The Line Starts Here
by Cate Murway
Theresa Anne [Riggio] Lori, Weaver Grammar School, Grant Street School, James M. Coughlin Junior Senior High School ’38 was only 6 months old when her parents, Leonard and Vita [Bono] Riggio came to America from Sicily in 1921. Jasper Bono sponsored Leonard Riccio to come to America [Anna Bono Larrisey’s grandfather was Theresa’s father’s half brother]. They originally settled in Bristol Borough and then relocated to Wilkes-Barre so her dad could secure employment working in the stripping mines that eventually ravaged the land. Wilkes-Barre's population had exploded due to the discovery of anthracite coal which reached its peak in the late 1890’s and mining remained an economic proposition which gave the city the nickname of "The Diamond City." The family grew to include Mary Patricia [husband Francis Danis, BHS ‘46], Eva [late husband Frank Sodano] and the late Catherine [Kitty] DiRenzo. The Riggio family encountered a heartbreaking misfortune when their son died in infancy. While raising the four daughters, her seamstress mom hung a shingle outside their home stating “dressmaking”.
In 1942, Leonard Riggio moved his family back to the Borough but Theresa and her new husband since November 1941, Orlando [Herman] Lori remained in the county seat of Luzerne County in northeastern PA. They met while the beautiful young Theresa was working in a magazine store, even though her parents had encouraged a match with an Italian prospective partner who Theresa shared, “Couldn’t even speak English!”
Her parents purchased a home on Jefferson Avenue where she and Herman returned to live when her father, who had been employed at the Paper Mill, became ill with a heart ailment. They lived in that home until 1968 after her father died. They purchased their own home on Farragut Avenue in 1970.
Private 1st Class Herman Lori, who had escorted Generals in Panama for 3 years during peace time, worked in the Borough A&P [currently Fidelity Savings & Loan Association on Pond Street] for 34 years in various positions, from cashier to manager in the dairy department. They have one son, Middletown township resident Leonard Eugene, BE ‘62/ LaSalle U. ’68, a financial officer in Peddler’s Village. Leonard, named after his grandfather, played football in High School and he was a talented amateur dancer on American Bandstand, displaying a small fraction of his dance chops ability. He and his wife, Deborah (Debbie) [Bachik], BHS ’69 have two children Leonard & Lisa [husband Mark] who have provided Theresa with her great grandchildren, Arianna and Trey.
While Leonard was attending St. Ann School, Theresa operated a spinning loom in the Grundy Woolen Mills where her mother also worked in the section of the mill that dried the yarn over steam-heated drums. Her next job venture was assembly work, wiring radios in the Philco Corporation plant in Croydon where each radio was assembled by hand, one at a time. Then for 26years until her retirement, Theresa hand assembled circuit breakers in Trenton for an electrical company.
They tried to pack their weekends with entertainment- day trips to their beloved shore at Seaside Heights, Ocean City and Long Beach Island, movies at the Grand Theater [later became Normans and Company], enjoying the bands on Sundays and dancing at the Moose on Radcliffe Street. Theresa learned line dancing in 1991, mastered the basics and decided to share! The line starts here.
Theresa asked the seniors to form several parallel lines, one behind the other. In this parallel line formation, she taught the dancers to dance in a synchronized manner, executing the same movements independently of each other. No moves actually required any interaction between the dancers, other than they executed the maneuvers at the same time. This popular recreation activity avoided the problem of imbalance of male/female partners and she provided years of fun “leading the lines” at the Lower Bucks Senior Activity Center on Wood Street.
Her patience with detail allowed her to become an expert and express her wonderful organizational skills in her ever practical, down-to-earth approach. Theresa was willing to work long, hard hours, sharing her natural resourcefulness and enthusiasm to push a project through to completion, voluntarily helping with the fundraisers at the center, such as the fashion shows.
Acting Center manager Katherine Ann (Kate) [DiSanto] Gesualdi, Bensalem H.S. ’51 confirmed, “Theresa was very good with the people as the volunteer line dancing instructor!” Assistant Manager Gail Jean Aufschlag, BHS ’67 agreed, “Theresa supported the Center at our festive luncheons and taught line dancing to many of the seniors.”
Theresa taped her own music, coordinated the red and white dance outfits and she and her stomping seniors, including friends, Mary Cordisco and Betty Capewell, danced on the gazebo, enchanting the spectators at Italian Day at the Wharf.
Obviously, retirement means different things to different people! Theresa collected all the linens and washed and ironed them for her sister, Mary Danis and her niece, Mary Frances (MaryFran) Theresa [Danis] Ziegler for the “Annex” functions catered by Danis Deli on Farragut Avenue. She even planned her own 50th Anniversary party at the Annex!
Theresa loves the Borough and the fact that she could walk down to Mill Street and feel safe, even at night! At one time, she could do all her shopping right in town in the many shoppes, such as Dry’s Furniture Store and Thomas Profy & Son G.E. Appliance Store. She misses the shopping. Now she has to run out of town to get anything! She commented, “There weren’t restaurants on Mill Street then as there are now.”
She’s a fabulous cook, known for her succulent roast pork loins and the “ultimate” turkey. The family was always “oohing, ahing and applauding her efforts” especially raving about her very moist and delightfully gooey tall white Coconut cake. MaryFran added, "Our favorite -- everyone wants this for their birthday cake!”
The town has changed much in over half a century.
“There’s so much activity at the wharf now. I used to go, I’m 87 years old now; I’m a senior!”
To recommend a Bristol Borough Senior to be spotlighted:
Eva R. Sodano
Bucks County Courier Times
Eva R. Sodano of Bristol passed away Monday, Jan. 3, 2011, at Aria Torresdale Hospital. She was 87.
Born in Bristol, she was the daughter of the late Leonardo and Vita Riggio.
Mrs. Sodano resided in Langhorne and Long Beach Island, N.J., before moving back to Bristol ten years ago.
She had worked for the IRS in Philadelphia for many years.
Mrs. Sodano was the wife of the late Frank Sodano; sister of the late Catherine DiRenzo.
She is survived by her son, Eugene Sodano of Tukwila, Wash; two grandsons, Kevin and Michael Sodano; and two sisters, Mary Danis and Theresa Lori. She is also survived by many nieces and nephews.
Family and friends are invited to attend her viewing from 10 to 11 a.m. Monday, Jan. 10, at Molden Funeral Chapel, 133 Otter St., Bristol, where a service will be held at 11 a.m. Interment will be in St. Mark Cemetery.
To sign the guestbook or to send a condolence, please visit the Web site below. Molden Funeral Chapel,
January 9, 2011 9:02 AM
Posted: Friday, March 4, 2016 9:54 pm
Theresa A. (Riggio) Lori passed away Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016 at the Hospice of Butler-Warren Counties in Middletown, Ohio. She was 95.
She was born in the Village of Campobello Di Mazara Provincia Di Trapani, Sicily, the daughter of Leonardo and Vita Riggio.
At six months of age, she traveled with her parents to the United States arriving on Ellis Island, N.Y., and they later settled in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. In 1946, she moved to Bristol, Pa. with her husband, Orlando and their son, Len.
In 2010, she moved to Springboro, Ohio along with Len and Debbie.
Theresa was an accomplished seamstress, and enjoyed making clothes and coats for herself and her family. She also enjoyed cooking many different Italian dishes and baking cakes and cookies. In her later years, she was an avid line dancer, often conducting classes at the Bristol Senior Center.
She was preceded in death by her parents, her beloved husband of 59 years, Orlando (Herman), and her sisters, Eva Sodano, Catherine DiRienzo and Mary Danis.
She is survived by her son, Len Lori (Debbie); grandchildren, Len and Lisa McAllister (fiance, Ryan); great grandchildren, Arianna and Trey; and many nieces and nephews.
Funeral services were held at the convenience of the family.
Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice of Butler-Warren County.
Condolences may be made to the family through the funeral home's web site below. Anderson Funeral Home, Franklin, Ohio. www.anderson-fh.com