Friday, January 18, 2013

She's A Solid Lady

She’s a solid lady, beautiful, warm, and dignified, meant to be cherished.  When she was young she was a picture of fashion and in her later years she still has grace and style.  Her presence brings character and beauty to the places she’s called home. She has watched the stories of generations unfold and has been at the center of her family through celebrations, grief, laughter, tears, joyful announcements, plans that often, but not always, came to fruition, and through life changing decisions that left scars that will never completely heal.  The years have taken their toll and her appearance is more tired and worn these days.  Some would say that she needs a makeover, but truly, to erase the evidence of the years of wear and tear would simply strip away too many memories of who she was, is, and is yet to be.  She was lovingly created by a master, created to be passed down through the generations, and indeed, she has fulfilled that expectation.  

She was fashioned in Gardner, Massachusetts at the Nichols and Stone Company, "Makers of fine Windsor furniture since 1857" along with her six companions, the two arm chairs, two side chairs, and the two extensions that allowed her to embrace her families during the “quiver full” days and to create intimacy during the empty nest years. Her exact acquisition date is not known but here's what I do know: the table and chairs bounced across the country from Massachusetts to California where they they graced the Los Angeles apartment of the couple who had reconciled and found true love again. In the summer of 1965, I was a shy six year old who had experienced her first "airplane ride" across the country to get to know my grandparents, Victor and May Abbott (Abbate). It was at that table that I first tasted and was allowed, by my grandfather, to eat pretty much as many sugar cubes as I wanted! They took the table and chairs with them to their retirement home in Austin, Texas, and again as a young teen we were reunited.  It was around that same table that my Sicilian grandfather taught me that butter and Parmesan cheese were an acceptable alternative to “the sauce” when one was not feeling well.  When Victor and May were gone, the set was moved to reside with the next generation, their son Victor James and his wife, Jane, and their family, in Hialeah, Florida.  It was here that three more generations lived, loved, and were anchored to her as she provided the gathering place for them in the center of the family home. Years later the set was once again moved with Jane, the one who cherished her the most, to an apartment in Miami Lakes, Florida. They were not connected by the bloodline but by an heritage, a past, that represented all that Jane had loved.  There they spent the hours and days together while Jane pondered life, its blessings and its challenges.

And now, to Farr West, Utah to reside with us, the third and fourth generations, a new family home.  Here she graces yet another room with her flaws and wear and tear for all to see so that they too will remember that she’s special, she's got history. Fifty years later she is still a solid lady, beautiful, warm, and dignified, fashioned by a master and meant to be cherished by the generations.

Victor Carmello Abbott, Lena May Stockton Abbott 
 and Maria "Mary" Abbate Fuca "at the table" in
Los Angeles, California

Angela Abbate Mood "at the table" in
Los Angeles, California, 1965
Victor James Abbate "at the table"
Hialeah, Florida

Victor James Abbate, Jr. and Sarah Mood Lyons
"at the table" in Hialeah, Florida
Christmas Morning, 1986

Jane Thomas Abbate "at the table" in
 Miami Lakes, Florida
September 2006
Angela Abbate Mood "at the table" in
Farr West, Utah
January 2013

My grandfather (the original owner of the dining set in the story) Vito Carmello Abbate was born to Angelo and Luigia (Forte) Abbate in Salemi, Trapani, Sicily on March 2, 1903. He was six years old when he and his mother and siblings, Agata (Agnes), Maria (Mary), Salvatore (Sal) and Amalia (Molly) boarded the Principe de Piemonte in Palermo, Italy and began their voyage to America. His father and uncle had already immigrated to the United States and had worked and established residency so that they could bring their wives and children to the U.S. They arrived at Ellis Island on April 22, 1909 with 2,331 other passengers after a two week voyage. It is said that the children were very sick throughout the entire crossing. After arriving in the United States Vito lived with his family in New York. Vito married Lena May Stockton in 1927.  At some point in his adult life, Vito changed his name and began to use the "American-ized" version, Victor C. Abbott.  He lived with and is buried using that name.

From Virginia Abbate Thompson (daughter of Victor and Lena)
"How did Lena May and Victor meet? I believe they met in Miami on vacation. It was the "in" thing to do for the Ohio crowd to visit Miami during the winter months, and Victor must have done the same. Somewhere there are photos of them hanging out at the beach. Other members of Victor's family must have been in Miami too, because my mother told me they were never allowed to date as a couple. One of Dad's sisters always had to be along!"
Victor and Lena lived in New York for many years.  They moved to Miami, Florida in 1935.  At some point they separated and Victor moved to Los Angeles, California where several of his siblings were living.  In the early 1960s Victor and Lena reconciled and remarried.  They lived together in California until the 1970s when they retired and moved to Austin, Texas where Victor's brother Andre and his family were living.  Victor was the father of two, Virginia Abbate Thompson and Victor James Abbate.  He lived to enjoy six grandchildren and, as of this post he has nine great grandchildren. Victor died in Austin, Texas on February 3, 1976 at the age of 73.  He is buried at Vista Memorial Park in Hialeah, Florida. 

Do you have stories or memories to share about Vito Carmello Abbate? Please post a comment!


  1. Saw your blog listed at Geneabloggers, congratulations. Your posts are very detailed and wonderful to read.

    Take care,

    Moises Garza
    We Are Cousins - My personal blog about South Texas and Northeastern Mexico Genealogy

    Mexican Genealogy - Blog where I help anyone with Mexican roots get started with their family history.

  2. Thanks Moises, in am enjoying being a part of the Geneabloggers community!