St. Joseph's Day at 731 West Colorado A venue in good old Trinidad Town provides a grand opportunity for celebration for a whole bunch of friends of the Terry's. Joe and Louise Terry have been honoring the patron saint of Sicily at their home for the past twenty-seven years. Eons ago, the starving peasants of Sicily promised Saint Joseph that if he ended a famine that devastated the huge island just southwest of the boot of Italy, they would revere him for eternity. And so, with the ending of the drought, they lived up to their end of the bargain.
St. Joseph subsequently became the patron saint of the poverished and downtrodden masses of Sicily. The poor people of the island promised Saint Joseph that they would honor him with the most prized possession of all during a time of starvation and great suffering; food. Or, as in the case of the friendly celebration on 731 West Colorado Avenue, an inordinate and incomparable fare for all who come. Joe and Louise have been honoring Saint Joseph for eons, too. Way back, when they were married in 1969, they began contemplating a traditional feast to honor the great saint. They promised that their celebration for the patron saint in March of each year would continue for eternity. Well, maybe a promise of eternity may be just a tad too long!
Without question, Saint Joseph's Day at the Terry's' house is a day of religious ceremony, as well as a day for consuming ample supplies of exquisite food and condiments, the ultimate ambrosia. The highlight of the celebration is the ritualistic 'setting of the table.' All the 'table' food is not eaten, but preserved to distribute to the needy of Trinidad. It is devoid of meat, yet replete with gourmet foods made from wheat, and flour, and a large array of fruits and vegetables.
For the two hundred or so Trinidadians who appear for the open house, there is a delectable choice of dishes for them to feast on; spaghetti, cakes, pastries, fruits, raw vegetables and cookies and other delicacies are all on the menu.
Joe and Louise began the tradition in 1970, back when they were just blushing newlyweds. And early in their alliance, they too, like the famished laborers of Sicily, were stricken with impoverishment. Lack of finances dictated that they live with Louis's grandma, Vita Zamborelli, at her home in Sopris. And it was here where Joe initiated his illustrious wine-making career, carrying on the tradition of grandpa Lawrence Terry, crushing the succulent California Muscatel and Zinfandel grapes each year, deep in the bowels of grandma Zamborelli's rented cellar. And if you have ever tasted little Joe Terry's home made wine, you will certainly know of what I speak. He made his first batch of vi no back then in 1969, and opened the first caskets of the succulent fermented California grapes in 1970. Right on time for, you guessed it, Saint Joseph's Day.
And it all came to being because of the influence of Grandpa Lawrence Tieri. Grandpa Tieri is yet another story all his own. Presumably, grandpa Tieri came to Ellis Island from Sicily, whence he promptly announced, in broken (Sicilian) English, "I am Lawrence Tieri," an utterance that was translated by immigration officials into his immigration documents as "Lawrence Terry." And so, for then and forever, "Terry" it was to be. The immigration credentials said so. When he finally reached Sopris with his young wife, Mary (formerly a Coletti, also from Italy), she set a table in the honor of Saint Joseph every year henceforth, in celebration of their good fortune, until she grew too old and weary to continue. And a Herculean task it surely is.
"It gets bigger and bigger each year," explained Joe's youngest sister Cathy, who helps with the planning and cooking for each celebration. "It takes a lot of preparation. The preparation is endless. Joe and Louise always ask me to come and help with the preparations. And they always ask me to wash the dishes."
For the Terry's, the setting of the table to honor Saint Joseph is a time-honored ritual. The image of the revered Saint reposes on the wall just above the table. Then all the food and condiments are placed in their appropriate place to honor the great savior of the poor and hungry. There is also a collection jar to solicit monetary donations. The food and the cash will be distributed to those in need.
"The most important part of the celebration to Saint Joseph is the mass, the blessing of the family, and the numerous friends and the table of food that we've prepared," an obviously pleased but much fatigued Louise Terry said. "It's very rewarding to see how thankful the people are that receive the monetary donations and food. It's a lot of work. We start working on this endeavor with the making of the wine in October, and we begin the cooking of the foods about five weeks prior."
And the Terry's could not fulfill their commitment to Saint Joseph without a lot of help. Assisting them in their preparations and planning are Cathy Terry, Nancy Toupal, Gina Terry, Grandma Carrie Terry, Mary Jane Incitti, Vic Becco, Jim Toupal, Theresa Regusa (Louise's Mom), Marco Terry, the indomitable 'Little Joe' Incitti, and a host of other friends and relatives.
"I've been helping Joe and Louise since they were first married," Little Joe Incitti explained. "Way back when they were renting Louise's grandmas house, I helped them make the wine and grind the grapes. Of course, I also helped them drink the wine! And set up the tables. I've helped them over the years because I am their very good friend and I'd like to keep the tradition going. This celebration gives us a great opportunity to
help the needy. All the table food and some donated cash are given to the needy."
Everybody who visits the Terry residence for the open house is fed and catered to with regal red-carpet treatment, but no one is allowed to partake of the delectables on the Saint Joseph table. That food is reserved for a legion of most important others.
"It gives me a great feeling, a most rewarding feeling," the engaging Joe Terry concluded. "It is a great feeling to be able to give money and food to those in need, much of it donated by friends and relatives. We do the 'Table' every two years. I love to carry on the tradition of the opening of the wine and the Saint Joseph's table. We'll always have an open house celebration of some kind. I truly believe in the tradition of Saint Joseph. We'll continue to do it until we can't do it any more."