Our Family Circle: The Serrapede-Muro Scanning Project-New Scans at Ancestry

More scans of original vital records we purchased are now available for copying to your tree.  Uncle Sammy and I emphasize the following:

  • The files are all in PDF format because this allows for all the images to be in one document.
  • PDF files cannot be altered or changed.  Our stamp cannot be edited out.
  • The stamp “For Research Purposes Only.” along with our names is to prevent any misuse of the documentation.
  • Having our names as the source of the document will help other researchers establish a contact point with us if they have questions.
  • Ancestry does not provide viewing for PDF file formats.  You can copy to your tree, yes.  But to VIEW you must download and save to your hard drive.
  • We recommend you make a folder and label is “Serrapede-Muro Scanning Project” where you can keep your downloaded copies of the PDFs.
  • You must have Adobe Acrobat to view the PDF files.  Adobe is a free program you can download.  We recommend it and use it regularly.

Here are the PDFs available today at our tree, which is public:

  • Certificate of Marriage Registration for David Granito and Emilia D’Agosto
  • Certificate of Marriage Registration for Alfonso Serrapede and Mildred Restagno
  • Birth Certificate for Mary Frances Kennedy
  • Affidavit for  License to Marry for Nunzio Dell’Amore and Lillian D’Agosto
  • Certificate of Marriage Registration for Mario Chinnici and Martha D’Agosto

The resolution of this batch of scans was increased to 600 dpi whereas the previous batch uploaded was 300 dpi.  Please let us know if in comparing the scans you find one or the other better to read.  Your feedback will help me get better at this task.

All documents are complete.  Sometimes you will find the same page scanned twice.  This is done to include the state seal and signature at the bottom of some documents.



56c-Serrapede Family in America-A Depression Era Childhood-On the Radio


 56b-Westinghouse Radio
1930s radio made by Westinghouse.
Public Domain image.  Photo by Joe Haupt.

In the past two postings we learned about the kinds of treats and books Emily enjoyed as a child during the Great Depression.  Other memories she shared were about how important the radio was for her family.  In the early evening, after dinner, she was allowed to listen to one or two programs before going to bed.  For this posting we researched one of her favorite childhood programs.  When we focus on her teenage years, we’ll post about the programs she listened to at that time.

In the Resources section you will find a link to an archive containing many recordings of the show featured in this posting.  We recommend you take a half hour to listen to one or two broadcasts.  Unlike the TV or a computer screen, you can freely move around and do other things while the program is in progress.  During my time listening to the program I enjoyed doing some crochet and tidying up the apartment.

Relationship Note

Emily L. Serrapede was the daughter of Sam and Josie Serrapede.  She was the older sister of Sammy and Gerry.  EmilyAnn knew her as “The Mom”.

Family Story:  Get ready for “Let’s Pretend”

 56c-art deco radio
1930s Art Deco Radio.
Public Domain image.  Photo by Joe Haupt.

Josie encouraged Emily to read on Saturday afternoons or when she was home from school.  When she had finished reading a story or some rhymes, Josie engaged her in a conversation about what she read.  It was important for Emily to state a reason as to why she liked or didn’t like something.

Sometimes she didn’t like reading a story because she had difficulty imagining just what a wicked witch, a scarey giant, a charming prince, a poor little girl lost in the woods or a beautiful princess should be like.  This is where Josie found “Let’s Pretend” a great tool to develop Emily’s imagination.  It was one radio show she reminded Emily to get ready for each week. By developing careful listening skills Emily was able to get a feel for what the personality of each character in the story was like.  When the program was over Josie reinforced the experience by questioning Emily about the characters and asking her who she liked and didn’t like and why.

An overview of “Let’s Pretend”


Nila Mack as featured in a 1944 issue of “Billboard” magazine.  Public Domain image.

The series went through several changes in title and hosts after its start in 1928.  The format, though, remained the same.  The hosts took the children on a journey into the world of make-believe for the duration of the story’s telling and then returned to the present at its conclusion.  Starting in 1934 the series’ creator Nila Mack took over as director.  The title was changed to “Let’s Pretend” and Nila had a successful run with it until her death in 1953.  The last show aired in 1954 under another director.

“Let’s Pretend” was not merely storytelling:  it was theater in its simplest form for children.  The show was very popular and received several awards including two Peabody Awards.  Nila believed children should be the tellers of the story so young children, pre-teens and teenage voice actors were selected to portray the characters in each show.  Some of these voice actors and actresses were born and raised right in the boroughs of New York City.  We’ll take a quick look at two of them, Miriam Wolfe and Arthur Anderson.

“Let’s Pretend” was broadcast before a live audience consisting mostly of children in the WABC studio in Manhattan.

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Our Family Circle: The Serrapede-Muro Scanning Project begins!

Uncle Sammy and I decided it was the time to offer an improved set of vital document files at Ancestry.  The current batch of vital records we purchased and used in research is of poor quality.  Most of that is due to the tug and pull that the family history project has developed into.  I have a very limited amount of time to allocate to the administrative side of my role.  The majority of the time is in research, discussions, creating the postings and maintaining the blog.  With winter setting in and a very strong desire on my part to hibernate and putter about my new apartment in my free time, it is the best time to tackle the scanning project.

Each vital record is scanned and includes all pages as well as any back page that bears a date stamp and/or seal of the state or office the document originated from.  Also included in a stamp with our names and the wording “for research use only”.  This will provide a source of contact in case anyone who picks up and uses the documentation has questions.

There is some wildly inaccurate information about the family on some–not all–public trees.  A review of the misinformation supports the impression that the people entering the data have little real time knowledge of the family, as well as poor research and reasoning skills when it comes to analyzing data and proofreading entries, Uncle Sammy and I decided the best way to counter the errors is to provide the complete documentation.  The previous documentation consisted of page 1 of each document and was taken on my Android phone.

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All Hallows Eve 2018

I am taking 3 days off to do a self-retreat beginning All Hallows Eve and continuing through All Saints Day and All Souls Day.  I will not be answering calls, emails,  Facebook notices or blog comments.  During this time I will pray for the departed while a candle burns in my home.  I am  working from home this week and able to set aside 15 minutes each sunrise, afternoon and sunset for prayers and remembrance of the departed.  In the deeper, quieter times of night I shall spend some time on reflection and recollection these three days call us to.  I will also be doing a partial fast so that I slow down and truly focus on the presence this time of year creates and is waiting to remind us of:  the links between life, death and the hereafter.  If any family or blog friends wish to have me include one of their departed family members in the remembrance please contact me by email no later than the evening of Tuesday, October 30th.  You may also comment here.  The comment will remain private and not processed for public viewing.  This invitation is extended to anyone of any background or faith.

On a lighter note, here is a poem about the lighter side of Halloween and the Jack O’Lantern.

With love to all my family and friends,  and peace be with the spirits of our Beloved Departed.

Halloween 2018 my book house vol 6 pg 33

My Friend Jack
by Rick W. Cotton

 Jack comes every year to visit me,
And his grin just makes me smile.
Nearly toothless, he doesn’t care.
He happily laughs all the while.

 Eyes glowing in mirth and merriment,
He makes this time of year happy.
Though he’s not much in conversation,
And he has no repartee snappy.

 Jack just stays for a few weeks
Every year when the leaves turn yellow.
He’s as welcome as he could possibly be.
He’s quite the fun old fellow.

 Now the sun goes down and the moon comes up,
And the costumed monsters come calling.
Light a candle to get Jack going!
Fast! The eventide’s falling!

 All Halloween night he sits with me,
Grinning to greet the neighbors
‘Til his candle’s gone and he goes to sleep.
These are hours that I truly savor.

 So long old Jack, tomorrow’s November!
We’ll see you again next year!
When you come to visit from the pumpkin patch,
We will all be waiting right here!


“My Friend Jack” by Rick W. Cotton

Mr. Moon and Jack O’Lantern
from My Book House, Vol. 6, pg. 33

56b-Serrapede Family in America-A Depression Era Childhood-My Book House,Part 2


This posting is a continuation of 56b-Serrapede Family in America-A Depression Era Childhood-My Book House, Part 1

The creator and editor of My Book House, Olive Beaupre Miller

Olive Beaupre Miller founded the Book House for Children Publishing Company with the purpose of not only teaching children how to read but to develop good character and choices in literature. She also wanted the stories to teach children about life, values and a variety of cultures as they grew up. Consideration was given to the material in terms of suitability for each stage in a child’s development. Each volume was focused on a certain age for the child and presented vocabulary, concepts and plot structure suitable to that age group.

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56b-Serrapede Family in America-A Depression Era Childhood-My Book House, Part 1


When Emily went to school her parents wanted her to cultivate an appreciation for classic literature, myths, legends, poetry and music of her own and other cultures. In this posting we discovered that the series of books they bought for this purpose is still loved and in demand today.

Relationship Notes

Josie and Sam were born in Agropoli, a town in Salerno province in Italy. Josie’s parents, Nicola and Letizia Muro, settled in Wilmerding, PA in the early 1910s. Sam came to the United States in the mid-1920s and lived with his sister and brother-in-law in Brooklyn, NY. Josie and Sam got together after Josie came up to Brooklyn and were married in 1930. Emily Leatrice Serrapede, their first child, was born in 1931.

Emily was the older sister of Gerry (Gennaro) and Sammy (Sabbatino). EmilyAnn knew her as “The Mom.”

Family Story: Building the My Book House Library One Volume at a Time

Emily remembered that Josie waited for a salesman to come to the apartment one day. She asked Emily to wait with her. When the salesman came in he carried a small suitcase. Emily wondered what kind of dolls or dresses were inside.

Josie took the book which the salesman handed her and carefully looked through the pages. At first Emily wasn’t that excited about getting a book. Josie still had to read to her so she wasn’t sure what good the book would be.

Josie leaned over to show Emily the book. “Look sweetheart, what do you think of these pictures?” The inside of the book contained brightly colored illustrations. Some were of baby animals, others were fairies, and oh those twinkling stars in some of the night time scenes. As Josie showed Emily other books in the series Emily asked if the salesman was going to leave them all there at once. She also wanted to know where the books would be kept. She asked Josie to make sure her books would be safe.

Josie explained that she would be getting one book at a time. The arrangements were made with the salesman that afternoon.

Emily did not remember how frequently he came with a new volume but over time the bookcase Josie bought contained twelve volumes plus two bigger books. One was about Holland and the other about France.

There was an extra volume in the series for parents that recommended suitable games and activities that could be created around the stories in the books. One activity Emily wrote about in her “My Baby Book” was about making clay faces as a child. When Uncle Sammy and I  reviewed the guidebook before preparing this posting we learned that was one of the recommended activities. This shows that Josie was following the program that guided the child through the proper readings and activities for each stage of development.

Background of My Book House

The series was intended to follow a child from their earliest years through high school. Each volume is based around a theme such as adventure stories, stories of chivalry and knights in shining armor, fairies, heroes of the past and present. There are also poems. The footnotes in many pieces point the way for the child and parent to do further exploration. In some examples references are provided to classical composers, operas and ballets. For example, in the Rhinegold stories readers are told a little about Richard Wagner and his opera, “The Ring”. The footnotes contained enough information to make further research possible when visiting a public library.

At a blog named after her beloved set of My Book House books, a blogger named Miss Kathy shares many memories of how the series introduced her and her children to classics in literature, history and poetry that have stood the test of time.

One thing to take note is that there were two stories in the pre 1970s period that were replaced after a review found these stories no longer acceptable. These were “Little Black Sambo” and “The Tar Baby”. Later editions contained some new material but overall the focus remains on the classic legends, stories and historical figures of not only the West but other cultures such as Russia, Middle Europe, China and India.

(to be continued)