Recipe for a Century
by Cate Murway
Woodrow Wilson was the President in 1914 when baseball great, "The Yankee Clipper," Joseph Paul "Joe" DiMaggio, and "The Man Who Saved the Children," Dr. Jonas Salk, the gentleman who discovered the polio vaccine, were born. At a cost of $366 million, the Panama Canal was completed and transcontinental telephone service began with the first phone conversation between New York and San Francisco.
The Burgess of Bristol was Thomas Scott in that same year of 1914 when Joseph Mari was born on a Monday to Italian immigrants Luigi and Natalina [Crespa] Mari on Lincoln Avenue. Joe was the baby of their eight children and only he and his sister, Anna were born in America. His mom, Natalina died when Joe was just 15 months old and it was left to his 5 sisters to really raise him.
His father, Luigi had come to America in 1902 to work for his brother, Nazarino Mari, appropriately dubbed “Cookie”, since he was the baker in the family business on Dorrance Street. His Uncle was originally a cook for an opera family in Italy.
When he retired, his dad took over the shop and continued preparing baked goods for the town weddings and christenings.
The recipes for what has been a century had officially begun.
Joe’s late siblings were Maggie, Julie, Katherine, Susie, Raymond, Ernest, and Anna.
Anna “helped in the baker shop and I think she worked for Cesare’s Restaurant.”
He recalled that Ernest was employed at Rohm & Haas and worked on the Borough Council.
The Roaring Twenties, or the Jazz Age,
can be described as the era of "flaming youth,"
in which young adults appreciated having a
good time and challenged society, but, not Joseph.
He was promoted to the 5th grade at St. Ann School,
one of about 30 students who attended school
in the convent.
“I never played. I just worked.”
He took over the Mari’s Bakery
when he was just 14 years old.
“I regret that I quit school.
I never did punch a [time] clock.
I was always in my own business.”
His first car was a light green Chevy Roadster with
black fenders; offset with yellow wire spoke wheels
that his father gave to him for his 16th birthday.
Joe smiled and shared, “She used to come in the baker shop to buy bread. My father and my future mother-in-law matched us up. It was a strong love!”
Alfred Capriotti was his best man. “Liberatore played a saxophone” in the 4-piece band that performed at their reception at the Sons of Italy after their wedding at St. Ann Church.
Per his niece, Rita Daniels, “Aunt Vick” was an only child.
Before they were married, Vicky worked at the Blue Moon Silk Hosiery Mill in Croydon as a “topper”. After they married, she worked constantly in the family owned and operated Bristol House on Mill Street, “single-handedly taking care of the 16 boarding rooms.” She made all the soups and the meatballs every day. His wife was a great cook. “When Vicky asked me ‘What should we have?’ I would answer “put it on the table”. They raised three children: Robert Joseph “Bob”, BHS ‘58, and Vietnam veteran Joseph Louis, who has 5 children and Eleanor Osborne [late husband, Dwight, a Navy Ship Captain], a foreign language teacher at Holy Ghost Prep, who both graduated from Bishop Egan H.S.
Bob worked as a cook and owned and is retired from “Mari’s Liquors” in Mount Holly.
His son also shared that he has been “fascinated by beagle dogs since 1953” and that he belongs to the South Jersey Beagle Club in Southampton, NJ.
Joe and his brother, Romano “Raymond” and his wife, Mary [Ciotti] Mari owned the “Hofbräu” on Old Rodgers Road advertising “big floor shows on Friday and Saturday nights, featuring special comedy and magician acts” in April 1942.
They opened “Mari’s Café” on the corner of Beaver and Garden Streets in January 1945 that hosted “two floor shows Friday and Saturday evenings featuring Charles Deon’s Five Rhythmaires” in May 1947.
He would spend much of his time working in the family stores.
Joe recalls that he would see Senator Joe Grundy “walking up to the train platform, smoking his cigarettes.”
Food businesses still remain in the family.
His niece, Rita Antoinette [Mari], BHS ’58 and her husband [Melvin] James [Jim] (uses “Larry”) Daniels, Jr. BHS ’57 are the former owners of R & R Bagels.
His great nephew Dr. [Melvin] James Daniels III, DMD, BHS 80 owns the office of General Dentistry, Implants, Periodontics on Mill Street.
The Borough was dotted with independent family run businesses and the elite of the town were the merchants.
Bakeries over the years in historic Bristol included their Mari’s Italian Bread on Garden Street, as well as the Hillborn, Accardi’s Bakery on Mill Street, Blackwood, Bennett, Boekel, Irwin, Powell, Micozzi, Ward, Mancuso Bakery on Green Avenue, Lanza Bakery on Dorrance Street, Kay’s Bakery on Bath Street, Walker’s, Ideal Bake Shoppe; and the Model Bakery that opened on Pond Street in May 1934 was taken over by a returning war veteran, Peter Piraino in April 1946.
“Little Joe” lives in Bonita Springs at Hunters Ridge
during the winter months and he continues to golf
every day [made a hole in three!] when he is in Florida.
He has volunteered in the Food Service Department
at North Collier Hospital for 22 years,
serving more than 10,500 hours at a schedule of
sometimes 50 hours a week.
The Mayor of the city of Bonita Springs, FL,
Ben L. Nelson, Jr. gives him sincere thanks.
America has a long and proud tradition of volunteer service
and Joe Mari was recognized for the valuable contribution
he is making in his communities with a certificate
from the Volunteer Council on Service
signed by President Barack Obama. He is most proud!
Joe is ever conscientious, sharing his time, talent
and the accrued skills of over 33 years of experience
in restaurant and bakery ownership
in his sustained commitment to civic participation.
The home in which he resides in Bristol was built 24 years ago by Cordisco Brothers. Everything was constructed “everything you see here”, entirely by Bristol resident contractors, except the wallpaper. “There were no paper hangers in Bristol then.”
“The town hasn’t changed too much. Joseph R. Grundy was a great man and what he’s done for this town here is remarkable,” said Joe.
His son, Bob is pleased with the revitalization of the business district on Mill Street.
Historic Bristol on the Delaware is home for Joseph Mari.
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Posted: Sunday, January 4, 2015 12:58 pm
Joseph Mari of Bristol passed away Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014, surrounded by his family. He was 100.
Born and raised in Bristol Borough, Mr. Mari was a well-known businessman, family man, and friend to all.
He was a devoted Catholic and daily communicant. He was the founder of the unofficial 'Breakfast Club' who's only members are the church ladies and himself.
Mr. Mari was a proud recipient of the President Call to Service Award for extraordinary volunteer work he did at Naples Community Hospital in Naples, Fla.
Mr. Mari began his business career with his family at the former Mari Family Bakery. He eventually owned and operated several restaurants and taverns in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, before opening the Bristol House in 1956, retiring in 1985.
Joe was an avid golfer, and was a former member of Burlington County Country Club in New Jersey, and the Hunter Ridge Springs Golf Club in Bonita Springs, Fla. He was a member of the Goof Balls Golf Club, and later was made an honorary member of the Screw Balls Golf Club. He also was a member of the St. Ann Athletic Club and a devoted member of St. Ann Church.
Joe was preceded by his devoted wife, Victoria (Colella); his infant daughter, Marie Mari; and his seven siblings. He will be greatly missed by his children, Robert Mari, with whom he resided, Eleanor Osborne (wife of the late Capt. Dwight Osborne) of Fairless Hills, and Joseph Mari and his wife, Cathy, of Eastampton, N.J. He also will be missed by his adoring grandchildren, Nicole, Lauren, Kristen, Ashley, and Joe; and great-granddaughter, Alexis; and many nieces and nephews. Relatives and friends are invited to call from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday, and from 9 to 10:15 a.m. Tuesday, at Galzerano Funeral Home, 3500 Bristol Oxford Valley Road in Levittown. Funeral Mass will be celebrated 11 a.m. at St. Ann Church. Interment will follow in Bristol Cemetery.
The family requests memorial donations be made to St. Ann Church, 1025 Radcliffe St., Bristol, PA 19007. Galzerano Funeral Home,Levittown