71-Serrapede Family in America-Emily’s Holy Communion and Confirmation (circa 1939-1941)


In Roman Catholic families a child’s First Holy Communion is a very important rite of passage. This is the second of sacrament they receive. The first is Baptism in which the baby is welcomed into the Church. During the Baptismal ceremony, the priest uses Holy Water to cleanse the baby of the taint of original sin as he makes the sign of the Cross over the infant. The baby’s parents and Godparents are the witnesses for this rite.

About the age of 5 or 6 the Catholic child begins religious instruction classes. For two years, the prayers, devotions, the 7 sacraments and creeds of the Church are explained to the child. Scriptural readings and study projects are also part of the classes. At the age of 7 or 8 the child is deemed to be of the age of reason and ready to receive the sacraments of Reconciliation and Communion.

Through Reconciliation, each child learns to attune themselves to their conscience and develop an awareness of right and wrong according to the teachings of the Church. By confessing their sins to a Priest they show a willingness to make aright the relationship with God that sin has caused to become out of alignment. As part of Reconciliation penance is performed through prayer and carrying out any actions or changes the Priest advises. This in turn prepares the child to partake in the Holy Communion which Catholics believe is the reception of the body and blood of Christ into themselves.

The next rite of passage for the child is the sacrament of Confirmation. Two to three years have passed since the reception of Holy Communion and further studies have been undertaken through the religious instruction classes. The critical years before adolescence prove to be a good time in the life of a Catholic child to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit through Confirmation. The sevenfold gifts are: Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Counsel, Fortitude, Piety and Fear of the Lord. The reception of these gifts strengthens the formation of a heart, spirit and mind dedicated in service of God and humanity. Some children undertake independent studies under the guidance of their teachers and offer the results of their presentation as evidence that they are actively putting their faith to work in their lives.

The administering of the sacraments did not follow this pattern in the early 1940s when Josie and Sam’s daughter Emily received them. Unlike the children of the 1950s and 1960s, she received Holy Communion and Confirmation on the same Sunday when she was about 9 or 10 years old. Emily also did not receive the benefits of the extended period of instruction that came after the 1940s. She recalled a total of 3-4 years that taught her a very basic overview on devotional worship. Anything over and above that she learned after mid-life when she took it upon herself to actively learn more above devotional worship, reflection and meditation. In this posting we will look at the role her Baptismal Godparents and Confirmation sponsor played in her life. Uncle Sammy and I will also share experiences from our own Holy Communion and Confirmation.

Relationship Notes

Emily L. Serrapede was the first child of Sam and Josie Serrapede. She was:

-Sammy’s sister
-EmilyAnn’s Mom

From our family Album: Emily’s Holy Communion and Confirmation photos

Emily L. Serrapede and her Holy Communion and Confirmation Godmother/Sponsor, Lillian D’Agosto, circa 1940-41

The photos were taken by Gilbert of New York but since St. Rosalia’s parish was located in Brookly it is possible this photographer also had a studio here.

Continue reading “71-Serrapede Family in America-Emily’s Holy Communion and Confirmation (circa 1939-1941)”

The Cost of Genealogy

Here is a well thought out posting frpm a blog friend here at WordPress. Here you will find support for what I have been saying that while this pursuit is rewarding it is not the product of a haphazard approach. Personally I have a budget that limits entertainment and travel so that I have the time and resources for subscriptions to other services. The money and time saved also enables me to purchase documentation. There is a willing sacrifice successful family historians make to bring you a well researched family history narrative. It is important that this topic be brought up and a conversation opened. Ancestry is not Facebook. Family History is a work of dedication. Our contacts are often working relationships. As family historuans it is our responsibility to emphasize it. The social aspect is important but so is the collaboration and individual effort.

Moore Genealogy

The above picture represents what many of us put into our
genealogy research, time, and money. I believe that if we wish to have a
complete as possible family history, then we will have to utilize both of these
resources. How much we use them depends on how much we have of these items to
give in this pursuit, or in many cases how much we are willing to give.

Time is perhaps the more important of the two. If you are
not willing to spend time in the hunt for our family history, then take up
another pastime. Unless you have an unlimited amount of money to pay people to
do the work for you, then spending time is something you cannot avoid. On
occasion, I help people (free of charge) in their genealogy research. I met one
gentleman at a local library with a subscription to Ancestry.com for…

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70-The Serrapede Family in Brooklyn-Living in a cold water flat 1938-1941


Josie and Sam Serrapede moved into a cold water flat before their second child was born in 1938. The relatives on both sides had many misgivings about the move but Josie, Sam, their daughter Emily and their infant son Gerry stayed in the flat. Emily remembered that the relatives worried, and rightly so, about the hardships living in such a flat would cause. The rent, according to Emily, was much less than other apartments. Josie chose a cold water flat over one with steam heat as a way to save money.

Emily sometimes mentioned what life in a cold water flat was like when she was about 6 or 7 years old. There were no hot baths or showers. Most nights she remembered taking what was called a “sponge bath”. Water was heated on the stove and then poured into the bathroom sink after the stopper was put in. With a wash rag she quickly cleaned herself with the soap and hot water. Then she quickly dried off and put her pajamas on. The memory she shared the most was of everyone sitting in the kitchen listening to the radio on cold winter nights.

There are no photos of the cold water flat or any of the other apartments where the Serrapede family lived during the 1930s. There are plenty of photos outside the buildings where they and the relatives lived. But since we do not have too many family stories about cold water flats we decided to gather as many details as we could for this posting. It is not meant to be a definitive treatment of the subject. What we hope we have done is brought together the factual details to provide an overview and then the personal remembrances of those who grew up or lived in an area where cold water flats once were located. They are now a part of our city’s past but they played a big part in the immigrant and low-income communities. We also have some better understanding of the impact such living conditions created for the Serrapede family.

Relationship Notes

Josie and Sam Serrapede lived in Brooklyn, New York when their son Gerry was born in 1938. The memories of their daughter Emily provide the few details we have of the time the family lived in a cold water flat.

Josie and Sam were:

–Sammy’s parents
–EmilyAnn’s maternal Grandparents


Please see the Resources section for links to all forums, newspaper articles and reference material used to create this posting. The best photos of cold water flats, tenements and low-income housing is available through the New York City Housing Authority’s photo collection. The link is at the very end of this posting. Since these photos are the property of the NYCHA it was not possible to copy for use here.

What was a cold water flat?

Cold water flats were living quarters in multiple family dwellings. They had no hot water and no heating. There were no showers, just bath tubs. Tenants heated their water on a stove. In the winters they kept warm by means of kerosene heaters or coal burning stoves.\

Continue reading “70-The Serrapede Family in Brooklyn-Living in a cold water flat 1938-1941”