Americo “Peter” DeCarlo needed morning coffee at his family’s first summer reunion in 1958.
He arrived at the former Pine Grove Dairy in Duanesburg at about 9 a.m. He made breakfast, and put an aluminum coffee pot on the charcoal grill.
The family has convened in July ever since. And even though Americo died in 2000, the now-worn coffee pot remains a regular at DeCarlo gatherings.
“The original glass top broke — so we replaced it,” said Americo’s daughter, Glori DeCarlo Civitello of Delanson. “It’s only used once a year for the family picnic; that’s it.”
The DeCarlos gathered for their 50th anniversary picnic on Sunday at Schenectady’s Central Park. There was bocce ball and horseshoes, music and the usual summer menu of hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, chicken and pizza.
“We all get to catch up,” said Civitello, 56, a staffing control assistant at Ellis Hospital. “It’s ‘Who’s the next grandmother?’ and ‘Did you bring Uncle Mitt’s coffee pot?’ ”
“Mitt” was Americo’s nickname.
“Since the day I was born, I remember everybody called him ‘Mitt’ or ‘Uncle Mitt,’ ” Civitello said. “Don’t ask me how he got it, but he got it.”
The first picnic was held to help celebrate Uncle John DeCarlo’s 50th birthday. Family members had such a good time that they decided to continue the tradition of celebrating 50th birthdays at the summer bash. The gang has been assembling at Central Park since 1968.
John and “Mitt” were brothers, and enjoyed the company of seven other adult siblings. The family saluted aunts and uncles through the 1970s.
“Then we started with the cousins,” Civitello said. “We have one more left, Amy DeCarlo. She’s 48 — so we have one more to go as far as the cousins. Who knows, we may start on the second cousins.”
About 60 members of the DeCarlo clan, from Schenectady, Amsterdam, Florida, Texas and other places, were expected in the park on Sunday. Civitello said the family is up to four sets of bocce balls: “Everybody wants to play,” she said.
“Uncle Mitt” used to tell people the family would always gather on the third Sunday of July. The cooking and talking would take place in Central Park, near the tennis courts.
Glori Civitello said she will always keep the date. She’ll bring the coffee pot.
“I don’t care if I’m the only one sitting there,” she said. “I will be there on the third Sunday in July.”