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Jennifer Prezioso’s grandfather was the patriarch of his large Italian family. Moe Albanese was also a legendary butcher in Manhattan’s Little Italy and known to most patrons as “Moe the Butcher.” Albanese was at his post outside his shop until it closed on March 16, due to the spread of the coronavirus. In the following weeks, Albanese, Prezioso and her mom contracted COVID-19. While Prezioso and her mom were able to fight the virus off, Albanese died, less than 10 days from his 95th birthday.
JENNIFER PREZIOSO: My name is Jennifer Prezioso, and I lost my grandfather, Moe Albanese. He was a butcher, and he was 95, and he passed away April 7, 2020.
My grandfather, not only was he the patriarch of our family-- we have a nice Italian family here in New York. I was also his caretaker in the last years of his life. He lived with me and my mom, and I took care of him with with his store. That's our family's store. His parents began it in Little Italy in the '20s.
He was also a face and an icon in New York City. Any person that has ever been to Little Italy has met him or waved at him or had gone in and had a conversation or a cup of coffee, maybe a sip of wine. But he was an incredibly kind and generous human. He did his work every day six days a week. And, you know, he just-- that's what he loved to do. He loved to be there at the store, and he loved to make people feel welcomed and make them feel like-- I don't know-- he was their grandfather too.
He can be remembered, like, as a legend, really. He was so strong. He worked with me really up until that last week, and I remember he was still doing what he does, which is, like, waving people in. We had tour groups coming by. And I'm like, Grandpa, you can't-- like, this is not the time. Like, we can't have people come in anymore.
But he was really just such a joy. His smile and his kindness and his ability to be, like, patient and loving is something I will probably never experience again.
I feel like when people saw him, they experienced a feeling of belonging in the city, which I think is like really-- I don't know. It's like more-- it's like more than I'll ever know because, you know, New York City is my home. It's where I grew up. It's where I was born. It's where my family is. But all of these people that have reached out to me now in the past week and half, you know, they're just like, I loved your grandfather. Like, he would say hi to me when I was a kid growing up here, or he would say hi to me when I was riding my bike, or I'm from France, and I went to New York City, and it was raining outside, and he told me to come inside, and he was asking me about, like, what I was doing here.
If there was one thing to say to him, it would just be like, OK, so I should go back, right? When should I go back? Because, yeah, everything else had already been said between us.