Interview Highlight Bookmarks
When Ciro Conte founded Bensonhurst's SAS Italian Records in 1967, he named it after his children: Silvana, Adrianne and Silverio Conte. Fifty-one years later, the siblings share vivid memories of growing up in the store, which they still operate today at 7113 18th Avenue. SAS remains a social center for the community. A longtime customer comes in and speaking in Italian, fondly recalls the days when "every Friday, we would get our paycheck and come here... Her dad would wait for us outside – ‘Hey, the new CDs arrived!’" Silvana and Silverio describe the pandemonium that ensued when Italian pop stars Rita Pavone and Little Tony made appearances in the 1960s.
Today, besides videos and recordings, popular items include percolators, pasta machines, and cornicelli (horned hand amulets) to ward off the evil eye. Since taking over the store 20 years ago, the Contes have kept it going in memory of their father, despite Bensonhurst's dwindling Italian population and the increasing challenge of running a brick and mortar business. "Everytime I walk around I think, remember when Daddy did this, and it kills me that this will not continue," says Silvana, "Every Saturday, at least five people say, 'Please don't close.'"
Music clips of Italian recording artists were mixed into the interview by Giulia Hjort. Read the transcript below for credits and her English translation of the Italian parts of the interview.