WHITMAN — A picture is worth a thousand words as the old adage says — and a photograph found this month in a Whitman home told a story that was 43 years in the making.
Two Whitman families collectively shared one another’s stories and memories through a surprising find at 69 Chestnut St., Whitman where Jessica Curtin her nine month old baby and her parents reside.
The bathroom needed remodeling and they decided to tackle it together, she said. She needed help during the pandemic and was happy her parents were willing and able and are such a part of their grandbaby’s life.
During demolition inside the wall behind the cabinet there was a hard, plastic laminated photo. The couple in the image was later identified as Richard Warren Parker and his wife Helen Olympia Parker who bought the home in 1945.
Curtin said her father recalled the name as the former owners of the home but he wanted to see if they could locate their relatives to hand the photo back over.
Curtin posted the print on social media with a brief story. Later that evening Jessica Quagliozzi who lives in New Jersey with her husband Jerome responded that it was her husband’s family.
There were many Whitman locals who assisted through Whitman town social media pages but ironically there were three Jessica’s involved in ultimately determining how to get hold of Jerome.
He is not wel-versed in social media but was flabbergasted at the efforts made in finding him. With help from his wife he communicated his thanks to Curtin and others for reaching out to him but the story did not end there.
Including a slight step toward learning social media, Quagliozzi felt a higher power was aligning the recent happenings. He was able to thank Curtin and share some memories but most importantly he got to tell his family story.
He was raised by the Parker’s who were his great-grandparents. They took him in as an infant and in an unselfish act raised him; giving him the best life he could have ever dreamed of… “my best opportunity was to be with them,” he said.
Finding the photo has become a way of memorializing them and the life they gave him, said Quagliozzi in a phone interview with The Express from their home in New Jersey were they have four young adult children.
Quagliozzi was raised in Whitman where he attended Conley Elementary School through Whitman Hanson until his junior year.
He was reunited with his biological mother and two half siblings in New Jersey and moved there for his final year of high school. It was difficult as all his schoolmates and close friends were in Whitman where he had lived for over 16 years of his life, he said.
His memories of growing up with his Pappy and Mimi are full of happiness, love, complete support — they attended all his activities and enrolled him in numerous sports programs —Pappy attended every game. They instilled great work and religious ethics in him. They attended Holy Ghost Church where he was an altar boy at one time, he said.
They dedicated their whole life when they were already in their 60’s and it was their time to relax. He never took that for granted, he said.
They had been married just shy of 40 years and were fairly healthy but when Mimi passed away in 2001, he could only imagine that his Pappy was declining from a broken heart.
He in fact passed just 33 days after his wife.
The very night the photo was unearthed in Whitman Jerome and his wife Jessica were out to dinner near their home in New Jersey. They were celebrating his 43rd birthday.
They had been talking earlier that evening about returning to Whitman to see and relive their fondest memories.
They were eating clam chowder and although it was not New England clam chowder the dinner was good, he laughed.
He saw a man with a Boston Red Sox hat on at the restaurant another prompt in their discussion.
They got engaged on the sledding hill in Whitman Town Park 20 years ago. His great grandparents are buried in the Colebrook Cemetery on Essex Street. He said he hasn’t been back for many years.
When they got married, he and Jessica drove up in a cargo van with her family so Pappy and Mimi could see him get married as they were unable to travel, he said.
The conversation ended with their decision to go back home and visit Whitman. To take in all the things that Jerome had been thinking about. Then the messages started to arrive about the photo and Jerome’s family.
The exact photo of his great grandparents is framed on his living room wall.
The photo was not lost completely it had however brought forth significant reflection for Quagliozzi.
“ I wouldn’t be in the position I am today without them. It was so meant to be,” he said.
Quagliozzi lost his biological mother in August 2020. He had a close relationship with her when she passed he said she was very strong in her faith.
He recently spoke with his pastor about the challenges of life and received this advice.
“The Lord does speak. We have to shut out the noise. When you are distracted — you don’t pay attention,” he said.
I am blessed for who I am today because of them. It’s time to go home – for a visit. The message is received.
He called the divine timing a sign from his “angel army.”
Curtin and Quagliozzi did get a chance to speak and she realized after hearing his story that their lives parallel one another in several ways. The most heartfelt equivalent — her son will have shared life experiences and his own memories with his grandparents’ just one room away- in the same house.