Saturday, February 21, 2009

Emile Verzone's Dogs

video
Emile Verzone's Dogs

One of the strongest memories for me growing up on Walpole Street was of my Great Grandfather Emile and Great Grandmother Cesira who lived in the next house to us.  "Nonno" and "Nana" Verzone were traditional Italian immigrants who had arrived in Canton in the early part of the 20th Century.  

Emile had worked his entire life for the great hotels in New York and Boston. Principally employed by the Copley Plaza in Boston from the day it opened in 1912. Raising his young family on Columbus Avenue in Boston, he yearned to live in a place that would allow him space and clean air to live in a country setting. Surrounded by his brothers, and all from a small village in Italy called Brusnengo, he had heard about a small town just 14 miles from Boston that had a number of Italian immigrant families living in close proximity. 

Canton had, in the early 190o's burgeoned with Italian Families. The second wave of immigrants to come to Canton after the Irish had arrived in the early to mid 1800's. Family names like Fiori, Dardano, Berteletti, Zanazzo, and Crevola surrounded the patent leather factories and the industrial concerns of the town. All of these families had emigrated to Canton from the same village in Italy called Gattinara, and for Emile this was testament enough to move his family to Canton.

The house was a large rambling federal-style structure that he purchased from a family that had a bakery on the site. A large barn was just behind the house, and a few acres of fields and streams completed the idyllic picture.  Emile commuted every day to Boston to work at the Copley Plaza, and he spent many evenings and weekends building a gentleman's farm on Walpole Street.  Over time he began raising springer spaniels and eventually started raising beagles for sale as AKC registered pups. His dogs had names like Cantonia and America, the former was a champion dog and won many ribbons.  Verzone's beagles were widely sought after and he sold his dogs to many great hunters including the baseball legend Ted Williams. 

By the time I was born, there were only a few litters of puppies left and I had a small beagle pup as a companion. By the late 1960's there were no longer any yips and barks from the house next door and a few years later my Great Grandfather died. The memory is strong though and as a tribute to the family, the small road that leads past my boyhood home and down to the Verzone home is now called Postfield Lane in tribute to the Postfield Kennels that sold AKC registered beagle puppies - the first in Massachusetts, and right here in Canton.

The movie clip is very short and was shot in 1941 as part of a community-wide film. My Aunt Nadine and my Great Aunt Florence are shown doting over the puppies in the kennel just outside the barn. And, while we have some very nice photos, this is a rare piece of film that tells the story of my family in a wonderful way.