Aldo Biaggi: This is what 100 looks like
Special to the R-C
IF YOU GO
The community is invited to a reception 2-3:30 p.m. Saturday at St. Gall Catholic Church, 1343 Centerville Lane, Gardnerville, to honor Aldo Biaggi on his 100th birthday. The Carson Valley native is a lifetime parishioner of St. Gall and longtime volunteer at the Carson Valley Community Food Closet.
The news that Aldo Biaggi is about to celebrate his 100th birthday leads to two questions:
How does it feel to be 100? Do you have any advice?
Biaggi, who is Carson Valley’s oldest living native, doesn’t give it much thought.
“I would say I have had a good life,” he said in a recent interview from his home on County Road. “I can’t complain, and I have no advice to give. I just didn’t sit around too much.”
Biaggi was born May 14, 1917. He grew up on Foothill Road with eight brothers and sisters at the property which is now Cuttin’ Loose Ranch.
He remembers driving a horse and wagon to Mottsville School where his teacher was Annie Brockliss.
He was the middle child in the family and has outlived his brothers and sisters.
Biaggi said he “never even thought about living any place else.”
One of his favorite boyhood memories is that when school was dismissed for the summer, “the shoes came off.”
“The day school was out, I threw my shoes away for the summer. It was tough to put them back on when school started again,” he said.
He moved into town after he married his wife Mary in 1940. She died on Jan. 29, 2005, after 64 years of marriage. A daughter, Darlene McRae, died in December of the same year in Washington.
For 32 years, Biaggi was known as Carson Valley’s milk man. After working for four years in the old Minden creamery, he took over the milk route. He got up every morning at 2 a.m. to make sure his customers had fresh milk and dairy products, rarely getting home before 7:30 p.m.
He also served customers in Woodfords and Markleeville two or three times a week.
He never took a day off until he broke both his legs in December 1963.
As he tells the story, a car ran out of gas in front of his home and he went to the driver’s aid.
Somehow, the car backed up and Aldo’s legs were broken.
That was in December, 1963. Biaggi vowed to walk Carol down the aisle for her marriage to Andy Aldax the following February. And he did.
The accident also meant that Mary, Carol and Darlene took over the milk delivery route until Aldo could drive again.
Allen Biaggi said his father has never take out a loan, except for $50 he borrowed from his sister, Delphine.
As young newlyweds, Aldo and Mary paid $15 a month rent for their home in Gardnerville. When the owner wanted to sell, they agreed to pay the $1,500 asking price at $15 a month. Years later, they sold that home and paid cash for their County Road home where Aldo still lives on 2-plus acres of property.
“He’s never had a mortgage or a car payment,” Allen Biaggi said.
Carol Aldax describes her father as “caring, loving, thoughtful and a little stubborn — just the best dad ever.”
Allen Biaggi said his parents taught their children, “if you are doing a job, do it well and be on time. Be a good person,”
In addition to his family, Aldo spends time with friends.
At least once a week, he’s at Starbucks in Minden with Tom McManus for his “tall Pike with cream.”
He likes to eat at the JT and Carson Valley Inn, and attends Mass weekly at St. Gall Catholic Church.
Retired St. Gall pastor Father John Corona said the Aldax and Biaggi families were among the first to welcome him to Carson Valley when he was assigned to the parish in July 1977.
“Aldo and his family have always been faithful parishioners. He was the first to offer a helping hand and always willing to do what needed to be done in his kind and gentle manner.
“He may be small in stature but he’s big in heart,” Corona said. “He really touched my life and has my deep admiration and respect.”
Biaggi intends to spend his birthday as if it were any other day.
Up every morning at 5:30 a.m. (“I never needed an alarm clock”), he makes his bed, reads three newspapers, watches the morning news, fixes himself a light breakfast and “goes out and putters around,” working in his garden, raising rabbits or tending the small herd of sheep grazing on his property.
So far, he’s planted cabbage but the garden will include carrots, beans, pumpkins, radishes, lettuce and Swiss chard. What Biaggi doesn’t eat, he gives away to family and friends at the Carson Valley Community Food Closet, where he’s served for decades as a volunteer.
Biaggi said he appreciates medical advances which kept him healthy, and has no use for a computer, cell phone or electronic mail.
“Everybody just sits around with a computer in their hand. They don’t talk to you at all,” he said.
He’d rather not comment on the political climate or state of world affairs other than to say, “it’s too bad the way it is.”
Aldax and Allen Biaggi have planned a celebration for their father on Saturday, with a reception at St. Gall Catholic Church from 2-3:30 p.m., open to the public, followed by a family dinner at the JT Restaurant.
“I never thought I would live this long,” Biaggi said. “My mother lived to be 59 and my dad was 83. It’s just one of those things. If Carol and Allen weren’t around, I would be in trouble. They were real good kids.”