Francis and Frances Misitano
Francis continued to work full time at the Pennsylvania Railroad Shops in Altoona until he
retired in 1959. While working full time, he pursued a side business of purchasing older homes
nearby and fixing them up as needed and renting them out for income. This provided a dual benefit of
a bit of extra income over his Railroad Shop wages as well as a supply of housing units close to his
home and making them available to his sons and daughters at favorable rates as they were starting out
their lives and beginning their own young families.
In my pre-teen years my dad's family lived just one block from his parents' home, as did the families
of my uncles Tony and Tom. I believe that my Aunts Pauline and Grace continued to live in the parents'
home for a time.
There was a lovely back yard in my grandparents' home for weekend and holiday gatherings, as
well as a sizeable front porch for evening conversation and visiting. My grandmother (Frances) always had
a table full of delicious home cooking for visitors, and many delightful afternoons and evenings were spent
in happy family gatherings.
The house was situated on a Hill with a view from the front porch overlooking the southeast
portion of Altoona, making it a perfect spot for annual gatherings when the Altoona Lakemont Park,
about five miles distant, would have their massive 4th of July fireworks displays.
At about the same time as the Penn State University was purchasing land (late 1940's) in the northeast
corner of Altoona that would eventually become a full-fledged campus of that school, my grandparents
purchased an adjacent parcel of land of about 10 acres, directly across the street from today's entrance
to the campus on Wehnwood road. This parcel was near a neighborhood of houses to the west, but the
eastern and northern boundaries are foothills of a fair-sized Wopsononick mountain ("Wopsy" to the locals),
so there was never any development beyond the property.
Members of the family thereafter came to know this parcel of land as "the farm," and many a picnic was
held there in lush meadows with abundant fruit trees.
One such picnic, albeit on a massive scale, was a Bon Voyage party in the summer of 1959, celebrating
the upcoming voyage of Francis and Frances to their ancestral home in Calabria, Italy. By that point in time
the extended family had grown considerably, and the picnic was of epic proportions.
Altoona Mirror Newspaper Clipping about Italy Trip - August 11th, 1959
Frances and Francis relaxing on "the farm" during the Bon Voyage party