Anna and Charlie DiPietro marked their seventy-eighth wedding anniversary this past June. Married at age nineteen and age twenty-one respectively, they raised three daughters, have nine grandchildren and eighteen great grandchildren. Today Anna is ninety-seven and Charlie is ninety-nine. They have been residents of Peabody for three years.
As a young girl, Anna lived near a library. She read every fairy tale story. “My own stories sound like fairy tales. I have been through a lot. In real life, you do not always end up happy but there is light at the end of every tunnel. God has given me so much.”
Anna grew up in Cambridge, Charlie in West Boylston. Their mothers were friends and attended the same Italian church in Boston. Charlie had just returned to his family home in West Boylston from New York where he had been working. Anna and her older brother drove their mother to visit with her friend in W. Boylston and it was then that the two met. Charlie prayed that night that he would “win Anna as his girl.”
Charlie continued bringing his mother from W. Boylston to the Italian church in Boston. In so doing, he and Anna began a courtship. “We had only one date alone in all the time we dated,” since Charlie always had his mother with him. They fell in love and married soon after.
It was as members of their church in Boston that they became involved in establishing a spiritual Christian camp. One member of their church community had a desire to help the children of Boston whose families could not afford a place to go for vacation in the summer. Her vision prompted the congregation to pray that there would be a person able to lead this mission and build a camp.
As it turned out, Charlie DiPietro was, as Anna describes it, “chosen” to be this leader. His family owned a 100-acre farm in W. Boylston and Charlie’s mother offered four acres to them for the camp. Camp Woodhaven in West Boylston has been in the family for over sixty years. You can visit their website to learn more about the camp at http://www.campwoodhaven.com/about.php
Currently Charlie and Anna’s grandson manages the camp. The camp now includes sixty acres of land. “It’s wonderful that we have been part of this camp and that it is still in the family all these years later.”
Anna attributes her faith to her experience after she had a serious fall at the age of twelve. She suffered internal injuries and spent a year and a half in Lakeville State Hospital, at the time a great distance from her family in Cambridge. Her mother was only able to visit her a couple of times and she does not remember her father ever being able to visit.
“In my heart I knew I needed to know God. I believed God would help me through this. God has a purpose for our lives.”
Anna witnessed dying and suffering during her hospital stay. She spent time accompanying a visiting priest as he administered to the sick. “When you grow up seeing suffering, it gives you much compassion.”
While a married mother of her first two daughters, Anna had another serious accident falling down a flight of stairs. She had a difficult recovery for two years because of this fall. Again, Anna attributes coming through this setback to her faith in God.
Charlie started his own company, General Plating, in Boston in 1945 from which he retired and sold the business at the age of fifty-eight. He is happiest being busy with projects and likes to keep moving. Charlie does not want to be dependent on others and continues to still take care of his lawn and attend to household maintenance, like plumbing. “How many people my age get under the sink like me,” referring to a recent plumbing fix in his kitchen.
Anna continues to do all the housework still. “I really don’t want any help.” She keeps herself busy with cleaning, reading, crocheting and tatting.
Anna and Charlie have been Meals on Wheels recipients five days per week for a year now. Anna still likes to cook but reports that she keeps it simple. She prepares breakfast for her and Charlie every morning. She and Charlie are appreciative of the meals they receive through North Shore Elder Services’ Meals on Wheels program and their Personal Emergency Response System (PERS).
The couple have a strong network of neighbors and family who are available to assist in supporting their independence. They moved to Peabody three years ago to be close to their youngest daughter and her family. They both feel blessed to have landed in Peabody and Anna believes “God led me to here.”
Anna and Charlie are grateful for all they have been given and particularly for their daughters and extended family. They do not see that there is any secret to their long married life. “We have really loved one another. No matter how good you get along, there will be things you have different opinions on. It did not always come easy.”
Anna thinks maybe younger people today expect too much from each other. “There’s no one person who can make you entirely happy. Happiness has to come from within. There can always be something negative about someone. The important thing is you love someone for who they are. You will never change someone so you have to accept a person for all their flaws and weaknesses.”
Anna fell in love with Charlie because he was a kind and gentle man. “There were so many things I loved about him that I did not dwell on the little negative things. I have not found one old man I would swap him for!” Charlie stands by his belief that “I know good stuff when I see it,” which was why he was smitten by Anna the day he met her.
The DiPietros have spent their many years together taking the good with the bad and giving credit to God for their fairy tale of love.