At the time of this interview, Mrs. Stamerra was suffering from moderate Alzheimer’s disease, so her daughter Nina helped her to answer questions. A few months after her interview, Mrs. Stamerra passed away in 2014.

Mrs. Stamerra has been living at Job Haines nursing home in Bloomfield, NJ since 2008. She says she enjoys living at the nursing home and knows the people there quite well. She appears to be at peace. “Every day is a new day,” says Mrs. Stamerra. She is quite fortunate, because between her three daughters, she has a visitor every day from 5:30 to 8:00pm, and sometimes earlier as well. Nina describes her as having been a very patient mother.

Nina brings her flowers and herbs from her yard, and Mrs. Stamerra enjoys arranging them. Her sense of smell is undiminished so she gets great pleasure from smelling the mint Nina puts beneath her nose. She still knows her children and sons-in-law and her three oldest grandchildren.

Born in the mining town of Tyler, PA, Mrs. Stamerra came from a family of eight children. Her father was a coal miner. The family left Tyler when she was a teenager, as a result of a terrible fire during which their house burned down. It has always been a powerful and disturbing memory for her. After the house burned down, her great uncle found a small farm in the hills of Paterson. They were able to raise chickens there but could not grow anything because the ground was very inhospitable. They eventually moved to Mill Street in downtown Paterson, NJ and then to Fairlawn, NJ.

Mrs. Stamerra was a wonderful seamstress throughout her life. She worked in the mills of Paterson when they were still flourishing, sewing blouses for school uniforms, coats, and upholstery. She was known for her ability to cook pies and cream puffs with six grandchildren running around. She was home with her children when they were young and then went back to working as a seamstress when they were in elementary school.

She married at 27, considered to be very late at that time. Says Mrs. Stamerra, “My husband was romantic during our courtship.” They were married for nearly 60 years. Her husband enjoyed making wooden birdhouses. The last one he made, just before he died, was etched on the bottom with “Happy 60th Anniversary, xxoo.”

Incidentally, what truly amazed me upon meeting Mrs. Stamerra was her wonderful, smooth skin, the skin of a person many, many years younger.