77c-Serrapede Family in America-Emily meets Frank’s family Part 3


As Emily spent more time visiting Frank’s family on the weekends she noticed that his parents and siblings were busy all the time.  She could understand the busy lives they lived during the weekdays because the rhythms of daily life were similar to her own.  Home was a place to have meals together, rest, gather around the radio in the evenings and then go to bed early so as to be ready for school and work the next day.  It is true that the Serrapede family was well read and enjoyed their books, magazines and newspapers while relaxing in the living room, or in Emily’s case her own little bedroom.  However, Emily’s ideas about owning a house with 4 to 6 rooms had been very static.  She could see the house but not clearly envision how a family utilized every inch of space within a home. 

One Saturday afternoon while Emily was visiting, Blanche and Al asked Frank to drive them to the supermarket.  There were still many things to buy for the barbecue scheduled that afternoon.  Emily stayed behind to help Maureen set the long dining table in the family room located on the first floor of the house.  After that was completed, Maureen showed Emily around rooms and shared with her all the hobbies she and her brothers had.  Emily saw, for the first time, how a home allowed space for the family’s creative activities as well as those of daily life.

Relationship Notes

Emily L. Serrapede was the daughter of Josie and Sam (Sabato) Serrapede.  She was born in 1931, grew up in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn NY and graduated from Bay Ridge High School in January 1948 with a commercial diploma.  She met Frank through one of her best friends, Alma Rodriguez, during her junior year.  By senior year they were going steady and discussing their vision for married life together.

Emily lived in a 4 room apartment on 65th Street with her parents and younger brother Junior (Sammy a/k/a Sabbatino). 

Frank J. Terry* was the oldest son of Blanche and Al Terry.  He was born in 1927 and attended Edward B. Shallow High School.  Shortly before he was scheduled to graduate in 1945, he enlisted in the Navy and was stationed in Corpus Christi Texas until 1947.  Frank enjoyed kitchen duties while in the Navy and often helped one of the officers with preparing meals when his family planned a special dinner or birthday party.  Frank learned how to make such dishes as Meat Loaf, Veal Schnitzel, Sauerbraten, Corned Beef & Cabbage, Beef Stew, Chicken Noodle Soup and Matzoh Ball Soup from his mother.  He loved to relate how his stews were a hit with the officer’s family.

Frank returned to Brooklyn after his discharge from service looking to meet a young woman not just to date but to marry.  He met Emily through the boyfriend of Alma Rodriguez, one of Emily’s best friends at the time.  After 6 months of dating Frank gave Emily a betrothal gift known as a Friendship Ring.

Al Terry* was born in 1902 to immigrant parents from Sicily.  His parents and grandparents immigrated to New York during the late 19th century.  Al began to work in the import & export business when he was 20 years old entering an importing company as a bookkeeper.  By the time Emily met Frank he had advanced in his career to an executive level position after working as a salesman for at an import-export company.

Blanche Terry* was the daughter of immigrants from a country called Galicia that was part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire at the time her parents, Benjamin and Tillie, were born.  They immigrated to the United States in the early 1900s.  Blanche, their first child, was born in 1905 in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.  Blanche grew up in an Orthodox Jewish home.  How religious her family was remains open to speculation since she never discussed them.  Anything we now know comes from the descendants of her brother Irving who, like Blanche, left the community to marry a Gentile.  Blanche worked as a model before her marriage.  Her younger sister Belle worked as a hat model for Lord & Taylor Department store.  Irving worked as an electrician after WWII.  Her youngest brother David was a self-employed Medallion cab driver.  Of all of Benjamin and Tillie’s children David was said to have been the most devout.  Because of her act of defiance in marrying a Gentile, Blanche was disowned by her parents.  She immersed herself in being the wife of an ambitious businessman and as a mother who encouraged and repeatedly challenged her own children to be and do more.

Blanche and Al’s children were:  Frank (b. 1927), Alfred (born 1929), Robert (b. 1931) and Maureen (b. 1934). 

In this posting we will highlight some of the hobbies and interests of each member of Frank’s family.

*Please see Note before Resources section.

Family Story:  Hobbies and pastimes

“As Maureen took me from room to room,” Emily said when she related this story to EmilyAnn as a child, “I began to realize that a big house enabled you to have more space in which you could devote time to a hobby and develop your talents, provided you had the time.”  Emily then cautioned EmilyAnn that a big house could also create very bad habits, too.  She warned her against ever thinking that space was unlimited.  “You should never keep accumulating stuff that gets tossed into drawers, closets and basements.  At that point it stops being a home and becomes a big storage unit.”

After this warning, Emily went back to describing how she learned more about Frank and his family during a morning when he took his parents out shopping.  She stayed behind to help Maureen finish a few chores.  When that was completed, Maureen showed Emily her room.  She had stuffed bunny rabbits and teddy bears sat on her bed, and a small desk and chair where she could do her homework.  Maureen showed Emily the desk lamp that provided the extra light Maureen liked to have when she worked on making her potholders while sitting at this desk. 

Continue reading “77c-Serrapede Family in America-Emily meets Frank’s family Part 3”

77c-Serrapede Family in America-Emily meets Frank’s family Part 2


Emily and Frank began dating in early 1947.  By the Summer, Frank told Emily that his parents, Blanche and Al, would enjoy having her join the family on weekends. 

When the weather was good Al enjoyed having a barbeque that included a steak, hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad and all the fixings like different kinds of relishes and also lemonade and iced tea.  During these visits Als brothers and sisters joined for the meal or stopped by for coffee, dessert and conversation.  For this type of informal family gathering, guests used the downstairs entrance and sat around the long dining table next to the built in bar in the finished basement. 

The basement was not really a basement since it was not below ground.  It was actually the first floor of the house.  The garage was on level with the first floor which gave it the look and feel of a basement since the entrance passed through the garage.  Once inside, the rooms were bright since there were windows along the wall which faced the next house and enough sunlight coming in.  When bright sunlight shone into these rooms while the electric ceiling lights were on Emily noticed just the difference from the  soft lighting used in the livingroom and kitchen upstairs.  The light from the lamps Blanche and Al had upstairs were not good for reading.  When Emily described this kind of lighting Josie explained that it was mood lighting, meaning it was intended to have a restful, relaxing feeling to it.

The second time Emily met Frank’s younger sister was at one of the barbeques.  She noticed that Maureen’s face had many breakouts.  Before meeting Maureen, Frank told Emily that his kid sister became reclusive after she entered junior high school.  Frank attributed this to the teasing Maureen got at school because of her worsening acne condition.

Maureen compensated for not having many friends at school by getting very close to her Mom and the tenants who lived upstairs.  She was learning how to keep a record book of expenses for her mother.  She also was learning how to bake by helping her Mom and the 20+ year old daughter of the tenants upstairs.  Maureen loved serving the food and baking for her brothers.  She also enjoyed cleaning up because she had a chance to be in charge of the kitchen and direct her brothers in what tasks were theirs and where to put the baking equipment and dishes once they had been dried. 

In her spare time Maureen enjoyed doing crossword puzzles and making potholders with stretchy loops she wove around a small metal frame.  She also developed a keen interest in searching for sales on aprons, oven mits, kitchen towels and baking equipment.  Maureen browsed the papers daily and also clipped coupons for Blanche and the tenant upstairs.  Maureen also gleaned enough from the daily news articles to carry on conversations with the elderly neighbors on the block.  Most teenagers weren’t interested in where there was a sale on laundry soap or flour but all a neighbor had to do was ask Maureen what were the best buys that week and she would stop to talk to that neighbor.  But to other teenagers, she was aloof.  Emily sometimes said Maureen was “14 going on 50” because she was so at ease with older people.  She also dressed down rather than up so that she looked more like a housewife than a teenage girl.

Emily had been talking to all her Serrapede and Errico relatives Blanche and Al’s silver coffee service, the silver ice bucket, the television set and all the guests Al and Blanche entertained.  She had not mentioned anything about Maureen’s breakouts to Josie and Sam before they met the family for the first time.  After that meeting Emily never expected what happened the next time she proudly recited the story about she and Frank got her friendship ring at an estate sale or how Blanche had a silver coffee service.  Josie called Emily in and sat her down in the kitchen while Sam tried to look busy with putting the dishes away.  When Josie yelled at Emily to open her eyes and question Blanche and Al’s priorities Emily was stunned into silence as her parents said they were going to talk some sense into her.

Continue reading “77c-Serrapede Family in America-Emily meets Frank’s family Part 2”