Benvenuto a The Dolly Sinatra Lodge !!!
In Beautiful Palm Springs, California
Lodge # 2400, Order Sons of Italy in America
November 1, 2010
Nicole C. Brambila
The Desert Sun
Renee Troiano was a skinny Italian kid growing up, which is to say her family teased her at the dinner table.
“In Italian families years ago, if you weren't fat, you weren't healthy,” the Cathedral City resident said.
As an adult, Troiano is still on the thin side, but these days she runs the kitchen.
She's one of the cooks at the Dolly Sinatra Lodge in Palm Springs, which houses the local Sons of Italy chapter.
“Italians live for food. What can I tell you?” said member Connie Bell of Desert Hot Springs.
“Don't forget the wine,” said Bunny Peterson, chapter president.
On Wednesdays, the lodge serves a public Italian dinner for $8.
The lodge on Sahara Road, chartered in 1977, was renamed after the crooner's mom about 20 years ago to create a little buzz about the group, Peterson said.
It's not Dolly Sinatra's old home, though they did have a dinner visitor once who came thinking he could get a peek at Sinatra's house, she recalled with a laugh.
Italians looking for a better life began immigrating to the United States in the late 1800s. Most were laborers who intended to return home.
From 1876 to 1924, 4.5 million Italians emigrated through Ellis Island, calling it “Isola della Lacrime” or Island of Tears, according to the American Immigration Council.
The immigration marked one of the largest recorded exoduses “of a single ethnic group in history,” according to the Sons of Italy in America, when nearly a third of the Italian population migrated to America.
Today, 1.5 million people of Italian descent live in California, 82,000 in Riverside County alone. Roughly 11,800 people of Italian descent live in the Coachella Valley, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Many Sicilians settled along the California coast, bringing with them vines from the old country. Others settled in the desert, attracted to the arid weather.
As when the Sons of Italy in America formed in 1905, the local chapter is about perpetuating the Italian culture — and its food — as well as “cultural trips” to Little Italy in Los Angeles.
Last year, they also gave out four $500 scholarships, said Marion Siviglia, a Palm Springs member.
For those wanting a good Italian meal, “If you're not Italian, we make you Italian,” she said.
3:53 PM, Mar. 21, 2012 |
Special to MyDesert
I was recently invited to be a dinner guest at the Dolly Sinatra Lodge in Palm Springs.
Being a bona fide Italian, I fit right in.
When it was founded in l977 it was called The Palm Springs Lodge. But as a tribute to Dolly Sinatra's untiring charity work in the Palm Springs area and for sharing her only son, Francis Albert, with music lovers all over the world, the name was changed with the approval of the Supreme Lodge Order Sons of Italy.
The Lodge is really a house. That's where a $9 dinner is served every at 5 Wednesday to anyone who wants to come. It's always the same dinner, starting with appetizers and homemade soup. Then spaghetti and meatballs in sauce. Italian salad. Garlic bread. Dessert. Coffee. And, of course, wine, and other beverages. The night I was there we were serenaded by a gentleman who played the accordion as well as he sang.
“The Dolly Sinatra Lodge,” president Joe LaPorta, said “is dedicated to the enhancement of our Italian-American heritage and culture. We're also committed to helping the needy, and to awarding scholarships to students from our local high schools. This June, four students will receive scholarships.”
The Lodge, which operates on a volunteer basis, has also honored such performers as Sonny Bono, Keely Smith, Jerry Vale and Herb Jeffries. Most recently it honored retired colonel Jack Brennan who was awarded the Bronze Star for heroism while commanding the artillery in Khe Sahn, Vietnam and the Purple Heart for wounds suffered during that battle.
After Richard Nixon was elected president in 1968, Brennan was selected to be a presidential aide, and became the first person to have the title of Marine Corps Aide to the President. After Nixon's resignation, at Nixon's request, Brennan resigned from active duty in the Marine Corps and became Nixon's chief of staff. In the 2009 movie, “Frost/Nixon,” he was portrayed by Kevin Bacon.
Brennan divides his time between Cathedral City and Little Compton, R.I.
I asked him how he happened to come upon the Dolly Sinatra Lodge. “My dad was Irish, but my mother was Italian,” Brennan said, “so I grew up on good Italian food. When I was looking for a place to get a really good Italian meal around here, I came across a house with a sign that said the Dolly Sinatra Lodge. Well, that sure sounded Italian to me, so I went in — that was in 1995 — and I've been coming back ever since.”
Coming back to the Dolly Sinatra Lodge is what a lot of people do. People who want a good Italian dinner. People like me.
John Annarino is a Sun City Palm Desert resident. Reach him at email@example.com.