She was my mother-in-law's mother. I married her grandson. They owned an old restaurant in Banker's Hill called "Mister A's." Mrs. Alessio was Mister A's wife. At one point in San Diego's history, I hear their style was legendary. And I promise you, it was well earned.

My in-laws, both generations, set the bar for elegance. They were an old time San Diego family with a rich history that I never really heard all of. I know they owned the Hotel Del Coronado at one point as well as the Kona Kai just from family pictures around their homes in those settings. Many photos are taken at race tracks which they were involved in as well. In the movie, "Casey's Shadow," my in-laws and their kids were shown in box seats near the end of the movie as they owned the Ruidoso Downs race track when the film was made.

The first time I was invited over to watch TV, I wore jeans and a sweater. My fiance asked if I was planning to wash the car when he picked me up. When we got to the Vila Rosa, I realized that some families get all dressed up, put on jewelry, perfume, cologne (and alot of each) to watch TV at home.

I won't bore you with "over-the-top elegance" stories but my mother-in-law in a full-length mink at DisneyLand is one. Another is the night we all met at the Vila when her dress for my wedding arrived from Sak's Fifth Avenue-a full-length, beaded Bob Mackie no less! Holy smokes did that thing shine. We turned off the lights and it still lit up the room. As did she, many times over. Dressed to the nines from dawn to dusk and beyond. All the time. Everyday. Always. She really had an amazing sense of style that never let up.

From the 200+ plus Alessios that I met, I learned alot. Some people name their homes. They did*. I also learned of some shadows of the past that haunt them to this day. Yesterday would have been my former husband's 53rd birthday had he lived.

I dedicate this column to you, Ron, for the love and elegance you once brought into my life.

With love, The Once and Former Mrs. Rosa


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