The Frazzetta family doesn’t have much more room left on the cake to add candles.
Louise Frazzetta, the oldest living member of the Bensonhurst-based family, turned 100 years old this past April 2 and celebrated with family and friends at the Rex Manor on April 10.
Born in 1916 in Downtown Brooklyn, Frazzetta attended St. Mary’s School on Court Street which she graduated from in 1930. The following July, however, due to the Depression, she moved to her family’s hometown of Aidona, Italy.
Frazzetta remembers the 13-day-long journey with her family, everyone falling ill. It was a foreshadowing of her time in the old country. She recalled arriving at her family’s home in Aidona and everyone was wearing black for a funeral in the family. To her, “They looked like crows.” She cried every day for a whole year.
Frazzetta stressed that Aidona had the most basic of facilities; everyone had to travel to one spot in town to get their water and therre was no indoor plumbing. Even for the 1930s, this place was so off the beaten path that it was a drastic change for her. “You don’t realize the effect of what you had until you don’t have it anymore, the things you take for granted like water,” her son John Frazzetta added.
Twenty-three years later, Louise had had enough. She had gotten married at 17 to Pietro Frazzetta and given birth to five children. One of her sons was helping build the road in town, which meant carrying incredibly heavy amounts of stone long distances. She knew it was time to go back home to America. In 1954, she left Italy without her husband, who joined her 15 months later, and only took two kids with her, the rest following in December of 1955.
As her children said, “You could see who wore the pants in the relationship.”
“It was hard to change from one thing to another,” Frazzetta commented on returning. She had just lived a majority of her life in another country and coming back to where she was born and raised was a major change. In the interval, Brooklyn, too, had changed. When she left in 1931, much of the borough was still farmland. In the interim, wheat fields, farms and brush were replaced with concrete. When she returned to her old neighborhood, she was in awe and a little upset at just how much it was different.
Frazzetta decided to live near her brother on 81st Street in Bensonhurst. In 1958, she bought the house she lives in now. “I’m not moving anytime soon!” she declared.
When asked what the secret was to her longevity, Frazzetta replied, “I don’t like to eat out, I cook my own food and don’t eat a lot of meat, but a lot of fresh fruit.” Her son John added, “She’s never alone. Family and friends are always close by. She still likes to get out and go shopping.”
Frazzetta still hosts afternoon coffee with her children and friends at 3 p.m. every single day.