Notes from Napa

Sunday, May 23, 2010



FEBRUARY 22, 1996 St. Helena Star

Of Course, I never Called Her Angie while she was alive. She was always Mrs. Aquila. Like her husband was always Mr. Mayor--or Mr. Aquila.
When we grew up here, adults were addressed as Mr. or Mrs. It was a sign of respect. And Mrs. Aquila commanded respect.

She had a tough job--raising a family while running a movie theater that catered to kids, and keeping her family together under the glare of a politician's lights.

We didn't make her life any easier. As kids we terrorized the Roxy, sitting where we weren't supposed to, throwing pop corn and spit balls--smuggling in bean shooters and God knows what else.

Ever had your kid say , "Mom, you're embarrassing me in front of my friends?" Imagine what it was like for Marylin and young John. Every Friday and Saturday night, their mom was on flashlight patrol trying to tame the untamable and make the viewing of a Saturday night movie a pleasant experience for all.

How tough was it? Well, as Bob says about the time she demanded that he give her,what he had in his hand, "right this instant", "How was I to know she didn't like lizards?"

But Mrs. Aquila never waivered. She knew her duty was to make us shape up and behave. We were children and she loved us as she did her own family. And if parents put us in her care at the Roxy for a Friday night, she was not going to take the easy road and let us run wild. She did her duty. She stood her ground. She set high standards. We had to perform or leave.

It's no accident that Marylin is in the Nursing Profession and young John a Man in Blue. Something about love, duty, and apples falling close to the tree.

I feel a little less safe with Mrs. Aquila gone. A little more vulnerable. She was one of those parents along with Mr. Vandershoot, Mr. Carpy, Mr. Galleron, Mr. Michaels, Mr. Sculatti, Mr. Bettinelli, Mr. Berry, Mr. Hunter Mrs. Vorhees, Mr. Debly, Coach Davis, my father and all those other fathers, mothers, teachers, and coaches who've now left us, but once joined hands as a community to raise use through those teen years.

I think of them each time I wimp out and take the easy way in raising my own kids. According to the articles one reads today, they sure wouldn't know how to raise the 90's teen. Boy were they behind the times. They couldn't do a thing right. They were lousy finger pointers. They failed in properly blaming the schools, the cops, the coaches, the umps, the "lack of things to do", drugs. They were so out of it that they thought they were responsible for raising their kids. And they were so square, that they didn't let us off the hook either. When we got out of line, as we invariably did, we had to pay for it--with suspensions, groundings, banishment from teams, keys taken away, physical labor. They didn't even have the wisdom to get us the proper lawyers we needed.

No one asked Mrs. Acquila how she would tackle today's issues. No one had to. We know how she would have done it.

Everyone in town knows more about raising children than our parents did. But if you had to start from scratch and sketch the picture of a "Citizen/Mom", one could do a lot worse than a portrait Mrs. Acquila. She will be missed.