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9/11: Remembrances and Book Recommendations


Of 9/11, Some Quiet Remembrances and Two Book Recommendations


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



Since this Wednesday’s WORDWALK posting coincides with 9/11, I am sharing two book recommendations–one revisited and one new–as well as my own recollections of September 11, 2001, when I was teaching at Milwaukee Area Technical College.


Shortly after the 9/11 disaster, I heard, on the news, stories of two guide dogs who were in the World Trade Center during that shattering day.  One decade later, in the autumn of 2011, thanks to the Hadley School for the Blind (now Hadley Institute for the Blind in Winnetka, Illinois), I had the opportunity to hear speak a truly awesome individual—Michael Hingson, who, with his guide dog Roselle, survived the tragedy of 9/11.  From his office on the 78th floor of Tower One, Mr. Hingson and his yellow Labrador Roselle safely went down 1,463 stairs, then met other challenges before arriving home safely together.  Ten years after 9/11, Mr. Hingson’s remarkable book—Thunder Dog:  The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero—was published in hard cover by Thomas Nelson Publishers.  I highly recommend this book.  The commercial audio version of Thunder Dog is a powerful , mesmerizing, and memorable listening experience.  (For patrons of the Talking Book and Braille Library of the National Library Service of the Library of Congress, this book is available as DB 73300.)


Secondly, I highly recommend a 2014 fictional book , a pivotal part of which focuses on 9/11.  In A Fall of Marigolds, Susan Meissner uses a century-old scarf beautifully decorated with marigolds to weave together four storylines from Ellis Island, the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, 9/11, and one decade after 9/11.  Through Ms. Meissner’s endearing characters, the connecting of the storylines is expertly crafted into an intriguing novel that gives the reader another perspective of the 9/11 disaster.  (For patrons of the Talking Book and Braille Library, the order number is DB 88683.)


* * *


NOTE:  The following memoir, which I converted into prose yesterday, was originally a poem posted on WORDWALK on September 10, 2013.  Revisiting the piece six years later, I decided a prose form seems more appropriate today.


Remembrances of 9/11—The Day the World Changed


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



On September 11, 2001—when the world, hearts, and fears changed-I heard the unraveling news before teaching my first class.  With a new mindset and hidden prayers, I taught–in a never-before-known atmosphere–some classes before our college was closed at two o’clock.


Since I did not know what the next hours and days would bring, I felt a need to do some work in my office—a need to do something.  I stayed in M-303 until the campus was too quiet for me.


When my guide dog and I finally began our twenty-five-minute walk home, the downtown area of Milwaukee was so still, so hushed that I felt as if we were walking through the Twilight Zone; but ironically, the sun was shining.  The world, the city, my walk—everything felt different that day.  As I held the harness and leash of my Yellow Lab, I never realized that a young man’s hand had been on the harness of his Yellow Lab Roselle who guided Michael Hingson safely from the 78th floor of Tower 1 to street level and beyond.


As I approached Milwaukee’s Twin Towers, I decided to stop at my ground-floor bank; however, uncustomarily the entry door was locked.  In the midst of all the emptiness, a security guard came to the door and—for the first and only time—asked for my Id so that I could enter the building.


Soon after our brief stop at the bank, my Leader Dog Heather and I walked home through the absence of people and cars, through the empty sidewalks and silent streets.  Then, I joined the world and watched the all-encompassing coverage of the unbelievable.


The daughter of a firefighter, I had to force myself to stop imagining all the ends of too many stories.  In the common state of numbness and prayers, I vaguely remember that Tuesday became Wednesday, Wednesday drifted into Thursday.


Then, on 9/15, when Friday barely opened into Saturday, a quarter past midnight, shortly after I had fallen into a deep sleep, I was awakened by an unusual noise—seemingly right outside my upstairs bedroom window.  Arousing more fully,

I determined that I was hearing the whirring and clattering of a helicopter swooping back and forth, up and somewhat down, again and again, very near my townhouse—which is next door to a 22-story skyscraper of apartments.  As I grabbed my jogging jacket and gently touched my calm Lab, the attempts of the helicopter repeated and repeated.  On that fifteenth of September, all I could think of was September 11.


With Heather at my side and a phone in hand, I wondered whom to call, what to do.  “Is that helicopter trying to assault the south tower?  What is it doing?”


I did not know whether to stay in my townhouse or leave it.  Suddenly, a drop of the craziness of the world was right outside my townhouse.  I had to do something.


Despite the high winds, the helicopter’s repeating movements persisted.  I called the security guard at our south tower.


In the twenty-eight years I have lived in this complex, that night of September 15 was the one and only time a Flight-for-Life helicopter tried to land on the major thoroughfare on which I reside.


Finally, unable to land the helicopter in the high winds—so typical on these streets where a wind tunnel is formed by the lake and the skyscrapers—the pilot landed a couple of blocks north.  Flight-for-Life was needed for a young man who had driven his motorcycle into the path of an on-coming car.  The Flight-for-Life helicopter took the severely injured young man to a Chicago hospital.


From atop my stairs, through my east window, I could continue to hear the police work the scene.  They worked the scene for several hours.  The severely injured young man had tried to commit suicide; he was from the Middle East.


Eventually, Heather returned to her bed; and beside her, I returned to my bed.  My neighborhood returned to the quiet of a September night, but the world did not return to its pre-9/11 bed.


For a long time, fears were mangled, magnified, and microscoped.  For a long time, tears were translated, trapped, and traced.


Eighteen years later, our hearts are momentarily stilled in remembrance of that 9/11 when the world changed.


* * *


With United States flags always flying in our living room window, the window of our kitchen, and one of our upstairs windows,

we warmly send prayers for peace for all who were touched by 9/11–

Alice and Leader Dog Willow


September 11, 2019, Wednesday



Ouch! Watch that Pronoun!


NOTE:  After Labor Day, so many of us turn our thoughts to the important transition of the fall semester for students of all ages.  For all life-long learners and students among my WORDWALK readers, I have once again selected from my archives the following post about pronouns–a piece which is sprinkled with a little humor for those of you who are not as enamored with pronouns as much as I am.  In the past couple of years, I hear more and more the incorrect usage of pronouns; thus, I decided that this first Wednesday of September is a perfect time to turn the spotlight once again onto pronouns.  Please do your part by forwarding this blog post to a favorite student of yours.


Besides appearing previously on WORDWALK, the following article appeared in the 2014 spring/summer issue of the online literary publication Magnets and Ladders.



PRONOUNcements about Pronouns


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



“Ouch!  Ouch!” are my sentiments when I hear on a television or radio program an object pronoun used when a subject pronoun is needed.  I have the same painful reaction when I hear a subject pronoun used when an object pronoun is correct.  Yes, I have an allergic reaction to the poor use of pronouns.  KA-CHOOse your pronouns wisely.  With a little play-on-words, five PRONOUNcements will follow.


As you remember from your grade-school days, a pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun.  We, as writers, realize that using pronouns is one simple way of adding variety to our writing.  Clarity is of utmost importance to all writing.  To be certain that each pronoun is clear, the antecedent of the pronoun must be perfectly clear.  The “antecedent” is the noun to which the pronoun refers.  To achieve perfect clarity, the antecedent must be the closest prior noun which agrees in both gender and number with the pronoun.  Additionally, the pronoun must be the proper type.  Your choices of pronouns are subject, object, possessive, and reflexive.


PRONOUNcement Number One:  Watch ‘It’!


In my article “Checklist for a Better Writing Assignment” (posted on my blog on January26, 2013), the first and second points focus on the use of pronouns.  Number one on my list and other such lists for writing courses is to be careful with the use of the pronoun “it.”  While “it” can be a subject pronoun or an object pronoun, the problems usually stem from “it” used as a subject pronoun.  When I was teaching essay writing at the college level for many years, I told my students that I was planning to have made a t-shirt with “IT” printed on the shirt in bold letters.  Although to many people I would look as if I were working for the Department of Information Technology, I would actually be wearing the shirt to remind my students to consider carefully the use of each “it” in an essay or other piece of writing.  I always advise the avoidance of beginning an essay, short story, novel, poem, letter, or e-mail with the pronoun “it.”  Using “It” as your first word can temporarily confuse, permanently confuse, or delay clarity for your reader.  Certainly, “It” as your first word most often will not lead into a first sentence that will be attention-grabbing nor creative.


Example 1.  It was the first day of summer.  Zoe and I walked to the lakefront.

Revision 1.  On the first day of summer after the Polar Vortex, Zoe and I finally walked to the lakefront.


PRONOUNcement Number Two:  This and That


Secondly, check each use of “this” or “that” as a subject pronoun.  Using these words as adjectives is not problematic, as the next two examples demonstrate.


Example 2.  This book is available through the National Library Service.

Example 3.  That guide dog is a golden retriever.


While the above sample sentences are correct, consider revising the following sentence when “This” or “That” may refer to the entire previous sentence, passage, or paragraph—rather than a noun.


Example 4.  This will help us to achieve our goals.

Revision 4.  Completing successfully these three steps will help us to achieve our goals.


PRONOUNcement Number Three:  Subject to Subject and Object to Object


Third, may the “Logical Force” be with you:  use a subject pronoun in the subject position, and use an object pronoun in the object position.  In recent years, too many people are skipping this very easy rule.  In a recent tournament on my favorite television program Jeopardy, one of the brilliant, young contestants told Alex Trebek and the massive audience: “Me and my brother went to Iceland.”  (To protect the identity of this superb contestant, the latter part of the sentence has been changed.)  Well, my immediate thought was:  “Alex, press that button to open the funny trap door in the floor and zap the contestant right off the stage!”  Of course, the subject pronoun should have been used; and the order of subjects should be arranged so that the first-person pronoun is listed last.  (Putting the first-person pronoun last in a list is polite and appropriate—but not technically a rule.)


Revision 5.  My brother and I went to Iceland.


To determine the subject of a sentence, place “Who” or “What” in front of the verb and the remainder of the sentence (the predicate).  Your answer will be the subject.  Who went to Iceland?  My brother and I.  Thus, in the compound subject, the subject pronoun “I” is correct.


SUBJECT PRONOUNS:  I, you (singular), she, he, it, we, you (plural), they


OBJECT PRONOUNS:  me, you (singular), her, him, it, us, you (plural), them


When you need a pronoun as a direct object, an indirect object, or an object of a preposition—use an object pronoun.


Example 6.  The committee nominated Fred, Evelyn, and me.


To determine the direct object of a verb, place the word “whom” or “what” after the verb.  The committee nominated whom?  Fred, Evelyn, and me.  Again, I used an example with a listing:  in this case, the verb has three direct objects.  The mistake of using the incorrect pronoun is more often made when the pronoun is part of a compound subject or compound object.


Example 7.  The park ranger will give a map to us.

prepositional phrase:  to us


In a prepositional phrase, place an object pronoun after a preposition.  In third grade, Mrs. Lenderman encouraged my classmates and me to memorize the list of prepositions.  I did as this wonderful teacher directed, and memorizing that list of prepositions has served me well ever since.  If you do not memorize the following list of prepositions, become very familiar with this list and keep it at your writing area.


PREPOSITIONS:  Aboard, about, above, according to, across, after, against, along, along with, among, apart from, around, as, as for, at, because of, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, besides, between, beyond, by, by means of, concerning, despite, down, during, except, except for, for, from, in, in addition to, in back of, in case of,

in favor of, in front of, in place of, inside, in spite of, instead of, into, like, near, of, off,

on, onto, on account of, on top of, out, out of, outside, over, past, regarding, since,

through, throughout, till, to, toward, under, underneath, unlike, until, unto, up, upon,

up to, with, within, without


PRONOUNcement Number Four:  Place a Possessive Pronoun before a Gerund


Fourth, if you think you use possessive pronouns well, you probably do.  My only advice for this group of pronouns is concerning their use with a gerund or gerund phrase.  A gerund is one of three verbals in the English language.  (Participles and infinitives are also verbals.)  A gerund is a verb that is acting like a noun in a sentence.  Although not all words that end with “ing” are gerunds, all gerunds do end with “ing.”  Verbals add variety to our writing.  If you need a pronoun before a gerund, be sure to use a possessive pronoun as in the next examples.


Example 7.  Their completing the construction by October 31 is a stipulation of the contract.


complete subject and gerund phrase:  Their completing the construction by October 31

gerund:  completing

possessive pronoun:  Their


Example 8.  Her speaking with more expression will help maintain the attention of the audience.


complete subject and gerund phrase:  Her speaking with more expression

gerund:  speaking

possessive pronoun:  Her


Example 9:  The student’s writing skills will improve by his memorizing the list of prepositions.


PRONOUNcement Number Five:  Relax with Your Use of Reflexive Pronouns


Fifth, in the past decade, more people are using reflexive pronouns incorrectly.  A reflexive pronoun must be used in conjunction with the corresponding subject pronoun.  The reflexive pronoun cannot replace a subject pronoun nor an object pronoun.



The reflexive pronoun “myself” must be used with the subject pronoun “I.”

The reflexive pronoun “yourself” must be used with the subject pronoun “you” (singular).

The reflexive pronoun “herself” must be used with the subject pronoun “she” or an appropriate noun.

The reflexive pronoun “himself” must be used with the subject pronoun “he” or an appropriate noun.

NOTE:  “Hisself” is NOT a word.

The reflexive pronoun “itself” must be used with the subject pronoun “it” or an appropriate noun.

The reflexive pronoun “oneself” must be used with the subject pronoun “one.”


The reflexive pronoun “ourselves” must be used with the subject pronoun “we” or with an appropriate noun(s) and “I.”

The reflexive pronoun “yourselves” must be used with the subject pronoun “you” (plural).

The reflexive pronoun “themselves” must be used with the subject pronoun “they” or an appropriate noun(s).

NOTE:  “Theirselves” is NOT a word.


Example 10:  The child emphasized, “I want to read this book by myself.”

Example 11.  He built the log cabin by himself.

Example 12.  Mrs. McKendry herself planted the entire garden.


If you have read and studied this entire article, you are a connoisseur of pronouns!  Congratulations!  Go forth, and write well.


POST-SCRIPT:  If you are a teacher or instructor who would like to use this article with a class, I thank you, in advance, for giving the appropriate credit to this old teacher of English and for sharing my blog address:

Each time I think of this piece about pronouns, I ponder sending the article to some television and radio broadcasters, none of whom had Mrs. Marguerite Lenderman as a third-grade teacher.  Thanks to all of my outstanding teachers, and be sure to thank your good teachers this semester!


Happy September writing!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow


September 4, 2019, Wednesday



Punctuating Summer


Punctuating Summer


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



DISCLAIMER:  Despite what you may initially think, this blog post is not about punctuation.  However, because I deal with punctuation so pleasantly and frequently, I do sometimes ponder in punctuation.  Thus, I have been thinking how Memorial Day Weekend seems to be the opening parenthesis of summer while Labor Day Weekend appears as the closing parenthesis of summer.  Coincidentally, these two parentheses of summer toll the highpoints of my missing my home state of Indiana.  At the end of May and the onset of the summery season, strains of “Back Home Again in Indiana” from the opening ceremonies of the Indianapolis 500 mirror my sentiments.  As we step forward to the Labor Day Weekend, the recollections of Clinton’s Little Italy Festival fill my Wisconsin atmosphere with the fragrance of grapes and the Italian songs crescendoing from a stage near the Wabash River.


Despite my personal connections with these two holidays, I certainly have understood, since childhood, the meaning and significance of Memorial Day and Labor Day.  However, a few days ago, an apt radio anchor was interviewing a television anchor who is younger than the interviewer and much younger than I.  In responding to a question about her preferences in regard to travel, the young woman referred to our upcoming September holiday as “Memorial Day weekend.”  When the interviewer gently corrected the television anchor, she quickly replied, “Oh, I know so many people who mix up the names of these two holidays.”  Really?  Are these people in her circle of friends and/or co-workers?  Is this confusion a generational happening, or is the confusion merely noted to cover up or diminish the mistake made by someone who has difficulty admitting her own fallibility?  Not to worry–this young lady will not ruin my Labor Day Weekend nor detract from my musings about punctuating the pleasurable season of summer.


Additionally, I have been thinking of the harbingers of the end of summer.  We always hear and read about the harbingers of spring.  What about the harbingers of the end of summer?  Leader Dog Willow wants to express her observations first.  According to Willow, she is definitely holding onto more of her black, shiny hair for the coming colder weather.  Secondly, my fourth Leader Dog emphasizes that some dry, fallen leaves are already coming to her attention as she walks, works, and guides in our downtown Milwaukee neighborhood.


More harbingers of the end of summer include cooler nights and early mornings, school talk and happenings, my grand-nephew Caden’s birthday, pre-season football games, chrysanthemums (of which I added yellow and purple mum plants to my container garden), only two races left in the Indy-car season, my friend Lynda’s birthday, the different scents in the cooler air, state fairs of Wisconsin and Indiana, remembrances of my school days and my teaching days which has divided all of my life into semesters and vacations.  Also, my taste buds shift from the strawberries, cherries, blackberries, and peaches of summer to the cinnamon-and-spice, pumpkin flavors of autumn.


Two evenings ago truly seemed like an autumnal August night, and the predicted low for this August 28 is 56 degrees.  I do enjoy the changing seasons, but I would like to apply another punctuation mark to the season of winter–the dash!


Finally, in honor of my home state of Indiana and Clinton’s Little Italy Festival, I will re-post below a poem which appeared in THE DAILY CLINTONIAN in August of 2017 and which has previously appeared on WORDWALK (August 30, 2017).


Much to my amazement, last year’s festival coincided with the 50th reunion of my Clinton High School Class of 1968.  Thus, thinking of the festival places, events, and food which I have so enjoyed in previous years, as well as the fifty-two years since the CHS Class of ’68 began its senior year, I was inspired two years ago to write the following prose poem which is creative nonfiction.  The “creative nonfiction” comes into play in just a couple of spots in the poem.  For example, although the authentic gondola is still a part of the Little Italy Festival parade, one can no longer take a ride in the festival’s gondola on the Wabash River.



Fifty Years later, Meet Me


poem by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



Once again, fifty years later,

meet me

at the Little Italy Festival.

This time,

follow the green, white, and red lines

down Ninth Street,

and meet me

at Immigrant Square,

west of the Coal Fountain,

in the striped shadows of the twenty-six flags

which represent countries

from where Clinton area residents

have immigrated.


Meet me

in front of the statue of the immigrant,


with his one hand waving

and his other hand

holding a valise.


Meet me

by the drinking fountain

called “Il Toro”–

the Bull–

like Luigi,

crafted near my ancestral home,

in Torino.


Then, we will go

to the riverfront,

down the terraced banks

where Joe Airola

nurtured his grapevines.

On the Wabash River,

we will ride

in an authentic gondola.


Returning from our taste of Venezia,

we will eat spumoni

as we sit beside

the Quattro Stagioni Fountain,

listen to music of the main stage,

and absorb the multilingual chatter of festival-goers.


Back to Ninth Street,

we will tour the Little Italian House,

Il Mercato, and the Wine Museum

where you can buy my book.

Then, in the Wine Garden,

we can sit

under lush Grapevines and Hoosier stars,

sip Chianti,

listen to a polka band,

talk of old times

and fresh tomorrows.


Don’t be concerned:

at Immigrant Square,

in the midst of the crowd,

you will recognize me:

I will be the one

with the Black Labrador

guide dog.

Meet us.


* * *


To learn more about the Little Italy Festival which has taken place each year since 1966, you may visit one of the following:


Best Wishes for a sunny and happy Labor Day Weekend!

Alice Massa and Leader Dog Willow


August 28, 2019, Wednesday


Cartwheels and Cotton Candy


NOTE:  After the lengthy WORDWALK posts of the past two weeks, I am today sharing a short summer poem.  Thanks for reading my longer posts of family history, and now please enjoy the following new poem on this brief WORDWALK.



Cartwheels and Cotton Candy


poem by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



Confidently throwing hands down

onto the cool, soft Hoosier blades of grass,

somehow kicking my legs up and around

into the humid Indiana air,

I relished doing a cartwheel,

another cartwheel, another cartwheel

through the east yard of our Blanford home.


Where did my spring and summer of cartwheels go?

When did I stop doing cartwheels?

I wish I could recall the exhilaration

of my first successful cartwheel

and the day and year of my final cartwheel.


I remember, too, the summers

of doing handstands in the swimming pool.

Now, what year did I stop doing handstands?


I think the year was a couple of summers

after I stopped eating the sweetest treat of summer–

cotton candy.


Perhaps, in my silver years of summers,

what I need is another dose of

cotton candy.



Enjoy these waning days of summer!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow


August 21, 2019, Wednesday


More Recollections of Binole’s Restaurant


More Recollections of Binole’s Restaurant


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



Are you wondering why I am writing in August these blog posts of last week and this week concerning Binole’s Restaurant?  I was thinking of my Aunt Zita’s taking off two or more weeks each August; thus, the Italian restaurant was closed for a summer vacation.  Additionally, my aunt’s restaurant was closed each Sunday and Monday.  Although her general hours of serving were from five o’clock to ten o’clock in the evening, the hours were frequently extended on Friday and Saturday nights.


Arising relatively early, Aunt Zita and her mother-in-law worked throughout most of the day with preparations for the serving of patrons that evening.  While Aunt Zita made her rich spaghetti sauce and meat balls in large quantities and breaded the veal in advance, she also had to drive to various locations in Clinton (seven miles away) and Terre Haute (25 miles away) to do her shopping.  Aunt Zita completed many errands on Mondays–her “day off.”  Additionally, she had to wash the tablecloths and iron them (by using a Mangle (which I described in a previous blog post).  Taking reservations over the phone and placing a note on each reserved table for the waitresses who would arrive around four o’clock were among her other duties.  When I spent the day with my aunt, I liked to go around the restaurant and read the names on the reservation slips.  Many times, I accompanied my aunt on her shopping trips.  As a child, I wondered why my Aunt Zita took a nap most afternoons–after early preparations and errands and before the late preparations.  In later years, I began to understand the long hours which my aunt worked.  Since we all grew to have an understanding of the long hours of work to maintain a successful restaurant, no one else in the family went on with the business after Aunt Zita’s retirement.


Last week’s blog post gave you a verbal tour of the largest room of the restaurant, so this week I will continue with the verbal tour by beginning in front of the restaurant.  A patron would take one step up to the cement porch that spanned the front of the restaurant building.  On the west side of the building was a sidewalk which was parallel with Indiana Highway 71 and led to the parking lot.  Directly against the east side of the building was another sidewalk, to the east of which was a maple tree, a strip of lawn, a water pump, Aunt Zita’s beautiful tulip garden (including tulips of various colors and varieties).  A lawn expanded farther to the east with a clothesline; next along the sidewalk came the women’s outhouse.  At the end of this sidewalk was the men’s outhouse.  From the back of the restaurant to the garage was a parking lot with crushed white rock; between the east end of the parking lot and the east sidewalk was another maple tree.  Aunt Zita and Uncle Bill also owned the lot (kept as a lawn) which was north of the garage.


Beneath the large front windows were red bricks; however, white siding covered the remainder of the building.  Returning to the facade, a customer stepped from the ample porch to the stoop to enter through one of the two doors.  The left door led to the main room (bar room) while the right door opened to the hallway for the family rooms.

After entering the door to the family rooms, Room #3 was to the right; this room, with the most windows, was the brightest of the three rooms.  The view from these windows included the trees and hills of Blanford Park.  This room contained at least five tables of varying sizes.


In the later years of my aunt’s operating the restaurant, Room #2 and Room#1 became one very large room when the one wall was removed.  Around the time of this remodeling, Binole’s Restaurant became the first business in Blanford to have air conditioning.  No central air–window-type air conditioners!


Near the end of this long hallway and on the left was the opening to the bar room (described in my post of August 7).    At the end of this hallway and through a vinyl folding door was the “second” kitchen.  To the right was a long counter where “Mrs. Binole” (the mother-in-law of my aunt) prepared and plated the salads into wooden-like bowls.  A work table with an enamel top jutted against the counter.  At the east side of this kitchen was an exit door and window, under which was an automatic dishwasher of an older vintage.  On busy Saturday nights, my cousin Carole, my sister, and I sometimes helped by drying dishes in this warm or hot room.  On the north wall was another counter and then a large gas stove/oven.  Storage shelves and cabinets, as well as a huge refrigerator were against the west wall.  With the stainless steel refrigerator to the left and the stove to the right, one proceeded next through the doorway to the first or “main” kitchen.


In the main kitchen, another refrigerator and an electric stove were at the left while on the right were the end of the larger gas stove/oven and a work table.  Straight ahead was a step to the family’s residence.  To the left of this step was a hutch and refrigerator; to the right were the white kitchen cabinets, at the near end of which was a large coffeemaker.  On this counter of the cabinets, various people set up the trays for the waitresses.  At times, on busy Saturday nights, my cousin Carole and I enjoyed setting up the trays.  My sister not only recalls setting up trays, but also dusting the floors.  Of course, what we did was minimal compared to the hours and variety of work done by Aunt Zita’s two sons, Bill and Donald.


At the far right end of the cabinets was another exit door, through which people entered for carry-out food.  Besides this door, the east wall had large windows, in front of which was the “kitchen” table.  Along the south wall of this main kitchen, one found a counter, sink, third work table, and the larger gas stove/oven, where so often I saw my Aunt Zita placing the dry spaghetti into the pot of boiling water.  Also atop this stove were huge iron skillets for frying the Italian breaded veal.  First, the butter, shortening, and garlic went into the iron skillet; then, the veal was set to fry.  Amazingly, both my aunt and mother gracefully maneuvered the very heavy iron skillets from the top of the stove into the lower oven and later removed the skillets from the oven.  What strength they had to move these skillets numerous times during just one evening of work!


Throughout the years of running the restaurant, my Aunt Zita was blessed with very good employees.  The four waitresses whom I most remember are Julia Marietta (who worked each night and for the most number of years), JoAnne Peperak (who was so cheery and energetic), Audrey Marietta (who was so very nice and caring), and my Aunt Theda (whose laughter was frequently heard from her sharing of jokes with customers).  Mary Santrach and Julia Procarione, a dear friend of my paternal grandmother, were other employees.  During the day, Hyla Lewis sometimes worked for my aunt.


My aunt and her employees never ate supper until after all of the customers had been served and left.  Numerous times, when I went to the restaurant late, I found Julie Marietta, Mrs. Binole, and Aunt Zita sitting around the kitchen table.  All of them were eating the spaghetti, veal, and salad.  Aunt Zita was not drinking any of her wine:  she always ended the night with a bottle of Schlitz beer.


I really have no idea of what my Aunt Zita’s daily, weekly, or other schedule was:  I only know that with her calm demeanor, all that needed to get done, did.  No matter how busy the restaurant was, all patrons enjoyed the delicious food and warm atmosphere.


From my Aunt Zita and this restaurant business, I learned many life lessons and am so grateful for them, as well as all of the wonderful food, a place filled with family memories, and a dear aunt.


Hoping you are treasuring your family memories,

Alice and Leader Dog Willow


August 14, 2019, Wednesday


Menu and History of Binole’s Restaurant


Remembering Binole’s Restaurant of Blanford, Indiana (Menu Included)


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



Binole’s Restaurant was a highly successful and well-known business at the intersection of Indiana Highway 71 and the “Blanford Cut-off Road” (originally named “Grand Avenue on very early maps of the area).  Fortunately for me, the owners of this Italian restaurant were my aunt and uncle; additionally, my mother, besides being postmaster of our small town, worked at the restaurant on Saturday evenings and other special times to help her sister with the cooking.  Thus, this restaurant was an important part of my growing-up years.  Since both of my parents worked full-time, I spent a great deal of time with my Aunt Zita and developed a child’s and then a teen’s perspective on the family restaurant business and my aunt’s ability to manage the restaurant with unbelievable expertise and calmness.


Early in the 1940s, Mr. and Mrs. Bill Binole began a small sandwich shop, which did not focus on Italian cuisine.  This little business developed into the larger restaurant and bar, the menu for which I will include in this blog post.  Through more than one decade, my uncle and aunt continued to build a loyal customer base from a radius of at least 90 miles.  Then, sadly, in 1955, my Uncle Bill passed away at a much-too-young age.  Despite the tragic loss of her husband, my Aunt Zita, with two sons to raise alone, continued with the restaurant business for approximately fifteen years.  Although I will write more in next week’s blog post about the other people who worked at the restaurant, I will note here that Aunt Zita’s sons, Bill and Donald, helped at the restaurant in a variety of ways for many years.


In my mind’s eye, I can picture the restaurant building so clearly.  The east side of the main (and largest) room of the restaurant included a long, solid oak bar with cushioned bar stools, as well as tables of varying sizes to seat a total of about one hundred customers.  The front of this room, which faced south-south/west, had an entry way at the left, as one was looking outside) while the remainder of the front included a few huge windows.  A large, solid oak, round table was in the front left corner, with other such round tables along the front windows.  Near the bar were two smaller rectangular tables, each of which could seat four diners.  Along the west wall and jutting out toward the bar were three long rectangular tables of a sturdy, more contemporary variety.  At the back of this large “bar room” was a very large rectangular table of a beautiful wood finish; this table, with its matching wooden chairs with wine-colored, upholstered seats was the dining room set of my aunt and uncle; nevertheless, patrons enjoyed having this table for dining.  Opposite this table was a freezer with about six door openings at the top of the freezer; inside the freezer were the ice cream specialties which will be listed later.  In earlier years, ice was also stored in this freezer; in later years, an ice maker was added at the end of the freezer.


To the right of the door which led to the first kitchen was a wall telephone and a stereo for playing LP records of Italian crooners and other popular soft-listening tunes of this era of the 1950s and 1960s.


At the opposite end of the bar and beneath it were refrigerators for beer and soft drinks.  The back of the bar displayed numerous varieties of wines and an old wooden cash register.  Between the right end of the bar and the entryway was a large opening to a hallway which led to the “family rooms”–rooms 1, 2, and 3–as well as to the second kitchen.  The three “family rooms” seated about seventy-five people.


The entire restaurant was in tones of green, beige, and brown; however, the starched and ironed linen tablecloths brightened the atmosphere.  Besides the traditional red-and-white checkered and green-and-white checkered tablecloths, Aunt Zita also used some long all white tablecloths.  At times, Chianti bottles, in each of which was a multi-colored candle, decorated the tables.  The dinnerware was an ivory with a magenta design around the edges.  Beige ceramic bowls held the freshly ground Parmesan cheese while mint green, dark green, or beige ceramic tea pots held the water for the drinkers of hot tea.  (I happily still have one of these tea pots.)For servings family-style, large platters held the delicious Italian veal.  No one made Italian veal like my Aunt Zita’s recipe!  Other platters were adorned with the lovely and rich sauce and pasta.  Frequently, while dining at a restaurant in recent years, I marvel how the size of a plate on which my abundant meal is presented is the size of the platter which once happily served four or more at my aunt’s restaurant.


Although I have much more to remember about Binole’s Restaurant, I will now share with you a menu of my Aunt Zita’s restaurant.  Among my keepsakes is one menu from Binole’s Restaurant.  The plastic menu , when opened has a hard plastic pocket on both sides.  Inside each pocket was placed a piece of paper with the typewritten bill of fare.  I do recall my mother typing these menus for her older sister; however, I believe that I typed one of the last menus for my aunt.  My recollection is that this menu may have been one of the last ones of the very late 1960s or very early 1970s.  Pay attention to the very low prices while your mouth is watering and your appetite is increasing for the wonderful Italian food.


A Menu from Binole’s Restaurant (circa 1969)



“Welcome to Binole’s!”


* Family-style Dinners


Spaghetti, veal, salad:  $2.35

Spaghetti, meat balls, salad:  $1.85

Ravioli, veal, salad:  $2.35

Ravioli, meat balls, salad:  $2.25


* Plate Dinners


Spaghetti, veal, salad:  $1.85

Spaghetti, meat balls, salad:  $1.75

Ravioli, veal, salad:  $2.25

Ravioli, meat balls, salad:  $2.00


*  A La Carte


Spaghetti/half order:  $1.00

Mushroom sauce (extra, per order):  $0.25

Ravioli:  $1.25

Ravioli/half order:  $1.00

T-bone steak (choice beef):  $3.00 and up

French fries:  $0.25

Garlic bread:  $0.15


* Vegetables (plain or seasoned)


Green beans:  $0.30

Spinach:  $0.30

Asparagus:  $0.30

Peas:  $0.30

Combination salad with choice of dressing (Italian, Roquefort, blue cheese, Thousand Island, French, or Miracle Whip):  $0.25

Anchovies (extra):  $0.25

Cottage cheese:  $0.25

Sliced tomatoes:  $0.25


* Desserts


Spumoni (our specialty):  $0.25

Vanilla or chocolate ice cream:  $0.10

Sherbet (lime, lemon, orange, pineapple, or raspberry):  $0.10

Peaches:  $0.25


* Beverages


Coffee:  $0.10

Hot tea:  $0.10

Milk:  $0.10

Chocolate milk:  $0.10

Coke, Pepsi, 7-Up, Orange, Grape:  $0.10

Iced tea:  $0.15

Lemonade:  $0.15

Beer:  $0.35

Wines, by bottle or glass (sweet or dry)


* Carry-out


Spaghetti sauce (pint, quart, gallon–also packed in freezer container)

Spaghetti, veal, meat balls

Breadsticks, bread, grated cheese


NOTE:  Although not listed on this menu, all meals were served with fresh Italian bread and breadsticks, with butter.


WORDWALK NOTE:  Special thanks to my Leader Dog Willow for substituting for me for the past two weeks!  I hope you did not miss her postings on July 24 and July 31.  (If you did, just keep reading.)

Please return to WORDWALK next Wednesday for more remembrances of my Aunt Zita’s restaurant.


Enjoy the fresh foods of summer!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow


August 7, 2019, Wednesday


Leader Dog Willow and the Thunderbirds



Guest  Hosting Again–by PAWpular Demand


by Leader Dog Willow


By PAWpular demand, I am guest blogger for WORDWALK for the second week in a row.  This Wednesday, my doggie thoughts turn to Thunderbirds–not the cars–but the Thunderbirds of the U.S. Air Force.  What precision in flight!  What bravery!  What dedication and expertise!  Last weekend, the Thunderbirds were in Milwaukee for the annual Air and Water Show.  On this past Friday, the Thunderbirds were practicing around the area where Alice and I live.  Zoom!  Zoom!  Zoom!  While the Thunderbirds were doing what I believe they call “air checks,” Alice and I stayed indoors; however, the sound was significantly loud even inside our townhouse.  Then, on Saturday and Sunday, we did our long walks in the morning and evening to avoid being outside during the afternoon performance times of the Thunderbirds at the Air and Water Show.  Of course, you-know-who was quite proud of me for not being bothered at all by the loud zooms–one of which seemed to go directly down the boulevard in front of our townhouse.  What an exciting weekend!


Quite a number of people, I overheard, told Alice that they were wondering how I did with all of the noise of the Thunderbirds.  Thankfully, Alice gave a glowing report about my admirable behavior to all who inquired.  Alice added that I am also quite calm during the frequent firework displays for Independence Day and for the various festivals.  Actually, I could have eLABorated that the professional firework displays are not at all challenging contrasted with the zooms of the Thunderbirds.  Even though Alice did not mention this analysis nor the too frequent sirens, people were very impressed to hear of my most appropriate Leader Dog behavior.


Despite the hearing of dogs being much better than humans, we special working dogs are selected for our ability to be undisturbed by–nonreactive to–loud noises and other disruptive sounds.  Indeed, this quality is only one of many that determine if a dog will progress from one stage to the next of guide-dog training and then guide-dog placement with a blind or visually impaired handler.


Since I was PAWticularly good with being calm and attentive around loud noises, I was sometimes referred to as a “sound” dog.  Eventually, trainers (GDMIs–guide dog mobility instructors) selected me to be matched with Alice in June of 2016 because they knew that I would have a new home in a large city and a new neighborhood in the midst of a three-year construction project (for the trolley).  While Alice and I do not like noise–especially unnecessary noise–we are grateful that, one might say, noise brought us together.  Now, isn’t this a positive (I mean, PAWSitive) way of looking at noise!


Below you will find my top six noise challenges through which I persevere like the good Leader Dog I am:


  1. Thunderbirds
  2. construction
  3. screeching sound of trolley (while turning at an intersection–discussed in a previous blog)
  4. fireworks
  5. sirens
  6. motorcycles


Since I know that Alice really does not care for the loud sirens, especially at an intersection, when I hear a siren coming our way, I stop mid-block and wait for the emergency vehicle to pass.  Then, we proceed to the next intersection.  I just learned this little trick on my own because I do like to please Alice at all times!  Labs are like this, you know!  If we are walking very near the passing siren, Alice tells me that she is sorry for the noise and praises me abundantly for being such a good dog.  “Think nothing of it!  It’s my job, but many thanks for all the praise!”


Well, we do live in Milwaukee.  Need I say more about the number of motorcycles in this area?


Fortunately, the majority of our walks are relatively quiet, peaceful, and uneventful.  Our long walks together are the highlights of our day–although for me, meal times are a close second!  (You may recall that I am a Labrador Retriever.)  I am always attuned to what Alice is doing and saying:  hearing her voice is the best sound of all.  She thinks I work–like the Thunderbird pilots–with precision, expertise, dedication, and bravery.  A-a-ah, I am just happy to be Alice’s Leader Dog.


Best wishes for a peaceful and sunny August!

Leader Dog Willow, guest blogger for Alice’s WORDWALK


July 31, 2019, Wednesday