A Home for the Heart
Tell a friend:
Please don't use the 'Send page' feature of your computer
to send this entire page in an e-mail message, document or
pdf format.  If you'd like to share it, please just send the link.
The link to this page is:
Sicily is a long way from either the homes of my childhood or the homes of my Scottish and
Irish ancestors, so, at first, I couldn't figure out why a book about a house's history would
make me think of Italy.  Then it came to me, the book reminded me of Mr. Rando.
I've been reading a book detailing the history of a hundred-year-old house.  It sent my
thoughts back to the house of my adolescent/teenage years - the first house my family
lived in long enough to make it feel like "home."
It was located in the Carrollton section of New Orleans and we moved there when I was
eleven.  I lived in the house until I married.  It's no wonder a book about "home" would
make me think of that particular house and the neighborhood around it.
I can close my eyes and transport myself to the creaking porch swing of that wonderful old
house and immediately be drawn back into its world.  I can see the neighbors and hear them
chatting.  I can hear the fog horns from boats on the Mississippi River some 20 blocks away.
I can see the faces of my friends as we gathered on the porch to plan our days.  I can hear
the bells of Incarnate Word Church ringing out an evening hymn.  And - perhaps best of all -
I can smell Mr. Rando's simmering spaghetti sauce from the open windows of his kitchen.
People often speak of the influence of France and Spain on the city of New Orleans and that's
true.  It's particularly true of the French influence, which is not only noticeable, but palpable.
But the city is a melting pot of many cultures:  French, Spanish, Irish, Italian, African-American,
German, Middle-European, Asian and others have added their own flavor to the city.
For me, growing up in the old house in Carrollton, the flavor of my daily world was decidedly
Sicilian.  There had once been a huge wave of Sicilian immigrants to the city.  In the late-1800's,
New Orleans had a higher percentage of people of Italian descent than any city in America.
Although there were many neighbors of Sicilian heritage surrounding me in my teenage
years (and many who could create magic in the kitchen), it's Mr. Rando I remember best.
His daughter and I were friends and if I "happened by" their house just as he finished
cooking dinner, he would immediately lead me to the kitchen and sit me down to a feast.
I believe Thomas Wolfe may have been mistaken.  You can go home again - if your memories
are vivid enough and dear enough to your heart.  It's true that I can't visit the house in person,
it was a victim of the levee failure flooding of 2005.  But I can go back and visit in my heart.
And that may be the most valuable gift a home can provide.
Some of the quotes below are thanks to Jim and Pam - through
their gift of James Morgan's book, "If These Walls Had Ears."
This page is dedicated to houses, neighbors and memories.
And to one of my favorite homes - a house that now exists only in my heart.
-- Nancy
The photos on this page were all taken in Sicily, an autonomous
region of Italy, the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.
Study one house over time, and it will tell you all you need to know of life.
-- James Morgan
Old houses attract because they look like home to us.  They appeal to whatever
romantic part of us traffics in hopes and dreams and nostalgia.  
-- James Morgan
Our house has a heart and soul, and eyes to see us with, and approvals and
solicitudes and deep sympathies.  It is of us and we are in its confidence;
we live in its grace and in the peace of its benediction.  
-- Mark Twain
The Sicilian custom of preparing elaborate St. Joseph's Day Altars came to New
Orleans in the 1800's, with the arrival of Sicilian immigrants.  To my knowledge,
it's the only city in the U.S. where St. Joseph's Day is celebrated city-wide, with
dozens of public and private altars and (naturally, being New Orleans), a parade.
If stores or magazines are any indication, most people's first choice would be to live in
rooms that resemble those of their grandparents.  People are searching for comfort and
security in a world that no longer seems to provide such things.  
-- Witold Rybczynaki
The search for home is a restless journey, and sometimes unrewarding.
This is because people so often fail to understand that
home is not
actually a physical concept, but a spiritual one.  
-- James Morgan