Gina Lollobrigida was one of the most popular actresses in the 50s and early 60s, but I had seen her for the first time on a plaque in my grandparent’s basement. The plaque featured a black and white photo of the star with my grandfather proudly sitting next to her. “You know data lady? Shesa famous… teacher. No, no… actress,” he said as he pointed to the photo.
He spoke to Gina Lollobrigida in Italian when he met her at Kensington Market. That’s where the photo (above) was taken, along with his other pride and joy that is mounted up on the basement wall. My grandfather is the man to her left wearing a white sleeveless tank. This was one of the most exciting experiences for my nonno. He said that it lasted only a few minutes as she stopped over to buy some fruit. She came right up to his stall, where he was working as a fruit vendor at the time.
Both of my grandparents worked at the “Jewish Market”. As Italian immigrants they worked hard to make a living in a new country. When reflecting on their past, my grandparents have only good things to say about how they were treated while working there.
Kensington market looks a lot different today, yet it continues to remain a popular spot and a memorable piece of Toronto’s history.