Sunday, May 19, 2013

Smelling a Memory

When I was in high school, back in the mid-1960s, I worked at Little Italy, a family-owned Italian restaurant in what is now Hermitage, Pa.  The restaurant was operated by a mother-daughter team.  Mrs. Combine, her daughter, JoAnne Bishop, and her son-in-law, Richard Bishop.  They had operated the restaurant in the Hickory Plaza for a while and then renovated a larger, stand-alone site on the corner of State Street and Dutch Lane.  I came on at the opening of the new site.  I was around 17 when I started as a busboy and had been promoted to short-order cook by the time I left at the age of 18.

Little Italy was a true family restaurant.   Other members of the Combine family operated restaurants nearby in West Middlesex, and it wasn't unusual for them to gather at Little Italy.  A booth near the kitchen was often occupied by friends and relatives, including the Bishops' young daughter.   As a high school student, it was great to be surrounded by an active and close family.

After I left, I lost touch with the family, although I have always had very fond memories of my days at Little Italy.  Just recently, I happened across an obituary for JoAnne Bishop in the Sharon Herald, our local paper.  It noted that the family had relocated to Las Vegas and that, later in life, JoAnne had authored her own blog--"I Smell a Memory."  Her daughter has since re-posted some of her mother's blog entries at .  In "I Smell a Memory," she recalls favorite holidays with her family and the food that she made to celebrate.  Then, she adds recipes.  It is a wonderful legacy.

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