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An ode to Mary DalCerro

Tami Jo Nix/The Madera Tribune Mary and Dick DalCerro celebrate Christmas in this undated file photo.


I grew up in a fairly strict household. One of my father’s southern etiquette rules forbids children to address adults by their first names. Teachers, neighbors and even our parents’ contemporaries were addressed as Mr. or Mrs. and their surnames in all but the most inmate relationships. Very close friends were afforded the familial honorific of “aunt or uncle,” and their first names.

Last week I lost the last of these dear people with the death of my “aunt,” Mary DalCerro. She passed on Aug. 29 at the age of 86. She spent the last few years as a resident of Cedar Creek.

Her late husband Dick DalCerro worked for many years at Western Grain and Milling. My dad bought all the feed for his menagerie of farm animals there. I loved going to the feed store with my dad in his raggedy excuse of a pickup truck. The store had a penny bubblegum machine, the proceeds from which went to a charity. Uncle Dick always had pennies in his pocket for me and the other little kids who visited the store.

Their son Jeff was my very best childhood friend. He loved coming to our house in the country because of the farm animals. He was an only child and I loved going to his house because there were no bossy older brothers to mar our games.

Jeff is six-months younger than I am, which put him a year behind me in school. I started kindergarten at age four in September of 1959. The rule stated a child had to be 5 years old by Dec. 1 to enroll for that school year. Since my birthday falls in October, and he was born in April, I got to go to school and he didn’t. He was as furious as a 4-year-old can be. He could not understand why I got to go to school and he didn’t.

As I was near the age line, my parents had the option of keeping me out another year and my mom and I found later we should have done that. A child gets a very limited number of baby years and once they are gone, there is no way of reclaiming them. No big surprise I was a rambunctious and precocious child. I’m sure my mother was thankful to get me out of her hair for a few hours a day.

They should have let Jeff go to school and kept me home. He was always the smartest kid I knew. He memorized the names of all the U.S. presidents when we were just 6 or 7 years old. He earned his Eagle Scout rank and after college became a lawyer.

I was always the youngest kid in my class. Trying now to remember why that was such a burden, the only thing I can remember is that I couldn’t get my driver’s license until my junior year in high school and many of my classmates had been driving since we were freshmen.

The DalCerros were the ideal friends for my parents. Mary and my mother were both nurses. While they shared a mutual curiosity for medicine, Mom and Dick shared an appetite for politics. While neither medicine nor politics interested my dad, Mary was a fabulous cook and that was one of my dad’s passions.

Farewell Aunt Mary, you will be missed.

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Readers, may contact Tami Jo Nix by emailing or following @TamiJoNix on Twitter.

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