Special to the Houston Chronicle: SPAGHETTI, POLITICS, AND

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Special to the Houston Chronicle:
SPAGHETTI, POLITICS, AND CHARITY AT WHITNEY OAKS
By Manning Wolfe
Every Thursday Houstonians from all parts of the city trek out 45 North to
Whitney Oaks for one of the best bowls of spaghetti in town. For over fifty years, the
Sacred Heart Society of Little York has been serving up pasta once a week for five
hundred to six hundred hungry diners, using the profits for various charities in the
community.
From 11 to 1:15 the line wraps around Whitney Oaks Hall until diners are fed on
spaghetti, meatballs, baked chicken, Italian sausage, pigs feet, and chicken gizzards, all
swimming in a tasty sauce straight from the old country.
In the fall, politicians begin to frequent Whitney Oaks, hoping to influence a few
voters, following the satisfaction of a full stomach. Each week, a different mayoral or
city council candidate provides free wine for the diners while taking to the open
microphone to discuss his or her position on current issues.
According to George Zuckero, President of the Society, “we serve the original
recipe of the Sicilian/Italian home,” and “we never run out of spaghetti”. Zuckero boasts,
“it’s cooked the same way my grandma cooked it - my mama cooked it. It’s still
identical”. Zuckero is proud that his grandfather, Domnick Cuccerre was one of the
founding fathers of the Sacred Heart Society
A plate of spaghetti costs four dollars and twenty-five cents, meatballs are eightyfive cents each, and Italian sausage is a dollar and sixty-five cents. Italian cream cake is
one dollar and seventy-five cents per slice.
Profits from the spaghetti go to food baskets and other charitable venues in the
community. The Society selects four catholic perishes and donates money and food each
year in May; and again furnishes food baskets for the needy at Christmastime. It also
assists the St. Vincent DePaul Society to feed the poor.
The only expenses incurred are costs of food and two employees to operate the
hall and supervise the kitchen. All other workers are volunteers, and all other profits go
directly to charity.
Members of the all male Italian society just celebrated their eightieth year in June.
It is the largest and oldest Italian organization in the City of Houston. The Sacred Heart
Society was started in 1923 by thirteen Sicilian immigrants, who met in the middle of the
crop fields, then known as Little York, Texas, and now known as north Houston. Their
goal, along with the Ladies Auxiliary, was and still is to support the Italian culture and
the Roman Catholic Religion.
The Society grew out of the Sacred Heart Church of Little York, formed in 1913
by Italian immigrants. In 1948, Our Lady of the Assumption Church was built at 901
Rose Lane. According to Zuckero, “it’s been there all my life”. Whitney Hall was
originally part of the church, but moved to its current location at Whitney Oaks in the
early 1950’s, “and has been there ever since.”
When asked if there were any Italian mobsters lurking in the history of the Sacred
Heart Society, Zuckero jokes, “Not that I can find.” The Society supports the Italian
culture and teaches it to each succeeding generations, including language classes and hall
rental for weddings and fiestas. In April they will be holding their Festus Siciliana,
which is open to the public.
James Roberts, whose grandfather, Pasquale Roberti, was also a founding father,
is kitchen superintendent. For further information, contact Roberts, at 713-692-0198.
Better yet, on any Thursday when hunger strikes, take 45 North, west on Crosstimbers,
north on Airline, and the first left to 816 E. Whitney Drive for a tangy, piping hot bowl of
spaghetti with all the trimmings.
END – 612 Words
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