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Memories of Italians in the Rhondda

Having been born and bred in the upper Rhondda Valley (especially Tynewydd/Treherbert/Treorchy) I would have first been made aware of the Italians through the local "Bracchi" cafes although in our village these would have been essentially the Basinis and Strinatis. Of the Basinis there were two establishments, the one in Tynewydd run (if that's the word) by Jack and the other about a mile down the valley in Treherbert by Jack's brother Vic. Why do I query the word "run", well, only because although Jack could have quite a frightening manner at times to a young child any anxieties were quickly dispelled cos his wife would invariably pass across some complimentary sweets which certainly did not please her husband! My father also often quoted Jack who'd have amused him with such phrases as "See Mr Price, as I always say, Vee Velsh should stick together" or "Vales for the Velch!!". Aye, Idris Davies in his "The Angry Summer" has a lovely minature of the Italian cafe community and in a no less affectionate way Herbert Williams in the poem "The Aliens". A dear friend of mine, who very recently celebrated his 96th birthday, once said to me that he'd never forget the support of the "Bracchi's" in the years of depression when you could buy a glass of lemonade and sit there for hours without being asked - or these days no doubt ORDERED - to move on. Such understanding surely deserved the loyal response it received especially from the valley communities.
So much more could be said in what, I regret, is becoming rather a lengthy letter. My first taste, in or around 1964, of a realy Spaghetti Bolognase made by Antonietta Negrotti of the Queens Cafe in Pentre. Enjoying great coffee on Sunday evenings at Luigi's "Cose Cafe" in Treorchy to the accompaninment on the juke box of either George Lewis's "Burgundy Street Blues" or Louis Prima's "Buono Sera". My friendship with Luigi continues to this day and I'm sure that over the years he must have amassed a truly HUGE collection of jazz vinyls.
Thanks for reading thus far. I thoroughly enjoyed Mario Basini's recent talk at the Rhondda Heritage Park and quite a co-incidence that the topic should subsequently be referred to in your letter. As to the "Arandora Star" what a stain on our govenment.
Keep up the good work!
ROGER PRICE
(Now living in Bridgend)
March 2013
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