Eight decades later, having lived across nine states these three best buds share a collective lineage that includes 17 children and 45 grand & great-grandchildren. (Pictured left to right) Lucy “Chubby” Tutino, 84, Lucy Bisaccia, 84 and Viola DeMarco, 84 jokingly tease “Do you think we’ve done enough damage?” Eighty years of friendship later these golden girls are still laughing with one another and standing the true test of time.
All now residing in their hometown of Yonkers, NY this summer each will celebrate their 85th birthday within 6 weeks of the other. When a better a time to tell their story? This piece comes much to Viola’s satisfaction as she’s been persuading the Lucy”s” to agree to it for some time now.
The ladies speak proudly about growing up on Willow Street as they passed the hours playing on the sidewalk and their front porches or stoops. If trees could talk they tell me, I’d have a much more juicy story! They refer to themselves as “street kids” but quickly assure me not the bad kind we’d associate the term with. They busied themselves outdoors until the infamous beckoning from their mothers to come inside for supper. Together they attended school 18 and Ben Franklin Junior High, made their holy communions and frequented Tibbetts Brook Park all while donning each other’s clothes.
As teenagers they enjoyed music and dancing and wisely decided not to argue over their favorite musicians. Each of the three swooned over a different crooner. Viola had an affinity for Glen Miller while Lucy adored Ole Blue Eyes Frank Sinatra and Chubby’s man was Harry James. When it came to their real-life loves they thankfully never chased the same man either.
During WWII the ladies had many friends who served overseas. Around the age of 14 they admit one of their favorite past-times was to write letters to their friends off fighting. These brazen beauties typically liked fellas 4-5 years older from their neighborhood. Some days they received several response letters from their pen pals, which they sat to open together. Hearing of far off places like Hawaii, the South Pacific, Belgium and Italy excited their imaginations. And then the men came home, each of them snatching their hubbies around the same time. Chubby, Viola and Lucy each married at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel parish sequentially in 1948, ’49 & ’50. Of course they were one another’s bridesmaids. They pull out nostalgic photos and tease each other about the god awful dresses, fabrics and colors. Their husbands, poor guys never stood a chance not becoming friends! Proudly they add that they’ve all shared the role of being godparents to one another’s children.
When asked if they argued much-the ladies pause for a moment. Viola tells me they “Never argued, only disagreed.” Naturally that seems impossible. How could three women never argue, about anything in 80 years of friendship? With further prodding they point to very simple concepts-laughter, love and respect. They chose to love each other in spite of personal differences, give respect where it was due and laugh their way through life’s challenges, supporting one another through the tough stuff. With three husbands, seventeen children, households to run, moves to make, first and second jobs, life was not without it’s hiccups. The ladies admit that having the security of their friendship and honest advice meant their sanity at times.
They worked hard, made do with very little, appreciated what they were given and instilled strong values in their children. Whether they were close in proximity or not-they each knew there was a genuine friend just a phone call away. As with their marriages, they each lost their husbands within 2 years of the rest. Their bond would grow even stronger as they faced this loss and is also what prompted them to head back home to Yonkers and their roots.
Viola, Chubby and Lucy are certainly full of life for their age! They tell me of their love of reading, watching a good movie and cashing out at the casino. It wouldn’t be far off to find one of the three, if not all, at Empire City Casino. They admit they’d love to get back to Vegas as well and have enjoyed many a trips to Florida too. They speak on the phone daily and get together for a fancy ravioli dinner at Chubby’s once a month. Talk about the little things 😉
Like many gushing grandparents they share a similar sentiment-the pride in their grandchildren. When they speak of their lives’ greatest accomplishments they are clear that their families are their prized possessions. Referring to all their “kids” as the loves of their lives and the reason this article has been written. Encouraged to tell their unlikely story and blessing of lifelong friendship, they now have even the shortest written legacy to leave behind someday!
Cheers to these golden girls as they embrace their 85th birthdays this summer. Their lives, their friendship, their families and their smiles are most certainly something to celebrate.