Michael Muro and I have been in touch since early this year thanks to another cousin and the family history project. After many emails, we moved on to contact by phone and text messages. We both have very involved schedules so the logistics for the meet-up took a while to work out.
We decided to meet for lunch on Saturday, February 25th at the Fraunces Tavern, a historic landmark in Lower Manhattan. The building dates back to the American Revolutionary War and was a meeting place for many of our Founding Fathers. Today the Tavern offers a delicious pub-style menu along with a diverse selection of brews (beers and stouts) and coffees. There is also a museum of American Revolutionary War artifacts on the second floor.
It had been a busy week at work and I forgot to take my 35mm camera so I could be guaranteed some clear, memorable photos. It was then that I also recalled I now had a new Android phone by LG. I decided to take the photos with the cell phone camera and then work them up in PaintShopPro to create something memorable.
I had not seen Michael in many years. He attended the wake for Grandma Josie in 1995 but since I was in such shock at the loss of my beloved Gran, nothing from that time is easy to recall. Michael had such a laugh when I told him that I can recall, as clear as if it was just a few years ago, how we sat together at Grandma Josie and Grandpa Sam’s 50th Wedding Anniversary dinner. The guy I had been dating at the time had already left and the dinner was not through yet. My boyfriend-at-the-time had a long drive back home and his departure was understandable. So there was Michael and I with my Mom and Dad enjoying the atmosphere of Romano’s, an old school Italian restaurant that was located on 13th Avenue near the corner of 70th Street.
I hope you will enjoy the story these photos tell. That I have finally gotten around to posting them on Memorial Day Weekend seems just right. This is more than just a weekend to kick off the start of Summer. It is a weekend to honor the memory of all who have given themselves in service to our country. This does not mean we have a blind patriotism nor a hateful scorn of our past. Instead it means learning from history by taking the events as they actually happened and extracting a meaning from the positive and negative. History teaches us much if we listen to what she tells us and do so with an open mind.
From Brooklyn, I took the R Local train to Rector Street in Manhattan. I thought a long walk from that station down to Pearl Street, where Fraunces Tavern is located, would be good. I worked in the Wall Street area for many years. I wanted to revisit Trinity Church and Federal Hall before I met Michael and Peter. As I recall the afternoon, these first two stops added to the meaning the second part of the afternoon had. This is because as Michael, his cousin Peter and I had enjoyed our time together we celebrated our shared bonds of ancestors from Agropoli and celebrated our heritage as Americans.
There was a very happy development in the extended family that I learned about during Christmas break.
About a week before Christmas I got this photo greeting by snail mail from Uncle Sammy, Aunt Kathie, her son Michael and daughter-in-law Katy. I love getting holiday cards of all kinds and added this to the impromptu display on top of my cupboard. We were busy at work and I was busy with my creative activities during the lead up to Christmas so there wasn’t much energy for a fancy display. But where there’s a will there’s a way.
I decided to use the tree I use for my 1:6 scale doll house each Christmas. I didn’t have the focus to set up the doll house so this tree was free. In lieu of a Nativity crèche I found a small, well detailed scene of the Holy Family cast in pewter. It was waiting for me in a box of carefully wrapped collectibles my late Mom left me. This card from the Serrapede Lingle family went up on the cupboard next to the little tree. The photo for this card is from Michael and Katy’s wedding I attended in Baltimore in June 2016.
A few days later I got another photo greeting card from Michael and Katy. The Lingle family is growing. This holiday card from Michael, Katy and Baby Lingle was delightful to receive. What a good time to share the news, at Christmas! Baby is due some time in February 2017.
We’re very happy for Michael and Katy and look forward to Baby’s arrival.
The official records state that Letizia Scotti Muro passed away from Lobar pneumonia in 1921. She was 32 years old and left behind a husband and five children. According to the death certificate, Letizia was interred two days after she passed away. Our relative has provided some of the stories about Letizia’s wake that were handed down in his family.
Uncle Sammy and I compare Letizia’s wake to one held in our immediate family 22 years after her passing. Our goal is to find what patterns persisted in Wilmerding, PA and Brooklyn N.Y. that have survived, changed or fallen out of use.
Letizia Scotti Muro was:
–Sammy’s maternal Grandmother
–EmilyAnn’s maternal Great-Grandmother
Letizia’s Wake in Wilmerding, Pennsylvania
What follows is a retelling of the events shared by one of our relatives who got the story from his mother…
The family held the wake for Letizia in the apartment which the Muro family rented. The body was cleaned, dressed and laid to rest in a casket which was placed on top of a table. Chairs were brought to the place where the casket was. Relatives came to visit in the evening and some stayed throughout the night.
There were many bouquets and wreaths near the coffin. One little girl wanted to see Letizia and walked up to the coffin. She remembered being over powered by the fragrance of the flowers. The memory of the funeral came back anytime she was near a very fragrant bouquet or garden. Because the memory associated with the fragrance of flowers was not a happy one, the girl grew up to dislike bouquets of fragrant flowers.
Funeral Customs in the Italian Immigrant Community
This summary is based on our readings about Italian-American funeral customs described in “Funeral Customs” in The Italian-American Experience: An Encyclopedia and a research paper entitled “The Italian-American Funeral: Persistence through Change.” The links are given in the Resources section.
There are two versions about the circumstances surrounding Letizia Scotti Muro’s death in 1921. The Death Certificate provides the official version of the story. The other version is the story provided by my late Mother to me. In this posting we will consider the Death Certificate and the events as related by my Mom and try to make a sequence of events that piece together and make sense out of what happened to Letizia.
Pedigree chart for Letizia Scotti Muro.
Letizia Scotti Muro was the daughter of Carmine and Maria Scotti. She was born in Agropoli, Italy in 1888. Letizia had a sororal twin named Concetta. Both sisters married in Agropoli and immigrated to Wilmerding, Pennsylvania in the late 1900s-early 1910s.
Letizia Muro was:
–Sammy’s maternal Grandmother (through Letizia’s daughter Josie)
–EmilyAnn’s maternal Great-Grandmother (through Josie’s daughter Emily Leatrice)
Uncle Sammy and I decided to include brief entries whenever possible about the towns near Wilmerding. During our visits to Pennsylvania we sometimes went to visit these towns because relatives lived there. The towns were very close and at times it seemed like one flowed into another. This was because of the closeness the relatives maintained and the frequency of their visits.
The towns of Turtle Creek Valley: Pitcairn
Pitcairn Street Scene, circa 1910.
Public Domain. Image courtesy of Monroeville Historical Society.
Map of Pitcairn, circa 1901
Pitcairn started as a village where a railyard was constructed near Turtle Creek. It was incorporated as a village in 1894. The town had a major switching yard for the Pennsylvania Railroad. Population peaked between 1910 through 1940. After this time there was a decline in the ability of the railroad yards and shops to provide employment.
Michael and Katy were married on Saturday, June 11, 2016 in a beautiful, unique ceremony that gave expression to their love of each other and the happiness they wanted to share with all. The wedding was a three day affair. On Friday, June 10th there was a cocktail hour at the Rusty Scupper right across the Inner Harbor by water taxi. This event gave us a chance to mix and mingle before the big day. I loved the informality and friendly atmosphere. A real feeling of connection was created that evening.
The ceremony and reception were held in a spacious ballroom at The Four Seasons Hotel. The spectacular view of Inner Harbor created a sense of vast openness in the ballroom. Since the weather was humid the ceremony was not held outdoors.
On Sunday, June 12th we gathered together one last time for a breakfast banquet at the Four Seasons Hotel. It was the perfect conclusion to a perfect wedding weekend. Katy and Michael made the rounds as they did Saturday night taking time to converse with each guest as well as exchange hugs and wishes for good luck.
Here are some photos I took and others from the ##ReadyToLingle Wedding Photo Album at cluster.com I’ve provided credits to photos taken by other guests.
Friday night at the Rusty Scupper, June 10, 2016
Katy and Michael. Photo by Ali Weiss Brady.