... Starts at 7:30pm.
(Said in the voice of Sophia Petrillo from the Golden Girls) Picture this: San Jose, 1938. A group of guys decide to meet in a basement on Mondays at 7:30pm.
What those guys would do, I can only imagine. As it turns out, one of those guys (also the resident of the house where that basement was located...), was Jimmy (Cheech) Lacitignola - my Grandpa (Gramps/Papa Jim). He met with 6 of his closest friends in that basement on 6th Street in downtown San Jose every Monday, with out fail, at 7:30pm.
Except when they didn't.... The United States entered WWII in 1941 and most of the 7 joined up and got shipped out. Those that stayed state-side would send over care packages. They all returned safely, and resumed their meetings. More guys were invited to join, and the club grew.
Soon it was official - they were members of the 7:30 Club. They organized dinner-dances where they'd take their wives/girlfriends out for a night on the town, they had BBQs in the summer, and Christmas parties in December. The Club (as we've always called it), began to thrive.
They struck up a deal with a firehouse on 8th street - The Club would meet in the room upstairs on Monday nights. When the firehouse was closing down, they would gather enough money to purchase the building, and convert it into the Club Room we know today. That building celebrated it's 100th anniversary last year - a big milestone for The Club.
Momma Lynn grew up in this club, quite literally, as did I and my sister, Colleen. In 1991, Papa Leonard would become a member of The Club, and join the ranks with Gramps, Uncle John, Uncle Art, and Cousin John.
Summers were my favorite time - for obvious reasons - but few so poignant as The Club's family BBQs at Alum Rock Park. These events were awesome for Little Lauren for many reasons, most notably: Alum Rock Park was far, like really far, which meant a lot of time riding in the car - something I loved. There was a huge playground where Colleen and I could swing for what seemed like hours before dinner, and there was always a raffle! Gramps would buy us tickets and we'd hope beyond all hope we'd win some money (Colleen won often, I wasn't so lucky). Later, these BBQs would be moved to Lake Cunningham Park, which was equally as far, but I was older, so it just seemed like a pain to get there.
Fast forward: 2012, Papa Leonard would invited Frank to attend every guest dinner The Club had, and Frank would go to most of them. However, Frank is a part of his own Legacy: The Sons of Sicily of San Jose. Unfortunately, the SOS meets only once a month, on the first Monday. Which also happened to be the Dinner Night for The Club.
Eventually, The Club would change their Dinner Night to the 2nd Monday, and Frank would be able to join The Club while staying in the SOS.
Last night The Club had a Thanksgiving Celebration. It was so much fun, with Bingo, a raffle, delicious dinner, and lots of laughs. Now that Frank is a member of The Club, it feels as though my Legacy is even stronger. There are hundreds of photos on the walls on The Club Room, so many of them of Gramps, I feel very close to him while I'm there.
We don't often get to choose our Legacy, and I feel so fortunate I am a part of this one...
I'd like to dedicate this post, and all others like it, to James (Jimmy) Lacitignola. We're all in this because of you, Gramps! Thanks for being so bored way back in 1938!