Louis Macchietto was a lifelong resident of Marseilles who died March 3 at age 92. He had served during World War II in the U.S. Merchant Marine and then worked at Libbey-Owens-Ford for 35 years. About 10 years ago, Macchietto decided to write his reminisces about growing up in Marseilles. Copies were made available at his memorial service. Macchietto’s friend, Don Lockas, provided a copy to The Times. It is being reprinted with the permission of Macchietto’s wife, Carol.
Quiet serenity and memories of days gone by when I was very young, in my solitude, as I lay awake at night, remembering echoes of the past of a time long since gone. But still vivid in my mind is our small valley town of Marseilles in the Illinois River Valley surrounded by bluffs and hills. The sounds come alive to me as I lay awake late at night — the steam trains passing through town, the whistle made its magical sound at night, the sound of an owl hooting its strange sound. I could visualize in my mind, could see the owl perched in the tree in our yard, or during the day hear the cries of the crows in flight, then at dawn the steamboat whistle of the riverboat on the river resounded through the valley.
This was my age of wonderment. But also of pride even though we had very little. To walk the streets of our town to greet our elders with respect and have a sense of caring for them. To watch the trains stop and pick up passengers and look at the passengers in the train and wonder who they are and where are they going? They were dressed and looked so fine to me I thought they must be rich.
In the summertime laying on the grass and looking at the sky, the clouds were the mountains and the river was the sea. Summertime swimming and fishing in the Illinois & Michigan Canal, weekend family swims with their inner tubes and boating. Stealing rides on the back of horse drawn wagons, the driver would pretend he didn't see us, though he knew the pleasure we as young kids got thinking he didn't know. It was a pleasure to get to ride on a horse-drawn wagon as we always had to walk. The band concert, the carnival, the ball games or donkey ball games.
Skating on the canal in the wintertime, roasting potatoes in the ashes of the fires we built to keep us warm. Climbing on the bluffs and hills, playing games like knifey, run sheep run, snipe hunting, duck on the rock, kick the can and leap the frog and follow the arrow, which at times went up the cemetery walk to the cemetery at dusk. We would be scared and would turn back. Evening walks around the neighborhoods greeting the others walking or sitting on their porches greeting you.
In our town were many different people from Italy, Kentucky and different ethnic groups. We all got along respecting one another.
The wish book was a mail order catalog. Whenever a purchase was made, we hounded the postal delivery man, everyday asking when our package would come, but that was forever to see if our new shoes would fit.
Remembering sitting on my dad's uncle's knee at the river watching the riverboat men tie up their barges for other boats to pick up to go to Joliet and Chicago.
This is a time etched in my mind, the memories I shall never forget. These were hard times.
The swaying of the street corner light when the wind blew, casting its shadow to and fro, the sound of the rain and wind as I lay awake in my solitude.
We as children did not realize the hardships our family went through. There was discipline, but there was love. We as youth were resentful at times. But looking back in time now, we can understand with more wisdom as we grow older that love and caring was our parents' virtue of life. A time long ago remembered forever etched in my mind with a sense of sadness, as the shadows of life get closer to our time on earth.