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Sidari brothers, both WWII vets, marvel at quarryman grandfather

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 November 2013 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers – Frank and Rocco Sidari look at the gravestones carved by their grandfather Francesco Spada in St. Joseph’s Cemetery on Brown Street.

ALBION – Frank Sidari wanted to show me something in St. Joseph’s Cemetery, the Catholic burial ground on Brown Street. He knows I’m interested in the community’s quarrymen heritage.

I met Frank, 88, and his brother Rocco, 91, there today. They were waiting by a row of gravestones carved out of Medina sandstone. Their grandfather, Francesco Spada, was the stonecutter on the projects.

Spada lived from 1864 to 1933. He came to Albion as a boy, moving here from Alfedena, the hometown for a lot of the local Italians.

His grandsons – the Sidari brothers – both served in World War II and then worked long careers as carpenters. They have lived on East State Street most of their lives. That is the street where many of the Italians settled. They had quarries a short walk from their homes. Some of the quarries were in their back yard.

The gravestones for two of Spada’s children, who died young from the flu.

The Sidaris remember their grandfather carving stone. Today, they looked at the carvings and the artwork on the stones in the cemetery.

“How in the Hell did they do all that fancy work?” Rocco said.

Spada somehow carved holes in the top of the gravestones and then set a cross on the top. Rocco, who was chief steward for 990 carpenters on the hydroelectric power project in Lewiston in the 1950s, is impressed by the talent of the stonecutters from a century ago.

“I don’t know how they did it,” he told me.

Spada etched a spade design on the gravestones. He added images of an anchor, the moon, diamonds and other symbols. The names and words on the stones are written in Italian.

Frank said the Italians were close-knit and a lot of fun while he was growing up.

He also said the flu and other illnesses claimed a lot of people when they were young. Looking at the garvestones today for his teen-age children, you could feel Spada’s grief. He poured his heart into the gravestones for his children.

occo and Frank Sidari are brothers and life-long friends. They posed for a picture in St. Joseph’s Cemetery.