Spring is here and with it comes the very Italian custom of visiting people in their homes. Italians love to socialize as the weather gets warmer, but there are a few rules of good conduct to follow if you are invited to a home for dinner in Italy.

First, remember to bring a small gift with you. Flowers or chocolates are a good choice, which shows your appreciation for the host.

If you bring roses for any occasion, make sure they’re not yellow! Yellow is the symbol for jealousy and you may offend your host. White or red roses are more appropriate and will be well-received.

If you bring a gift to a dinner or a party, don’t wrap it in dark colors. Always be sure to wrap it in light or brightly colored paper to show the joy you feel in celebrating the occasion. Dark colors on a gift kill the party mood!

Once you’ve finished your meal, it’s time for the famous Italian custom of “La Scarpetta”. You take a piece of bread and mop up all that delicious tomato sauce left on your plate. La scarpetta cleans the plate and lets your host know that you appreciated the meal. Now you’re sure to be invited back again!

Italian-American culture is not just the collection of customs you pick up from the larger society. Culture is primarily learned at home, especially from the women in a family. Next month, I would like to honor our mothers, step-mothers, aunts, and grandmothers, those dear women who gave us our first lessons in Italian culture. For the May meeting, I’m asking you to bring a picture of the woman who most influenced your Italian-American heritage. Put a sticky note on the photo with your name and her name and maybe a compliment you’d like to give her, such as Great Cook, Brave Immigrant, Family Peacemaker, etc. Let’s celebrate all of our moms this Mother’s Day.



You might remember the Cultural Note from April 2023 when we learned about the unusual immigration story of Gabriella Rose, the sister of our lodge member Bill Rose. To review, Bill’s dad (Albert) had married an Italian war widow named Eva while stationed in Italy during World War II. Eva had a four-year-old daughter named Gabriella born in 1942.

Eva was able to come to America with Albert, but sadly little Gabriella had to stay behind until she was ten years old, partly because of complicated immigration laws and partly because her grandfather wanted to keep her in Italy. When her grandfather died in 1951, her aunt started the paperwork to send Gabriella to America. After 12 days on a ship and a long train ride to South Dakota, Gabriella was finally reunited with her family. This is where we ended the story in April.

Now here’s the rest of the story. Gabriella’s life took another unusual turn even before she arrived in America. When she was eight years old, a man came to her home and said he was her biological father, a man who had been declared dead years ago. His family had even held a memorial service for him and his widow Eva had gotten remarried to her American soldier, Albert Rose. Of course, the whole family was stunned that he was alive, but little Gabriella was confused. She didn’t remember this man as her father, but she could see that she looked like him (and not like her blond mom) because they shared the same dark hair and eyes. When Gabriella finally arrived in South Dakota, she immediately told her mom about her long lost dad, which shocked her American family as well.

Then, after living in America for five years, the Rose family realized that sixteen-year-old Gabriella was not yet a citizen of the United States. Because her American step-father Albert had legally adopted her in Italy, the Italian embassy assumed she was an American, too. After more red tape, the embassy finally granted her full American citizenship.

After twelve years in America, Gabriella returned for a visit to Italy in 1964, but soon realized she had forgotten how to speak Italian. She learned it again after a few months in Italy and never forgot it after that. She was able to see her biological father several times while in Italy, even though his new wife disapproved. Gabriella was introduced as a “friend” to her dad’s two new sons until 1980, when a documentary reported the whole story on Italian TV. After that, they acknowledged Gabriella as their half-sister, although they never wanted a close relationship with her.

As adults, our lodge member Bill Rose and his brother Dennis were able to travel back to Italy with Gabriella, thanks to the show “This Is Your Life”, which sponsored their trip for a documentary on their amazing story. The Rose family history was finally sorted out after many years of heartache and legal battles, but as Gabriella said in a newspaper interview, “The war changes everything for everybody”.

For those of you gearing up for St Valentine’s Day, you are celebrating the life of an Italian priest who married couples in secret when Christian marriage was forbidden by the Roman Emperor Claudius II. Valentine risked his own life to marry young Italians. Eventually, he was caught and imprisoned, but continued to do good, even curing the prison warden’s daughter of blindness. Although condemned to die, he continued to write encouraging letters from prison, signing them, “from your Valentine”. Valentine was beheaded on February 14, 270 AD, in the name of love. Make a loved one feel special on Valentine’s Day in honor of this brave Italian.

Submitted by Charlene Pardo


Rose family history supplied by Bill Rose.




Happy 2024! I hope everyone had a great New Year’s celebration. If you celebrated by raising a glass of bubbly and making a toast, then you continued a tradition started by our Roman ancestors. Romans also celebrated by drinking wine and toasting their friends, but sometimes the wine was not of the best quality. Homemade wine could turn bitter and acidic, making it taste more like vinegar than a fine wine. Nevertheless, the party must go on, so Italians came up with the idea of putting some burnt bread or blackened toast into the bad wine. The charcoal in the toast would soak up the acid and reduce the bitter taste, making the wine more palatable. This example of Italian ingenuity kept the party going in ancient times and gave us our modern toasting tradition.

Another drinking tradition, the clinking together of glasses, has a darker history. We picked this one up from the Greeks who were also great wine-makers. The first record I could find of this custom among Italians comes from the Empress Livia Drusilla born in the first century BC. She was rumored to have a habit of poisoning the wine of any guest she didn’t like. This became a common practice among Roman nobility. In response, guests would clink their glasses together with the host so that some of their wine would spill into the the host’s glass, ensuring that the guest and the host were drinking the same wine. If you refused to clink glasses with someone, you might be accused of poisoning their drink.

At larger gatherings, the host (or a servant food-tester) would bring out a large decanter of wine, raise a toast to all the guests to their health (“salute”) and drink it. If he didn’t fall over dead, then everyone would drink from the same decanter and party on!

Many of you have interesting lives to tell that would make excellent Cultural Notes. Please consider volunteering to tell your story.

Submitted by Charlene Pardo


worldhistory.us/ancient history


Cultural Note December 2023

We see beautiful Nativity sets everywhere during the Christmas season (in churches, in homes, and on Christmas cards), but do you know where the custom originated? In Italy, of course! Live manger scenes first appeared in the the town of Assisi in 1223. St Francis of Assisi wanted to tell the Christmas story for all people to enjoy, especially those who could not read. He got actors to portray the Holy Family, the angels, the shepherds, the three kings, and even included live animals in the manger. Italian children and adults loved the custom and it spread throughout Italy and eventually throughout Europe. Now almost every Christian community in the world celebrates Christmas with some form of the Nativity scene started exactly 800 years ago by an Italian.

Submitted by Charlene Pardo

Here are some Italian Proverbs from Sister Priscilla Viteri to make your spirits bright. See if you can match them up:

1. A cavallo donato non si guarda in bocca. ______

2. A buon intenditore, poche parole. ______

3. Chi dormi non piglia pesci. ______

4. Non è tutto oro quello che luccica. ______

5. Ride bene chi ride ultimo. ______

Chose from these answers:

A) A word to the wise is sufficient. Literally: To a wise/understanding person, few words are needed. (This never worked in my family.)

B) One who laughs last, laughs best. (Ho! Ho! Ho!)

C) Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. (Just accept the gift, especially at Christmas!)

D) Not all that glitters is gold. (Watch out for Christmas scammers!)

E) You snooze, you lose. Literally: One who sleeps catches no fish. This one is especially important if you celebrate the Feast of the Seven Fishes. Buon Natale!

Loss of our brother Rich Ward

The President of our lodge recently passed away. We feel this loss deeply in our souls. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family as we grieve with them during this time. In honor to him, we reprint his obituary here.

Richard Allen “Rich” Ward passed away at home on October 22, 2023, in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Rich was born in Colorado Springs on September 15, 1970, and attended Mitchell High School and was a member of the class of 1989 where he played football and wrestled. He also attended Western State College where he played football, wrestled, and got his start in radio at KWSB.

Rich’s local radio history includes KWSB, 98.9 Magic FM, and KKFM.

He married his best friend Erika in 1996 and they traveled around the country for the first two years of their marriage for radio jobs. Radio was his passion and the outlet where he met many of his oldest friends. Although they all live in different areas of the country, Rich was the one that kept everyone together whether it be on Facetime or inviting them all to his house. They had their beautiful daughter, Reese, in 2001 and she quickly became the apple of her daddy’s eye.

Rich bonded with Reese over Friends and the Price is Right, and loved to watch the Broncos and Packers with Erika. He loved to play golf because to him, it was about bonding with buddies with a cigar and a plastic cup of whiskey.

Rich was the President of the Order of Sons and Daughters of Italy of the Pikes Peak Region #2870 and has been a member for over a decade.

He is survived by his wife Erika; daughter Reese; mother Geraldine; brother John (Cheri); nephew Evan; and nieces Holly and Heather.

He is preceded in death by his father, Lewis.

In lieu of flowers, please send memorial contributions to The Sons and Daughters of Italy of the Pikes Peak Region #2870 scholarship fund, Misfits Dog Rescue, or Happy Cats Haven cat rescue.

Funeral Service, 11:00AM, Tuesday, November 7, 2023, Holy Apostles Catholic Church, 4925 North Carefree Circle, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80917.