Mary Reginato Hudson's book Paintings of Mama and Papa is a sensitive and heartwarming collection of short stories and memories about growing up in the 1920's and 1930's in the historic railroad town of Dunsmuir, California. Pietro and Antonia Reginato immigrated from northern Italy believing they would find gold in California. They did not find gold in the streets, but instead they found the wonderland of Siskiyou County in northern California.
Together they built their little house and established their home on the banks of the Sacramento river where the majestic Mount Shasta hovered over them. Surrounded by the beauty of Castle Crags and Black Butte and the Trinity mountains, they raised their seven children with a goal of giving them a good and honest life in America. Although they had very little, they had everything they needed. In fact, they had it all. The small Southern Pacific Railroad community, which at that time was the hub of the railroad in northern California, provided a great support and provision to the working families. And the street on which they built their house called Butterfly Avenue was a small example of unity and diversity amongst the neighbors. Sharing their burdens and their joys, they took care of each other. And Mama and Papa were able to see their children succeed. They were able to see their children become the new Americans.
Angelo, the football star of Cal Berkely, made the winning touchdown in the game between Cal and Stanford in 1936. Katerina, an incredible female athlete, who also attended Cal Berkely, was invited to the Olympics in 1936. Johnny became a successful businessman. Albert following in his father's footsteps, became a career railroad man. Tony, the jack of all trades, was successful in the auto business. Mary dedicated herself to writing and wrote many wonderful children books for children, editorials, and of course Paintings of Mama and Papa, a legacy to her parents. And Carolyn, the youngest who also graduated from Cal Berkeley became a teacher. The
These stories are wondrous and uniting memories of a time when life was simple, despite the depression and the war. There was kindness and caring and trust amongst the people of the town. They took care of each other and filled each other's needs. And in the magical beauty of Siskiyou County, they experienced the joys of trout fishing, and picnics in the mountains, and walking in the woods, and hunting for dandelions and mushrooms and raising chickens and rabbits and eating food from their garden. Paintings of mama and Papa will take you back to a time in America, where the most important thing was doing the right thing, and following the golden rule and helping anyone who crossed your path. Today we see signs and T-shirts everywhere stating… If you can be anything, be kind. Well, that was the reality of life in Dunsmuir, California, and in many ways it still is. These stories demonstrate the joy of simple living to a world today where life is driven by social media, competition and mistrust of everyone. The book will transport the reader back to the hardships and joys of an era long gone.