She always Says It With Music
by Cate Murway
There are about 84,000 centenarians
living in the USA,
a number that is predicted to increase
10 times by the year 2050,
according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
At the February 8th Bristol Borough council
meeting, Lafayette Street resident,
named after her grandmother,
Carmela [Flatch] Delia,
was presented with a plaque and
a bouquet of flowers by
Council President Ralph DiGuiseppe
in recognition of her 100th birthday.
“Happy Birthday, Carmela” filled the room
as her niece Judith Ann [Norato] Schawl, BHS ’58
and her nephew Vincent Norato,
former owner of Alvin’s Bar on Mill Street,
proudly witnessed the celebration.
There's never a wish better than this!
She has managed to knock out a century
and is still going strong!
Carmela quipped, “Thank you, and I hope to be here next year.”
Many of her most memorable moments are forever frozen in time. An eternal entertainer, Carmela has been singing and performing since she was 5 years old. “Sister Philomena taught me to sing in Latin and I sang in St. Ann’s choir.” She coaxed great music from the mandolin banjo with her plectrum [pick] and she still masters the notes on the Hammond organ.
Why did she start singing? “Music in the family forever; we’re all musical.”
Carmela’s jazz musician Uncle Joseph attended Julliard and she credits him with persuading her to sing.
Her Mummer Uncle Frank was the oldest marching member
in the award-winning Frank Ferko String band.
Her late brother Freddie played the saxophone and the clarinet
and her late sister Theresa played the violin.
Her sister Lucy Conti resides in Burlington and her 93-year-old brother, Antone Norato still cuts hair in Langhorne. He previously owned Antone’s Barber Shop and Antone's Hair Styling and Beauty Salon on South Bellevue Avenue.
For years, she participated in old-fashioned Americana holiday parade floats with the Delia Band organized by the red headed Joe Delia down Mill Street, making it come to life with the cheers and applause of the onlookers. Joseph Lanza, the cousin of the late Joseph Alessio Lanza, one of the founders of the Lanza Bakery on Dorrance Street, often accompanied her.
She was one of the most talented child performers of Bristol and was asked to share her talents in the benefit “Moving Picture” and Vaudeville show by the members of the Woman’s Circle of Bristol. The group had undertaken to raise funds for the [Quaker] American Friends Service Committee [AFSC] for Russian famine relief.
Only 12 years old at the time, she had already taken every amateur prize when she appeared before the footlights with her mandolin and vocal pieces. Manager Ed Lynn of the Forest Theatre was quoted as saying, “This one act alone will be worth the admission price.”
Carmela grew up on Dorrance Street with her parents William and Mary, owners of a Beer Distributor business along with Messrs. Cattani and Archer.
She met her future husband, the late Gilbert Herman
when her father employed him as a driver.
Beer making was in its heyday in the early 1900's. The brew was carted in a steed drawn meticulous leather covered wagon until prohibition. Imagine the clatter of the horse-drawn, iron-wheeled, wagons. According to Carmela, the transport horses were washed and groomed daily and special attention [not hers, “the horses scared me”] was given to their appearance.
Change is inevitable. It’s a part of life. The brew was banned so the Norato family owned and operated a confectionery and fruit store nestled among the homes on Washington and Pond Streets.
The neighborhood is still enriched by the ethnic and cultural roots of the people who came here to work in them.
“The strength of America is not only in the beauty of its majestic landscape but in the hearts & souls of its people.” ~unknown
She willingly shares her vast collection of treasured pictures that whisper stories, making the past come alive. Memories abound!
Carmela attended the Jefferson Avenue School until the ninth grade. “I went to school with Dr. Wagner’s daughter.” Music has always been her life. “No kind of sports at all; I took an interest in my mandolin.”
She smilingly remembers that her mother made all of her beautiful clothes and that she always prepared handmade pasta. She recalls wearing “vintage soles”, high button shoes with a flap of leather that folded over the front and was fastened by buttons on the side. She shopped in Marty Green’s Army-Navy store and the late Sidney W. Popkin’s shoe store on Mill Street.
Her dad drove a horseless carriage about town, a luxury black [what else?] Packard automobile. It was just a nickel to take the William E. Doran ferryboat over to Burlington Island park with a picnic basket stuffed with homemade sandwiches. She always hurried to “pick a table before anyone else grabbed it”.
Reminiscing... but only the good times. She proudly recalls attending a tea party in textile manufacturer Joseph R. Grundy’s home on Radcliffe Street. Her husband’s Aunt Hattie worked for the Senator.
Carmela is still highly skilled in the time-consuming art of "Invisible Mending" or “Re-Weaving”. She mastered taking individual threads from a hem, side seam or other concealed part of a garment to make as near perfect repairs as is humanly possible.
She is most proud of her very first job, “I was a big boss”, that she had secured at the Blue Moon Hosiery Mill in Philadelphia on Chestnut Street, across from Wanamaker’s. The industry manufactured top-notch “shimmering, dainty, exquisite” silk fashion stockings, nylons and hosiery providing “longer wear in every pair”.
Her favorite colors are beige and brown. She is an excellent [albeit retired] cook but treats are her food of choice at present. “I love ice cream!”
She was a great bowler with an average the same as her current age, 100!
“My ball was 10 pounds.”
After ten decades of life, what is so different now? “You had to listen to your parents”.
We have come full circle. Her heart smiles.
Recommend a Spotlight. E-mail email@example.com
Carmela N. Herman passed away peacefully March 11, 2014, at Langhorne Gardens Nursing Home surrounded by her loving family. She was 104.
Carmela was a parishioner of St. Mark Church, and sang in St. Ann's Church Choir for many years. She sang professionally at the Forrest Theatre in Philadelphia and at the age of 10 played the Mandolin and Haninmond organ. Carmela had such a presence, she will be in our hearts forever.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Gilbert H. Herman; her parents, William and Mary (Delia) Norato; her brothers, Vincent, Fred, and Antone Norato; and sisters, Theresa Faranca and Edith Barth. She is survived by her sister, Lucy Conti; sister-in-law, Doris Norato; and brother-in-law, George Barth. She will be deeply missed by her nieces, Judith Schawo, Kimberly Schawo, and Karen Schawo; nephews, Vince Norato and Christopher Schawo; and several other nieces and nephews.
Relatives and friends may call 9 a.m. Saturday, at St. Mark Church. Funeral Mass will begin at 10 a.m. Interment will be held privately at St. Mark Cemetery.
Donations may be made to St. Mark Church, 1025 Radcliffe Street, Bristol, PA 19007. Galzerano Funeral Home
(October 01, 1920 - August 16, 2014)
Doris Norato of Bristol, PA, passed away peacefully on August 16, 2014 at Langhorne Gardens in Penndel, PA.
She was 93. Born and raised in Bristol Borough, she enjoyed her trips to the casino, bowling, and traveling all across the globe. She is preceded in death by her loving husband Vincent Norato of 40 years; and her son William Norato.
Doris will be greatly missed by her children Judy Schawo, and Vincent Norato and his wife Jeanie; her grandchildren Kimberly, Karen, and Christopher Schawo; and her great-grandchildren Gianni Schawo and Dane Kilgore.
Relatives and friends may call Wed.(8/27), 9-10am, at St. Mark Church. Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10am.
Interment will follow in St. Mark Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to St. Mark School, 1024 Radcliffe St., Bristol, PA 19007.
Antone Norato, a longtime resident and barber of Langhorne, PA. passed away on November 1, 2012 at the age of 96, while living at the Delaware Valley Veteran’s Home. He was preceded in death by wife, Barbara Norato (Lynch) and son, Edward Norato, brothers, Fred and Vince Norato and sisters, Theresa Faranca and Edith Barth. He is survived by his sisters, Carmella Herman and Lucy Conti, nephew Anthony Faranca and niece Judy Schavo, in addition to other family members. A Mass honoring Antone will be held at Our Lady of Grace Church, 225 Bellevue Ave, Penndel, Pa. on Friday, November 16th at 11:00 A.M.
Lucy A. (Norato) Conti of Burlington Township passed away into God's loving and eternal care Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017, at Brightview Assisted Living in Mt. Laurel. She was 96.
Lucy was raised in Bristol, Pa., and spent the last 60 years in the Burlington area.
She was the beloved wife of the lat Carl Conti, and loving mother to their three daughters and sons-in-law, Carla and Tom Howell, Tommi and Larry Povia, and Gina and Dan Deppen. She was adored by her grandchildren, Megan Fitch (John), Bianca Moore (Matt), Lacy Deveney, Rob Deveney, and Victoria Povia; as well as her great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.
A Mass celebrating Lucy's life will be held 10 a.m. Monday, Feb. 27, at Corpus Christi Church. Interment will be held privately.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Lucy's name can be sent to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, P.O. Box 1000, Dept. 142, Memphis, TN 38148.