"I had to go to the eye doctor on Monday because I kept seeing double," said Nicholas Pacalo of Poland, after he attended the Twinsburg Festival of Twins over the weekend. Nicholas is not a twin himself, but his wife, Rose Pacalo, and her sister, Charlotte Italiano, are. The duo was crowned as this year's queens of the festival.
The Italiano twins were born on April 2, 1932. They first attended East High School until their parents, Patsy and Clara Italiano, moved to the South Side.
"We didn't want to go to South High, so we were enrolled in Ursuline High School," Charlotte said.
Photo by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Rose (Italiano) Pacalo and Charlotte Italiano became royalty over the weekend after being named the 2013 queens of the annual Twinsburg Festival for Twins over the weekend.
In high school, the two sisters seemed to enjoy confusing teachers. The school had double seating and the two sat together. They said they would occasionally trade places just for the fun of it.
Rose and Charlotte graduated from Ursuline in 1950 and both enrolled in Youngstown College. Rose was pursuing a career as a registered medical technologist and Charlotte was set on earning her degree in education.
Rose was married to Nick Pacalo in 1955 and the twins soon were off on their own roads in life. Nick was a Navy pilot and that meant traveling. After 25 years of service to his country, Nick settled in Indiana to teach.
As for Charlotte, she entered the Ursuline Sisters Congregation with her degree in education, started teaching in Youngstown Diocese schools. She eventually ended up at principal at Holy Family school and resides in Boardman.
"We kept in touch and got together occasionally," Charlotte said.
After close to 40 years living outside Ohio, Rose and Nick made the decision to move back to the Buckeye State and settled in Poland. Rose had attended St. John's College in Cleveland and earned a master's degree in education, which she decided to put to use. She was hired by the Diocese and began teaching at Holy Family where her sister was principal.
Rose ended up retiring from Holy Family and she now spends her time exercising at the YMCA and serves as vice president of the ladies group of the local Military Officer's Association of America chapter. Charlotte is still going strong in education as principal and director of the Ursuline Pre-School in Canfield.
The sisters do get together a lot. Charlotte said, "Rose cooks and I eat."
Six years ago, the sisters attended their first Twinsburg festival. It was a fun event full of twins and multiples that has grown over the years. They also learned about the annual king and queen of the festival and how to apply.
"You first must have attended five festivals to be eligible," Charlotte said. "Then you must fill out an application and write an essay on your relationship as twins and why you want to be on the Royal Court."
Rose and Charlotte worked together and wrote an essay on life's swinging gates. Gate one was their birth. Gate two was their journey through school with gate three being the college years. Gate four involved their vocation, gate five was the professional organizations the twins were involved with, and gate six was the Twinsburg Festival.
Charlotte closed the essay by writing, "Finally, by the time you committee members review this application, we will be a young-looking 81-year-old set of twins, who are anxious to swing open gate seven. We look forward to creating new and exciting memories by continuing on our unique life's journey as identical twins, who make people wonder if we are Rose or Charlotte."
It was enough to have the committee select Rose and Charlotte as this year's festival queens. Over the weekend they were crowned before the group of 2,000 sets of twins and multiples who attended this year. As queens, it will be their duty to promote the festival and return next year to crown the 2014 queens.
"What really amazed me at the festival were the news people from all over the world," Nick said. "There was one reporter from Norway taking photos of [Rose and Charlotte]."
Rose and Charlotte returned home with the crowns on Sunday and now have a new honor and a lot of new memories to add to their life's journey. They did have some time to reflect on their earlier years and one switch that very few ever knew about.
"We did a photo for Youngstown College's Who's Who Yearbook about 50 years ago," Rose said. "Charlotte was supposed to get her photo taken for it, but she couldn't make it on the scheduled day, so I stepped in."
Charlotte said the photo ran in the yearbook with her name on it, but the picture was actually Rose.
"I don't think anyone knows it to this very day," Charlotte said, "at least until this story comes out."