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A Confluence of Family Memories from Cassette Recordings

July 11, 2018


A Confluence of Family Memories from Cassette Recordings


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



On this July 11, 2018–the 105th anniversary of my dad’s birth–I am, of course, thinking of my extraordinary father.  Last night, I reached into a drawer where I have numerous keepsakes; the first item I took into my hands was a plastic container in which was a cassette, one which I had not listened to for a long time.  I placed the cassette into and old Sony tape player:  amazingly, my dad’s voice (from 1990) sounded beautiful and clear, fresh and vibrant.  Although he was born in 1913–long before the Computer Age–he was reading the directions of a new piece of computerized equipment for me–with expression and understanding of the material.  Most of all, I believe he was reading the manual for me with the understanding of how important making those print words accessible to me was.  Since I cannot see photographs of my father, I do cherish audio recordings of his voice.


Listening to Dad’s recorded voice, I recall how much he enjoyed, during his retirement, calling bingo on Monday evenings for the Men’s Conservation Club, at the Blanford Sportsman’s Clubhouse (beside the fishing pond, between Blanford and Centenary, Indiana).  Besides a social event, the bingo games were a fund-raiser for the Men’s Conservation Club.  All were welcome to attend.  Since Dad’s full and rich baritone voice was so clear and distinct, many bingo players preferred Dad’s calling the numbers and letters of the game.


Not only because of the quality of my dad’s speaking voice, but also because of the quality of the content of what he had to say–people were drawn to what my father had to share in his unassuming manner.  He was admired then and is still admired in memory.


Next, I turned to my green desk–yes, a green desk.  This small desk with four drawers and a width of one yard was one of the most wonderful gifts which my dad and mother gave to me.  I loved writing and doing other projects on this desk which my dad had varnished for me.  After that initial coat of varnish, my dad and I painted the desk green with an antique finish in 1972, when I was preparing for my first job and apartment.  We also did the green antique finish on the desk chair, as well as a set of table and four chairs from my Aunt Zita’s restaurant.  Like memories of my dad, this green desk and chair will be always in my home.


From the top right drawer of my green desk, I pulled out a cassette and listened to the recording of family history which my dad’s youngest brother–my Uncle Jules–made for me on June 22, 2002, when my uncle was 76.  On Tuesday, July 10, 2018, my Uncle Jules passed away in California, at age 91.  As there was a meeting of Massa brothers in Europe during World War II, I do believe there will be a confluence of the four Massa brothers–Charlie, Jimmy, Johnny, and Jules (“Buddy”)–in Heaven.  Perhaps, the four have already reunited on the “Brothers Bridge.”


Listening to the recorded voice of Uncle Jules, I was particularly interested in two of his “brotherly” stories.  As a child, Uncle Jules had to deal with allergies and asthma.  Growing up in a rural, farming community of Klondyke, Indiana, Uncle Jules was especially bothered by ragweed.  A neighbor Mrs. Facino also had allergy and asthma problems.  For the summer of around 1938, Mrs. Facino planned to spend the next three months with her sister in Iron Mountain, Michigan, where conditions were believed to be better for allergy and asthma sufferers.  My grandparents made arrangements for Uncle Jules to join the group going to Iron Mountain.  Buddy had so many qualms about leaving the farm and going to Iron Mountain that his brother Jimmy (my dad), who was thirteen years older, decided that he would accompany Buddy and the four other travelers.  After the long trip from west-central Indiana to Iron Mountain, Michigan, in a 1930s car, my Uncle Jules absolutely did not want to stay.  He did not like the place, the people, nor the food:  most of all, I imagine he just wanted to go back home to his family and farm in Klondyke.  On the recording, my uncle explained, “Well, Jimmy being Jimmy felt sorry for me and said I could go back home with him.”  The two brothers happily made the long trip back home together.


Later, on the recording, my Uncle Jules said that his three older brothers decided that they would buy Uncle Jules a musical instrument.  They chose for their little brother a trumpet and paid one dollar for each of his music lessons.  Unfortunately, the music teacher only had Buddy play scales–never a tune that might be recognized.  Uncle Jules kept playing the scales, but was disappointed with the gift.  What he had really been hoping for was a bicycle.  When his brother Jimmy discovered what his little brother really wanted, Jimmy and their mother found a used bicycle for five dollars.  Despite the bike’s having no fenders, “Buddy” was delighted with this special gift from his mother and his brother Jimmy.  (After World War II, the entire Massa family was immensely proud of Jules for earning a degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue University.)


As a brother, son, husband, father, friend, neighbor, and co-worker–James (“Jimmy”) Massa was an understanding and giving person.  After more than two decades since my father’s passing on December 1, 1997, he still gives to me in so many ways.  On the hardest and happiest of days, his memory gives us strength and love.


My dad ended every phone call and every day with saying “I love you.”  His love is especially fondly remembered and endures.


MUSICAL NOTE:  In loving memory of–

James F. Massa (father of Mary Elizabeth and Alice; July 11, 1913-December 1, 1997) and

Jules A. Massa (father of Nancy and Kenny; June 18, 1926-July 10, 2018)–

I share with you a link to the 1954 hit “Oh, My Papa,” as sung by Eddie Fisher.


Blessings to all,

Alice and Leader Dog Willow


July 11, 2018, Wednesday



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  1. Dear Alice,
    Thank you for sharing these endearing memories of our amazing father and uncle as only you can! I have always admired our grandparents for their courage in leaving the “old country” to begin a new life in America. These two special immigrants also need to be recognized for fostering a remarkable relationship of lifelong love and devotion among their four sons and one daughter. Throughout their lives–from childhood to old age–the Massa boys and their sister deeply loved and cared for each other. How blessed we are to have grown up in this environment where still today the cousins, grandchildren of James and Elizabeth Massa, continue this strong feeling of family devotion and love in spite of the thousands of miles that separate us! Although we will greatly miss our dear Uncle Jules, as we do our wonderful dad–knowing that Uncle Jules is reunited with his brothers is a comforting thought.
    Love to you and Willow,

  2. Sue McKendry permalink

    Alice–Wonderful memories of your father and uncle and now they are enjoying a happy reunion. Good for you that you will always keep the desk set and table and chairs. We have several pieces of furniture from our parents and they will always have a place in our home. It is so nice to have a tangible connection to our past when we use these items. Your father must be smiling a lot when he reads your grateful comments. –Sue

  3. Carole permalink

    Alice, this is another beautifully written memory of your father and uncle. Our sympathy is extended for your family’s loss of Jules, who was another kind, gentle, and distinguished man. I appreciate Mary mailing the lovely memorial card, which held a summary of his family life and professional accomplishments.

    • Carole–Special thanks for the very kind words about my Uncle Jules.

      Take care–Alice and Willow

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