Josie Muro was the daughter of Nick and Letizia (nee Scotti) Muro. She was:
–EmilyAnn’s maternal Grandmother
Elissa Scotti Errico was:
–Letizia’s youngest sister
–Wife of Vincenzo Errico
–Josie’s maternal Aunt
Rosina Aiello Marasco was known as Rose by the family after her immigration to America. We will use that name in this and future postings. Nick Muro married Rose about late 1921-early 1922 after the death of his first wife Letizia.
Josie Muro is not recorded as a member of the Muro household in the 1930 Federal Census. In the late 1920s she went to live in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, New York and got a full-time job. Uncle Sammy and I were never sure who Josie stayed with during this time. We reviewed the earliest photos we have of Josie, as well as the 1930 Federal Census entries for our relatives in Brooklyn. Through our discussions we were able to create a timeline that helps us narrow in on who Josie stayed with and an estimation of what year she came up to Brooklyn.
The timeline provides the backdrop which validates two family stories about Josie which I have been told. The version my Mom told me differs only slightly from the one my Uncle shared with me. Postings number 43, 44 and 45 will present the story as we go through the timeline. Preparing this series has helped me finally make sense of both versions of the story. I’ll wait until posting number 45 to let you know which one I now believe is the correct version.
The Muro Household 1922-1930: A growing family
Close-up of the 1930 Federal Census entries for the Muro household.
According to the 1930 Federal Census, Nick now owned the building where the family lived. This was the property Nick received as a settlement after the death of his son Ernest. The building, which had a store on the ground floor and an apartment above it, was located at 298 State Street. In 1930 it was valued at $4,000.
We don’t know what caused the Census Enumerator to list Nick’s wife as Lucy instead of Rose but we’ve entered a correction at Ancestry. Another error which made it hard to find this record was an error in the data entry to Ancestry’s database. The surname Muro was misspelled Mino. Thanks to the help of Ancestry forum participants we finally found the record.
Between 1923 through 1925, Rose had three children by Nick. They were:
Raymond (Raymie), born October 14, 1923
America (Igo), born October 20, 1924
Albino (Beno), born November 26, 1925
With three children so close in age, Rose needed the help of the oldest daughter in the household. This is where Josie’s assistance with housework and babysitting were necessary. By 1930 the family totaled 11 people. Josie is not one of the household members listed since she was already in Brooklyn by this time. In addition to Nick and Rose the household in 1930 consisted of:
Peter 17 yo
Louis 15 yo
Philomena 13 yo
Rosa (Rosie) 10 yo
John 14 yo
Raymond 6 yo
Americo 5 yo
Albino 4 yo
Philip Gimelko, a 31 year old tinsmith, living with the family as a boarder.
Nick worked as a machinist for Westinghouse Air Brake Company. Since he was employed full-time we are not sure who was minding his grocery store during the day. Rose would not have time since there were too many children to care for.
Josie Muro: The earliest photos we have
Josie Muro circa mid-1920s.
Josie wrote the date and location where a photo was taken on the back of many later photos. She did not do this for the earliest photos which made it hard for me to figure out where they were taken. I had never seen these photos until my Mom told me about them shortly before she passed away. At first I did not recognize my Grandmother in many of the earliest photos. This showed me how narrow my outlook was when it came to the older generations of our family. I didn’t think about my Grandmother’s life as a young woman. Yet here she was, smiling and looking at me in what I believe were her late teenage years. Uncle Sammy and I think this photo was taken while Josie still lived with her parents in Wilmerding. When we looked at the houses in the background and compared them to photos of Dyker Heights, Brooklyn in the early 1930s most of the homes in Brooklyn were brick and of uniform shape and height.
Josie Muro, circa mid-1920s.
We also date this photo to the mid-1920s and think the location looks more like Wilmerding than Dyker Heights. In the section of Brooklyn where the Muro sisters came to live and settle, each one or two family home had a stoop that was level with the sidewalk. The steps leading to the front door were usually straight up from the stoop.
Another indication of the time is how understated Josie’s appearance is. There is no indication of the fashionable woman Josie would be when she posed for a studio portrait in 1929 and also took photos at a location we can identify in Brooklyn.
Josie had an appreciation for fashionable clothes and accessories. Her favorite designer was Coco Chanel. She loved perfumes and pearl necklaces. As I view the photos of 1929 I understand why she did not want to stay in Wilmerding and continue helping Rose with the younger children. All these things are communicated in the studio portrait which is part of a future discussion and posting.
The next thing we had to clarify was who Josie stayed with when she came to Brooklyn. This is where her Auntie Elisa Scotti Errico plays an important role. In our next posting we’ll focus on Elisa and her husband Vincenzo. They moved from Wilmerding to Brooklyn shortly after Letizia passed away.
Discussion with Uncle Sammy on Sunday, November 1, 2015
The corner building became the site of Grandpa Nick’s grocery store and home in the mid-late 1920s, after he fixed up the property. The store was on the ground floor. The family lived upstairs. Photo courtesy Fran Marasco.
Uncle Sammy and I do not know how Nick got the grocery store up and running during the early years of his marriage to Rose. He worked full-time in a machine shop at Westinghouse Air Brake Company according to the 1920 and 1930 Federal Census entries. The reason we ask this question is that we want to create a time-line of developments within the family history. Since official records cannot always offer all the details we need it becomes necessary to mine the information available through family stories and memories. While this is not always a sure and certain method, at least we collect what is available and have a starting point for further research and reflection.
In the late 1940s and through the 1950s, Uncle Sammy spent 4-6 weeks every summer in Wilmerding, Pennsylvania. He stayed with his Uncle Peter and Aunt Angie. Peter was his mother’s younger brother. Uncle Peter and Aunt Angie had three boys: Nicky, Robert and Petey. He was closest to Robert and Petey. Since Nicky was older he had his own friends and went to different places. Uncle Sammy, Petey and Robert loved to go to the playground up the hill from Nick’s store on State Street.
Uncle Sammy said that in some years Nick was not working at Westinghouse Air Brake Company. He’d be at the store full-time. When Nick and Rose’s daughters Sylvia and Susie were old enough they sometimes helped in the store, too.
Uncle Peter had his own shoe repair shop downstairs from the home he owned. He worked there after coming home once his shift at Westinghouse Airbrake Company was completed. Uncle Peter worked at his shoe repair shop from 3-7 p.m. Monday through Friday. We think that Nick may have run the grocery store along the same lines. If so, the store assured Nick of a livelihood during the Great Depression since there were many lay-offs or slowdowns at the plant during those years.
1930 Federal Census for the Muro Family