by John O’Hara – summer 2012
About a quarter-mile west (downhill) from O’Hara’s Corners, on
O’Hara Road, sits a modest private residence. Across the driveway sits a
smaller building, looking like residential space – a sign of earlier
days when the house (and later the additional building) was the boarding
house of Al Petrillo and his wife.
The house once was
an O’Hara house but when it burned in the late 1920s or early 1930s, Al
Petrillo became the next owner and built the house, staying until
Thanksgiving of one year in the early 1930s to finish the construction.
The later addition, to the right of the double garage, held four or five
At first, because of hunting, Al used the new structure as his
“hunting lodge.” However, it was a convenient spot for friends of the
Petrillos from New Jersey, mostly Italian, mostly from New Jersey, with a
strong representation of longshoremen. A full house meant 30-35 guests
could show up.
Mrs. Petrillo became the cook, and she left after Labor Day to go
back home to NJ. She passed on in the 1960s, leaving grandchildren with
the surname of McKenna.
Dinners were served
in the Main House. The clanging of a cannon shell would hearken guests to
lunch. During the day, the men, under a grape arbor, would play boccie.
Post WWII, a separate long building, about 20’ by 60’, was
added, becoming the dining room (with a big kitchen), and then a
restaurant, remembered by John for its Chicago style pizza. The restaurant
initiative, open to the public, started in the 1950s and ended in the
A swimming pool was
constructed just after John left the area in the late 1950s. (The pool was
filled in about 2010 – dt.)
As happened frequently in the resort business in mid-century,
overflow guests from a larger resort (in this case, Pine Crest Farm) would
sleep over at Petrillo’s and also at the O’Hara House (next to
A family named Coscia owned the house next, and is currently owned
by the Fitzgibbon family.
Today, the buildings mutely sit, the existence of a boarding house
from Peter O’Hara (brother of John)
The one thing I
remember was much of the food served at Petrillo’s was locally grown
i.e. from their garden and the chicken for the chicken cacciatore was
raised by them so the chicken tended to be small as opposed to what we are
use to from commercially raised hormone fed chickens. If my parents went
out for dinner, my brother and I were sent down the road for dinner; as a
picky 4 year old eater, I was not used to the “exotic/different”
food coming out of an Italian kitchen or perhaps I remembered Al
chopping the head off the chicken in the morning was the same chicken that
we ate that night.
Al was a great
pinochle player and use to spend evenings at our house playing cards with
my mother (Louise O’Hara) and great aunt Susan.