by Rick Locatelli
Rick Locatelli , the grand child of Tullio has just recently recieved Tullio s mandolin from his cousin in California . Tullio was part of the first Italian Band in Ottawa called the Colony Band of St. Anthony ‘s Church during the 1920s. Tullio used to play his mandolin in front of St. Anthony s Church during the St. Anthony s Feast day right after the outside Mass on St. Anthony s Day. The last time he played the Mandolin was at St. Patrick s Long Term care Centre when he turned 103 years young. Tullio always loved music and became a music teacher in the Colony Band. He learned his trade of shoe making from Teracina Italy. He lived in Little Italy Preston Street for most of his life when he arrived from Italy at the early age of twenty.
My grandfather Tullio Locatelli started playing mandolin seriously at about 85 years old. Prior to that he had played some guitar but his main instruments were alto horn which is like a small tuba and cornet which is similar to a trumpet.
He found it harder to play brass instruments as he got older and a little too loud for senior homes so he decided to take up the mandolin seriously.
Much to his surprise he found the two instruments were very different in terms of how they were played A double stroke worked best for mandolin rather than single for guitar and also the mandolin was tuned like a violin. That didn’t deter him. As in life it was a challenge and made him mire determined. He was largely self taught and became very proficient, so accomplished that he often played with other musicians. He played with the band at his ninetieth birthday and really impressed the other musicians. Some still talk about that night that he sat in with the band and his talent and fine ear for music.
My father bought the mandolin for him when my grandfather was about 75 years old. His original fell apart and they happened to notice this one in a used instrument store in Florida where he was visiting my parents, Angelo and Gertrude Locatelli. He tried playing the mandolin and fell in love with the sound and workmanship of the instrument. It was hand made by a skilled craftsman and our research reveals it to be over 50 years old. Despite its age it is still in great condition and it plays perfectly in tune and has a great sound.
For many years Tullio entertained the residents and staff at the senior home on Gladstone and then St Patrick’s home when he moved there. He played and practiced until he was 102 years old.
When he was 100 years old many people asked him what it took to live to that age. He told them that it was important to live life with passion every day. Some of his strongest passions were music and family and it allowed him to live to almost 103 years old.