• November 12, 2019

Growing up on Macaroni Street - Ocean City Sentinel: News

Growing up on Macaroni Street

Generations of family, friends reunite in Ocean City’s Italian neighborhood

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Posted: Wednesday, October 16, 2019 2:32 pm

OCEAN CITY – Four generations of people with ties to Ocean City’s Italian Neighborhood reunited on Saturday, Oct. 12, on the street where some of them grew up. 

About 40 people met for an informal reunion at Ninth Street and Simpson Avenue to spend time together and reminisce about what life was once like on that street. 

There is a plaque nearby commemorating Ocean City’s Italian Neighborhood, which is from Ninth to 14th Streets along Simpson Avenue. 

Those streets were “the heart of the Italian neighborhood in Ocean City circa 1910 to 1950,” the plaque states. 

That section of Simpson Avenue was also known as Macaroni Street. 

The Italian Independent Club, also called the Columbus Club, was built on what is now 927 Simpson Ave., Ocean City. 

Members of the Botta, Guarracino, Iacona, Migliaccio, and Cappezzia families, among others, went to the Oct. 12 reunion. 

The reunion started when Florence Vagratian and her cousin were talking and decided they should get a picture on the street.  They put information on social media and called relatives to see who could make it.  

“This was where we all grew up,” she said. 

Her mother was born and raised on Simpson Avenue, and her mother’s two sisters and brother also lived on the same street. 

Those who attended described the area as having much more wide open space, an Italian bread delivery person who came down the alley, grape vines in a grandfather’s yard, and picking dried herbs from a grandmother’s house. 

Christine Botta, who was born in a house on Simpson Avenue, said the area at the time was “wonderful.”

She said she worked at several restaurants in the area, including Watson’s. 

“I think this is magnificent. It’s bringing a lot of us together who have not seen each other in years,” she said. “It’s very touching in your heart. It is unbelievable and I’m so glad they did this.”

According to Fran Jerome, the area was less populated and she described Ocean City as a small town. 

She recalled her father driving them on Sunday afternoons down to 59th Street and that there were few houses past 20th or 25th streets.  

“I come over now and I look for things that are familiar and I’m excited when I find something,” she said. 

She also said that, when she was growing up, they knew everybody.  Your cousins were your first friends, she said.  

“They would come over and visit, and it wasn’t like today, where you call someone, let’s plan a night, they would come over, bring out the wine, sit around the table and talk,” she said. 

Although Vagratian grew up in Somers Point, she said she would come to dinner in that area every Sunday at her grandparents’ house. 

The kids wouldn’t want to go, she said. 

“I treasure that now.  You miss it so much.  We would sit on the porch, listen to what’s going on at the Italian Club and watch the traffic going out over Ocean City,” she said. 

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