Friday, 02 November 2012 15:46

Oz Legacies – Legacy of Love

Written by
Al Nessel, of Oswego, poses with a portrait of his nine grown children. Al recently lost his wife, Dorothy, and said she devoted her entire life to raising their children and making their house a home. Al Nessel, of Oswego, poses with a portrait of his nine grown children. Al recently lost his wife, Dorothy, and said she devoted her entire life to raising their children and making their house a home.

     When Albert "Al" Nessel visited Oswego in the early 1950s, he never envisioned he would meet his future wife and settle here to raise nine children.

     "I am originally from Utica," he said. "My stepdad was transferred here for work at Niagara Mohawk and I was in the Army, stationed in Germany."
     When he came to Oswego for a 20-day visit, he found he really liked it here. One night, about a week into his visit, he ended up at what was once Buckland's Bar, by the forks of the road.
"I saw her there and she had a line of men wanting to dance with her," he said. "Once I met Dorothy, I didn't feel like going out with anybody but her."
     And he never did. Al and Dorothy were married October 31, 1953, settling in Dorothy's hometown.
     Over the years, Al worked at Columbia Mills, Alcan and Hammermill and also owned his own electrical business, working nights. He eventually retired from Hammermill after 20 years to dedicate all his time to his electrical business. Dorothy's job was her family.


     "She didn't work after we got married," he said. "Raising nine kids was more than a full-time job."
     One of his fondest memories of his wife is how she always managed to be so beautiful and elegant.
Dorothy Nessel     "She always took care of herself and the kids," Albert noted. "She always looked very sharp and she loved to dress the kids and take them downtown to buy them sodas."
     Daughter Lori Nessel Stitt agreed.
     "Every morning, Mom was dressed up with her makeup on by 6 a.m.," she recalled. "She never drove, so when one of us had to go to the doctors, or Mom wanted to go shopping downtown or take us for French fries and soda at Freddies, we would all walk together, with two of the little ones in the stroller and all of us holding the stroller. She would never leave one or any of us home alone."
     Stitt explained that her mother had the first seven children within the first nine years and it was not until 11 years later that the last two children were born.
     "Mom had morning sickness every single day of every single pregnancy right through her nine months," she said. "Eighty-one months of morning sickness!"
     But, Lori said, that didn't matter to her mom.
     "(We) were her life," she said.
     Lori said the youngest of the seven was born in 1964; then by 1969 they were all in school and her mom had the house and the day to herself. But, she said, her mother was always finding one reason or another to keep one of the children home from school to spend the day with her.
     "Being our mom really was her life," Lori pointed out.
     Camping, Albert said, was their favorite thing to do.
     "We had a 18-foot trailer and camped all over, from Pennsylvania and New York up to Canada," Al said. "We had everything in that trailer – we had gas lights, electric battery lights and extra batteries. No matter where we were we had the power to do what we needed."
     He said one of the memories that stands out in his mind was one of the times they went camping with friends.
     "We used to camp with Dick and Ann Yule. One day, Dorothy had made some Jello™ and somehow, Dick shook the trailer and Jello™ went all over," Albert said with a laugh. "I don't know why I remember that; it's was just one of those memorable times."
     Lori recalled the incident as well.
     "When Dick came over and shook the heck out of the trailer and Jello™ went splashing all over the refrigerator, boy, did my mom yell at him!" she said with a laugh. "So many stories."
     She said originally, when they started out camping there were seven kids and two adults packed into a circus-sized tent.
     "Then we had a trailer that would be so packed with food, blankets, pillows, clothes, bikes, etc., when we would get to Selkirk or Fair Haven, where we went to the most, we would open that door and things would explode out of there," she said. "We were like sardines, but we had a lot of fun."
     The camping adventures, she noted, ended in 1971 when an in-ground pool took the place for Nessel entertainment for 40 years.
     Lori said one thing her mom loved more than anything next to her family was Christmas.
     "She would put the tree up somewhere between September and October and it was never taken down before March," she said. "The Christmas tree is up right now – it has been up for about five years."
     Lori remembered her mother telling her the story about how she attended St. Mary's School and one year her mom's family did not have the money for a Christmas tree.
     "The nuns decided to give the Segretto family a tree that year," she said. "Maybe that's why Christmas and having the tree up meant so much to her."Al and Christmas Tree
     Dorothy's youngest son, Eric, also has fond memories of Christmastime in the Nessel home because of his mother. To keep his memories alive, Eric took to writing little stories about his memories and one is entitled "The Old Woman and the Christmas Cookies," in which he lauds his mother's baking.
     "In the fall and summertime, she made her famous cinnamon rolls and apple pie," he wrote. "But The Old Woman's greatest baking achievement was her Christmas cookies."
     Among her most famous creations, he cited, were anisette and chocolate whiskey cookies along with fig bars, which required a little help from Al and their old meat grinder.
"Yes, we actually had a meat grinder," Eric said. "(Mom) would mash the figs, walnuts and raisins together and (Dad) would grind them to a pulp with the hand-cranked meat grinder."
     Eric recalled that although it appeared his dad hated Christmas because of the "millions" of dollars he complained they spent each year,      inevitably his mood would change on Christmas Eve.
     "He would go out and buy the neighbors Hickory Farms gift boxes or the infamous Friendly's Ice Cream Christmas log and make his rounds delivering them," he said.
     Lori said that her mom was diagnosed in April of this year with lymphoma and had gone through the regimen of chemotherapy. It looked promising at one point that she might have won the battle, but that hope was short-lived.
     "Right before she died, she had a good day and we all were with her and she had the chance to tell us how much she loved us," she said softly.
     Lori vividly recalled the night before her mother's funeral.
     "My brother Al and Uncle Mike were going to be the only speakers at the funeral," she said. "Since I had never spoke in public before I never thought I could do it." she said.
     That night in bed, however, she could not sleep and felt a gentle, internal nudge.
     "I just knew I had to say something," she said.
     So at 2 a.m., Lori got up and began filling out little index cards with her memories, in particular her mother's love for Christmas.
     "I was up the rest of the night and for some reason, one song kept playing over and over in my head," she said. "It was Frankie Valley's 'My Eyes Adore You.'"
     Lori said the song comforted her and as she sang it, it gave her the strength to do what she knew she needed to do.
     "I sang it in the shower as I got ready and I sang it quietly as I walked down the aisle to the podium to talk about Mom," she said. "Every time I would start to cry, I would sing that song to myself."
     After the funeral, there was a gathering at one of her uncle's house.
     On the way home from that, she said she turned on the radio in the car and the song that came on was – you guessed it – Frankie Valley's "My Eyes Adore You."
     Lori knew it was her mom's way of helping her get through a very difficult time.
     "Dorothy was a beautiful person and a wonderful mother," Al said, emotion choking his voice as he tried to find the words to describe his wife of 59 years. "She was number one and that's all there was to it. She was a mother first. She was the greatest and most selfless person; she thought about everyone else before herself."
     He paused as he looked around the living room at the nearly 60 years of memories surrounding him – at the family photos and at the Christmas   tree still decorated.
"It surprises me when I hear 59 years (of marriage)," Al said. "Fifty-nine years went by like a shot."




 Dorothy A. (Segretto) Nessel

June 19, 1932 – Aug. 7, 2012


     Dorothy A. (Segretto) Nessel was the daughter of the late Anthony and Ann Segretto. She is the mother of Stephen, of Oswego; Robin (Jack) Rando, of Charlotte, N.C.; Albert Jr. (Karen), of Woodbridge, Va.; Lori (Timothy) Stitt, of Oswego; Christopher (Nancy), of Liverpool; Robert (Aneta), of Fayetteville; Craig and Eric, both of Liverpool; and Jennifer, of Charlotte, N.C.

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