My cousin Evie [pronounced “Eh-vee’] defined the term “fierce” long before it was born into the modern era. She was a genius, world-traveler, historian, political activist, musicologist, groupie-turned superior insurance underwriter who gambled on life in more ways than one. More than anything, she was a ground-breaker with a heart of gold beyond measure.
Although a first cousin to me and my sister Pam (our mothers were siblings), Evie was more like a sister to us. We grew up in the same redbrick duplex with two households, built in the late 1890s on Erie Street amidst the inner city of our hometown of Rochester, New York. We lived across the street from the Haloid Company, which later moved, expanded, and transformed into the internationally-known Xerox Corporation. Our house also stood in the shadow of the global headquarters of the Eastman Kodak Company (which is near where now stands Frontier Field).
My sister Pamela and I resided on one side of the house with our mother and father Herbie Pompeii and Frances Turri Pilato. Evie lived next door with her parents Carl and Elva Easton, both of whom adored and called her “The Doll,” due to her porcelain skin and what would become her immortal childlike manner.
More than anything, Evie was a ground-breaker with a heart of gold beyond measure. Remarkable in every sense of that word, Evie played favorites, but only with the big guys. She lived a rock-star life and, in many ways, was a rock star. She rocked her world and the worlds of everyone in her universe. She befriended movie stars, hipsters, politicians, dignitaries, other intellectuals, spiritual gurus, dreamers, the ruthless, the homeless, the loveless, and music stars, many of whom became her best friend.
Evie loved the Kennedys, Frank Sinatra, and The Beatles. Some of her best friends were music legends Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys, Danny Hutton from Three Dog Night; Christine McVie from Fleetwood Mac, jazz great Chuck Mangione, Roger Daltrey, Keith Moon, and Pete Townshend of The Who.
In fact, one time, in the middle of the night, The Who visited our house on Erie Street.
Here's what happened:
During one of their music tours in the early 1970s, The Who had finished performing a concert at the Rochester War Memorial facility. After finishing their performance, they went back to their hotel, Flagship Hotel on State Street in Rochester.
One of Evie's friends, known as "Lola," was also a music groupie. Lola also happened to work for the PBX phone board, and like Evie, was friendly, too, with The Who. In a casual conversation with The Who that night, Lola learned that the band was hungry and looking for a place to eat.
At that point, Lola phoned Evie, relayed to her The Who's dilemma, and told Lola, "Just have them come over to my house, and my Aunt Frances will make them some pasta."
Within the hour, which was around midnight, Aunt Frances, my mother, was awakened from her sleep and began boiling water to make macaroni and sauce for The Who.