Person of Interest/POI

Found these pics from my Mother’s stash!   The Hodges Sisters, Inez Hodges Rather, far right.  And Grandfather, Charlie Rather sitting on the porch, bottom, left.

by Vincent Schifani

 Sal Santamaria

Many people did not know that a small portion of Italy resides in Kingwood, Tx. However if one ganders down the path of Northpark and passes the Shell and two auto parts stores you will see a little taste of Italy. In fact it is called Sal’s Little Italy.  It is based out of the owner and only employee’s trailer. And thanks to Salvatore Santamaria, head chef, you can choose one of many traditional, and non traditional Italian courses.

 This is just side one of his menu, pretty elaborate for all being made out of a trailer. And most definitely delicious.

Personally I’ve tried the lasagna and seasoned fries, & meatball sub, which came almost too cheesy for me.   For this Italian, carb loving man, this is quite an accomplishment. Both, were magnifico. I am not convinced however if Mr. Santamaria brought these recipes over to Italy they would be greeted with a standing ovation, although they do in fact work perfectly for the redneck Riviera of Kingwood.

 Mr. Santamaria moved to the lone star state from none other than little Italy, Ohio. He moved to retire and be closer to his grandkids and kids, but he couldn’t keep his feet still and decided to share his recipes with the rest of Kingwood, Humble, Porter and Atascocita.



By Nicholas Schifani An older man stands near a grave stone in Arlington Cemetery with his head bowed; his hands clasped at his waist and holding a top hat by the brim. The man is lanky and tall however he’s somewhat hunched and arthritic. He is dressed in grand tails but the material is worn and faded. His hair is curly and white and his goatee is long and rests on his chest.  The man is timeless, standing where so many have stood before and remembering what the thousands of grave stones around him represent. He remembers the many conflicts of a nation and the way the people took up arms and tools to help the effort to keep America free. He remembers how they fought the powers of tyranny and darkness as they rolled through Europe and Africa and how they beat back the Colonial British as they oppressed the settlers in the new world and how all of their enemies had nary a care for liberty and justice. Now he turns and sees Washington across the Potomac and wonders if such a generation still lives. He can see a long grey wall with names engraved running the length of it. He can see marble statues of other great men. He remembers Boston Harbor and the “shot heard ‘round the world” at Lexington and Concord. As dusk settles the man finds a bench and sits looking at the one light at the top of the Washington Monument, remembering that at one time such a signal meant the enemy was approaching by land, two lights if by sea. It’s July the 4th, the day of independence for this great land and in the final moments of day light the old man turns back to the sea of grave stones on the hill and under the red glare of the first celebratory rocket he sees a group of people dressed in their finest, gathered under a canopy and he hears a color guard performing drill to a four count rhythm. And as the casket is lowered and rifle shots are fired into the air, the old man stands and snaps to attention, saluting, fingers just touching the brim of his red and white striped hat. This proof of a modern version of the greatest generation invigorates him and reminds him that no matter how tough things may get, no matter how many try to destroy us, America is as strong as ever and she remains that way because of the sacred freedom that was given to us by those who delivered us from evil. Today is the day Uncle Sam gets to work.

UNCLE SAM – Person of Interest


Tribute to “Mothering” 

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, I’d like to express my feelings on Motherhood.  We all know various definitions of “Mother”, but I think this describes Mother the best!

“to care for or protect; act maternally toward”

To say I am grateful for this maternal feeling I have always had, is an understatement.  It is apparent to me that you do not have to give birth to “Mother”.

Since I was a little girl, I’ve nurtured my dolls and cats!  Why just last week my girl Tinker was very sick.  I fretted over her for days.  Vince and I took turns feeding her water with a syringe during the night.  How many of us have nurtured baby birds, kittens, squirrels, oh yeah, and human babies as well? I have been lucky to have lots of experience in mothering.                                My boys are the light of my life. 

Sometimes their friends are too.

And, you know your kid is grown up when he sends you flowers! 

A good example of mothering is my dear friend Mrs. Frank.  In helping to nurse my Mother during her last months, she also nurtured Nick, Vince and I as well.

Mildred is another example of how a friend can be “Motherly”.  Mildred is 98 yrs old, she is one of my Mother’s only remaining friends.  Many times she held my hand, whether it was at a carnival ride, at the hospital, or a funeral, or just visiting in general.

My Aunt Shing is pretty Motherly too!  All my life, strangers thought I belonged to her instead of Mama.

My sweet friend Mary always made me feel like part of their family.  Even now, as an Alzheimer’s patient, she continues to nurture her friend Flo who is in a wheelchair.

Last but not least, I am so lucky to have a lovely Mother-in-law, Gloria.  She would be the “Mother lode”.

Just in the past year, we have lost four Mothers.  I say lost, but that is not true, for they remain in our hearts forever.  I would like to thank these Mothers for being a part of my life; Mrs. Sarah Sherwood, Mrs. Mary Ellen Kilzer, Mrs. Myrna Breckinridge, and Mrs. Polly Schifani aka Maw-Maw to Nick and Vince.

Happy Mother’s Day to anyone that has “Mothered”!!


 I’d like to take the opportunity to share with you, some interesting people.   I have a pretty nice list going.

 The Grapes of Rather’s Store’s very first POI is (who else?)

                                                 Charles T. Rather , Jr.

 my Grandfather aka Pop.

This picture was taken by my father, in about 1953.  The horse was named Lightning.  There was another horse named Peckadora.   My cousins, friends, & I had some great times riding those horses and visiting Belmont.  Charles Rather was born in 1881 in  Madison County, he married Inez Hodges in 1909. (see below)


Their first home was in Belmont, Texas.

It has become apparant  (to some) that I did not inherit my Grandparent’s horseback riding abilities.   

Charlie Rather was a cattle rancher, his brand was the rocking R.  In later years when he took over the store, he became the Postmaster as well. 

After Pop retired, the walls of the store began to crumble in.  Eventually, after the deaths of my Grandparents and the sale of the property, the new owner is now trying to re-build the store.  He has high hopes for our Belmont!   


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