Paul Basile

Paul Basile has been the editor of Fra Noi for a quarter of a century. Over that period, he and his dedicated family of staff members and correspondents have transformed a quaint little community newspaper into a gorgeous glossy magazine that is read and admired across the nation. They also maintain a cluster of national and local websites and are helping other major metropolitan areas launch their own versions of Fra Noi.

Remembering Larry Panozzo

“Ciao, boccia!” I was always greeted by this simple phrase in the Venetian dialect whenever I arrived at Panozzo Brother’s Funeral Home. Those words were uttered by Larry Panozzo as he sat on his stool beside the door greeting everyone who entered. To many, they were welcoming words of comfort that instantly took one back to the old days of Roseland and Kensington. Larry was a gentleman’s gentleman. His calm and unflappable demeanor was always reassuring, whether you had lost a loved one or you were merely seeking a refreshing dip into the nostalgia of days gone by. The mere …

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New JCCIA leadership hits the ground running at 1st meeting

The Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans came roaring out of the gate at its first official meeting following the January installation of its 2021-22 officers. Recently elected President Ron Onesti and a burgeoning cadre of JCCIA leaders have the organization hitting on all cylinders as they upshift into their two-year terms. The meeting was held on Feb. 24 in the recently renovated Italian American Community Room in the Community Center at Casa Italia. On full display were the 80 plaques already sold as part of the Casa’s massive fundraising campaign. More than 60 community leaders representing 30-plus organizations were …

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Italian Americans unite!

Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021, will be remembered as one of the most historic dates in Italian-American history. It’s the day that representatives of 354 Italian-American organizations from across our country joined together to participate in the first-ever National Italian American Summit Meeting. From New York to California to Hawaii, from Michigan to Louisiana, and from nearly every state in between, Italian-American leaders did something they had never done before: They joined hands in a show of national unity. The idea for the summit meeting stemmed from a discussion I had with Frank Maselli, president of the American Italian Museum in …

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JCCIA President Ron Onesti

Crediting the JCCIA with setting him on his life’s path, Ron Onesti is looking to return the favor as the organization’s incoming president. At awards ceremonies, it’s not uncommon for recipients to well up as they recall those who helped them earn their place at the podium. Installations of officers tend to be more stoic affairs, but there Ron Onesti was, fighting back tears as he accepted the presidency of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans at a Jan. 24 meeting at Club Arcada in St. Charles. “At that moment, it came full circle to me just how much …

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Community takes fight for Columbus to next level

Jan. 14, 2021, was a landmark day for the Chicago-area Italian-American community. That’s when we took a quantum leap forward in our efforts to undo the false narrative that threatens to permanently sweep Christopher Columbus from the local landscape. We’ve had great turnouts at press conferences, strategy sessions and rallies, but this was the first time we “entered the lion’s den,” and we comported ourselves admirably. The occasion was a Zoom meeting sponsored by the city of Chicago to field input regarding the future of the city’s many statues, Columbus’ among them. With key decision makers from the city slated …

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Who’s in that picture?

I find it interesting that everyone has a cellphone that can take pictures these days, but we haven’t solved a problem that has been around since the days of Brownie cameras. Many of us have photo albums that show us and our family members and friends at different stages of growing up and at various celebrations and events. The photos show the good times, the bad times and our lives from day to day. We love looking at and reminiscing over these photos because of they remind us of shared experiences with people we care about. Each photo is a …

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We did it!

Fra Noi readers are nothing if not devoted. You demonstrate that every month in the remarkable rate at which you renew your subscriptions, the little notes of thanks and praise you send with your payments, and the inspiring number of gift subscriptions you give. In the last several weeks, you’ve taken that devotion to a whole new level, responding to our fundraising appeal with a tidal wave of generosity. Nearly one in every five of you answered the call with contributions ranging from $5 bills to a mindboggling $2,000 check. With donations still flowing in at press time, the wave’s …

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Community goes virtual to outwit COVID

I’m ceaselessly amazed by the ingenuity and tenacity we show in the face of adversity. A half year ago, the coronavirus had us against the ropes, sending us scurrying for shelter and forcing us to cancel every blessed event we were so blithely planning. Yet here we are today, with COVID-19 still bearing down on us, back in the middle of the ring bobbing and weaving as we find ways to celebrate community and culture while keeping the pandemic at bay. For the past 16 years, a cavalcade of authors and scores of enthusiasts have gathered in the Florentine Room …

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Roseland traditions, from the house tours to ciope

The beauty of life in Roseland is that, as varied as it was, it had happenings that were so dependable as to be practically traditional. That memory endures even in a pandemic world where everyone’s events have been curtailed, cancelled, downplayed, postponed, simplified and placed in a downward spiral. Roseland’s traditions make reminiscing easy. Since this is my October column, we have plenty of events to recall. The Pullman House Tour, which has take place every year on Columbus Day weekend for the past 46 years, has been cancelled for the first time ever. I recall when I first bought …

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A remarkable 60 years

Time sure does fly when you’re on a lifelong adventure. I can’t believe it’s been 30 years since I put the finishing touches on my first issue as editor of Fra Noi. I still recall how thrilled and terrified I was. To be honest, I was on pretty shaky ground for the leap I was about to make. All I had to stand on was a journalism degree, some freelance work and brief stints at a pair of community newspapers. But the publisher at the time saw something in me — perhaps a passion for my heritage or a drive …

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