Growing up in Little Italy, during the winter months, the Alta House provided a place of constant activity. I can vividly recall opening up the large, at the time, wooden door, and the distinct smell of the place engulfing my senses. Mr. Sam Puliafico, always would seem to know who was entering, even before you would actually see him in his office. I can see Cesar gathering children to take to the pool, either for lesson’s or open swim. I can see the various art work hanging on the walls, crafted by various neighborhood children. I can see Ricky Chamberlin and Mario Mastrandrea playing Ping-Pong, and see various CYO basketball practices taking place, and hear the constant sound of Mr. Puliafico’s voice resonate through the building.
Of all the grandiose memories I have of that magnificent building, what stands out in my memory is Mr. Puliafico. No matter what was happening outside the Alta House-bad times at home, disagreements among friends, etc., Mr. Puliafico strived to provide a refuge, a safe haven for the children of Little Italy. For as long as I live, I will never forget the grand place, and never forget what a pillar of a man Mr. Puliafico was
We grew up at 1974 E. 123rd, the Minadeo house. Grandpa Minadeo lived on the first floor, Uncle Peter lived next door, same house my dad`s brother Leo lived on the third floor, Grandpa`s sister Kathlene lived in the back house. Uncle Frank Dominic lived behind Sammy Angie across the street. Mary`s store was the best place to get penny candy. Uncle Pete married Carol Lenzo. They owned the store on Murrayhill. I could go on for ever. -Eugene Easthon
In 1944-45 they had a pre-school at the Alta House. I lived on Prior Court, which was a straight walk to the Alta House. At 4 years old my mom dropped me off for pre-school, which was my first time and needless to say I didn’t like being there, so at 4 years old i snuck out a door and walked home. Boy was my Mom surprised to see me back home and I had done it on my own. In later years the Alta House become a big part of my life and my friends, we played basketball, we used the pool table upstairs a lot, and we had a lot boxing bouts in the ring, as friendly little matches. We also crashed a few wedding receptions at times. It has always been a big part of our neighborhood and I hope it lasts forever to all the kids growing up in the best place in the world. I miss it all dearly !! -Domenic Leo