Master tailor retires into art

At Lettieri's Schaumburg home, the nativity scene, which is the basis of the Christian celebration of Christmas, is the focus.

Lettieri's close attention to detail comes from years as a master tailor. He began making clothes when he was a 9-year-old in Italy and worked his way up to a Hart Schaffner and Marx vice president. He retired after 37 years.

"I like it because to me....I like it when the people dress up...make a nice suit and I enjoy the piece of work you make," said Lettieri.

Since 1997, his season passion has been his nativity- which combines scenes from Bethlehem with memories of his birth place, Celico, Italy, where he and his wife, Rachel, were married 56 years ago.

"It never goes away from my mind. When I got a chance I got to create a nativity...when I retire that's what happened. I started to work to make a nativity and that's what you see today," said Lettieri.

The lower level of the Lettieri home has the feeling of an art gallery. His nativity scene is displayed along with his paintings and his sculptures. He has never taken an art lesson.

"Whatever I do, I create it by myself. I never see nobody paint. I never see make a house...I make it myself," said Lettieri.

An avid reader, this 76-year-old is the author of four books even though he was in school only through sixth grade.

"When I look at the nativity, I don't believe it myself. I feel very proud that I created it I myself," said Lettieri.

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