Tag Archives: fireworks

My Italian Mom and her 13 Chickens

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13 Chickens

I’m one of those people that has always found it easier to give than receive.    I believe that most lean toward one or the other.  Maybe it’s how we are raised or an innate part of the way we are created that determines this.  This is a story about giving.  I learned about giving from my parents who both expressed kindness and generosity often.

For instance, Dad always footed the bill. No matter where we were or whom we were with, when the bill came, he paid.  Every dinner out, every trip ( always fireworks oriented) , every lunch time food pick up, he pulled his wallet out.  He never said a word about it unless you objected and tried to pay.  But this story is about my Mom.  My Italian Mom’s giving side and the quirky way she often expressed it.

She loved to give. She donated to everything and everyone she deemed good.  St. Jude, St. Vincent De Paul, DWB, etc…If she opened any mail with “free greeting cards”, well she sent money there too . After all, they sent her nice greeting cards…(Eye Roll) ! She not only donated money, but generously gave her time, an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, a hand to help, prayers for the lonely, needy, sick and the Fighting Irish …but her staple was always food. If you stopped by her house, you left with something whether you wanted it or not. She gave away all kinds of food but this story is just about the chickens.

Jeanette loved to give people chickens. Yes, it’s true and Amish chicken to be exact – no, they didn’t come with little buggies and clothes with no buttons, but the were very good chickens. I was thoroughly warned about buying inferior chicken with yellowish skin that left an unruly amount of scum on the surface of the pot when boiled. Keep in mind that this was before the popularity of the organic free range happy chickens currently trending.

Jeanette ordered her special chickens from the butcher in quantities of 13.  At the time, my mom and dad were the only ones that lived at home.

You may wonder, as I often did, who needs 13 chickens?  Dear God, apparently she did. She insisted on it and didn’t like being questioned about her inventory management. They were stacked 3 deep on the 3rd freezer shelf and re-ordered when she reached the 2 chicken minimum reserve.

She usually had Joe pick them up on his way home from the factory because, of course, that way he paid (refer above, he always paid). He paid but shared his opinion of which was usually, ” What in the hell are you doing with 13 GD chickens Jeanette?

Her reply, “shut up Joe, I need them” and she said shut up in the most loving don’t question me kind of way.  So Joe made his wife happy by picking up and paying for the chickens – and making sure she got the backs and necks too.

She worked this rotation of 13.  She herself made chicken for dinner, that’s a fact, but mostly she gave them away. She is the only woman I know who gave a frozen chicken as a parting gift. That’s just what she did and it was as natural for her as vacuuming the dog.  She gave them to everyone but here’s how it went with me…

“I’m leaving Mom, bye…ok? yea, see you later, yes, I’ll be back tomorrow, No, I won’t drive fast, Yes, I’ll be careful and yes, I’ll call you when I get home (even though I live 3 miles away and if you’re Italian you know what I mean) ! No, I don’t need anything. I’m good. I almost made it out the door and the following usually took place at 2:25 pm in real time:

Mom “Wait, what are you making for dinner?”

Me “I don’t know, Mom”  (wrong answer)

Mom “ Do you have anything?”

Me “ Yes, I have stuff”

Her ” Get a chicken”

Me “I don’t want a chicken”

Her ” Get one from the freezer, they’re good, they’re Amish”

Me ” Yes, I know but I don’t need the chicken”

Her ” Take the chicken.  Put it in the oven with a little garlic and oregano, it’ll come real good”

Me “I don’t like chicken”

Her “Liar”

Me (I’m losing my resolve) ” I may go out, I don’t need the chicken, I have chicken”

Her (never loses resolve) ” Not like my chicken”

I realize she is never giving up so ok, I give. And then there were 12. But it wasn’t over:

” You want a pack of backs? – “I don’t want the backs”, – “Take the backs, makes good soup” OMG – Fine, I take the chicken home and the backs. Damn, now I have to cook. She’ll know if I don’t use the chicken.  So I cook.  I turn on some music,  get out the oil and garlic and cook up that chicken.

She’s right. It does “come good”

If you came to visit her chances are you left with a chicken or a loaf of Servatti’s Buttercrust bread purchased in lots of 3 or 5 stored on the top shelf of the same freezer, but that’s another story. What you really left with was love.  Jeanette gave love and love was sometimes disguised as an Amish chicken.

I’m sad she is no longer here to push her chicken agenda on me. I’m thankful for the loving mom I had as I know it’s not a given. Thank you for reading this story and the continued support that you so kindly give by allowing me to share my memories and my obsession with skin.

Speaking of my obsession with skin:

Chicken skin only looks good on chickens

So…..

In the spirit of giving,  I’d like to share a recipe with you. Lets face it, it’s just not feasible for RSC to give away chickens not to mention it’s weird (in a good way).  Although I do vacuum our dogs now and then, only one woman could get away with both.

Jeanette’s Fast and Easy Amish/Italian Fusion Chicken 

First things first, turn on some music. Jeanette loved  Andrea Boccelli. I like him too but when I cook, I cook to Elvis. 

1 whole Amish Chicken, cut up

1 or 2 cloves fresh garlic minced  (dice it yourself so at the end of the day when your hands smell like garlic, you know you fed your family well)

Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper

Oregano

Drizzle some olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Take the tiny buttonless clothes off the chicken and put the pieces in a 9″ x 12″ pan skin side up.   Put a little of the minced garlic on each piece, sprinkle salt, pepper oregano and lots of love and Elvis on them. Give generous swirls of olive oil to each piece. Cover the pan with foil and put in a 350 degree oven.  Depending on the size of your chicken, cook it 40 to 60 minutes. Take the foil off half way through so the skin gets nice and brown and crispy.  The kitchen will smell good. Check a temperature guide if you must, I just know when chicken is done. It’s something my mom taught me.

DSC_0079*A Note  about this Music Selection: Go figure ” It’s Now or Never” and “O Solo Mio”  are one in the same song and sung by both  Elvis and  Andrea Boccelli, respectively.  This is an instrumental version by The O’Neill Brothers Group.  Perfect.

Born to Work the Fourth of July

From Fireworks to Facials – 4th of July Edition

4 Rozzi Sisters - Nancy, Angela, Paula and Louise
4 Rozzi Sisters – Nancy, Angela, Paula and Louise

I was born into a fireworks family. Family businesses are a little crazy because, well do I really need to state the obvious? Throw Italian and fireworks in the mix and it’s kicked up a notch. The Rozzi’s have been making, displaying, selling, eating (ok, that’s going a little far), breathing and living fireworks since before 1895.

My great grandfather, Paul Rozzi, started our first factory called New Castle Fireworks, Co. in New Castle, Pa. soon after immigrating here from Pietramelara, Italy. My Grandfather, Arturo Rozzi, the founder of Rozzi’s Famous Fireworks and The Tri-State Mfg. Company, settled our factory here in Loveland, Ohio, after several failed attempts to start factories in a variety of places He ended up here after he landed an 8 night summer gig at Coney Island in the early 1930’s. It gave him enough to start his dream again. I remember Coney Island had an awesome official announcer who introduced the fireworks and said at the end of his intro, “And now Mr. Rozzi, on with the show!” I thought he was famous throughout the world. He made great fireworks, drove a Black Cadillac, had playboy magazines in his office (typical Italian man) and was generous and kind. When we visited the factory he said, “ Put out your hands” and he’d give you as much change as you could hold…. this was when a coke in a machine was probably a dime.

Arthur Rozzi, Founder of Rozzi's Famous Fireworks in front at our factory ages ago.
Arthur Rozzi, Founder of Rozzi’s Famous Fireworks in front at our factory ages ago.

My grandfather left his Father (My great grandfather Paul) to start his own business. The story my Dad told me was that they couldn’t agree on much. Arturo wanted to do things differently. So he did. I know he was an artist and an innovator. He was passionate about fireworks and nothing stopped him from following his dreams. I know he didn’t get it right the first time or the second and actually I don’t know how many times it took, but he got up and tried again. If not, we wouldn’t have ended up in Cincinnati making fireworks.

Women working in process building
Women working in process building

Our factory made two types of fireworks, the kind you see at big displays (1.3G) and the backyard variety (1.4G). Our reputation in the industry was unsurpassed in both. With my grandfather’s creative mind and together with his sons working by his side,( My Father and Uncle), they created one of a kind fireworks with skill, precision and innovation. Every documentary or news article that has ever been done on Rozzi’s usually focused on the big displays and our beautiful (1.3g) shells. I’d like to take this little blurb to tell you a bit about our backyard line and how innovative it was at the time.

We made a full line 1.4G fireworks (back in the day they were referred to as class C for Common) including fountains, rockets, roman candles, aerials and our patented 2 Stage Silver Jets. Pre 1960’s you could have included M-80’s and Cherry Bombs and Silver Salutes, We supplied most stands in open states across the USA as we were the largest manufacturer when U.S. manufacturing was in it’s hey day and sent out tractor trailer loads daily and employed over 100.

My Grandfather invented the Two Stage Silver Jet. It was the first firework made using a plastic molded piece. When placed on a hard surface facing the right way up it soared upward like a helicopter with tremendous force, paused mid air, and took off again mid air. They were red and blue and some people called them “flying brats”, like the sausage…How Cincinnati is that? We also manufactured an item called “The Rocket To The Moon”. The rocket came with it’s own 45Lp (that’s an old school music app for those who don’t know) that played a real NASA countdown recording.   Every June, we opened up our shipping garage and sold our overruns and to the general public. This is what my sisters and I did for 4 weeks every summer. I’ve had a love/ hate relationship with it ever since.

I started working in the summers selling when I was 12 years old right at the start of summer vacation until the 4Th of July. (hate part) It was usually 90 degrees and 100% humidity (hard to rock the curly hair) and the gravel roads kicked some nice dust up throughout the day. It was a place to wear jeans and boots and learn how to drive in old trucks you couldn’t hurt with three on the tree. (I loved this)

The endless 3 questions were and still are ( hate part):

  1. What’s the loudest thing you got in here?
  2. What’s the biggest bang for the buck?
  3. Do you sell M-80’s?

It’s the place I spent every summer working with my sisters. There were others in the later years with nieces and nephews and in-laws, but it was working with my sisters that I remember and value now the most. I’ve loved it and hated it. I could never walk completely away from it, I know as I’ve often tried.

It’s my weakness and my strength. It’s a tradition and a worthy opponent. It’s beaten me more than once, but as a great teacher, it taught me how to get up one more time. We carried, packed and sold a lot of fireworks. We made lots of mistakes. In counting, adding or forgetting a case, but we were kids. We got ripped off so many times. We did the best could but didn’t always get it right. I thank God I had my sisters with me during those times. They showed me how to do everything and if we didn’t know we figured it out without cell phones, Google or Youtube videos. If a bad day knocked me down, one of them was there to put a hand out and pull me back up. You’ve got to have someone to go to and say, “Oh man, I messed up or can you understand a word that guy said? or I think he’s drunk, I’m going to need some help.” We figured it out together. (If my dad found out, well that was a different story.) We worked together so long we developed a kind of rhythm. We didn’t have to discuss or talk about how to sell or stock, we just did what we did. And when push came to shove, we had each other’s backs.

For the most part things ran well. We dealt with assorted drunks and thieves. It was a great school. We laughed a lot, mostly out of delirium from the heat and exhaustion. We fought a lot too, probably again mostly due to heat and exhaustion and generally being together way too much. But there comes a time when things need to change. When you might want the bigger job or a different role. In a family that’s a tall order. That’s when the shit hits the fan. The day you want to show up as one of the big kids.

So in the spirit of my Grandfather who left his father to pursue his own dreams, sometimes moving on is necessary to grow and it is the same spirit that moved me to go on my own. After all, isn’t this what Independence Day is all about?

A young country growing up and knowing so completely that it must forge it’s own path and did so with such focused determination. To grab with both hands the God given right of free will to make ones own decisions and learn from it’s own mistakes. While not forgetting to honor old traditions they fought to banish and be free from the ones that stifled, oppressed and kept them rooted in values that no longer served them. Isn’t that what everyone wants?

To gain the independence, you must be willing to forge ahead into new uncharted territory without guarantees. It’s backbone is made up of determination and perseverance and knowing that in order to succeed, giving up is not an option. If it had had been, would any of us be enjoying our right to celebrate our country’s independence loudly and proudly as only Americans know how to do on the Fourth of July?

Look back at any hard won victory and know that you will most certainly get knocked down, but don’t stay there. Getting up and back in the ring is what it’s all about. If you can’t get up by yourself, put your hand out and by the grace of God and all that’s good, someone will help you up the way my sisters helped me up. (We knocked each other down a time or two but hey, that’s family)

Rozzi’s Famous Fireworks continues to grow and evolve and come into it’s own with each generation. We are now going into the 6th. I value the family it has become, and I’m not just talking about those with the Rozzi name, and I remain ever grateful to be part of a 6 generation Fireworks family, no matter how crazy it gets, and thank you to my great grandfather for immigrating to this big beautiful land of freedom, opportunity and tolerance. I love my Italian heritage, but the being an American moves my spirit and inspires me to be more.

We laugh,
We fight,
We take care of each other
We split,
We get together
We rearrange until we think it’s right
…..Simply because we fought for and won the right to have the debate.
We win some
We lose some
We fall
We help each other up
Here is where
Hope Springs Eternal

There are no facials this week as I’m selling, packing and stocking fireworks in elated misery.

Celebrate! It’s important. Do it justice and do it safely.

In the spirit of 4th of July moxie, think about the people in your lives that helped you up, throw them a hand and maybe light something …..

Angela

**Thank you Grace Della Torre Burns, my lovely daughter for the music selection that fits so perfectly.

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True Grit

True Grit

34615_1454886764976_2731530_nOne of my all time favorite movies is “True Grit”. I love both the original and the remake. My favorite word from the movie is “bragadocious”. So, I don’t want to seem bragadocious, but I really had a great Dad. And I mean great, not perfect, because in his imperfection lay an element of humanity that made everyone want to know him, talk to him and respect him. He had no idea.

I was a daddy’s girl. All of his 4 daughters were.

My sisters and I didn’t always get along or agree but we all loved and adored our father, Joe. Simply put, he was lovable.  He called me Ange and loved my curly hair.  We doted on him. We cooked for him and waited on him. I loved to bring him his coffee after dinner. He sat at the kitchen table while we cleaned up. We took care of him and he took care of us.  I saw him express kindness and compassion often. He taught us how to work hard and take care of ourselves but even so,we knew he had our back. He taught us to take pride in whatever we did. He thought being Italian was the best thing on the planet. Not only did we know him at home but we were all fortunate to know and see him in a wholly different light as he faced the daily grind at work.

That’s when I realized he had a personal relationship with Jesus as most of what he said started with the two words, Jesus Christ. “Jesus Christ girls, get to work. This was often expressed during the month of June. There was the ever popular,  “Jesus Christ Ange, what the hell were you thinking?” “Jesus Christ, be careful, we’re not making donuts.” Etc. So, my Italian Mom prayed and My Italian Dad talked about Jesus.

Work Dad was highly focused on surviving the Fourth of July with an intact family, employees and a company in the black. No laughing, smiling or horseplay at the factory. Meant you weren’t working. So we just had fun until we saw him coming. He was quiet and humble but he could shut you down and bring you low with a grumble and a look, and often did. He was demanding and kind. He passed down his big heart as well as his quick temper.

And with all that passion, he made great fireworks. He spent countless days finishing shells in a cinder block building with a creaky floor. It smelled like black powder, like him. His hands were strong and the size of catchers’ mitts. He always carried pieces of fuse, a pocketknife and a thousand keys in his pants pockets.  He tested fireworks in our backyard. He lit them with his cigarette.

At show time, he stood in the firing zone focused on the sky.   Burning paper and fallout rained down on top of him. I looked for cover but he never flinched, he just casually brushed hot ash off his shoulders. I was more fascinated by him than the show.

He was unaffected by what he did. It was his job. I was sitting with him in his office talking as we often did. It was close to lunch. A Loveland fireman walked in and asked if he would drive down the road and take a look at what they suspected was a car bomb.

I said, “No Dad!”, and thought to myself, Jesus Christ Dad, what the hell are you thinking? Yes, I am my father’s daughter.

He didn’t think twice, “Come on Ange, drive me down” he said.

(“Are you ***kidding me?”)

15388_4593785635486_1022309376_nI very reluctantly drove him down in his little white Chevy. He got out and walked over to the car, looked under the hood for about 5 seconds and pulled a wire off and declared it a fake. He walked back to the car and we left. I kept asking, “How did you know?”, he answered, “Because I did”. I think we went to Frisch’s for soup and pie. No big deal for him, just like he never dwelled on the fact that he brought joy to so many. It was simply what he did, no more and no less, to the best of his ability Everyday.

True Grit just knows itself. It solves the problem and moves on. It’s the part of us that keeps on getting up because we can’t stay down…Just like Rooster and just like Mattie.

Joe Rozzi was one of a now rare breed of true grit men of the greatest generation. Growing up hungry during The Depression, fighting in a world war and making explosives for a living, you’re pretty much considered macho and full of grit in my book.

My macho Dad also cried listening to Vivaldi and while watching “Cinema Paradiso”. True Grit shows vulnerability.

Married 57 years

Raised 7 children

Never went to high school.

Made salutes with quarter sticks of dynamite.

Faced cancer

Worked and provided

Led and inspired

All With True Grit

I know not all of us have dads to grow up with for any number of reasons so I live in a grateful state for having mine.

So in my fireworks to facials way,

Real Men Do Sparkle.

Make an appointment for yourself or your man and I’ll tell you more stories about True Grit….

From Fireworks to Facials

This is my first Installment of “From Fireworks to Facials”.  Since the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day (Yay) is but a few short days away….I’d like to share a Rozzi’s Famous Fireworks story. How it relates to skincare, well it doesn’t really, but it’s fun.

Rozzi’s Famous Fireworks has been in my family since 1895. That’s a long time for one family to be together. We are a special kind of crazy family. Anyhow, in it’s younger days, Rozzi’s was there to help celebrate the first MLB night game at Crosely Field which took place on May 24, 1935 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“Crosley Field was damp and chilly from the previous day’s rainstorm, and a veil of smoke hung low to the ground from the fireworks eruption just minutes before. It was 1935, and 20,500 Cincinnati Reds fans waited in darkened silence as President Franklin Roosevelt flipped a gold ceremonial Western Union telegraph switch at the White House, sending a signal to Cincinnati. Within seconds, an explosion of light drenched the stadium as 632 floodlights illuminated a major league ballpark for the first time in history.” UC Magazine – Jayna Barker 2010

My Father Joseph and his brother Paul were there to light up the sky with the Cincinnati Reds famous “C” logo and an aerial display. The Rozzi’s have been Cincinnati Reds Fans for years and have been lighting up the Wins, Runs and Friday Nights just as long!  The city knows without watching the game if the Reds had a win. We are very grateful to still be part of the Cincinnati Reds and its’ rich history and tradition.

 

 

This year, for the first time ever, Rozzi’s will lead the Findley Market Opening Day Parade. As is our tradition, we bring the NOISE!

So whatthe night game in skincare you ask? Use retinol products at night. They work best while your body is at rest and sunlight can inhibit their effectiveness. Wear your SPF 30 every day…especially down at the ballpark! Using quality professional skincare can be a game changer for your skin. Start repairing  by booking a skin treatment at www.rejuvenatewithangela.com/products Subscribe to my blog for more stories and skincare tips at www.rejuvenatewithangela.com