In between First and Second avenues in East Harlem stands a street sign marking the intersection of Pete Pascale Place and 116th Street.
The nearby corner at Second Avenue, Pete Pascale's daughter Lois
told documentarist Zenobia Pintora, very special meetings once occurred.
“I'm crossing the street at the corner of 116th
Street and Second Avenue to Sandy's Restaurant, which used to be
Cinciotti's Pastry Shop, holding my father's hand. And in the
distance I see Vito Marcantonio approaching us and I remember
groaning to myself, 'Oh noooooo! Now we are going to have to stand on
this corner and my father and Marcantonio are going to talk for a
very long time.' And being a good little Italian girl, I knew I had
to stand there quietly and not interrupt them.
“I wish I could remember what they were talking about.”
Pete Pascale was born in East Harlem in 1914. Like Vito
Marcantonio, his grandparents emigrated from Basilicata in southern
Italy. Like Marcantonio, he never left the neighborhood, which is one
way to get a street sign posted in your honor.
Another way is to help people in that neighborhood. According to
Lois - the performance artist LuLu LoLo - Pascale walked into
Haarlem House (“spelled the Dutch way, with two As)” one day to
see what was going on at the center for neighborhood social work,
“and it changed his life.”
He stayed on to volunteer, coached basketball and acted in plays
until he resigned as executive director of the settlement house 50
Marcantonio's wife, LuLu remembers, worked there. “Miss
Sanders, as we called her, was the nursery school teacher.” The
future congressman from East Harlem worked alongside Miriam Sanders
before marrying her.
“Marc's charisma made an impression on me even as a little
girl,” LuLu told a conference of the Vito Marcantonio Forum
discussing the East Harlem representative's impact on the Puerto
"My father always considered Marc his mentor and talked to me
about Marc with deep admiration and love, but also with outrage at
the way Marc was treated by those who opposed him, including the
Catholic Church which refused to give Marc a funeral at our Lady of
Mount Carmel Church.”
(drawing by Vince Evans, LuLu's son)