All Hallows Eve 2018

I am taking 3 days off to do a self-retreat beginning All Hallows Eve and continuing through All Saints Day and All Souls Day.  I will not be answering calls, emails,  Facebook notices or blog comments.  During this time I will pray for the departed while a candle burns in my home.  I am  working from home this week and able to set aside 15 minutes each sunrise, afternoon and sunset for prayers and remembrance of the departed.  In the deeper, quieter times of night I shall spend some time on reflection and recollection these three days call us to.  I will also be doing a partial fast so that I slow down and truly focus on the presence this time of year creates and is waiting to remind us of:  the links between life, death and the hereafter.  If any family or blog friends wish to have me include one of their departed family members in the remembrance please contact me by email no later than the evening of Tuesday, October 30th.  You may also comment here.  The comment will remain private and not processed for public viewing.  This invitation is extended to anyone of any background or faith.

On a lighter note, here is a poem about the lighter side of Halloween and the Jack O’Lantern.

With love to all my family and friends,  and peace be with the spirits of our Beloved Departed.

Halloween 2018 my book house vol 6 pg 33

My Friend Jack
by Rick W. Cotton

 Jack comes every year to visit me,
And his grin just makes me smile.
Nearly toothless, he doesn’t care.
He happily laughs all the while.

 Eyes glowing in mirth and merriment,
He makes this time of year happy.
Though he’s not much in conversation,
And he has no repartee snappy.

 Jack just stays for a few weeks
Every year when the leaves turn yellow.
He’s as welcome as he could possibly be.
He’s quite the fun old fellow.

 Now the sun goes down and the moon comes up,
And the costumed monsters come calling.
Light a candle to get Jack going!
Fast! The eventide’s falling!

 All Halloween night he sits with me,
Grinning to greet the neighbors
‘Til his candle’s gone and he goes to sleep.
These are hours that I truly savor.

 So long old Jack, tomorrow’s November!
We’ll see you again next year!
When you come to visit from the pumpkin patch,
We will all be waiting right here!


 

“My Friend Jack” by Rick W. Cotton
FamilyFriendPoems
https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/my-friend-jack4

Mr. Moon and Jack O’Lantern
from My Book House, Vol. 6, pg. 33

56b-Serrapede Family in America-A Depression Era Childhood-My Book House,Part 2

Introduction

This posting is a continuation of 56b-Serrapede Family in America-A Depression Era Childhood-My Book House, Part 1

The creator and editor of My Book House, Olive Beaupre Miller

Olive Beaupre Miller founded the Book House for Children Publishing Company with the purpose of not only teaching children how to read but to develop good character and choices in literature. She also wanted the stories to teach children about life, values and a variety of cultures as they grew up. Consideration was given to the material in terms of suitability for each stage in a child’s development. Each volume was focused on a certain age for the child and presented vocabulary, concepts and plot structure suitable to that age group.

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56b-Serrapede Family in America-A Depression Era Childhood-My Book House, Part 1

Introduction

When Emily went to school her parents wanted her to cultivate an appreciation for classic literature, myths, legends, poetry and music of her own and other cultures. In this posting we discovered that the series of books they bought for this purpose is still loved and in demand today.

Relationship Notes

Josie and Sam were born in Agropoli, a town in Salerno province in Italy. Josie’s parents, Nicola and Letizia Muro, settled in Wilmerding, PA in the early 1910s. Sam came to the United States in the mid-1920s and lived with his sister and brother-in-law in Brooklyn, NY. Josie and Sam got together after Josie came up to Brooklyn and were married in 1930. Emily Leatrice Serrapede, their first child, was born in 1931.

Emily was the older sister of Gerry (Gennaro) and Sammy (Sabbatino). EmilyAnn knew her as “The Mom.”

Family Story: Building the My Book House Library One Volume at a Time

Emily remembered that Josie waited for a salesman to come to the apartment one day. She asked Emily to wait with her. When the salesman came in he carried a small suitcase. Emily wondered what kind of dolls or dresses were inside.

Josie took the book which the salesman handed her and carefully looked through the pages. At first Emily wasn’t that excited about getting a book. Josie still had to read to her so she wasn’t sure what good the book would be.

Josie leaned over to show Emily the book. “Look sweetheart, what do you think of these pictures?” The inside of the book contained brightly colored illustrations. Some were of baby animals, others were fairies, and oh those twinkling stars in some of the night time scenes. As Josie showed Emily other books in the series Emily asked if the salesman was going to leave them all there at once. She also wanted to know where the books would be kept. She asked Josie to make sure her books would be safe.

Josie explained that she would be getting one book at a time. The arrangements were made with the salesman that afternoon.

Emily did not remember how frequently he came with a new volume but over time the bookcase Josie bought contained twelve volumes plus two bigger books. One was about Holland and the other about France.

There was an extra volume in the series for parents that recommended suitable games and activities that could be created around the stories in the books. One activity Emily wrote about in her “My Baby Book” was about making clay faces as a child. When Uncle Sammy and I  reviewed the guidebook before preparing this posting we learned that was one of the recommended activities. This shows that Josie was following the program that guided the child through the proper readings and activities for each stage of development.

Background of My Book House

The series was intended to follow a child from their earliest years through high school. Each volume is based around a theme such as adventure stories, stories of chivalry and knights in shining armor, fairies, heroes of the past and present. There are also poems. The footnotes in many pieces point the way for the child and parent to do further exploration. In some examples references are provided to classical composers, operas and ballets. For example, in the Rhinegold stories readers are told a little about Richard Wagner and his opera, “The Ring”. The footnotes contained enough information to make further research possible when visiting a public library.

At a blog named after her beloved set of My Book House books, a blogger named Miss Kathy shares many memories of how the series introduced her and her children to classics in literature, history and poetry that have stood the test of time.

One thing to take note is that there were two stories in the pre 1970s period that were replaced after a review found these stories no longer acceptable. These were “Little Black Sambo” and “The Tar Baby”. Later editions contained some new material but overall the focus remains on the classic legends, stories and historical figures of not only the West but other cultures such as Russia, Middle Europe, China and India.

(to be continued)

56a-Serrapede Family in America-A Depression Era Childhood-Little Treats, Part 2

Introduction

This posting is a continuation of  56a-Serrapede Family in America-A Depression Era Childhood-Little Treats, Part 1 in which we retold the family stories and memories Emily shared with us over the years.

This posting continues adds some photos of the treats and vendors mentioned in Part 1.  It concludes with Uncle Sammy and I sharing memories of our favorite childhood treats.

Memories of Sweet Times with Charlie Roose

Josie enjoyed little treats every so often. She didn’t need a reason to do indulge so long as there was extra money available. Often these little treats came when Josie and Emily were out for a walk on 13th Avenue. Emily remembers the site of a baker or vendor selling a sweet kind of sponge cake with a high tower of whipped cream. She called them “Charlie Roose”. It was something she enjoyed so much she didn’t know what part to have first. Sometimes she worked through all the whipped cream and then had the cherry before eating the little piece of cake at the bottom of the cup. Other times she just had the cherry first and then worked her way through the whipped cream to the cake. If she ate too fast Josie would tell her to be careful so as not to dirty her clothes.

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What Emily pronounced as “Charlie Roose” were actually called Charlotte Russe. The original recipe developed in Europe during the 18th century and was considered a very elegant dessert. The main ingredients were a light sponge cake with a layer of fruit or jam topped with a towering swirl of whipped cream. In France the recipe was named Charlotte Russe. It gained popularity in New York City during the early 20th century, especially because in its simplified form it consisted of a small piece of cake topped with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry on top. Bakeries could use fresh sponge or one that was not so fresh. The Charlotte Russe was widely available in bakeries or through vendors selling them on the street.

During the days when Emily grew up, Charlotte Rousse was a winter time treat because cold temperatures kept the whipped cream from going bad. In 1982 Mimi Sheraton, writing in the New York Times, describes her delight at locating a bakery in New York’s West Village that still made Charlotte Rousse. She remembered that they originally cost from 5 to 7 cents.

Once popular throughout Manhattan and the boroughs, today very few bakeries make them. In 2012 Leah Koenig wrote about Charlotte Rousse for “Politico”. In her search she located only one bakery that still makes them. Holterman’s Bakery in Staten Island sold about 48 Charlotte Rousse a week in 2012. At that time the owners were not sure they would continue to make them.

Memories of Cold Weather and Hot Potatoes

After picking Emily up from school, Josie would take her for a walk on 13th Avenue to buy any foods she needed for the next day’s meal. When the weather was very cold she bought Emily a hot, baked sweet potato from a street vendor. This was a hearty after school treat that quickly alleviated those after school cravings for a snack.

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Sweet potatoes sold on the streets were baked inside of coal fired ovens. These small ovens were on wheels which made it easy for a vendor to move around to the busiest locations. At his blog the late author Abraham Rothberg, shared many fond memories of eating hot potatoes on the street during the winter months. Abraham was born and raised in Brooklyn. His family could not afford to buy sweet potatoes, so he took some white Long Island potatoes from home and baked them over a fire he and his friends would make to keep warm. He also remembers the roasted chestnuts that many sweet potato vendors sold. The vendors wrapped the chestnuts and sweet potatoes in few sheets of newspaper so they could be handled. As they were held hands and face were also warmed.

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