Joan Joyce (Schiavon) Huesca
1928 - 1987
Ralph Thomas Schiavon
1924 - 1993
In her own words (Part Six)
We have been following my mother's account of her life, written a couple of months before she died of cancer on September 11, 1987. In Part Six of Joan Joyce (Schiavon) Huesca: an Autobiography, she remembers her beloved older brother, Ralph Thomas Schiavon.
My mother idolized Tom, who was four years older, and who in her view, could do no wrong. She and Tom grew closer in adulthood, and my mother never stopped looking up to her "big" brother. He, in turn, loved her back with all the tenderness an older brother has for his sister. He and his bride, Angelina "Angie" Ciliberto, asked my mother to be a bridesmaid at their wedding in 1946 and later, to be the godmother to two of their four children. She reciprocated the honor; Uncle Tom and Aunt Angie were my very special - and very treasured - godparents.
Tom's name was one of the last my mother spoke shortly before she died, as she waited for his hurried arrival from his home in Chicago, Illinois, to her bedside in Modesto, California.
"Back to school again, but not to St. Dorothy's this time. Instead I was sent to St. Joachim's along with my brother Tom.
"This will be your first indication that there was quite a difference between my brother and me. But there was, and I might as well confess it now. He was not only a boy (there's a lot of difference right there!), older than I, but even in his earliest years, everyone seemed to agree that he was somewhat of a genius, while I was sweet, quiet, and timid mischievous me! Not really very bright, but appealing. (Well, I must have had some good qualities, don't you agree?)
"Genius or not, Tom was a problem to the school and the Sisters who taught there. My mother claimed that she spent most of her time traveling from the house to the Principal's office to see what Tom had gotten into almost daily. One time, she arrived at Tom's classroom to find the Sister covered from head to toe with grease from an engine Tom had brought to school. Another time, she was called to the Principal's office to find my brother and a representative of the Street Car Line. Seems Tom had decided to conduct a scientific experiment to see how awake and aware people were early in the morning, and had taken my Mother's clothesline and interlaced it between the handles on each seat, then sat and watched people on their way out of the street car, falling as they went, and deduced that they really weren't wide awake after all.
"Still another time, when the Sister in charge of Tom's classroom returned there after recess, she found that he had turned the classroom around, and her desk and that of the students were placed in reverse order than they had been originally. 'Of course,' explained Tom, 'you'll all ruin your sight, as the sunlight is coming from the wrong direction, the way you had things placed before.'
"Now, back to me, how could I ever hope to compete with that?"
- Joan Huesca
Did you know Tom and Joan Schiavon, or are you a member of the Schiavon/Schiavone, Ciliberto, McGinnis, or Huesca families? If so, share your own memories and comments below.