56e-Serrapede Family in America-A Depression Era Childhood-PS 187 (Part 2 of 2)


This posting is concludes an overview of the events reported in the news about P.S. 187.  The school played a big role in Emily’s childhood and also served the community as a polling place.  The school also encouraged the students to be civic minded and aware of proper healthcare and diet.


56e-The_Brooklyn_Daily_Eagle_Wed__Apr_29__1931_Arbor Day

Activities like Arbor Day created a sense of participation in the care of trees in the community.

Students of class 6B planted a tree in front of the school. Exercises like this promote appreciation for beautifying the community. Arbor Day is an annual civic holiday when people plant trees in their communities. The holiday was first started in Spain in the 16th century. In the US Arbor Day was first celebrated in Nebraska City in 1872. Starting with President Roosevelt in 1907 school children were encouraged to plant a tree on Arbor Day as a way to learn about, and appreciate, conservation efforts and forestry.

Continue reading “56e-Serrapede Family in America-A Depression Era Childhood-PS 187 (Part 2 of 2)”

56e-Serrapede Family in America-A Depression Era Childhood-PS 187 (part 1 of 2)


As Emily grew up, Josie and Sam took many photos of her in front of P.S. 187. The school building is also in the background of many photos of the older relatives and cousins in the Serrapede family. There had to be some reason why the school was considered such a desirable location.

Uncle Sammy and I could not locate a website that had information about the school from its earliest days. The next best thing was for us to reconstruct a timeline consisting of events in the local newspapers where P.S. 187 was featured. From this review we saw how the school served the community in many important ways.

Relationship Notes

Emily L. Serrapede was the daughter of Sam and Josie Serrapede. She was the sister of Sammy and Gerald. EmilyAnn knew her as Mom.

Family Story: Bread and Butter

56e-ELS picnic with school friends

Emily is in the first row on the right. This undated photo may have been taken at P.S. 187 or during a school outing. Circa late 1930s.

On a warm day in early June during the end of the 1st grade, Emily and her classmates received slices of brown bread and butter from their teacher. Emily had never seen such bread before. When she asked the teacher what kind of it was the teacher informed her it was whole wheat bread. The teacher explained that it was very healthy to eat bread like this and encouraged the students to ask their parents to buy it for them.

Emily went home and told Josie how delicious whole wheat bread was. Josie looked at Sam enjoying his glass of wine with Italian sausage, slices of provolone cheese and pieces of crusty Italian bread. Emily always laughed when she related that Josie turned back to her and said, “He wouldn’t like it.” That was the end of the story as far as the inclusion of whole wheat bread in the diet of the Serrapede family.

Emily wanted to know what she should tell the teacher when she asked about her parent’s response to the request that the children eat more whole wheat bread. Josie told Emily to tell her teacher, “My mother thanks you for letting me have the slice of bread for a snack.”

Josie continued to buy her white bread and Italan bread fresh from a bakery on 11th Avenue, near the apartment building where the family lived.

–As told by Emily L. Serrapede to her daughter EmilyAnn Frances May as a child.

P.S. 187 in the pages of the “Brooklyn Daily Eagle 1922-1937

We were not able to create an actual timeline for the history of P.S. 187. Instead our search through “The Brooklyn Daily Eagle” provided a series of announcements and news reports that show how the school played an important role in the life of the community.  We will cover news items from 1922 through 1937. This overview enabled us to summarize the roles the school had in the community. We got a good idea of what the setting was like when Emily started school in 1936. We will continue with this exploration of P.S.187 through the pages of the “Brooklyn Daily Eagle” in future postings.

Continue reading “56e-Serrapede Family in America-A Depression Era Childhood-PS 187 (part 1 of 2)”

Our Family Circle: The Serrapede-Muro Scanning Project-New Scans at Ancestry

More scans of original vital records we purchased are now available for copying to your tree.  Uncle Sammy and I emphasize the following:

  • The files are all in PDF format because this allows for all the images to be in one document.
  • PDF files cannot be altered or changed.  Our stamp cannot be edited out.
  • The stamp “For Research Purposes Only.” along with our names is to prevent any misuse of the documentation.
  • Having our names as the source of the document will help other researchers establish a contact point with us if they have questions.
  • Ancestry does not provide viewing for PDF file formats.  You can copy to your tree, yes.  But to VIEW you must download and save to your hard drive.
  • We recommend you make a folder and label is “Serrapede-Muro Scanning Project” where you can keep your downloaded copies of the PDFs.
  • You must have Adobe Acrobat to view the PDF files.  Adobe is a free program you can download.  We recommend it and use it regularly.

Here are the PDFs available today at our tree, which is public:

  • Certificate of Marriage Registration for David Granito and Emilia D’Agosto
  • Certificate of Marriage Registration for Alfonso Serrapede and Mildred Restagno
  • Birth Certificate for Mary Frances Kennedy
  • Affidavit for  License to Marry for Nunzio Dell’Amore and Lillian D’Agosto
  • Certificate of Marriage Registration for Mario Chinnici and Martha D’Agosto

The resolution of this batch of scans was increased to 600 dpi whereas the previous batch uploaded was 300 dpi.  Please let us know if in comparing the scans you find one or the other better to read.  Your feedback will help me get better at this task.

All documents are complete.  Sometimes you will find the same page scanned twice.  This is done to include the state seal and signature at the bottom of some documents.



56c-Serrapede Family in America-A Depression Era Childhood-On the Radio


 56b-Westinghouse Radio
1930s radio made by Westinghouse.
Public Domain image.  Photo by Joe Haupt.

In the past two postings we learned about the kinds of treats and books Emily enjoyed as a child during the Great Depression.  Other memories she shared were about how important the radio was for her family.  In the early evening, after dinner, she was allowed to listen to one or two programs before going to bed.  For this posting we researched one of her favorite childhood programs.  When we focus on her teenage years, we’ll post about the programs she listened to at that time.

In the Resources section you will find a link to an archive containing many recordings of the show featured in this posting.  We recommend you take a half hour to listen to one or two broadcasts.  Unlike the TV or a computer screen, you can freely move around and do other things while the program is in progress.  During my time listening to the program I enjoyed doing some crochet and tidying up the apartment.

Relationship Note

Emily L. Serrapede was the daughter of Sam and Josie Serrapede.  She was the older sister of Sammy and Gerry.  EmilyAnn knew her as “The Mom”.

Family Story:  Get ready for “Let’s Pretend”

 56c-art deco radio
1930s Art Deco Radio.
Public Domain image.  Photo by Joe Haupt.

Josie encouraged Emily to read on Saturday afternoons or when she was home from school.  When she had finished reading a story or some rhymes, Josie engaged her in a conversation about what she read.  It was important for Emily to state a reason as to why she liked or didn’t like something.

Sometimes she didn’t like reading a story because she had difficulty imagining just what a wicked witch, a scarey giant, a charming prince, a poor little girl lost in the woods or a beautiful princess should be like.  This is where Josie found “Let’s Pretend” a great tool to develop Emily’s imagination.  It was one radio show she reminded Emily to get ready for each week. By developing careful listening skills Emily was able to get a feel for what the personality of each character in the story was like.  When the program was over Josie reinforced the experience by questioning Emily about the characters and asking her who she liked and didn’t like and why.

An overview of “Let’s Pretend”


Nila Mack as featured in a 1944 issue of “Billboard” magazine.  Public Domain image.

The series went through several changes in title and hosts after its start in 1928.  The format, though, remained the same.  The hosts took the children on a journey into the world of make-believe for the duration of the story’s telling and then returned to the present at its conclusion.  Starting in 1934 the series’ creator Nila Mack took over as director.  The title was changed to “Let’s Pretend” and Nila had a successful run with it until her death in 1953.  The last show aired in 1954 under another director.

“Let’s Pretend” was not merely storytelling:  it was theater in its simplest form for children.  The show was very popular and received several awards including two Peabody Awards.  Nila believed children should be the tellers of the story so young children, pre-teens and teenage voice actors were selected to portray the characters in each show.  Some of these voice actors and actresses were born and raised right in the boroughs of New York City.  We’ll take a quick look at two of them, Miriam Wolfe and Arthur Anderson.

“Let’s Pretend” was broadcast before a live audience consisting mostly of children in the WABC studio in Manhattan.

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Our Family Circle: The Serrapede-Muro Scanning Project begins!

Uncle Sammy and I decided it was the time to offer an improved set of vital document files at Ancestry.  The current batch of vital records we purchased and used in research is of poor quality.  Most of that is due to the tug and pull that the family history project has developed into.  I have a very limited amount of time to allocate to the administrative side of my role.  The majority of the time is in research, discussions, creating the postings and maintaining the blog.  With winter setting in and a very strong desire on my part to hibernate and putter about my new apartment in my free time, it is the best time to tackle the scanning project.

Each vital record is scanned and includes all pages as well as any back page that bears a date stamp and/or seal of the state or office the document originated from.  Also included in a stamp with our names and the wording “for research use only”.  This will provide a source of contact in case anyone who picks up and uses the documentation has questions.

There is some wildly inaccurate information about the family on some–not all–public trees.  A review of the misinformation supports the impression that the people entering the data have little real time knowledge of the family, as well as poor research and reasoning skills when it comes to analyzing data and proofreading entries, Uncle Sammy and I decided the best way to counter the errors is to provide the complete documentation.  The previous documentation consisted of page 1 of each document and was taken on my Android phone.

Continue reading “Our Family Circle: The Serrapede-Muro Scanning Project begins!”