76e-Serrapede Family in America-Summers at Coney Island 1940s


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.

Relationship Notes

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.

Emily was—
Sammy’s (a/k/a Junior when he was growing up) sister
EmilyAnn’s Mom

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”

76e1-Serrapede Family in America: Charles Marion Graham, Esq.


Emily’s first part-time job in a professional office setting came during the Spring semester of her sophomore year at Bay Ridge High School.  She said that while it offered her the opportunity to put her typing and clerical skills to good use her speed and accuracy during the steno drills in class was lessening.  After discussing her unhappiness at the prospect of losing the edge a secretary skilled in steno enjoyed, Emily discussed the matter with her parents, Josie and Sam.  With their approval, Emily resigned from her part-time after school job so that she could devote her time to getting back on track with her steno courses.  Going to work every afternoon after school provided extra spending money but Emily did not consider it a good trade-off to losing her skill in stenography.

The choice Emily made proved worthwhile in the long run.  During her junior year in high school, she went to work at the Law Office of Charles Graham.  Her proficiency in steno eventually worked in her favor.  Emily assumed job duties that went beyond the role of the Clerk Typist/Girl Friday position she was hired for. After graduation she continued to advance and by the age of 20 had three years of experience in many aspects of legal secretarial work.

In this posting we’ll learn about Mr. Graham through the family stories and memories Emily passed on to Junior and EmilyAnn.  Research at Ancestry and some surprise discoveries at the Brooklyn Public Library’s Brooklyn Newsstand helped us put together a brief overview of Mr. and Mrs. Graham’s lives from their childhood and through the early 1960s.

Relationship Notes

Emily L. Serrapede circa 1946.

Emily Leatrice Serrapede born in 1931, attended Bay ridge High school and majored in business coursework at Bay Ridge High School from 1944 to 1948.  She was the daughter of Josie and Sam Serrapede and the sister of Junior (Sammy).  Mom to EmilyAnn.

Emily L. Serrapede was born in Brooklyn, NY on April 18th, 1931.  She attended Bay Ridge High School where she majored in secretarial and business related course work, graduating  in the Spring of 1948.  Emily was:

–Sam and Josie Serrapede’s daughter.
–Sister of Junior (Sabatino, Sammy)
–EmilyAnn’s Mom

Family Stories:  Memories of working for Mr. Graham

She started out as a Clerk Typist.  Mr. Graham was very pleased with Emily’s ability to take and transcribe the letters he dictated.  When she agreed to learn how to use the Dictaphone he began to give her more correspondence as time progressed.  The Dictaphone recorded the spoken dictation of the person composing the document.  A typist used it in conjunction with a headset and foot pedal.  The pedal turned the Dictaphone on and off.  The typist listened to a few lines of text and then paused to type them.  Emily had heard some girls at school complain about what an awful experience using the Dictaphone was.  The difficulty wasn’t always that the girl didn’t like the machine.  Most difficulties were due to the manner of speaking or the speed at which the person dictating the letter spoke.  Emily did not have those problems since Mr. Graham spoke clearly and at an even speed.  He even noted when he wanted a comma, semi-colon and a new paragraph to begin. 

Continue reading “76e1-Serrapede Family in America: Charles Marion Graham, Esq.”