Baldwin’s newest member of the century club, Ida Genna Scaduto, celebrated her 100th birthday on Sept. 22 at the Pompeii restaurant in West Hempstead. According to Scaduto’s daughter, Jo Miller, “Ida has had a full life,” and her family has always been the centerpiece. Miller said that her mother is a wonderful cook and still makes meals and bakes cookies for her loved ones.
Born on Sept. 25, 1913, on Melrose Street in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, Ida was the second child of Sicilian immigrants Charles and Caterina Scaturro. In the decade after she was born, Ida’s parents had five more children, but two of them died before reaching age 5.
The Scaturros were a tightly knit family. Charles and his sons eventually turned a horse-and-wagon fruit operation into a chain of supermarkets called Charles Scaturro and Sons. This process wasn’t easy. According to Miller, in the early days the family store could only stock two or three cans of each item because there wasn’t enough cash on hand to purchase more. The family, which lived behind the shop, would collect their customers’ money at the end of each week, when workers were paid.
Caterina Scaturro was a skilled seamstress — a trade into which Ida and her older sister, Lilly, followed her. The women used to walk to a nearby factory carrying numerous pairs of finished pants around their necks. They would exchange the completed garments for new materials they would take home to work on.
Although Ida was a high-ranking seamstress for her employer, she was attracted to the idea of unions early on. According to Miller, although Ida was among the best-paid employees at her factory, she agreed to take a $2 pay cut in order to support her coworkers. Ida also walked on picket lines, demonstrating for better working conditions.
Ida met her first husband, Gasper Genna, when he arrived from Sicily at age 15. The pair married in 1939, and honeymooned at the New York World’s Fair. In 1943 they welcomed their first child, Josephine, just before Gasper went to fight in World War II. In 1947, soon after he returned home with a Bronze Star for heroism, the couple’s second child, Thomas, was born.