The Serrapede family rarely went on vacation. Whenever they travelled to Wilmerding, Pennsylvania to see the family they called it a visit. When relatives came from Wilmerding to Brooklyn, they too called their stay a visit.
Visits could be leisurely or hectic depending on their purpose. A visit could coincide with a wedding, a funeral, a christening, a birthday or scheduled get-together. We know that visits were involved, at least for Josie and Sam. Junior and Emily Leatrice got to play with their cousins but for the hosts and hostesses there was much effort and consideration put into making the visit an enjoyable and productive one. Productive meant that everyone got a chance to meet up with the visiting relatives. Enjoyable meant that the visitors experienced the best the host had to offer. Bed linens, dinnerware and of course delicious meals, desserts and snacks. Conversation, advice, discussion and diversion were also part of the visit.
Diversion may have included sights of interest or brief day trips. In posting 57-Serrapede and Muro Families in America-Bergen Beach, 1936, we learned through photographs taken in 1936 that Josie and Sam took Peter Muro, Josie’s brother, out for a day at Bergen Beach where they rented a row boat. In posting 37-The Towns of Turtle Creek Valley: Pitcairn, EmilyAnn shared her memories of a visit to the Fasano home in Pitcairn during a visit to attend Robert and Claudia Muro’s wedding in 1968.
Those who visited also put much effort into the event by spending time before their arrival on considering, discussing and shopping for whatever items the host family wanted. Sometimes the relatives from Brooklyn were asked to bring fresh seafood like clams since these were hard to get in Wilmerding since the town is inland, far from the coast.
During one of her high school English classes Emily had to write an essay on what the ideal vacation for her was. The memory of that essay, Emily’s personal definition of a vacation and her enjoyment of Coney Island combined to make the family story we will share in this posting.
Photo of Emily Leatrice Serrapede in the Summer of 1945. This photo looks like it was taken on the roof of the 4 family house the Serrapedes lived in. In the background is P.S. ???
Emily Leatrice Serrapede was born in Coney Island Hospital on April 18, 1931. She lived with her parents, Josie and Sam, and little brother Junior in an 3 ½ room apartment on 65th Street in the Italian-American community of Dyker Heights. Her love and enthusiasm for Coney Island increased as she entered her teen years. Day trips to Coney Island in the company of her cousins were one of the first group outings she took as teenager without her parents, Aunts or Uncles.
Coney Island was very safe according to Emily so Josie had no reservations about letting her travel with her cousins and friends whenever the girls were accompanied by an older cousin like Lillian D’Agosto or Rita Errico.
Sammy’s (a/k/a Junior when he was growing up) sister
Family Story: The one day vacation
Sometimes Emily wasn’t sure how to collect her thoughts so she could write an essay for English class. One of her teachers advised her to focus on a few words that would summarize the point she wanted to make.
Always ready with a question and a challenge Emily quickly asked her teacher, “Now how am I supposed to do that?”
“Use the dictionary,” her teacher replied.
“I’m looking for ideas,” Emily. “How can the dictionary give me ideas?”
The teacher advised Emily that to get ideas she should write down a few words that encapsulated the message she wanted her essay to convey. After looking up the meaning of the words, she could select the ones that best expressed what she wanted to say. From there her essay would take shape. After struggling with how to start her essay Emily decided to try this approach.
At first she was going to write about the trips the family made to Wilmerding, Pennsylvania. But when she looked up the word “vacation” the meaning wasn’t quite the way she experienced the time in Wilmerding. It was true the family was travelling and in a different location while in Wilmerding but it wasn’t what a vacation was about. Emily thought that a vacation meant leaving the everyday life behind. It meant recreation, leisurely activity. The word recreation took on special meaning as she looked at the list of words she jotted down on her steno pad. Recreation was a form of re-creation. Yes, that was it! Emily decided to write her essay on what a vacation meant to her personally: a time away from the ordinary day-to-day life where enjoyable activities refreshed the mind and heart. The time in Wilmerding was enjoyable but familiar. It was a social time but not a break from the family and into a completely different environment. Now that she defined what a vacation should be like, she had to pick a place that provided the setting and activities that were fun and enjoyable.Continue reading “76e-Serrapede Family in America-Summers at Coney Island 1940s”