Michael and Katy’s Wedding, Baltimore, MD, June 11, 2016

Michael and Katy were married on Saturday, June 11, 2016 in a beautiful, unique ceremony that gave expression to their love of each other and the happiness they wanted to share with all.  The wedding was a three day affair.  On Friday, June 10th there was a cocktail hour at the Rusty Scupper right across the Inner Harbor by water taxi.  This event gave us a chance to mix and mingle before the big day.  I loved the informality and friendly atmosphere.  A real feeling of connection was created that evening.

The ceremony and reception were held in a spacious ballroom at The Four Seasons Hotel.  The spectacular view of Inner Harbor created a sense of vast openness in the ballroom.  Since the weather was humid the ceremony was not held outdoors.

On Sunday, June 12th we gathered together one last time for a breakfast banquet at the Four Seasons Hotel.  It was the perfect conclusion to a perfect wedding weekend.  Katy and Michael made the rounds as they did Saturday night taking time to converse with each guest as well as exchange hugs and wishes for good luck.

Here are some photos I took and others from the ##ReadyToLingle Wedding Photo Album at cluster.com  I’ve provided credits to photos taken by other guests.

Friday night at the Rusty Scupper, June 10, 2016

Katy and Michael.  Photo by Ali Weiss Brady.

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Baltimore June 10-12, 2016

I was in Baltimore, Maryland for the first time from June 10th through 12th. The occasion was the wedding of Aunt Kathie’s son Michael Lingle to Katy Knipp.  The wedding was a beautiful weekend affair that spanned all three days.  Michael waited a long time for the right woman to be his lifelong partner.  We are all delighted that he married Katy.  She is his perfect complement.  The wedding ceremony took place in a ballroom at the Four Seasons Hotel overlooking the Inner Harbor.

The Inner Harbor is a beautiful example of old and new.  The sight of the boats moored on the water or sailing past offered many photo opportunities.  Tourists can walk to scenic Fells Point  very easily from Inner Harbor.  Along the way you’ll meet many friendly and helpful residents.  The atmosphere is urban and yet a touch of the past remains in the restored 18th and 19th century homes and cobblestoned streets of Fells Point.  On my way to the Hilton Garden Court Inn where I stayed the taxi driver told me Baltimore is called “Charm City”.  After enjoying the Inner Harbor and Fells Point I could understand why.

I hope you’ll enjoy these photos from my stay in Charm City.  I loved my stroll through Fells Point.  I put the camera away because I wanted to immerse myself in each moment I was there..  Many artists live in Fells Point yet the atmosphere is so different from the trendy, hipster vibe one gets in Brooklyn, New York these days.  I attribute this to the people themselves.  They are so open, so relaxed and so without pretense.  That is part of the appeal to Charm City.  The farmers market in Fells Point offers a tempting variety of sweets, baked goods, fresh vegetables, jewelry and other hand made items.  My favorite spot was the Café Latte’da where I bought a pound of coffee for my Cousin Jackie’s housewarming gift.  Café Latte’da donates a portion of their sales to help a local charity  that works with rehabilitation and adoption of dogs.  There’s a wonderful mix of people of all ages in this cozy little café.

Inner Harbor, Baltimore, Maryland

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33-Muro Family in America: Wilmerding, a company town

Introduction

 Nick Muro was a shoemaker in his home town of Agropoli, in Salerno province of Italy. In 1900 he made his first trip to the United States when he was 18 years old. He returned to Agropoli for his marriage to Letizia Scotti in 1909. Sometime after that he returned to the United States. In 1912 Letizia came to the United States with their 2 1/2 year old daughter, Josie. The family settled in Wilmerding, PA.

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 “Arrival of the workmen.”
The train station is in East Pittsburgh. George Westinghouse began his business in Pittsburgh.
Library of Congress, public domain.

 Wilmerding was established as a company town by George Westinghouse, Jr. He was the inventor of the air brake which revolutionized rail travel and safety. His first company was located in Pittsburgh. Wilmerding was estabished as the demand for the air brake increased. Mr. Westinghouse wanted to attract the very best workers possible and instill in them loyalty to his company. His company, the Westinghouse Air Brake Company, would be the main employer and benefactor in Wilmerding. Westinghouse ensured that his workers had access to housing, education and recreational facilities as the town prospered and expanded.

George Westinghouse’s vision was of benefit to the Muro family. Within 10 years of settling in the country Nick secured full-time employment at the factory. Talk of WAB Co. was always part of the visits to Wilmerding when I was a child in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Uncle Sammy remembers it during his childhood in the 1940s and 1950s, too.

This posting presents a brief overview on what a company town was like and why they were formed. We will also present some highlights from the life of George Westinghouse. The concluding section consists of a summary of a 1904 news article on the pros and cons of living in Wilmerding.

Relationship note: Nick and Letizia Muro were Sammy’s maternal Grandparents and EmilyAnn’s Great-Grandparents on her maternal line.

Josie was Sammy’s Mom and EmilyAnn’s maternal Grandma.

What was a company town and why was it formed?

Company towns were situated in distant locations. To attract a talented and stable workforce the employer provided housing, schools, recreational facilities and retails shops in the town. There would be only one employer in the town who hired employees for the main business as well as contractors and those who provided services in the shops the company owned in town.

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32b-Father’s Day, June 19th, 2016

“The Emigration Scheme” by James Collinson

In honor of the patriarchs of all our direct lines.  In memory and thanksgiving for those who bore the past hardships in Italy.  In memory and thanksgiving for those who had the foresight to bring their families to America so they and their descendants would have a better life.  We dedicate this posting to you all on Father’s Day 2016.

Our Patriarchs

Muro Family
Giuseppe di Giaimo
Francesco di Giaimo
Aniello Scotti
Francesco Scotti
Carmine Scotti
Luigi Serrapede (b. 1800)
Gaetano Ruocco
Nicola Ruocco
Nunziante Muro
Pietro Muro
Nicola “Nick” Muro

Serrapede Family
Alessandro Patella
Antonio Pappalardo
Nicola Pappalardo
Vincenzo Ruocco
Luigi Serrapede (b. bef. 1815)
Sabato Serrapede (1834-1893)
Gennaro Serrapede (b. 1867)
Sabato “Sam” Serrapede (1900-2002)

———–

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32a-Muro Family in America: A new life awaits

Introduction

Nicola Muro travelled to and from America during the period 1900 to about 1909.  He networked with friends and relatives from his hometown of Agropoli to secure employment and familiarize himself with the best place to settle prior to his marriage in 1909.  On August 9, 1912 Nicola’s wife Letizia and daughter Giuseppina landed in New York.  They then travelled to Wilmerding, Pennsylvania where a new life awaited them with Nicola.

For this posting we focused on the conditions in Italy and Pennsylvania during the period 1911-1912.  This informal overview gave us some insights into the circumstances that were in play during the time the family decided to immigrate.  Although this was an informal process we gleaned enough information to better appreciate the willingness the family had to make a new home for themselves in America.

We have pulled information from a wide variety of sources since each one vividly conveys the mood and impression of what was going on in Italy and America at the time.  This is followed by our discussion notes that include our insights from this week’s readings.

Relationship Notes

Nicola and Letizia Muro were Sammy’s maternal Grandparents and EmilyAnn’s Great-Grandparents.

Giuseppina Muro married Sabato Serrapede in 1930.  She was Sammy’s Mom and EmilyAnn’s maternal Grandmother.

Americanization of the Italian birth Names

Beginning in this posting, we will start calling our family members by the names they used in America.  We believe it is in keeping with the new life and identity they made here.  These are also the names everyone knew them by.

Nicola became Nick Muro.
Giuseppina (a/k/a Giuseppa in Italy) was always known as Josie after coming to the U.S.

Overview – Italians in Pennsylvania

• The earliest Italian immigrants to Pennsylvania came from Northern Italy in the late 17th-early 18th centuries.  Many settled in the Philadelphia area.

o The Northern Italian immigrants were well-educated and from the middle and upper classes.

• In the 1860s, Americans supported the struggle of the Risorgimento movement in Italy.  The Risorgimento, under such leaders as Giuseppe Garibaldi, sought the unification of Italy into one nation.  America was in the midst of the Civil War at this time and understood the spirit Garibaldi represented.

• After Unification, Southern Italians were worse off than before.  The new Italian government favored the industrialized North.  As a result immigration from Southern Italy to the U.S. increased after 1870.

• The Southern Italian immigrants followed a different pattern of settlement than the Northern Italians.  Some did go to Philadelphia to work or live.  But many more headed to Pittsburgh and the smaller industrial towns in the Pittsburgh area.

• The social identity and culture of Italian immigrants were defined by the town in Italy from which they came.

o If many immigrants from the same town settled in an area they could become a self-sustaining “Little Italy” in a bigger city.

o In the smaller industrial towns there might be some isolation which heightened the feeling of separation from mainstream American life.

o The smaller towns also had a diverse mix of other Europeans.  Unless the Italian immigrant had family or paesani from the same village living close by they would have a more difficult time adjusting.

• Italian immigrants in big cities and small towns banded together to form fraternal societies.  They offered a limited form of life insurance, health insurance, death benefits and job search assistance.

o In time the members of these mutual aid societies joined forces with organized labor as more Italian immigrants went to work in the factories where labor organizing took place.

• The Catholic Church was another important part of the Italian immigrant’s life.

o The Italian immigrants did not want to worship at churches where Catholic Irish priests ministered due to the cultural and linguistic differences.

o This led to establishment of parishes focused on the needs of the immigrants.  These were called nationality parishes.

• In an effort to help Italians form their own unique identity in America, the fraternal societies organized celebrations commemorating the feast days honoring patron saints of the hometown where the immigrants came from.

o There were also parades honoring notable Italians such as Christopher Columbus as a means to foster cultural pride and a positive image of the emerging Italian-American.

• Of all Italian immigrants who came to Pennsylvania during the period 1870-1914 71% settled in the small towns rather than the large cities of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

o These smaller towns were called company towns because they grew around a factory or mine that was the main source employment.

• Italian immigrants avoided programs run by outside organizations that offered assistance accompanied by efforts to “Americanize” them.  They turned instead to family, paesani and the fraternal societies within their own communities.

We will see some of these factors at work as we begin our journey into the early years of the Muro family when they settled in Wilmerding, PA.

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31e-Our last week in Italy July, 1976: Back to Rome

Route from Gaeta to Rome.

 Our Vacation in Italy 1976: Remembering our last day in Rome

It was a hot day when we left Gaeta for the two hour drive back to Rome. At night we enjoyed the coolness of Italia and Antonio’s apartment, sleeping very well. The next morning it felt as if New York City had already rung the doorbell and entered the room, ready to claim her residents and bring them back home. Breakfast was a hurried affair as was getting dressed and doing our last minute packing.

I looked out the window and considered the bird bath in the garden of the apartment building where Italia and Antonio lived in Rome. There weren’t any birds playing in the water. The scene was so still in the bright summer sun.

I thought about Dyker Heights back in Brooklyn. In eight weeks Autumn would begin. The oak trees would change color as the season progressed. The sparrows would still be twittering each morning and I’d awaken to hear the leaves rustle if the wind was blowing. Thoughts of home began to tug at my heart again. I felt the desire for a donut and cup of coffee from Chock Full o’Nuts on Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge. I wanted to kick-off my new wedgies and put my flats on and walk up to Woolworths’s on 86th Street. As I packed my clothes and souvenirs for the family I started going over all the memories of the past three weeks. During the years I took care of my Mom as the Parkinsonism she suffered with advanced, I often remembered these days in Italy. In quiet times from 2002 through 2007, I looked at the photos so I could touch these places in spirit. I never thought that they would help me connect our ancestral past and the present. That has happened now that Uncle Sammy and I are working on our project for the Muro and Serrapede Family History.

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31d-Bella Italia in 1976: Gaeta

Our last week in Italy 1976. Fourth stop: Gaeta

Route from Positano to Gaeta.

Some facts about Gaeta

  • One of the most stunning attractions of Gaeta is the Montagna Spaccata.
    • The mountain has deep crevices that create a natural sea grotto.
  • The waters around the coastline of Gaeta appear a deep turquoise blue and provide a stunning contrast to the countryside.

Our Vacation in Italy 1976: Remembering Gaeta

Grandpa Sam’s nephew Gennaro Serrapede and his family hosted us while we stayed in Gaeta. Gennaro love to go diving and showed us many fragments of ancient pottery he found during his dives. I found these object fascinating. On one of them, the handle of an earthenware pot was covered with many tiny shells. Others had deposits built up on them that formed an ornamental scrollwork.  Gennaro displayed these finds on shelves throughout his apartment.

We went for a drive along the coastline, stopping to take photos of the narrow inlets and beaches below the highway. Each view was more beautiful than the next.

The last days of our travels were very hot and lazy. I remember falling into a deep sleep the night we were in Gaeta. I could hardly believe we would be returning to Rome the next day. Three weeks felt like three months. I wondered if I could get back into the faster-than-fast tempo of life once we got back to New York.

From Our Photo Album

Grandpa Sam, his nephew Gennaro, Grandma Josie and Grandpa’s niece Italia. Summer of 1976 in Gaeta.

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