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Grape Stomper on a Real Life Dionysus
My Aunt G. remembers her Dionysus.
When she was in Connecticut, she met her dad's uncle. His name was
Dionysus. He was old and small and lived under the house. He was 84
when she was 16, so he would have been born in 1870, and that's the oldest
person she knew at the time. Uncle Dinny lived under the house with
his daughter, Mary Valerio, and maybe his son, Tony Valerio. In Waterbury
everything is built on a hillside because, it seemed all they have are
hills. To get to Uncle Dinny's room, you had to go down the hill, around
the back, under the back porch (which was like a deck on modern homes), to
Uncle Dinny's door.
She remembers him being similar to the mythological Dionysus because he did
like his wine. All the men sat on kitchen chairs on the lawn outside
Uncle Dinny's door, drank wine, and told stories of the old country. She
thinks her mom helped the women in the kitchen because that's what the women
did, and she learned to play badminton from a remote girl cousin who she never
heard of before or since.
She wonders if there are any Valerios in Connecticut who
remember Uncle Dinny, Aunt Mary, or Uncle Tony Valerio? Aunt Mary owned a
flower shop and made beautiful gardenia corsages for her mom and her, and she
has loved gardenias ever since.
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