Frances and I began the year
in Florida where we welcomed in the New Year at my cousin Diane’s
house. My mother was there as well. Although it was Florida, the
weather was unusually cold during our entire visit which we had not
expected and had not packed appropriate clothing for the cold weather.
Nevertheless, while we were there we enjoyed visiting with friends and
family. During our three weeks in Florida, we took a couple of days and
went to the Bahamas. The weather was very cold there as well but we
were still able to attend a beach party, do some shopping and ride in a
We left Florida in the
middle of January and went to San Diego where we embarked on an
eight-day cruise to the Mexican Riveria. The ship was big and beautiful
and the weather was magnificent. We stopped in three ports in Mexico
including Acapulco. The cliff divers there were amazing to see and all
the ports in Mexico were beautiful and interesting.
Pauline and Dixie
Bahamas Beach Party
Glass Bottomed Boat
How low can you go?
Sunset on the Pacific
Frances and I joined my cousin, Brenda, and her family in Rome where we
began a four-week European holiday. Italy was incredible. We spent
four days in Rome where we saw the highlights including the Vatican,
Treve Fountain, Ruins, etc. When I took my first bite of food in a
restaurant in Rome, I had a feeling of Déjà vu. It was like my
grandmother was cooking for me again. I believe it is impossible to get
a bad bite of food or a bad drop of wine anywhere in Italy. We dined
along the Tiber and visited Napoli and Pompeii.
The Tiber River
St. Peter's Cathedral
Garlic and Peppers
Roman Street at Night
Roman Forum and Colosseum
Preserved body in Pompeii
Our Group inside the Colosseum
Dinner by the Tiber
Tiber River and Castel Sant' Angelo
travelled East to the Molise region where we visited with relatives in
San Croce Di Magliano. It was the weekend of
the Annual Gurto Family Reunion so it was very fitting that the
celebration should be expanded to more of the world. Our family
reunion day was spent much the same as we would have in the USA, with a
meal, much conversation and visiting, and a visit to the cemetery to
remember those who have gone before us. The visit was incredible as we explored the town
where my Grandfather was born and met with distant relatives. Their
hospitality was unbounded as they entertained
and fed us. Although we didn’t speak much Italian and they
spoke little English, somehow we managed to communicate and the
experience was unforgettable.
On the way
Via Borgo Casale
Figuring out who's who
Pizza and Beer the night before
Pizza and Beer the night before
The godfather parade
through the streets of Santa Croce Di Magliano
Antonio, Angelo, Rosa
Angelo, Rosa, Brenda
The house where
Grandpa (Pietro) was born
The Family Reunion Meal
The Family Reunion Meal
The Family Reunion Meal
Luigi, Anna, Flaviano, Vincenzo
The Gurto Juniors
Joe and Brenda
Peitro, Luisa, Doriana, Rosa and Daniela
Jeff, Toni, Luke, Brenda
Joe and Frances
Domenico, Noemi and Luisa (Iacurti)
Dora (Iacurti), Angelica, Flaviano
Antoinetta and Antonio Iacurti
Vincenzo, Pietro, Daniella, Rosa, Doriana,
Luisa, Jeff, Brenda, Luke, Toni
Brenda, Rosa and Angelo
Guisseppi and Pietro Iacurti
Iacurti Family Reunion - July 12, 2010
travelled to Firenze with a stop for lunch in Perugia with a former
student of my cousin. The art and culture of Firenze were
unsurpassed as we were met at every turn with more and more incredible
sights. We took a day trip to visit the Tuscan wine country and Frances
and I took the train to Pisa to view the Leaning Tower.
drove back to Rome where Frances and I bade our cousins, “arrivederci”
and boarded a plane to London. We arrived after midnight and after some
struggles with public transport, got to our
hotel around 2:30 am only to find out that the tour was to begin at 4:30
am. A very expensive 2 hour hotel stay. We met our tour guide and our
fellow travellers and boarded the bus to begin our 12 day – 8 country –
boarded the ferry at the White Cliffs of Dover and sailed across the
English Channel to Calais, France. We then travelled to Belgium.
We had lunch in Brugge then travelled to Brussels
where Frances had a near miss with a pickpocket.
We saw the highlights in Brussels and the next day headed to Germany.
We took a cruise along the Rhine River where we drank German Beer and
saw dozens of castles along the banks. We explored a castle in
Heidleburg and had a Germanic meal in the Black Forest.
next day we went to Austria. We stopped in Salzburg, famous setting for
“The Sound of Music” and birthplace of Mozart. Then off to Vienna. We
walked along the banks of the Danube. We sipped champagne and listened
to classical music in a palace, toured the palace of Maria Teresa,
virtual “mother” of European royalty and rode in a horse-drawn carriage.
world AIDS convention was being held in Vienna while we were there so we
were relocated to a hotel in Bratislava,
Slovakia for our second night. The streets were empty and the town
seemed eerily quiet; perhaps it was just my
expectation of a former communist country and perhaps it was because it
was Sunday and most places were closed. It was interesting nonetheless.
headed back to Italy. This time we visited the Northern parts. Our
first stop was Venezia. It was everything one would imagine and more.
The canals, St. Mark’s Square, the narrow streets, the many bridges. We
took a gondola ride as the gondoliers serenaded us with Italian Opera
tunes. The next day we were at Juliette’s
balcony in Verona and later that day we were outside the Duomo in
Milan. The fashions were marvellous in Milan and all the locals were
very well dressed. We toured La Scala and the rest of the city.
next day saw us climbing to the top of a mountain in the Swiss Alps. (We
had a bit of help for the first 5000 feet or so but we climbed the last
200 feet). We were drenched in torrential rain as we shopped for Swiss
watches and Army knives. We cruised on Lake Lucerne before we enjoyed
beer and a fondue as we watched yodelling and alpenhorn playing later
Paris the next day;a
Seine river cruise, a classic meal in a French Restaurant near the Arc
de Triomphe and a night tour filled our first
day. The next day found us atop the Eiffel tower with a breathtaking
view of Paris. Frances and I had lunch in a café in the side streets of
Paris. I was surprised when I saw the movie, “Inception” that the stars
were sitting in the very same seats in which
Frances and I had sat . After lunch we viewed the Mona Lisa, Winged
Victory and Venus de Milo in the Louvre. We rounded off the day byhaving dinner and watching the show at the Moulin Rouge.
drive back to London on the next day before walking around the main
sites, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey. We cruised the Thames to get a good
overall impression. The next day we toured Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar
Square and St. Paul’s Cathedral before meeting with a friend for dinner
in Soho near Carnaby Street. Day three we walked across the Zebra
Crossing at Abbey Road, toured the Tower of London and attended a play
in Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Then it was off to Liverpool, home of
the Beatles. We took a Magical Mystery Tour Bus to see the birthplaces
of all four Beatles, drove up Penny Lane, saw the gates of Strawberry
Fields and many other Beatle – related places. We visited the Beatles
Museum and had a drink at the Cavern Club.
back to London for one more night before our 30
hour journey back to Sydney.
after we returned to Sydney, my Grandmother passed away. The next day I
was on another plane to Miami to attend her funeral. My grandmother was
a very special woman. She had just celebrated her 96th
birthday the week before and we all thought she was invincible. I was
honoured to be asked to speak the Eulogy for her. I have reprinted it
War I began on August 1, 1914. Woodrow Wilson was the President of the
United States. 6 days earlier, in Buffalo, New York, Antoinette Dziedz,
my grandmother, was born. The daughter of a Polish mother, Mary Harhut,
and a Ukranian Father, George Dziedz. George
and Mary had 3 other daughters, Mary, Anna, and Louise. Antoinette
later changed her named to Edna because she didn’t like being called
Toni. She said “Toni is a boy’s name.”
was a teenager during the roaring twenties: flappers, speakeasys, the
Charlston and by the time she was 14, talking pictures were the rage.
the next world war began, Edna married Howard Smith. Grandma had 8
children, 4 daughters; Dot, Lorraine, Joyce and Diane; and 4 sons,
Howard, who is known as Jerry, Daniel, William and John.
the years, Grandma had 25 grandchildren, 30 great-grandchildren and
3-great- great grandchildren. Although the family is large, we have
remained close throughout the years and Grandma is the glue that has
kept us together. In the early days, we would all travel to New York to
see Grandma – many of the relatives lived there and we would be able to
stay in touch that way. It was in that way that my siblings and myself
were able to establish such a close relationship with our cousins.
moved to Florida in 1968 and moved in with Aunt Diane. I don’t know
what Aunt Diane anticipated when Grandma moved in with her but I truly
doubt that she expected that Grandma would be with her for 42 years. I
know that she is astonished at the duration of the stay and she is also
thankful that she had the opportunity to spend so many years with
Grandma. I hope that she knows how very much the entire family respects
her and appreciates her generosity and hospitality in looking after
Grandma for all these years. I would like to publicly acknowledge the
gratitude that the entire family feels for the sacrifices that she made,
and in the kind and caring way that she looked after Grandma for the
past 42 years.
early on, Grandma instilled in us the importance of faith in God. She
was the epitome of faith and an example to us all. She would always
worry about getting her planned giving envelopes each year and, in her
later years, when she was unable to attend mass regularly, would
misplace her envelopes and on the particular Sunday would often put in
an envelope from a past or future week.
was an avid supporter of the Church through her BINGO. Members of the
family would regularly accompany her to her bingo nights. Grandma had
an amazing ability to recall numbers. She could remember bingo games
from years earlier and could tell you how much money she won on a
particular night, which numbers she won it on, or, more likely, which
number she needed to win the big jackpot.
loved music and dancing. Her favourite song was Harlem Nocturne, but
she also listed as her “favourites” Monday Monday, Those Were the Days,
and the Pink Floyd Album, “Dark Side of the Moon”.Every
wedding or other celebration where music was played would see Grandma
getting up to dance. She would get carried away with her moves and
would sometimes take a bit of a spill during a particularly vigourous
took the opportunity to play cards, board games or verbal games whenever
she could. She was an avid game player who took each game seriously and
loved to win. She showed no mercy to her opponents whether they were 7
loved her family deeply and visited them as often as she could. Until
fairly recently, Grandma used to travel between Florida, Ohio and New
York to visit with her children. Everyone loved it when Grandma
visited. Grandma had a great sense of humour. She was able to get the
joke everytime and could always laugh at
herself when she made a mistake. It is Grandma’s laughter and smiling
face that I’ll remember always.
course one of the highlights of Grandma’s visits was when she made
Pierogies. It was a long process and our mouths would be watering all
day in anticipation of the delicious taste. No matter how many
pierogies Grandma would make, they always ran out.
miss you, Grandma. Thank you for all you have done for us, for the love
you gave us and for the wonderful memories that you leave us. As God
welcomes you into Heaven and you are greeted by all those who have gone
before you, we will always cherish the time that we shared with you and
your love and memories will remain in our hearts forever
Unfortunately, there were other deaths this year as well. Our very good
friend, Jean, who was like a second sister to Frances, passed away in
June. In July, Frances’ only surviving aunt on her father’s side, Nora,
passed away. My mother-in-law’s only sister, Pat, also passed away this
year in October.
latter part of the year saw Frances recuperating from a non-serious, yet
major operation. She had 4 weeks away from work but is getting better
and is almost back to normal.
lighter note, Dominic has completed his degree in Software Engineering
with honors. He received a high distinction on his thesis and he came 8th
in the course overall. He will be graduating in March. We are very
proud of his accomplishment and look forward to attending the
has also successfully completed all of the coursework for his degree in
Software Engineering except for his thesis which he will do in 2011.
Timothy took a trip to Las Vegas in September where he viewed the sights
and visited a software game design company.
has successfully completed his third year of his teaching degree. He
has worked with refugee children at his former primary school, helping
them to read.
of its ups and downs, 2010 has been a very busy year for all of us. We
look forward to the New Year and hope that it will have more ups than
downs. We wish that for all of you as well. Blessings to you all.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.