Christina Hartman

Christina Hartman

A SPIRITED GRANDMOTHER, A NEW THING CALLED PIZZA, STARING DOWN DICTATORS, AND A CALLING TO MAKE THE WORLD READY FOR A DEMOCRACY THAT TRULY WORKS FOR EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE.

Grandma Julia (Padula) was born to conservative Lithuanian parents who were very Catholic. With one young daughter during the early 1940s, she found herself in a marriage where her husband regularly physically abused her and the prospects for change were limited by culture, money, and religion.

But, she did it anyway. She divorced her husband, and with the spirit, energy, and determination of a woman needing to care for herself and her child, she sought out the help of a pizzeria in Center City, Philadelphia. Thinking this pizza pie idea was going to be the next big thing, she asked the owner to teach her to make pizza and used the divorce settlement to fund opening up the first pizza shop in Northeast Philly (Alpino’s Tomato Pies).

Photos by Will Marks

Grandma Julia met her second husband as he delivered the coal to run her shop’s ovens. They married and for over 70 years, the story of beatings, divorce, and being a single mom opening a business stayed quiet. Catholic women did not divorce or open businesses, create change as needed, or marry again. Recently, until another family member shared the incredible story, Christina Hartman had no idea that along with her grandmother’s beauty she also inherited her indomitable spirit, drive, and Lithuanian chutzpah!

Christina Hartman tells of her 16 years of domestic and international nongovernmental organization experiences of overseeing elections in Afghanistan and South Africa, building lines of communication with dictators, and exposing corruption in countries in which she was occasionally not wanted. She has experienced bringing voice and opportunity to the marginalized around the world, as if we all step up and boldly, bravely fight for justice and democratic freedoms.

We don’t. Most don’t. And sadly, many of us are tired of looking at our own government bureaucracy, wondering who is going to step in and finally get things moving again, and honestly, who would want to? When asked this, most of us look at politics like we look at a former Hollywood star… The one who is disgraced, strange, illogical, or disturbing, and we wonder what we ever saw in him to begin with. In many ways, we have resigned ourselves to the impotence of the political system…

For access to the full article, reference page 15 of Issue 39 pdf.