Tradition – Italian-American/Northeast

Italian-American/Northeast Tradition

Performer’s Tradition and Analysis: Back east everyone has a basement.  My Italian relatives had basements that were finished and extensions of the house.  They even included an extra kitchen.  There was always so much food that it seemed totally necessary to have an extra refrigerator.  Around the holidays, cooking took place for days beforehand.  Basements were also the center for large family parties with extended family and friends.  My maternal grandparents had six children so there were so many in-laws and their families all gathered in the same place.  They played lots of music, mostly Frank Sinatra and Perry Cuomo.  Frank Sinatra was really a favorite because he was from New Jersey (where we all lived) and so was very well received.

Collector’s Analysis: In analyzing the use of the basement in certain parts or American, it is clear that its modes of function are distinctly regional. In the Northeast, the basement is considered another room in the house and for Italians it’s a meeting place for the family. In contrast out West in California, basements rarely serve any use in houses. In my family (in Pasadena, CA), the basement has no purpose except for storage.