Friday, March 1, 2013

Luigia Forte Abbate

Louisa on her 86th birthday.
March is Women's History month so it seems fitting to highlight the last few tidbits of information that I have collected over the years about Luigia (Louisa) Forte Abbate since her story has been the focus of my blog posts this week and, in my book, she is a woman to be admired: courageous, hardworking, smart, tenacious, beautiful inside and out, charming, and funny! Here we go, enjoy!

"I did hear that Angelo did not have enough money to send for his family once he got to New York...Louisa dreamed of a number one night, played the number in the lottery the next day and won!  That's how my dad and the others got to America!" -Virginia Lee Abbate Thompson (granddaughter of Louisa)

"Louisa studied English and got her citizenship all on her own while living at 8691 17 Avenue in Brooklyn." -Catherine Cognata Trapani (granddaughter of Louisa) (Family, check that link, there is a "street view," is that the house?)

"Louisa's father (Vito Forte) received a dowry consisting of a cart of flax for his marriage to Maria Lombardo, Louisa's mother. Vito took the flax and started a business in fabrics and became very successful. So successful, in fact, that he had urns of gold and fine fabrics, and was a money lender in the town of Salemi. The business was willed to their daughter Louisa and was sold by her before she immigrated to the United States in 1909." - Catherine Cognata Trapani (granddaughter of Louisa)

"Mother (Louisa) had a store in the 1st floor of our house. The kitchen and attic were on the 3rd floor. Hay was stored in the attic and one day I started a bonfire and my mother heard the crackling of the hay and yelled "fouco" (fire). The whole town heard and came running with buckets and formed a line from the fountain to the fire." -Salvatore Abbate (eldest son of Louisa)

"Louisa Abbate was such a delightful lady. She always had her hair done and her nails polished. She had breast cancer before I met her and had such radical surgery that she could never raise her right arm above her head. I don't know how true it is, but she once took a bus into downtown Los Angeles to shop, then, growing tired and not wanting to wait for another bus ride back, went up to a police officer and told him she was lost! He drove her home in his police car much to her delight. She also liked to hang garlic cloves from the door knobs to keep out evil spirits! Also, a song titled "Pop Goes the Weasel" was very popular many years ago and Louisa would joke that the song was about her: Pop Goes Louisa!" -Virginia Lee Abbate Thompson (granddaughter of Louisa)

"This is our house where we live.  Like this?"
Not sure where this house is, anyone have ideas?
Louisa, seated on the right.
On the left is her younger sister, Crocifissia (Croce) Scalisi

Louisa with her youngest son, Frank.

Seated: Louisa and Angelo on their 50th Wedding Anniversary
Standing (L to R): Amalia/Molly, Frank, Maria/Mary and Agata/Agnes

Louisa Forte Abbate was born on March 29,1873 to Vito and Maria Lombardo Forte. She married Angelo Abbate in 1896 at the age of 23.  They were the parents of of six children: Agata/Agnes (1897-1983), Maria/Mary (1898-1989), Salvatore (1901-2000), Vito/Victor (1903-1976), Amalia/Molly (1906-1996), Andre (1910-2002), and Frank (1912-2010). She died at age 90 in Los Angeles, California and is buried at the San Fernando Mission Cemetery.  

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