Volume 81, Number 16 | September 15 - 21, 2011
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Norma Venturi, the Mayor of Commerce St., dies at 83
By Albert Amateau
Norma Venturi, known by her neighbors as the Mayor of Commerce St., where she lived all her life in the apartment where she grew up, died Sun., Aug. 28, at the age of 83.
She was diagnosed with Leukemia 10 years ago, according to her great-nephew Edward Venturi, who wrote an essay about her in 2009 on the occasion of her 80th birthday.
Born April 1, 1928, she was the second child of Laura and Giuseppe Venturi.
“She spent her entire life in the rent-controlled apartment on Commerce St. …. She did, however, move to a new apartment for a year on Carmine St., but returned to her home on Commerce to keep her widowed mother company,” her great-nephew wrote.
Norma Venturi worked for MONY, starting as a typist at the age of 18 and retiring 45 years later as a purchase agent for the life insurance company.
She would tell stories about her older brother, Egidio, who died in 2002. Egidio served in the Army during World War II, and after the war would pitch batting practice for the New York Giants when they were at home in the Polo Grounds.
“He was real good, but we were Yankee fans,” Norma told her great-nephew.
Hockey was her favorite sport. She would go to the old Madison Square Garden on Eighth Ave. at 49th St. to see the Rangers and would take her two nephews with her when they were boys.
She remembered A. Zito & Sons Bakery on Bleecker St., remarking, “They don’t make bread like that anymore.” As a neighbor of the Cherry Lane Theater, she remembered seeing actors like Cary Grant, Jerry Orbach, Julia Stiles and Sarah Jessica Parker pass by on their way to the theater.
She recalled seeing Frank Sinatra perform between film showings in the Paramount Theater in Times Square.
“It was ‘Five Graves to Cairo’ and Sinatra did the stage show in between movie viewings. The girls would just stay in their seats the whole day and keep watching him. You could do that back then,” she told her great-nephew.
She used to regale her family about her discovery of department store sales. She told about her wins — and losses — in Atlantic City. And she attended Mass at Our Lady of Pompei on Carmine St. on holy days of obligation.
In addition to her great-nephew Edward, another great-nephew, Michael Venturi, survives, along with her great-niece, Amanda, and her two nephews, Edward and Robert Venturi. The funeral was on Sept. 1 at Our Lady of Pompei and burial was in Calvary Cemetery in Queens. Perazzo Funeral Home, 199 Bleecker St., was in charge of arrangements.