Chicago Heights still home for sisters in their 90s
BY SUSAN DEMAR LAFFERTY firstname.lastname@example.org September 3, 2013 9:54PM
Four sisters — all born and raised and still living near each other in Chicago Heights — got together recently to celebrate the 95th birthday of the oldest sister, Connie Faso (far right). With her are (from left) Andretta (Curly) Marconi, 89, Celia Faso,
Updated: October 5, 2013 6:28AM
Chicago Heights has its own version of “The Golden Girls.” Meet the Pagoria sisters, all born and raised and still living in their hometown some 90 years — or more — later.
Nothing has driven them to leave, and nothing has driven them apart.
“If you see one of us, you see four of us,” said Connie Faso, the oldest.
They were all together Aug. 31 to celebrate Connie’s 95th birthday, which was one day earlier.
“Aren’t you blinded by all this beauty?” Connie said, jokingly, as the four sisters gathered again Tuesday in her large family room.
The children of Joe and Angeline Pagoria were very close growing up. All attended St. Agnes Catholic School and Bloom High School when it moved into a new building back in the 1930s.
They are so close, that two of them, Connie and Celia, married brothers — the Fasos — and still live next door to each other.
“We all got along — thank God!” Connie said.
“And our husbands got along,” said Andretta, dubbed “Curly” because of the blonde curls she sported as a child.
“I was dating my husband and his younger brother fell for her. She was married three years after me,” Connie said.
Connie also led the way when she and her husband bought a lot and built a house in 1950. Her parents and her sister Celia bought lots on each side of her, and sister Rose Macaluso bought one across the street.
Curly, the youngest sister (who will be 90 in December), is just a few blocks away. Their youngest sibling and only brother Nick also lived in the neighborhood. Although their parents and brother have since died, the girls still live in the same houses.
They even have condos in Florida that are near each other.
The best times were raising their kids — many of whom are now close cousins who still get together and take their moms out to lunch.
They have been together as they raised large families: Connie with five children, 12 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren (two more due soon); Rose, with three children, eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren; Celia, with one daughter, three grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren; and Curly, with three children and five grandchildren.
There are a lot of Joes and Angelas in the family, as they followed the tradition of naming their children after their parents and grandparents.
Curly’s daughter, Concelia (Faso) Gasbarro, said it was confusing for guys who were dating her and her cousin, Connie’s daughter Concelia Faso, who lived next door.
“Our dates would go to the wrong house,” she said.
The sisters recalled how they would all go out together on Friday nights for dinner, take bus trips or attend shows in Chicago. They reminisced about holidays past and the current successes of their grandchildren.
“Those years sure went fast. We were always together. We had a wonderful life,” Connie said.
They were raised in a strict Italian Catholic household, and were not allowed to go on dates alone.
“We had wonderful parents, the best parents in the world. They taught us everything we know,” Rose said.
They have long outlived their parents — their mother died at 77 and their father at 85 — but they attribute their own long, healthy lives to their parents, who maintained a large organic garden and chicken coop and baked their own bread.
Curly’s favorite childhood memory was going to Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago with her father.
“We would go to ballgames, too,” Celia said.
“And we’d pack lunches,” Rose said.
“I loved growing up here,” Celia said.
None of them left Chicago Heights because their husbands all had businesses in town.
“If we needed something, we were always there to help each other,” Connie said. “We never tried to outdo each other. There is no jealousy, no rivalry. That’s the worst thing in the world. We didn’t always agree, but it was nothing that was so serious that we didn’t forgive one another.”
Although they may rely on canes, a pacemaker, a wheelchair and a hearing aid, all are still as sharp as ever as they continue to joke around and tease each other.
“All four of us are good cooks,” Curly said.
Curly has a “beautiful voice” while Rose “sings terribly,” they said.
Rose also was the “clean freak” while many favored Connie’s house because she “always had toys.”
“Can you make us 10 years younger?” Rose said as they prepared to pose for a sisterly photo.
“No matter how much you try to hide it, your age is there,” Connie said, adding that her secret to longevity is to “not give up and always think positive.”
The oldest of the Chicago Heights “golden” girls now is facing a second battle with cancer, having conquered it 17 years ago.
“I’m living on borrowed time. I thank God for every extra day that I have. It’s wonderful to live with such a wonderful family,” Connie said.
“I think they all lived so long because they have each other,” said Connie’s daughter, Angela Carlman.