76a-Serrapede Family in the 1940s – Pin curls and lipstick vs. Typewriters and Steno


Emily Leatrice Serrapede started paying attention to make-up and hairstyling more seriously after she turned 14 years old.  She remembered the first lipstick she bought.  It was made by a company called Milkmaid.  The lipsticks were very creamy and the colors very soft.  Her favorite shades were rose red or a deep rose pink.  She also liked to set her hair in pin curls and brush it out in the morning into a side parted, shoulder length hairstyle that flowed freely without many clips or barrettes to hold it in place.  While she enjoyed the hair care products and cosmetics she used Emily wanted to try more high end cosmetics as well as the services of the well known salons such as Elizabeth Arden, Charles of the Ritz or Helena Rubenstein.  She had to find a way to gain entre to that world of glamour and artistry.

When Emily told her parents she wanted to attend a course to learn hairdressing they were not enthusiastic at all.  Her parents were first generation Italian-Americans who aspired to see their children move upwards in educational and occupational endeavors.  For Emily, this meant that her parents wanted her to pursue high school coursework in business studies so that she would have a broad skills set and the flexibility to consider employment in a variety of businesses.

Relationship Notes

Emily Leatrice Serrapede circa 1944.

Emily Leatrice Serrapede was born in 1931 to Sam and Josie Serrapede.  The family lived in the Italian-American community of Dyker Heights in Brooklyn, New York.  Emily was:

  • Sister of Junior (Sammy)
  • EmilyAnn’s Mom

Family Story: Deciding on a profession

Emily was very restless.  She rarely shared her thoughts and ideas about the kind of life she wanted for herself.  Everyone around her seemed satisfied with staying within the same world they all knew.  This meant dating boys from families who were close to your parents and relatives.  It meant you would marry someone from the same background.  It was an easy way to stay close to the familiar and comforting world of family, friends and community.  Many young people bought houses near their parents and sometimes lived with them in a two family house.  Emily questioned if this is what she really wanted for herself.  Was doing what everyone else did the best way to a happy life? 

Continue reading “76a-Serrapede Family in the 1940s – Pin curls and lipstick vs. Typewriters and Steno”

76-Serrapede Family in Brooklyn-A big sister and her little brother, 1945


Pedigree chart for Emily Leatrice Serrapede.

In 1945 Emily Leatrice Serrapede was 14 years old.  Her little brother Sammy, whom everyone called Junior, was just 3 years old.  Emily Leatrice was going through the changes adolescence brought on since she was 12 years old. She frequently lost her patience with Junior who was now interested in his surroundings and making his presence known.

Emily was more prone to speak her mind and find little things to complain about.  She also was showing a tendency to think further ahead into the future.  Her parents Josie and Sam thought this was a good skill to have.  It would help her reasoning through the process of making a decision.  But as this family story shows Emily was thinking a little too far ahead about things that might or might not happen.

Relationship Notes

Josie and Sam Serrapede were married in 1930.  They made their home in the Italian-American community within Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, NY.  The lived in a multi-family dwelling on 66th Street with their children Junior (Sammy) and Emily Leatrice.

Emily Leatrice was EmilyAnn’s Mom.

Junior grew up to become EmilyAnn’s Uncle Sammy.

Family Story Autumn-Winter 1945:  Big Sister, Little Brother

Emily Leatrice knew what the family needed:  a telephone of their own.  It would be fantastic!  If the family had a phone, she wouldn’t have to run upstairs or outside if Josie wanted her to bring a message to an Aunt, Uncle, Cousin or neighbor.  Telephone service could be expensive but now that the war was over things were supposed to get better.  Why, oh why, did they have to do things the old fashioned way?  If the family had a phone, Josie could phone in her orders to the pork store or vegetable store and have it delivered. 

That meant Emily could sleep a little later on Saturday morning instead of getting up early, waiting for Josie to write up the list and then going to 11th Avenue to pick up the items.  If it was a long shopping list Josie and Junior would come along.  That meant the errand turned into a “little trip” as Josie liked to call it.  They had to take more time to answer Junior’s questions when he showed an interest in anything that caught his attention.  Emily loved her little brother and enjoyed when people complimented her and Josie on how healthy and observant he was.  It’s just that there were other things Emily wanted to do, like go to the movies, and she became more impatient as her journey through adolescence continued.

There was another problem that was getting to Emily Leatrice.  Junior was getting up earlier in the morning than he previously did.  While Josie fixed breakfast he busied himself with his toys.  He now enjoyed playing with the pots and pans, too.  All these things were left on the floor whenever he got bored and walked to the kitchen to see if breakfast was ready.  For Sam and Emily it meant they had to be extra careful as they crossed the living room and went into the kitchen.

Emily remembered that as Christmas of 1945 approached Junior’s toys and the pots continued to be scattered over the living room floor each morning.  Emily decided to bring that up first. 

Continue reading “76-Serrapede Family in Brooklyn-A big sister and her little brother, 1945”