Memories of 1994 Gurto
Reunion Will Not Fade by Barry Vorse
How can you beat an Italian Reunion? You cant. I went to my wifes
family reunion Saturday in Albion. If Peter Gurto, her grandfather, had lived, He would
have been 100 this year. In honor of the occasion, shirts with his likeness were handed
out and special events were held to recall Peter and his wife, Mary A total of 95
relatives showed up for the special occasion. They came from Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania
and even Australia. It was evident this was more than the regular reunions we are all used
Everybody was talking about Grandpa even though hes been gone for
more than 20 years. His sons and daughters, including my wifes father, stood in the
middle of the group and told stories about the familys patriarch.
Peter Gurto was an immigrant from Italy. He and his wife, Mary, had 12
children, two of whom died at early ages. The rest went on to have families and make
the Gurto name a well-known one in Conneaut and the surrounding area.
Even I got to mention my favourite memories of Grandpa. I told about haw
hed just come up from his basement with some of his latest efforts and gave me my
first glass of wine.
And, of course, I thought of another story long after we got home Saturday
night. I had an uncle, Ralph Vorse, my Dads brother. Long ago he worked on the
Nickel Plate with Peter Gurto. I once asked him if he remembered the man. "I remember
him," Uncle Ralph said in his way of few words. "He was a good man and a hard
That was pretty much the same message delivered about Peter Gurto by his
children, grandchildren and other relatives. Along with the goodness and hard work ethic,
there was love and humor.
"We lived next door to Grandpa and I would come home for lunch from
school," said Joe Gurto, age 38, now living in Australia. "My mother and Grandma
were away one day and I had to go to Grandpas for lunch. I sat down and he gave me a
baloney and jelly sandwich. I managed to eat it. He asked me if it was good and I said it
was. Good! he said and gave me another one. I ate it too."
We all toasted Grandpa with his favourite wine, Paesano, what else? He
used to mix it with his home brew made in the basement.
Ive been to a lot of family reunions; my familys, other Gurto
reunions and Ive even covered some huge ones in my newspaper work. There certainly
can be no better reunion than the one I was part of on Saturday.
The attendance was far above the yearly average of about 65. Of all the
grandchildren, only four didnt make it and theyre from California, Wisconsin
Grandpa, like Uncle Ralph, was a man of few words. In his case, it
was very few words. Bit Im sure he would have been so proud.
My father-in-law, Christy Gurto, of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, spoke at
length of his father. He told about him coming here with no money, how he struggled
through the depression, and still managed to buy a homestead upon which all of his family
could live if they chose to. It was a tremendous story.
There were pictures on the wall of the park pavillion. From the response
to the stories and the pictures it was evident that Peter and Mary left a legacy that will
continue to live.
Ive certainly felt that legacy. I used to come to the Gurto reunions
mainly for the food. And, on Saturday, the food was fantastic of course, thanks to one of
Peters grandchildren, Pam. But, for me, there was so much more. I feel a part of the
family, not just an in-law, and I have for quite sometime.
That message really came through clear to me at the 1993 reunion. Christie
and his wife, Peggy, couldnt make it up from Florida and my wife and son were in
Minnesota. So I went by myself. The way I was treated, you would have thought it was a
Vorse reunion. All the Gurtos made me feel loved and cared about. Of course, they learned
that from a good teacher. He would have been 100 years old this year.