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Monday, April 25, 2005 | Settled amongst the sidewalk cafes, shops and condo buildings of Little Italy is a white house with a wide porch, a green roof, molded cherubs, gold accents and rose bushes. Built in 1949 by Tony and Rose Bernardino, the house on India Street has been passed through three generations of daughters to its current residents, Nick and Joanna Pecoraro. The two married soon after he came to San Diego 37 years ago from Palermo, Sicily. Nick, who owns and operates a painting company out of the home, recently took a few minutes to talk about the view from his porch.
Q: I hear you just sit out on the porch in the evenings and watch people.
Yes, after I have my dinner I sit outside there with my glass of wine, watch people go by, sometimes they stop and say hello, talk a little bit to me, they like the house. Everybody say, “Beautiful house, remind me like New Orleans. Beautiful house, beautiful roses,” then they go away. Then somebody else, they stop by, and same thing again: “Beautiful house, beautiful. Is it a house?” They want to know if it’s a house, if it’s a hotel, want to know if it’s a – what do you call it? – bed and breakfast. They want to come in, I say, “No, you cannot come in,” they want to visit the house, I say “No, not yet. As soon as I need money, then we will, thank you so much.”
Q: Has anybody ever tried to get you to sell it, since it’s in the middle of all the shops?
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Sometimes they come and say, “You want to sell?” Lot of people do that.
Q: What do you tell them?
Make me an offer I can’t refuse. Like the movie “The Godfather.”
Q: So why’d you come over here?
Money. [Laughs.] No, because we in this country know some more opportunity than Sicily… that’s why me and a lot, lot, lot of people from Sicily, Italy, they came over here. There is more opportunity, more money. You can be anybody you want to be over here, if you sacrifice and work hard. Over there, there is not that much work and not that much money – that’s the reason to come over here.
Q: How did you get interested in painting?
Well, it was my father’s idea really, because my father used to work in one of the biggest hospitals in Palermo. I like to be a mechanic … I was a little boy, 11 years old. I didn’t like to go to school, so I want to go to work. So then my father, he say, “You go learn how to paint, and then when you 18 you come and work with me and we can outfit to the new methods of paint because we have such big outfit and need somebody used to new methods of paint.” I say, “OK, that’s a good idea if I were to go get a job in the hospital, because they give the benefits, they give you good pay, if you work overtime they pay double.” It was a good job, so I say, “OK, it’s a good idea.”
Q: Did you plan to get married when you moved here?
Well, I came here as a tourist, met [Joanna], met the family, I like what I saw, said, “OK, let’s get married.” And have a few kids. And these two kids, this was the biggest mistake I made in my life. [Laughs] No, cancel that.
Simone Finney, a senior at Point Loma University, is editor in chief of the campus newspaper.