The Sunday Dinners At 63rd And Grays Avenue

Oct 16, 2018 246

BY: Richard L. Gaw

To hear Mark Spena rattle off the surnames of those who sat around the tables of his childhood in South Philadelphia – and ultimately, to hear the first chapters of what became a life spent in the love and preparation of food -- is to be invited into a scene from a movie about a large and very extended Italian family, and kindly asked to pass the noodles.

Roll film.

We begin at the Spena home at 63rd and Grays Avenue in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It is Sunday morning and the five Spena kids rustle around the home, preparing to attend mass at Our Lady of Loretto. They listen to homilies, sermons, take Holy Communion, and come back home to see their mother Rita in the kitchen, with a pot of her Sunday gravy on the stove and hand-rolled pasta on the counter, enough to fortify a small army for days.

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