Michael Muro and I have been in touch since early this year thanks to another cousin and the family history project. After many emails, we moved on to contact by phone and text messages. We both have very involved schedules so the logistics for the meet-up took a while to work out.
We decided to meet for lunch on Saturday, February 25th at the Fraunces Tavern, a historic landmark in Lower Manhattan. The building dates back to the American Revolutionary War and was a meeting place for many of our Founding Fathers. Today the Tavern offers a delicious pub-style menu along with a diverse selection of brews (beers and stouts) and coffees. There is also a museum of American Revolutionary War artifacts on the second floor.
It had been a busy week at work and I forgot to take my 35mm camera so I could be guaranteed some clear, memorable photos. It was then that I also recalled I now had a new Android phone by LG. I decided to take the photos with the cell phone camera and then work them up in PaintShopPro to create something memorable.
I had not seen Michael in many years. He attended the wake for Grandma Josie in 1995 but since I was in such shock at the loss of my beloved Gran, nothing from that time is easy to recall. Michael had such a laugh when I told him that I can recall, as clear as if it was just a few years ago, how we sat together at Grandma Josie and Grandpa Sam’s 50th Wedding Anniversary dinner. The guy I had been dating at the time had already left and the dinner was not through yet. My boyfriend-at-the-time had a long drive back home and his departure was understandable. So there was Michael and I with my Mom and Dad enjoying the atmosphere of Romano’s, an old school Italian restaurant that was located on 13th Avenue near the corner of 70th Street.
I hope you will enjoy the story these photos tell. That I have finally gotten around to posting them on Memorial Day Weekend seems just right. This is more than just a weekend to kick off the start of Summer. It is a weekend to honor the memory of all who have given themselves in service to our country. This does not mean we have a blind patriotism nor a hateful scorn of our past. Instead it means learning from history by taking the events as they actually happened and extracting a meaning from the positive and negative. History teaches us much if we listen to what she tells us and do so with an open mind.
From Brooklyn, I took the R Local train to Rector Street in Manhattan. I thought a long walk from that station down to Pearl Street, where Fraunces Tavern is located, would be good. I worked in the Wall Street area for many years. I wanted to revisit Trinity Church and Federal Hall before I met Michael and Peter. As I recall the afternoon, these first two stops added to the meaning the second part of the afternoon had. This is because as Michael, his cousin Peter and I had enjoyed our time together we celebrated our shared bonds of ancestors from Agropoli and celebrated our heritage as Americans.
Trinity Church has been serving New York City since the early 1700s. It is one of the oldest Episcopal churches in the city.
Looking up from the main entrance of Trinity Church, Broadway and Wall Street.
All Saints Chapel, Trinity Church, New York City.
Federal Hall is located on Wall Street, right down the block from Trinity Church. It is where George Washington took his oath of office before beginning his first term as the first President of the United States of America.
George Washington praying for his troops before the Battle of Valley Forge, December 1777. Plaque is at Federal Hall, Lower Manhattan.
Statue of George Washington located in front of the steps leading up to Federal Hall.
Some people have commented that upon seeing this close-up it looks like George Washington is giving a blessing upon the country. I think what is really going on is that George Washington is getting ready to place his hand on the Bible as he prepares to take his oath of office.
The Fraunces Tavern
The Fraunces Tavern is a perfect blend of history in terms of the setting and modernity in terms of the menu and selection of brews and beverages offered. It is two blocks away from the Staten Island Ferry Terminal which was our next stop after lunch.
Reconnecting over good food and through family stories
One of the memories we shared was how we used to wait for days to get photos developed. Our parents took pictures of us using box cameras like the Kodak Brownie camera. Color film and developing was still expensive in the late 1950s and early 1960s. This caused many people to prefer Black and White (B&W) film. Popular sized prints could be 2″x3″ or 3″x5″. Sometimes the photos were printed with a decorative border. I decided to let PaintShopPro convert our photos into B&W with the nostalgic border.
Michael Muro, right. Me giving the “V” sign. Our shared ancestor is Nicola (Nick) Muro. Nick was Michael’s Grandfather and my Great-Grandfather.
Michael Muro (left) and his maternal cousin, Peter Di Fiore.
Michael and Peter aboard the Staten Island Ferry.
A Ride on the Staten Island Ferry
The Staten Island Ferry is free and offers an enjoyable ride between Lower Manhattan and Staten Island. On a clear day there are many photo ops possible. If you have a camera with a telephoto lens you can get a few good photos of the Statue of Liberty, too. The ferry has been in service since the early 1800s.
View as the ferry left the terminal in New York City.
This photo was taken about mid-way through the crossing over to Staten Island.
The Statue of Liberty as seen from the Staten Island Ferry while crossing from Manhattan. This photo was taken with the cell phone camera of an LG phone. It was then run through several editing features in PaintShopPro to enlarge and clarify the image you see now.