Diane and I are starting to get the hang of RV’ing. We let them know about our plans to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary in 2022 and invited Ted to reprise his role as Best Man at our rededication ceremony.
Shortly after high school, Jackie, her brother, Alan, and a couple of other friends formed a band and embarked on a professional music career. For almost 30 years, they crisscrossed the country playing gigs everywhere from California to Maine. Bill, her cousin and bandmate, became her husband. Jackie’s life was unique. Jackie, Bill and Alan all lived the professional entertainment dream that so many hope for but never attain. It was great to hear her describe her experiences driving over the same highways out West that Ted and Chris and Diane and I had traveled – she crossing them as an entertainer going to her next job, us traveling them as vacationers going to our next adventure.
It is hard to describe how wonderful it is to be around people you genuinely care for and who care about you. Jackie, Ted and Chris are an integral part of our history. But, they are also an important part of our present and future. As with the many relatives and friends we are privileged to visit through this trip, we are lucky to have them in our life. Thanks for riding with us!
Gordy Genco and I both grew up in Silver Creek, N.Y. , a small Village on the shores of Lake Erie about 30 miles south of Buffalo, N.Y. Technically, we are second cousins. His father was my mother's uncle. We are close family members who have known each other and been a part of each other's lives from our earliest days. We lived only a few miles apart. Gordy and his Mom and Dad were frequent visitors to our home growing up as our family was to theirs. Gordy and his dad, Joe , mom, Santa , sister, Marlene , and older brother, Bob, were all key players in our Lancione family history and in my life.
We visited Gordon and his wife Debi in Hamburg, N.Y. on Friday August 6th. We had a great lunch at Juicy Burger, one of their favorite restaurants. The food lived up to the establishment's name. We then went to their home, where Debi, in accordance with Italian customs served up a selection of fruits, pound cakes, waffle cakes and other desert delicacies that could easily have overfed a party of ten people. This is Italian tradition. To send someone home hungry would be an insult.
We had a wonderful time with Gordy and Debi. We caught up on each other's lives, shared stories about our kids, and grandkids, and talked about our hopes for our own futures. These moments with family are precious in ways that go way beyond anything money can buy. You are with someone who has known you your whole life, been a witness to your challenges and triumphs, and knew your now departed mother, father and entire extended family. Every time you get a chance to reconnect is like reconnecting with who you are and where you came from. We really enjoyed our time with Gordy and Debi. Thanks for riding with us!
Growing up, my Dad's sister Angie was like a second mother to me. My aunt lived nearby with my grandfather in the original Lancione homestead in which my Dad and my aunt were raised. I spent as much time in my Aunt's yard and kitchen as did in my own. In fact, it might have been more, because there were more kids to play with in their neighborhood.
My aunt married a man named Howard Wolfe and had four children: Pat, Sandy, Bob, and Kelli. My Wolfe cousins are younger than I am, but because of the close relationship between my Dad and his sister, and between me and my aunt, we are all very close to each other.
Diane and I are at Hanover Center near Silver Creek, N.Y. my hometown. We are visiting my youngest Wolfe cousin, Kelli Rodney. Kelli and Joe live in the country on about ten acres of land. Joe is a naturally gifted mechanical genius and senior level union electrician. Kelli is our family's Martha Stewart, an artistically talented cook, decorator, homemaker as well as a full time administrator at our local college, SUNY Fredonia. They are the Country Life version of a power couple.
Their house, which Joe expanded and renovated over the years, is a gorgeous country cottage. Their yard is an unbelievable collection of Joe's ongoing projects. Many people collect model trains. Joe has installed a full size locomotive, caboose, track, and sidings in his yard. He gives visiting family members and friends a ride for fun. However, nowadays, most visitors including us, instead request a ride in one of the many gigantic Army trucks he has purchased and restored and runs around in until he decides to sell them - at great profit.
Joe and Kelli, being younger than Diane and me, are still working. We meet them at their house late on Friday night for dinner. We have parked our coach, Amelia, in front of one of Joe's multiple barns. He has arranged electrical hook ups for us and we are spending the evening boondocking on their property. Kelli's sister, Sandy, will be coming over on Saturday morning so we can all visit together.
We have a fabulous meal that Kelli has cooked and a wonderful evening of family conversation. We catch up on each others' lives. They want to hear about our trip and how our daughter, Erin and grandkids are doing. They tell us about how COVID affected western New York state and everything that is going on in their lives. Joe has started a senior position with a new company that is working with new battery designs and has an Elan Musk type genius leader. He is excited as he describes all the groundbreaking work he is involved in.
Joe and Kelli are talented, interesting, and fun. My relationship with Kelli goes back to when I was a young boy and she was a baby cousin. We have known each other our whole lives. We have known her and Joe as a couple from the earliest days they were first dating and then married. Reconnecting with Sandy when she arrives is much the same experience. Like every one of these family and friend moments, Diane and I feel encourage and recharged by this opportunity to reconnect with these people we care about and who care about us. It is a glorious thing that our big adventure has made this time with family possible. We hope you enjoy our pictures. Thanks for riding with us!
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