74-The Serrapede Family in Brooklyn-Life during WWII, Part 5a


Emily L. Serrapede was 10 years old when WWII started.  As the constrictions and concerns of wartime life set in she began to enter that stage between childhood and adolescence which we call the ‘tween or pre-teen years.  It is a time that sees children exhibit the first spurts of growth towards adulthood.  Emily shared many glimpses of her life as a ‘tween from 1941 through 1943.  In this posting we’ll look at some of the fads, trends and fun that were part of Emily’s life. 

Relationship Notes

Emily Leatrice Serrapede was the daughter of Sam and Josie Serrapede.  She was the older sister of Junior (Sammy) and mother of EmilyAnn.

The world of her pre-teen and early teenage years was centered around Dyker Heights, Brooklyn New York.  In the summer Coney Island was the place she loved to be the most.  Emily did not discover the appeal of the upscale restaurants and the many ethnic neighborhoods in Manhattan until her later teens when she was engaged and went out with her fiancee’s family.

Frank, Lillian, Martha and Emilia D’Agosto were Emily’s first cousins along the paternal line.  They were the children of Giuseppe and Philomena (nee Serrapede) D’Agosto.  Philomena was the older sister of Sam Serrapede, Emily’s Dad.

Rita Errico was Emily’s first cousin along her maternal line.  Rita’s mother, Elisa Scotti Errico, was the youngest sister of Emily’s maternal grandmother Letizia Scotti Muro.

Alma Rodgriguez was Emily’s best friend from elementary through high school.  We’re hoping to find some background information about her family through the census records.  If and when we do there will be a short posting about Alma since she played an important part in my Emily’s life.  Alma was quick with a joke and enjoyed word games.

The world of a Brooklyn pre-teen during WWII:  Emily Leatrice Serrapede’s anecdotes and memories

Emily lived in a multi-family dwelling on 66th Street between 11th and 12th Avenues.  The apartment was located in the back of the first floor, down a long hallway.  As you entered the apartment you passed by a very old fashioned bathroom that had a raised bathtub with clawed feet.  Josie assigned Emily more demanding housecleaning chores as she grew older.  Once she was a pre-teen cleaning the bathroom was the biggest job she had.  Emily loved cleaning her own small bedroom which was off of the bigger bedroom Sam and Josie shared with Junior.  But cleaning the bathroom was tedious and very boring.  Emily began to dislike the small tiles on the floor and the narrow space under the bath tub. 

Josie always found Emily’s cleaning lacked what she considered a diligent approach, especially when reaching into the corners of the narrow bathroom.  This was the very first subject mother and daughter had major disagreements over.  Josie expected the tub and the tiny tiles on the floor to be perfectly clean down to the corners where the tiles met the wall.  Emily passed a rag that had been soaked in hot water and soap all along the tiles and the corners of the floor.  The only place she used the scrub brush Josie gave her was inside the bath tub and the small sink.  Josie termed Emily’s approach to cleaning the bathroom as “top cleaning”.  Whenever Emily was asked to clean up the small living room, Josie would yell at her because all Emily had done was what Josie called “tidying up” and “cleaning on the go”.  Emily dusted around whatever was on the end tables and the rest of the furniture.  If anything was left out of place like a pair of socks, keys or toys Emily threw whatever she could into a draw.  Other times she would put things into a box or into the closet.  Emily’s mind wandered to other things that she thought were much more interesting and loads of fun.

Continue reading “74-The Serrapede Family in Brooklyn-Life during WWII, Part 5a”

Our Family Circle 9-11-2020: My 9-11 experience and lessons learned

In memory of all who died on 9-11-2001…it could have been me in the Towers but for the Grace of Divine intervention. In 2001, I was working for the Port Authority as a contingency employee in Tower 1 of the WTC. I was under consideration for a full-time job but the process was stalled. For months I had a feeling of growing dread everytime I had to take the two elevators to the 61st floor. I was out of work for one month in May 2001 due to surgery. The pain during convalescence was so bad. I was put on Tylenol with Codeine which brought many side affects, including heightening my fear.

In June of 2001 against all logic I left the assignment. Fast forward to Sept. 11, 2001. I was on an assignment at a construction firm. My desk faced a window looking downtown. On 9/11/01 I looked out that window and saw the smoke coming from the WTC. Fear seized me and as the morning progressed my co-workers left to make their ways home. Again, that force which warned me held me again. I stayed in the office to receive calls and await any construction workers that may have wanted to check in and shelter at the office for awhile. I stayed in the office until 6 p.m.

I made my way home with a jolly group I fell into at Union Square. We walked together to W. 34th Street, singing songs of praise or telling stories of the small miracles in our lives. A NYC bus was waiting for us. I got on and arrived safely home by 7:30 p.m. on 65th Street in Brooklyn where my Mom was waiting for me outside the Shrine Church of Regina Pacis.

Life is too short and death can come at any time. We are living through a time of rage now where the fires of anger, hate and misguided self-righteousness prevail. Ideology overrides reasoning. Tribalism seeks to destroy unity. Self-interest and self-aggrandizement destroy all vision, all ability to see a commonality at any point. Talk about what consitutes the public good is shaped by outside forces and a rigidity that threatens the ability to create consensus across lines.

We must get beyond this. How? I have been challenged to try some of these practices. Perhaps they will help others. Live everyday as if it will be your last. Live and let live. Respect others. Do not disgrace yourself and your spirit with hate and anger. Think before you speak. Think before you act. Practice what you preach and take it into your personal life. Realize you are not the final judge and jury in this world or the next.

Here is a poem I offer up as a prayer to the departed and a reminder to the living and in thanks to that group of people who accompanied me on the way home:

by Lang Leav

If you came to me with a face I have not seen, with a name I have never heard, I would still know you. Even if centuries separated us, I would still feel you. Somewhere between the sand and the stardust, through every collapse and creation, there is a pulse that echoes of you and I.

When we leave this world, we give up all our possessions and our memories. Love is the only thing we take with us. It is all we carry from one life to the next.

–EmilyAnn Frances May, 9-11-20

Cross-posted to my Friends Only Facebook Page

MemoriesOf911, #my911experience, #lifeistooshort, #lifeistooshorttohate, #enoughofperpetualindignation, #enoughofselfrighteousness, #onlygodisourjudge

75-The Serrapede Family in Brooklyn-Life during WWII, Part 4

Happy Labor Day Weekend to all family members and subscribers! We are resuming the family history postings today. The posting, 75-The Serrapede Family in Brooklyn: Life during WWII, Part 3 was the previous one. Today we continue with our look at our family life during the WWII years.

Trigger Warning for Sensitive People: A screen shot of a 1942 news headline which contains a term not acceptable by today’s standards is a part of this posting.  Please keep in mind that this is a newspaper edition published in 1942.  We are not responsible for the wording of that time and are not going to remove wording from a screen shot just to suit modern sensitivities. By keeping the editorial screen shot as it was the reader learns the true mood and perceptions of the time period. If you feel you will become upset, please bypass this entire posting. Thank you.


As Americans adjusted to the new reality of war time life in 1942, many sought reassurance.  Our family members found some comfort in sharing concerns with loved ones, relatives, neighbors and friends.  This alone, though, was not enough.  Josie, Sam and Emily Leatrice needed to know what was going on in the city, state, country and the world.  The newspapers were not enough and neither were the newsreels that were shown in the movie theatres along with the feature film.  President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his administration knew this from the days when he was the Governor of New York.  Roosevelt made use of new ways to reach the public in the late 1920s.  Throughout the Great Depression his outreach continued to evolve through a coordinated use of the press and radio broadcasts.  By the outbreak of WWII he was experienced and effective in reaching Americans in a way that inspired their trust and cooperation.

Continue reading “75-The Serrapede Family in Brooklyn-Life during WWII, Part 4”