Photograph of Bearer - Frank Crocitto

Yes indeed, the name is Crocitto, Frank Crocitto, and it has proven to be a lulu, especially if you don't know the how of Italian vowels and how they can get Americanized or how my grandfather, my namesake, decreed it was to be pronounced. Of course the problem isn't the Frank part, though there is sometimes a bog-fog of uncertainty surrounding that, too: "Is it really Frank? Not Francis? Just Frank? Not Franco or Francesco? Not even Franklin or Franklyn (like an uncle of mine, through marriage, spelled it)?"

No, the answer is no, no, no!

"Ah, but what does it say on your birth certificate?"

Frank, I'm telling you, Frank!

Now to the Crocitto part: "Is it Japanese? How do you say it: Crow-cheat-o? How do you spell it? How many C's? How many T's? One C , two T's ? Croci--double t--o. Yess!"  At a certain exasperating point you realize that this name is capable of being mispronounced and misspelt innumerable ways! And I realized that very early on.

Miss Harbison's tenacious grasp on her particular mispronounciation is as good a place to begin as any—Public School 201—7th Grade. Cro-seat-uh was how she said it and she would brook no correction. I didn't mind the "seat" so much as the dying sound of that final "uh". She was constitutionally incapable of pronouncing o's which her yearlong mispronouncing of Philly Uh-Reilly's moniker corroborated.

Later, in succeeding decades, came: Croc-kit-toe and Crow-sit-o and Crow-shit-o. Cro-cheato, Crock-to, Crock-too, Crock-kitto, Crotch-ee-toe, Crockett, Croato, Crookit, Creetocco, Cruatt, Cruet, Grow-sit-toe, Grociddo, Crusto, Crackertio, Crow-shoot, Prosciutto, Crotitto, Crotito, Crosh, Crossit, Crosetti (which is understandable  because there was a fellow named Frank Crosetti who place third base for the Yankees in the 40's), then Crimato, and Cremalotta. Not to mention Perdido. Imagine—Frank Perdido!

I've sometimes thought of changing my name and turning it into Casamassima, which was my Grandmother's maiden name, but God knows what mincemeat would be made of that; or the Crocitto family nickname—Garabaldini. I know that sounds preposterous but it's a great name with a great meaning. When Garabaldi came galloping up the boot, gathering support in his heroic effort to unify Italy, most southern Italians were content to snooze or wave him on, but the Crocitto's joined him in the noble fight. Thus Garabaldini—those who fought for freedom with the great Garabaldi! Well, anyway.

So I have kept the name despite unrelenting misspelling and misspeaking. And my name to this day is still Frank Crocitto. Even though I once got a letter addressed to me, at my address, referring to me, the addressee, as Frank Sinatra. So there you have it. Except for the final insult.

Which was an envelope addressed, in a very neat, John Hancock style script, to one Frank Wilson. Now I'm not sure who Frank Wilson is, but I do know the Wilson part was the last name of my wife's former husband, who never did like me very much.

Yours truly, Frank Crocitto

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