This is the second in our series “getting to know our staff.” As previously mentioned, each of our staff members have unique, interesting backgrounds.
Florence Calderone Blake or F.C. Blake as she signs herself, joined our staff as a part-time reporter in June 2007. Most will agree with us that Flo is very quiet, perhaps gives one the impression she lacks confidence because of her quiet, very respectful, attitude. Read on and we believe you will learn, as we did, God has given her strength and ability.
She was the sixth child of Giovanni (the Nobleman) and Maria Calderone (John and Mary). From conception she was an unwanted child. Maria’s marriage to Giovanni was an arranged affair in the home country and she was never happy.
“Pop,” as Flo called him, was violent and cruel and probably guilty of murder, yet around Flo, she said he was a perfect, respectful gentlemen. “We were both outcasts in mom’s eyes.” He gave Flo the love of architecture, music and art. She was abused by a brother. Her father hated Mussolini and left his native land because of him.
It is hard to believe a mother could be so cruel and unapologetic, although she came close to giving one on her death bed. But you will read how Flo was the forgiving, helpful one.
Flo started to write about her experience in 2000. Three years later she attended a writer’s conference and began to submit articles. The following year she took a course at Rogue Community College. The instructor asked students to submit their articles and asked for three rejection slips. She came to class with three acceptance letters. Three years later she became a volunteer tutor. And then a writing instructor. Today she teaches a class at RCC. She said 90 percent of her students are published. Flo has had over 750 articles published.
“You ought to write a book” is a statement many hear as they talk about various experiences. Flo has done just that. Her book, The Sicilian Nobleman’s Daughter, is described on the cover as “A Christian testimony from a violent life.” Published by Pleasant Word, a division of WinePress Group, it was released two weeks ago.
“Writing the book was torturous, but it was also therapeutic,” said Flo. “I have really forgiven my mother.”
The Calderone family owned a flour mill, spaghetti factory and a sulfur mine (which the Nobleman once managed). They were major property owners and quite well to do. A move to America found they became John and Mary penniless, homeless and struggling to find work. Flo was born in the United States.
By telling her life story, Flo hopes people who read it can gain from it. “People who may not believe, learn there is a heavenly Father who doesn’t ignore us, but is concerned about us,” said Flo. Her family was, of course, Catholic. That was not to remain a part of Flo’s life., but a deep abiding love and faith in God is very much a part of her life. She believes this is a temporary life, that God doesn’t owe us anything. “If he hadn’t let me go through the episodes, I probably would not have come to God,” said Flo.
But she is not one to allow personal beliefs “to be worn or her shirt sleeve” or be a visible part of her.
The bottom line, says Flo, is that “I’ve had a wonderful life. I can’t say I am deliciously happy, but I am content.”
The Sicilian Nobleman’s Daughter is available at Amazon for just over $12 plus shipping or if three go together on an order, there is no postage and it is also on-line at Barnes & Noble. Copies may be checked out at the Eagle Point and White City libraries. We highly recommend it. It is a quick read of an unbelievable story, by someone you may know or perhaps will be doing a story for the Independent about you or your organization one of these days.
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent