You often hear that two brothers married two sisters, but to hear about four brothers marrying four sisters is highly unlikely and most unusual. This family will be featured in the upcoming Hook & Ladder Cemetery Tour on Sat., Nov. 4.
Let’s whet the appetite with a few details about the handsome Peperone brothers who married the lovely Centanni sisters.
Felicia Centanni Peperone, fondly called “Aunt Fena,” became the matriarch of the family by sad circumstances. The love and respect that the rest of the family felt for her came from raising her husband’s young brothers due to the untimely death of their parents. As a young married couple, she and Philip took in Anthony, Angelo, Vincent, called Bill, and Vitale, called Nuncie. The only girl, Rosie, went to live with their sister, Josephine Peperone.
Led by the patriarch, Anthony Sr., the Peperones emigrated from Cefalu, Sicily. The large family had seven boys and three girls. They settled in Harvey where they opened a grocery store next to the Harvey Canal locks. After his father passed away, Philip moved the grocery store to 4th Street and Pailet Avenue in Harvey.
The four couples were Philip and Felicia (Fena); Vincent (Bill) and Josephine (Josie); Anthony (Tony/Pep) and Antonina (Lena); and Angelo and Conchetta.
Philip and Fena are the only, of the four couples, who are buried in the historic Hook & Ladder Cemetery on Lafayette Street in Old Gretna.
Three of the four brothers who married the sisters had their own business, a grocery store, a meat market and a barber shop. All were located on 4th Street in Harvey within a few blocks of each other.
Philip and Fena had the grocery store and attached to it was (Vincent) Bill and Josie’s meat market where it was touted as making the best sausage ever. The meat market and grocery buildings are empty, but still standing today. Three of the sisters and brothers lived on Fairmont Street and Philip and Fena lived on Pailet Avenue.
“Our father, Anthony Peperone was known to the family as “Uncle Tony,” but was called “Pep” by his friends. His barber shop was further down 4th Street toward Gretna. My parents had four children, Anna Peperone Kron, deceased, Anthony Joseph Peperone, Mary Peperone Charles and me,” Gail Peperone Lenormand said.
“Daddy was well known in the community for helping people. He served as a Commissioner on the Jefferson Parish Waterworks District #2 and also on the West Bank Levee Board. During the WWII Air Raid Practice here locally, when all of the houses were in the dark, he would leave the house with a band on his arm and a flashlight to check the neighborhood.
“In 1947, daddy contacted locals and together they formed the Harvey Volunteer Fire Co. #2 and by 1948, a station was built. He held the office of Foreman until his death in 1977. The fire station on Maple Street was named and dedicated to the memory of Anthony Peperone!
“He was also instrumental in the planning and development of Infant Jesus Catholic Church. A kind and gentle man, daddy was greatly loved by his wife and children,” Gail said.
Mary talked about their mother, Antonina Centanni, called Lena. “Our mother, a stay-at-home mom, was the daughter of immigrants from Sicily. An excellent cook, she was most comfortable in her own kitchen and undeniably the best baker of cakes, pies, cookies and cinnamon rolls in the family.
“Mamma would rise at 5:00 a.m. each day to begin her daily chores. Because of her competitiveness, she would rush to get her laundry on the line before her sisters and neighbors. Very impatient, she always wanted to be first in line and did not like to wait for anything,” Mary said.
“Mamma did not care for fancy clothes or jewelry. She dressed very modestly at home, wearing her signature housedress. Going to church on Saturday for the Vigil Mass, she did wear her Sunday going-to-church clothes. She was extremely religious, constantly praying the rosary. She was a loving and caring mother who lived to be 100.
Gail spoke about how wonderful it was to have a large family with so many cousins. “I adored all the cousins who thought it much fun to grow up together. There was always someone to talk to. Because of the brothers marrying sisters, there were many double first cousins. Of the 12 double first cousins, seven are still living.
“From these 12 cousins, there became an engineer, doctor, physicist, pharmacist, attorney, genealogist, social worker, a professional bowler, sales associate, administrative assistant, doctor’s assistant and a detective who became an Ace Hardware owner,” Gail said.
“Aunt Josie and Uncle Bill who ran the meat market hosted barbeques on Mondays and everyone brought a dish. Aunt Fena hosted many Christmas Eve parties and in later years, Aunt Josie took over hosting. The sisters would get together for Christmas and any other family gathering to prepare chicken salad sandwiches, meatballs and other delicious Italian foods,” she said.
Gretna Historical Society will host the Hook & Ladder Cemetery Tour on Sat., Nov. 4 that begins with food at the Red Maple, followed by a guided tour through the old cemetery. Actors portray those that are buried there or relay family histories of same. This is a ticket-only event that sells out very fast. Tickets are $25 and are now being sold. You pick the tour time you desire. Go to the GHS Complex office, 209 Lafayette Street in Gretna on Tues. – Sat. from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. for tickets. Call 504-362-3854 for details.