Transcription of Boston Sunday Post article 3 April 1938
At 31 Claims She’s America’s Youngest Grandmother
Camille Rogato, Lynn “Girl Granny”, Enjoys Her Tradition Upsetting Position --- Her Five-year-old Sister Is a Grand-Aunt
By Frank G. Jason
Married at 15!
Mother at 16!
Grandmother at 31!
From her teens to grandmotherhood in 16 years is the unique and astounding record of Mrs. Camille Rogato of Lynn which makes her the youngest grandmother in New England, if not in the entire country. The honor came to her on St. Patrick’s Day when her 16 year-old daughter, Mary, gave birth to a son. When Mrs. Rogato arose, at 5:45 a.m. on that eventful day she looked out her window and saw that it was raining. “Oh, dear me,” she sighed, ‘it always seems to rain on a day folks want to celebrate.” She was thinking of the celebration that was planned for South Boston and how their spirits would be dampened when they too awoke to see the rain. To her, St. Patrick’s Day meant just another day of work, the thought never entered her head that she might also celebrate on this day, but for a different reason.
Thought She Was Single The news came to her when she was busy stitching strips at the shoe factory where she is employed. And was she happy? “You could have knocked me over with a shoe string,” she laughed. “I was so elated I couldn’t work hours afterwards. But I was not the only one that was surprised. My boss didn’t even know I was married and when he heard the news he thought that a premature April Fool’s joke was being pulled.” Since that birth of the baby the Rogato household has been in a quandry, trying to straighten out their relation to the newcomer. For instance there is little 6-year-old Grace Rogato, sister of Mrs. Thurber, who can’t quite understand why she is an aunt at such an early age. To her, all aunts were grown women and she doesn’t see how she rates that title. Then it is also bothering her because people are calling her mother “Granny” and she can’t make that out either so now she too is calling her mother “Granny” just because everyone else is. Little Gracie’s plight isn’t half as puzzling as is Sally’s. Sally is only five, yet she is Mrs. Rogato’s sister which makes her an aunt to Sally as well as Mrs. Thurber and a grand-aunt to the new baby. “Phew,” sighed Mr. Rogato wiping his brow, “I’ll be glad when this aunt and uncle and grand aunt and uncle business is settled. I’ve been asked so many questions about it that I don’t even know where I stand myself.”
Great Grandma Only 48 Richard Don Thurber, the baby who caused all the commotion, probably had more aunts and uncles and grand aunts and uncles than any newborn baby ever had. His mother is the oldest of four children which means he has two aunts and an uncle right there. His grandmother was one of nine children which if figured correctly gives him a mixture of eight great aunts and uncles. Then there is Mr. and Mrs. Patrizzi, who head that big brood with the title of great grandmother and great grandfather. And what’s more great granny is only 48 years old. The Patrizzi family and the Rogato’s have always been firm believers in early marriage. Great Granny Patrizzi herself was married at the age of 16 but when her daughter, who is now Granny Rogato, won a boyfriend at the age of 15, she didn’t like the idea very much. But whether Mrs. Patrizzi liked it or not her daughter did and when her parents wouldn’t give her consent to marry the man she loved she ups and elopes with him. “That all happened 16 years ago,” laughed the young and pretty Latin grandmother “I was attending high school and I was so shy that if a boy even so much as looked at me I told him to go away as my parents wouldn’t like my being seen with him and that they would lick me if they saw me walking with boys.” “He paid little heed to my warnings and continued to meet me.”
Eloped to New Jersey They finally did see us together and flew into a rage. They demanded that I bring him into the house before them. When he came they would make me sit on one side of the room and him on the other. We were so frightened that a whole evening would go by without either of us saying hardly a word. A short time later we went to Revere Beach together without my parents knowing about it and unluckily my parents got wind of it. When I returned home they were waiting for me and did I get a licking. Wow! I can almost feel it yet. Well I cried so hard that my boyfriend heard me in the house next door. We couldn’t stand it, so the next day when I was on my way to school he put up the marriage question to me and I was all in favor of it. We eloped to New Jersey to my husband’s sister’s home and when the knot was tied we lived there for a couple of months. We thought that my parents would be furious when they heard the news but on the contrary they were just the opposite and when everything was ironed out we came back to Lynn where we have lived ever since. Mr. Rogato is employed as a barber and with his family they make their home at 45 North Bend street. They are the parents of three other children besides Mrs. Mary Thurber, Gloria, 13, Ralph, 12 and Grace, 6. Remembering the difficulties she had in getting married Mrs. Rogato didn’t mind a great deal when her daughter Mary informed her that she was about to take the all important step in her life. When Mrs. Rogato asked her if she thought she wasn’t still a little too young her daughter replied, “Well maybe yes, but I’m a year older than you when you got married.
Takes Regular Exercises So, with her parents blessings, she and her husband went off to Elliott, ME last year and were married. One can hardly blame Mrs. Rogato’s boss at the shoe factory for being so dumbfounded when he heard that she had become a grandmother. Really she doesn’t appear to be out of her twenties. When one considers the long hours that she puts in everyday, it is quite remarkable how she keeps her young appearance. Every morning she arises at 5:45. After going through her regular morning exercises, she makes breakfast for her family. It’s hurry, hurry, hurry from the time she gets up in the morning until she goes to bed at night. After breakfast, she walks a full mile or more to her shop where she has to punch the clock at 7:00 a.m. and keeps on working until 4:30 and sometimes even later. “You can take it from me” said Mrs. Rogato, “it’s a tough job to bring up a family and go to work too.. But I don’t mind it very much. When things get better, my husband won’t want me to work, so I guess I can keep on until that time comes. After all, didn’t I promise to stand by in hard times when I married him? I did and I will continue to do so.”
How To Keep Young Mrs. Rogato says that the way to keep young is to sing, dance, read poetry and not let anything worry you. She has been doing these things all her life and you need but one look at her to know she has a successful formula. She loves music, good music, as do nearly all the people of her race and whenever she feels tired or ill, she will sit down at the piano or play the accordian or even listen to the radio and recover almost instantly. And does America’s youngest grandmother go in for dancing? “Do I” she replied. “If I wasn’t married or if I didn’t have any children to take care of, I’d make my husband take me to a dance every night in the week. Next to music, I love dancing, but I guess both of them go together anyway. Right now I’m having a whale of a time doing the ‘big apple” at home and as soon as I master it my husband will have to take me out.” Every Sunday is a holiday at the Rogato household. There is seldom a Sunday when at least a dozen or more are not on hand. “They like to come over,” said Mr. Rogato “because my wife is an excellent cook. Boy,” he continued, licking his chops, “you should have tasted those ravioli she made last Sunday. She kept making them and making them and as soon as soon as they were out of the pot, they were gobbled up and there weren’t any left for herself.”
Gives Hubby Credit If ever any foods were fattening, spaghetti and ravioli probably contain more of the fattening qualities than any other one dish. But Mrs. Rogato swears that eating those heavy foods never adds extra pounds (?) to her figure. She confesses that she has never been on a diet in her life and never intends to. Mrs. Rogato gives her husband credit for keeping her young. “He treats me wonderfully,” she said. “You’d think we were married only a week. He’s always on hand to give me a lift with the housework and besides, he tells me the correct cosmetics to use. If it wasn’t for him I’d probably be like a lot of other girls, putting all sorts of stuff on my face. But he knows his business well and instructs me just how it should be done. And it is amazing how little one needs in making up. I always thought a girl should almost plaster it on, but all that is necessary is just a few pats here and there and the effect is much better.” “If all husbands were like my husband, I would advise any girl, no matter how young she might be, not to hesitate if she received a proposal of marriage. “We’ve had a happy life and now that our children are grown up and growing up, we feel more like a brother and sister to them than like parents. If we were older we would probably want to stay in the house all the time and not go anywhere but now we go out together, to dances, parties and shows and they love to have us along with them because we are more like they are themselves.
Transcribed by Jackie B White (granddaughter of Mary (Rogato) “Thurber”)