54c-Serrapede Family in America-Emily Leatrice’s Studio Portrait 1935 (Part 1)


The first studio portrait of Emily Leatrice was taken when she was 14 months old in 1932. We shared that photo and the research results about studio where the photo was taken in these previous postings:

53c-Serrapede Family in America: Emily Leatrice’s first studio portrait, 1932 Part 1

53c-Serrapede Family in America: Emily Leatrice’s first studio portrait, 1932 Part 2

When Emily was 4 years old in 1935, Sam and Josie had another photo taken of Emily at a different studio. This photo comes with a pretty cardboard frame that is attractive enough to use as is. In the back is a stand so that the photo may displayed on a table. There is also a tab with a hole in it that makes it possible to hang the photo on a wall. Despite being stored in nothing other than a brown paper bag that was placed into a sturdy, cardboard carton with other photos, the frame is still in good condition. This may have been due to the fact that the attic where Josie stored her photo collection was usually warm and dry in all seasons.

54c-Emily L Serrapede 1935 portrait watermarked

Emily Leatrice Serrapede.  Photo take in June 1935 at Wiese Photo Studio, Brooklyn, NY.

54c-photo frame close-up weise

Close-up of frame with name of the studio.

Unlike the first studio portrait, this one was taken by a photographer whose studio was located closer to where the Serrapede family lived. The information from the picture frame enabled us to compile enough data about Joseph Weise, his family and business in the years 1930-1940. In turn, this information led to a discussion about immigration, new business ownership and how the interaction between members of a diverse community can lead to commercial growth and personal prosperity.

Relationship Note

Emily Leatrice Serrapede was born in 1931 to Sam and Josie Serrapede. She was the sister of Gerald and Sammy. She was Mom to EmilyAnn Frances May.

Joseph Weise, Photographer

54c-Joseph Weise residential 1933 Brooklyn Phone book

1933 Brooklyn City Directory listing for Jos. Weise.

To make the search for Joseph Weise and his family easier, I set up a separate family tree for him at Ancestry. The first place I looked for him was in the 1933 Brooklyn City Directory. The Directory included the name of his wife (Frances) and his home (h) address of 1827 65th Street in Brooklyn. Since the listing also included the name of his studio (Weise Studio) we knew we had the right family. The family tree started just with Joseph and Frances.

54c-Joseph Weise 1933 Brooklyn Directory

1933 Brooklyn City Directory Listing for Photographers.

In the back of the 1933 Brooklyn City Directory are listings by profession and business. In 1933 Joseph’s studio was located at 6408 18th Avenue. Since only one studio is listed in the 1933 Brooklyn City Directory it’s possible that by 1935 Joseph’s business was doing well and that is why he opened another studio in Borough Park at 4723 13th Avenue. In 1935 his Bensonhurst studio was located at the address that appears on the picture frame: 6411 18th Avenue. With these three addresses and the name of Joseph’s wife we were better able to confirm the Federal Census data that Ancestry’s database collected.

54c-Jos Weise 1930 Fed Census close-up

Close-up of 1930 Federal Census entry for Weise family.

At the time of the 1930 Federal Census, Joseph, Frances and their 6 year old daughter Jeanette were living at 272 65th Street in an apartment that cost $65 a month to rent. As considered in postings 52b and 52c the average rent on an apartment was $40 a month. Apartments that cost upwards of $50 a month or more signified the tenants enjoyed a better quality of life with amenities such as modern electric refrigerators and steam heat. The location of the building is near the borders of Sunset Park and Bay Ridge. It is a few blocks away from the waterfront.

Joseph was 33 years old. He spoke Yiddish and was born in Russia. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1924 and was naturalized. Frances was 24 years old. She was born in Pennsylvania. Her parents immigrated from Russia.

54c-Joseph Weise 1940 Fed Census

Close-up of the 1940 Federal Census entry for the Weise family.

The 1940 Federal Census shows that the Weise household now included two more daughters: Barabara age 9 and Jacqueline age 7. The family now rented an apartment at 6706 12th Avenue that cost $75 a month. They now lived a few blocks away from where the Serrapede family was living in 1940. Joseph’s profession is still an independent photographer with his own studio. In the year before the census was taken he made $2500 for the year. If we base the quality of life on such things as the yearly salary and the amount of rent the family could afford, the Weise family were living comfortably. In 1940 the average middle class salary was $1,000 a year.

Jeanette Weise was 17 years old in 1940. She had graduated high school which is noted in the census as “H4”. Jeanette was working as a receptionist for a photo studio. We think she was working with her father.

Joseph Weise’s business expanded from Bensonhurst in 1930 to Borough Park by 1935 as evidenced by the information we got from the Brooklyn City Directory listings and the addresses on the photo frame. Each neighborhood was home to different immigrant communities.

(To be continued…)

6 thoughts on “54c-Serrapede Family in America-Emily Leatrice’s Studio Portrait 1935 (Part 1)

    1. Yes, they were natural. She loved them as a little girl and even into the 1950s loved having curly hair. I remember a very short hairstyle called “The Poodle Cut”. Mom got her hair styled like that since it was considered chic and was easy to care for.

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    2. PS-Thanks for the observation. My Grandparent got such a kick out of Shirley Temple. I’ve recently seen other Baby Boomer Family Historians sharing photos of their Moms and Aunties who also had banana curls and were dressed in a fashion similar to Shirley’s.

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