Courier Life’s

The Godfather of columnists sounds off on ‘The Godfather’ — and negative Italian stereotypes!

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I’m madder than Sonny Corleone when he realized he couldn’t eat that fish delivered to him that signified the death of Luca Brasi over the negative stereotypes movies like “The Godfather” have dumb people believing hot-dog-and-apple-pie-eating, Chevy-driving, America-loving patriots like your’s truly adhere to just because we happen to have a vowel at the end of our name.

Look, you all know “The Godfather” is “celebrating” it’s 40th Anniversary, and you also know it is one of The Screecher’s favorite flicks that I watch whenever I get a chance, but that doesn’t mean I believe everything I see up there on the silver screen (or, in my case, the Zenith in the living room).

But of course, not everyone is as bright as me, and they think the things they see in movies are real.

That’s right! They think that me and the misses are mobbed up just because the syllables in Santa Maria flow as smoothly as the Tiber.

Well, I’ve got some bad news for youse people that think that: once again, you’re wrong. Again.

Now, I’ve got nothing against my old pal Francis Ford Coppola. I love his wine, and he did great things to save that old pasta plant in Park Slope that makes macaroni the old fashioned way (and, no, it does not grow on trees, despite what they say in England)!

But I do have a problem with people that think all Italians are connected to the mob, because there are a good many of us — I’m not great with numbers, but I would guess the majority — who don’t celebrate Christenings by “taking care of the family business.”

And you know what that means, don’t ya?

Well, leave it to ol’ Carmine to set you straight. Not only am I not in the mob, but I know some other Italians who aren’t as well.

Take, for instance, this year’s recipient of the Bensonhurst West End Community Council’s Cesaria Soccoa Award for “Parent of the Year.” Maria Di Graziano epitomizes the value of the PTA Mom, who raises her family while serving her community selflessly.

Born and raised in Bensonhurst, Maria attended PS 226, St. Athanasius Catholic School, and John Dewey HS, where she was part of Council for Unity with Robert De Sena, President of the Italian Club. But this go-getter didn’t just do homework after school: she also worked at Telco Jewelry, and at Joseph Giaramita law office, and at Caesar’s Bay Bazaar.

She must have got that can-do spirit from her parents, who each worked two jobs to put her through college at Brooklyn College.

She continued to multi-task through her college years, when she was president of the Italian Culture Club and an executive board member of Inter-College Italian American Student Association. She also assisted her professors, Luigi Bonafini, Antonio Spedicato and Robert Viscusi, in research and documentation of the Italian-American experience.

In her senior year, she student taught math and Italian at Mark Twain Intermediate school and interned at the CUNY Graduate Center. She graduated with a BA in liberal arts, and received the Italian-American Women’s League Scholarship Award for outstanding community service for Italian-Americans.

Maria’s first full-time job was as an Administrative Assistant at George R. Funaro & Associates CPA. After a few months there, she was offered a position at the Italian Trade Commission of New York, where she promoted the “Made in Italy” label for an Italian trade commission. There, she met her husband of nearly 20 years, Mimmo Di Graziano. The couple shared the same values of family, hard work and the importance of a good education. They decided to make their roots together in Bensonhurst. When they were expecting their first child, Maria quit the job that she loved, and dedicate her life to her family. Maria is now the proud mother of three beautiful girls: Caterina (15), Gina (9) and Antonella (8).

On Sept. 11, 2001, Caterina started her first day of Pre-K at PS 177 and Maria, with the nudging of her sister, took the Learning Leaders training course and became PTA corresponding secretary.

Now, Maria sits on the Chancellor’s Parent Advisory Council as District 21 President’s Council Representatives; on District 21 Title 1 as Parent Chairperson; is a member of the District 21 Leadership Team; is Vice President of District 21 President’s Council; is the chairperson of PS 177- Title 1 team; is the Chairwoman of the School Leadership Team; is the Vice President of the PTA; BSS 690 and is a member of the School Leadership Team.

If you want to honor and meet Maria and her distinguished co-honorees you may still have time to make reservations by contacting me Come join the mob who will be dancing, drinking, enjoying the food orgy and having great fun at the fabulous El Caribe! Andiamo!

Screech at you next week!

Read Carmine Santa Maria's column every Saturday on Or don't. E-mail him at, or not.

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Reader Feedback

John Mancini from Seth Low says:
We know that "Seth Low" is a school - not a neighborhood! But, for me, a Brooklyn born, Queens transplant, Seth Low WAS the neighborhood! There were many wonderful people of ALL backgrounds. And Carmine Santamaria was one of those Italian American guys who exemplified ethnic pride. He was (and is) a model - a REAL Brooklyn citizen, hardworking, and proud to be a descendant of immigrants!
March 17, 2012, 10:08 am
Tinman from Sheepshead Bay says:
Only Italians -- and the naive -- have a problem with people they think think that all Italians are connected to the mob.
When I saw ET or Close Encounters I knew that was science fiction, just like he Godfather is based on a novel of the same name. A NOVEL, which is fiction.
Get over it!
March 17, 2012, 7:42 pm

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