41d-Christmas 2016 at the National Cathedral, Washington, DC

Christmas morning I went to mass at the National Cathedral.  My Uncle Sammy (who is my Mom’s brother and like a brother/dad/godfather and best friend to me), recommended I make the cathedral the focal point of the trip to Washington, DC.  He told me there is such a feeling of sanctity and history in the Cathedral that I would not leave without feeling uplifted.

He is right.  Not only did I feel uplifted, I was inspired.  The choir had the voices of angels. The clergy,  laymen and lay women at the service conveyed such dignity and joy.  I also felt the good will during the exchange of peace at the service.  Episcopalians, and Catholics too, exchange a sign of peace before the Eucharist is given.  In Brooklyn, it is a very anemic exchange.  People wave to each other while some make a peace sign and nod in your direction.  I’ve noticed in my parish most people only shake hands with those they know.  At the National Cathedral on  Christmas Day not only did I shake hands with all those near me, I had a few people hug me, too.  The warmth was very tangible.  I felt as if I’d received an energy transfusion.

At 1:30 p.m. there was a recital given on the grand pipe organ in the cathedral.  The selection ranged from The Nutcracker  Suite, to modern carols like “Bring a torch, Jeanette Isabella” and culminated in a rousing rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s “Messiah”. Two organists were needed to handle the four keyboards on the cathedral’s grand pipe organ for this last piece.  They are both young men in their late 20s-early 30s and so very talented.  As I watched the large screens placed throughout the church so we could see the organist I was so taken by passion and joy on their faces.  It brought such a feeling of happiness and joy that moved me to tears.  Again, other people nearby were responsive and just as moved by the recital as I was.  Strangers, we smiled and hugged and wished each other well without any reserve and without any analytical thoughts about who is this person and what are the thinking.

I think this was what I had come looking for:  that spontaneity and ability to feel with and for other people.  That it happened during the service and recital at the National Cathedral during Christmas day brought home the meaning and significance of this holiday that I haven’t felt for many years.  For me 2017 will be not only a New Year, but one with newer way of looking at what the real gifts of Christmas are all about every day of the year.

From my photo album

The National Cathedral, Washington, DC, Christmas Day 2016


Main entrance of The National Cathedral.

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41c-Winter Break 2016-Washington, DC

Greetings to all!  I returned on Monday, December 26th, 2016 from a much needed retreat and rest during the holiday season.  I hope all our readers and WordPress bloggers enjoyed their get-togethers with family and friends.  I will be back to a regular blogging schedule in 2-3 weeks.  In the meantime, I want to share some impressions and photos taken during my stay in Washington.  There will be one more posting after this one about the awesome Christmas day I had at the Washington National Cathedral.

My wish is for all to have a year ahead that includes good health and quality time with loved ones.  Here’s to a Happy 2017!

Impressions of Washington, DC December 23 through December 24, 2016

I stayed at the Adams Inn which is made up of three adjacent rooming houses built in the 1920s.  The main house where we gathered for breakfast was Guest House 1 at 1746 Lanier Place NW.  I stayed next door in 1744 Lanier Place NW.  There are smaller dining rooms and kitchens in the other 2 houses.  1744 and 1746 had pantries filled with instant oatmeal, snack bars, coffee, tea, cocoa, a fridge and microwave.  I found this very convenient when I got hungry and wasn’t up to a big dinner or lunch.  Each house has a comfy and inviting quality.  There are books and magazines as well as charming decorative elements.

Lanier Place NW is a very scenic block.  The entire area has similar houses.  My cousin says it reminds her of Greenwich Village in the 1970s.  I agree.


The area where the Adams Inn is located is called Adams Morgan.  It is a very charming area.  I spent Friday and Saturday afternoons exploring Columbia Road NW.  There is a popular café and bookstore called Potter’s House Books that has a long history in the community as a place selling delicious coffee and a varied selection of books, many of which deal with social justice and civil rights.  The store is very involved in community activities to help the homeless. I wanted to stay and enjoy their coffee and baked goods.  However, the service was much too slow.  I ended up at Starbucks.

I found that Adams Morgan had two groups of people living parallel to each other.  There are the wealthy, upper class professionals and young students living in the area and frequenting places like Potter’s House Books.  The escape I temporarily felt from the worrisome effects of gentrification that I have for Brooklyn, NY came back when I saw how many homeless people there were out on Columbia Road NW as evening drew near or very early in the morning.  I took a bus ride on  Christmas Eve on the Circulator Line, which costs only $1 per ride to any point along the route.  I went through the entire line in Columbia Heights and found a replay of parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan.  There is a park along I Street in Columbia Heights that was filled with homeless people sleeping and milling around.


While there were homeless people along Columbia Road NW, I did not find them along 18th Street NW on the 2400 block.  This block has a great assortment of restaurants, cafes, book stores, salons and other shops.  The food available at the places I went to like The Diner and Jyoti Indian Restaurant is reasonably priced.  I had some pleasant conversations in passing with regulars and wait staff and booksellers, too.  It was a very light and positive feeling on that block.  My favorite place on 18th Street NW was Idle Time Books.  They have a wide variety of used books including sci-fi paperbacks from the 1950s.  Also sold there are post cards featuring photos of the book covers of pulp fiction from the 1940s through 1960s.  I bought a few because they are humorous on one level but also serve to dispel nostalgia for the “good old days”.  Women have come a long way since then.  I don’t see this kind of book or art work anymore.  For example, there’s one called “Dime a Dance Queen.”

From my photo album

Adams Inn, 1746 Lanier Place NW, Washington DC


Main entrance.

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41b-A Christmas Greeting to Our Relatives and Paesani



For our family,
For our friends.
Those who are near,
Those who are far.
May Our Lord watch over you, guide you, provide for you and bless you always.
Merry Christmas!
And a prosperous New Year.


Per la nostra famiglia,
Per i nostri amici.
Coloro che sono vicino,
Coloro che sono lontani,
Possa il Signore vegli su di voi, vi guiderà, fornire per voi e vi benedica sempre.
Buon Natale!
E un prospero Anno Nuovo.

–Sam Serrapede
–EmilyAnn Frances May







Image: University of Dayton via Pinterest

41a-2016 Holiday Greetings to our blog friends and subscribers


Happy Winter Solstice!
December 21, 2016



Blessed Hannukah!
December 24, 2016-January 1, 2017



Merry Christmas!
December 25, 2016



Happy Kwanzaa!
December 26, 2016-January 1, 2017


It is the season of Light
when Joy, Hope and Love
shine upon us with blessings
from Heaven above.
May the flames of Love and Hope burn bright in your heart,
bringing Joyful inspiration as the New Year starts.

With best wishes,

–Sam Serrapede
–EmilyAnn Frances May


We will be on a one month holiday break starting this week.  See you all in the New Year.



41-Muro Family in America-The sisters of Letizia Scotti Muro


Letizia Scotti Muro, wife of Nick Muro, passed away in 1921 at the age of 32. She left behind 5 children. Her daughter Josie often spoke of a relative named “Titsie” with great fondness. The correct Italian word for “aunt” is zia but I have heard it pronounced like “zitsie” or “titsie”, too. Whenever I visited my Grandma Josie, she got very lively if the relative named Titsie called. There was always a big smile on her face and a glow afterwards that told me this caller was someone special. My Mom said that this person was my Grandmother’s Aunt. I never asked what her name was.  I took it for granted that some day I’d get around to that.

Since I hadn’t asked more questions about who Titsie was I could not be sure if she was my Grandmother’s maternal or paternal Aunt. As Uncle Sammy and I study the family history I am gaining more insight into which direct line relatives played a role in the lives of Letizia’s children after her death. This posting will provide an overview on how I came to know the identity of who my Grandmother’s Auntie (Titsie) was and why she was an important part of her life.

Relationship Notes


Pedigree chart for lineage of Letizia Scotti Muro. The names of her siblings are included.

Letizia Scotti Muro was:
–Josie’s Mother
–Sammy’s maternal Grandmother
–EmilyAnn’s Great Grandmother

Josie Muro Serrapede was:
–Emily Leatrice & Sammy’s Mom
–EmilyAnn’s maternal Grandma

Concetta Scotti Fasano and Elisa Scotti Errico were:
–Letizia’s sisters
–Josie’s maternal Aunts
–Sammy’s Great Aunts
–EmilyAnn’s Second Great Aunts

The Sisters of Letizia Scotti Muro

Our research has not turned up any immigration records for the sisters of Josie’s father, Nick. As of this date (10/3/2015) the only immigration records we have for our branch of the Muro family are Nick’s.

This past summer I located documentation that Letizia’s twin sister Concetta and younger sister Elisa immigrated to Wilmerding, PA around the same time as Letizia did. Both sisters still resided in Wilmerding at the time of Letizia’s death. We will review the 1920 Federal Census entries to gain a snapshot of what their lives were like at that time.

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40-Muro Family in America-The Ethnic Mix on State Street


As a child I thought my Grandmother and Mother grew up in neighborhoods where the entire community was Italian-American. I was very scared about going to kindergarten. Some of our neighbors told me that the children of servicemen stationed at Fort Hamilton would be amongst my classmates. These children had travelled to different countries in Europe or different states in America. Some of their mothers were from different countries. Instead of looking forward to making new friends I became unsure of myself. I told Grandma Josie and my Mom that I didn’t want to go to Public School. Instead I wanted to attend St. Bernadette where the student body consisted solely of children from Dyker Heights.

Mom and Grandma Josie shared stories of their childhood and adolescence with me in an effort to show me that they never lived in the strictly Italian-American world my 4 1/2 year old imagination created. I was told that sooner or later the bigger world would call out for me to participate in it. Going to kindergarten was the first big step I had to take.

Uncle Sammy and I decided to check out the stories Grandma Josie shared with me and compare them with the ethnic mix as recorded in the 1920 Federal Census for the Muro family in Wilmerding, PA. We then compared our own experiences of growing up in Dyker Heights and the ethnic mix we encountered throughout our school years. This exercise showed us that official records can be used to check the veracity of the family stories. In the case of the examples my Mom gave, we learned how important it is to collect as much material on a topic from each generation as possible. This personal history is sometimes never entered to published works on a community since they can be written by people who have not grown up or experienced the life of members of the community. For this reason, we believe that researchers do a great service to the genealogical community and amateur family historians when they include interviews with the people from the community they are writing about.

Relationship Notes

Josie Muro Serrapede was:

  • Emily Leatrice Serrapede’s Mother
  • Sammy Serrapede’s Mother
  • EmilyAnn’s maternal Grandmother

Emily Leatrice Serrapede was:

  • Sammy’s Sister
  • EmilyAnn’s Mother

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39e-Dyker Heights Christmas Lights, 2016


Last night, December 3rd, 2016, I went to see the Christmas Lights display in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, NY.  It was damp and chilly.  Every so often the wind made the large evergreen trees in front of the mini-mansions sway to and fro.  Most of the area is still in the process of setting up their displays.  I wasn’t sure how much I’d see but decided to go.  I will be involved with several work related events this month so I decided to make the most of my day off.

To my surprise several mini-mansions, as well as the smaller 1 and 2 family houses, already had their displays in place.  The most popular themes I saw last night featured Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.  Bigger homes had their trees and shrubbery adorned with lights so that no figures were necessary.  The very big gardens that still featured large displays were big on well known Christmas characters such as The Nutcracker, The Wooden Soldiers, The Little Drummer Boy and Santa.

I hope you’ll enjoy this short tour of the best displays I saw last night.  I’m releasing these photos into the public domain.  You may circulate or re-use.  A link back to this posting would be appreciated.

The Dyker Heights Christmas Lights Display 2016




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