I have always admired builders. My maternal Italian ancestors were brick-layers, stone masons and general contractors. My uncle, Joe Cachey Sr., and his son, Atty. Ted Cachey, have been premier home builders in the Chicago area since 1927. My mother often mentioned that Uncle Joe came to the U.S.A. at 17 years of age with only a trowel and $10 in his pocket. Today, two of his sons are general contractors and six of his grandsons are bricklayers.
Only one of my grandparents, my maternal Grandpa, Felice Cacciavillani (Cachey), ventured into the outside world. This strong-willed man ruled the roost of three boys and three girls with an iron fist. He was feared, but very much respected. He was born in Agnone, Abruzzi (now Molise), Italy, in 1866.
He visited America, the U.S.A., crossing the pond not once, but twice in 1899 and 1906, staying a year each time. He was staying in New Castle, Pa., with relatives and worked there as a bricklayer. He earned money to send back to his family in Italy.
My father arrived in Youngstown, Ohio, in 1920. His first job was working for my mother’s cousin as a laborer, mixing cement for a crew of bricklayers. Her cousin was also from her hometown of Agnone. She was very proud of her lineage of Muratorers (Bricklayers).
In 1959, I decided to general contract my own home, made of brick. My family of four moved in February 1960; the eight-month process was very nerve wracking and educational. I took one day of my 10-day vacation, one day at a time, to supervise it. The final day I used two one-half days. Prior to making my final decision to do the general contracting, I contacted several local general contractors. One said I was asking for an ulcer. I replied, “I don’t get them, I give them.”
Most of my subcontractors were great, and one said that my home would last for 200 years. I replied, “Just like my maternal grandparents’ home in Italy, which is over 200 years old. I visited my Uncle Pasquale there in 1977. He was still living in it with his family, and the home was very livable. I am reminded of two Italian ancestry Mahoning Valley builders that I have always greatly admired, the DeBartolo and Cafaro families, world- class icon mall builders.
Michael J. Lacivita is a Youngstown retiree and member of the Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame and Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame.