Today, July 17, 2008, is the centennial of Joe Vincenti's birth.
It's a milestone of sorts as "Pap Pap Vincenti" was the first member of my grandmother's family to be born in the United States. He came into the world on July 17, 1908, the son of Dominick and Catherine Vicari Vincenti, immigrants from northern Italy / southern Austria. (He was the first of their five children.)
While Joe died in October, 1983, when I was just seven-years-old, I do have some foggy memories of him as a friendly and generous old man.
Many of these memories involve his small business, Vincenti's Service Station, which he operated with his wife, Mary, and later with their son, Donald. It was the place to get gasoline in the small village of Primrose, on the road between the boroughs of McDonald and Midway, PA.
The service station sold Mobil Oil products so that company's distinctive red Pegasus emblem (shown here) prominently adorned the building's facade for decades.
The service station also sold milk, bread and some other food staples (and I think candy, too). It was another one of those places where the old men of the neighborhood would gather on a bench and visit.
Joe was originally a coal miner like so many others in that part of Western Pennsylvania in the 1920s and '30s. He went into the service station business after his father was killed in a mining accident in 1937. When the management refused to make safety improvements, Joe got out of the mines.
He also later served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He was in his early 30s when the call up came -- considered to be an old age for military service at that time. (About the age yours truly is today.)
An aside: One of the garages at Vincenti's Service Station served for many years as the polling place for the residents of Mt. Pleasant Township's 2nd precinct. Perhaps that is one of the ancestral sources of my political bug.