Friday Flashback: Pascal Celery: A Brief History

Guest Flashback by Carl Campanella

In the year 1880, several brothers immigrated to the United States from Naples, Italy. Most of them were farmers. One of the brothers was a very successful farmer in his homeland. The last name of this family is Losasso. One of the brothers worked hard and long hours to save enough money to buy some land in the valley below the Highlands area. Working his own farm and any other jobs he could find, he was able to bring his wife and family to the United States in 1885.

Being farmers in Italy, his wife naturally brought some seeds to the United States with her. Mr. Losasso was surprised to see the seeds were celery seeds. Dried and probably not going to grow, he planted them anyway. He did not want to hurt his wife's feelings.

Upon harvesting the celery, Mr. Losasso and his brothers noticed it was bitter. He turned to his wife and told her it was okay, as they could use the celery to feed the animals if the winter was hard. They wrapped it in newsprint and trenched it--buried it in the earth. Upon digging up the celery to help feed some animals, Losasso noticed a change in appearance: it was whiter, and had a better aroma. He tasted it and found it to have a sweeter, more creamy taste than the normal celery. From that point he started selling the celery, planting both crops of celery in his farm. After many of the other farmers tasted the celery, they were impressed.

No one knew what to call this celery, so it was named after my great-grandfather, Pascal Losasso. Over the years, Pascal became a leader in the Italian/American community in the Denver area. He turned his farm into a truck farm in the early part of the 20th century. His farm boundaries were 20th Street on the north, Wynkoop or Wazee on the east, about 8th Street on the south, and almost Federal on the west. Great-Grandpa Pascal passed away in Denver at the age of 66, in 1926. His wife, whose name I have never known, passed away seven years later. One of his sons, a fraternal twin, was William Frank Losasso, 1890 to 1957, who was married in 1914 to Lillian Chase Lossaso, 1900 to 1993. They were the mother and father of Iva Losasso Campanella, 1919 to 2003. My mother!