52b-Serrapede Family in America: The Great Depression-$120 a month (Part 1b)

Introduction

This posting concludes the topic we began in 52b-Serrapede Family in America: The Great Depression-$120 a month (part 1a).  In that posting we considered the nature of the work shoe shiners did and how much they may have earned.  When the posting concluded we made note of how the young American boys who did this work faced competition from the waves of immigrants coming from Europe at the start of the 20th century.  Many members of our immediate and extended family worked as boot blacks after arriving from Italy.

We now turn our attention to some of the ways bootblacks worked throughout Manhattan.  Then Uncle Sammy and I share our family stories and discussion at the conclusion of this posting.

Relationship Notes

Sam Serrapede was born in Agropoli, Campania, Salerno Italy.  He immigrated to the U.S. in the late 1920s.  In 1930 he married Josie Muro.  The newlyweds made their home in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, N.Y.  Sam worked as a shoe shiner during the 1930s through the late 1940s.

Sam was the Father of:
*Emily Leatrice Serrapede
*Gerald (“Gerry”, Gennaro) Serrapede
*Sabbatino (Sammy) Serrapede

Sam was the maternal Grandfather of:  EmilyAnn Frances May

Bootblacks around New York City during the Great Depression

This shoe shiner waits for a customer on the corner of 14th Street and 8th Avenue in New York City.  He’s set up his station outside of the New York Savings Bank.  The sign above him contains a quote from Disraeli which says, “The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes.”

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The shoe shiner outside the New York Savings bank got a customer.  He is located in a good spot next to the entrance of a subway station.  The set-up is very simple and would not cost much to keep up.  However, the customer getting his shoes shined would not be very comfortable since the chair is very small.  To have an edge over other shoe shiners in the area this man would have to have better supplies or a better technique.

52b-shoe20shiner20union20square_zpsnbqzvfcn

This shoe shiner was working near Union Square, another busy area.  Judging by the background he may have been near the park.  Union Square is also in the vicinity of 14th Street and is close to a subway station making it an ideal place to attract customers.  This shoe shine station is more elaborate.  It might have attracted more customers than the one of the shoe shiner on 8th Avenue because the bench has a higher back and the awning provides some shade during a bright day.

A study of the photographs makes you realize that if these shoe shiners were working on their own their ability to earn a steady income was impacted by weather conditions.  Another down side to working outdoors was the vulnerability to pickpockets and thieves.  The shoe shine operation needed a steady location in order to cultivate relationships with clients.  How the matter of where the shoe shiner worked outdoors was not described in any of our readings.  It’s possible that the shoe shiner had to get permission to work outside of a business like New York Savings Bank.  There were most likely licensing requirements and fees to be paid.

An independent shoe shiner would also have operating costs for the upkeep of his stand and supplies.  The shoe shiners in these photos may have been working for a service that provided the station and the supplies.  Even so, working outdoors had its drawbacks.  Better locations would be indoors at such locations as Grand Central Station, the Staten Island Ferry Terminal or a local barber shop.

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52a-Serrapede Family in America: The Great Depression, Part 2

(This posting is a continuation of 52a-Serrapede Family in America: The Great Depression, Part 1)

Discussion with Uncle Sammy on Sunday, January 24, 2016

Topic:  What do you associate with the 1930s?

EmilyAnn:  First, I think of what happened on the day the Stock Market Crashed in 1929.  Mom told me that some investors were so shocked or ruined that they soon committed suicide.  Dad always said that as bad as things were that should never have happened.  People live through tough times by drawing closer to each other. Mom and Dad repeatedly emphasized this. With this in mind I wondered how people coped.

My parents and grandparents often told me that the movies offered a great escape.  I think of the Endicott Theatre that was located on 13th Avenue and 70th Street.  Mom and Dad shared many of their memories with me about their happy times at the Saturday afternoon matinees.  One of Mom’s favorite series of films came out towards the end of the 1930s.  She was a fan of Mickey Rooney and the “Andy Hardy” films he made.  Mom thought he was cute.  I couldn’t understand the appeal because as a child I knew Mickey Rooney as an older actor.  When I saw the photos of him as a teenage star I quickly understood how Mom, as a 6 or 7 year old girl, could develop a crush on him.

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Opening credit for Mickey Rooney from 1939 film, “Babes in Arms.”

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51-Serrapede Family in America April 18, 1931: It’s a girl! (Part 2)

(This posting is a continuation of 51-Serrapede Family in America April 18, 1931: It’s a girl! in which we considered the day Emily L. Serrapede was born and some of the issues she faced growing up as an Italian-American.  In this posting the discussion expands to experiences Uncle Sammy and I had.)

The Detail in the Birth Certificate that might point to an answer

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Close-up of the birth certificate.

I think I found a clue to Emily’s sensitivity regarding her ethnicity. Looking at her birth certificate I found the following: Color or Race-It. The It. means Italian.

Southern Italians were considered a race unto themselves. This was not in a good way. They were seen as incapable of joining the mainstream. An article from a 1914 edition of “The World’s Work” expresses sentiments held at that time about why this was so. It came down to this: Southern Italians were non-Caucasians. Therefore, the thinking went, they’ll never make it into the mainstream. In the 1910s the sentiment against Southern Italians was very negative. Their admission to this country was thought to have a detrimental effect on society. Census records list Italians as members of the Caucasian race but outside of their immigrant community the treatment was not always considerate or kind. When I was a child I was told by outsiders that we were “Wops” because our Grandparents were all here illegally. “Wop” meant “without passport.” Recently I’ve read it also could mean “White on paper.” Meaning for things like the census records Southern Italians were entered as Caucasian or White but in reality they were treated as “others”.

To what degree Emily experienced negative treatment I do not know. She never told me of any events in her life that would be a contributing factor to the strong show of emotions I witnessed when I did things like ask to get my ears pierced or why she wouldn’t teach me how to speak Italian as good as she did.

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51-Serrapede Family in America April 18, 1931: It’s a girl! (Part 1)

Introduction: Events around Brooklyn on April 18, 1931

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Close-up of page 1 of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle edition for April 18, 1931.

Weather forecast for April 18th-19th, 1931 in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

On Friday, April 18th, 1931 the Brooklyn Daily Eagle’s weather report stated that “at 8 a.m. the temperature in New York City was 52 degrees.” A milder day was ahead on Sunday, April 19th.

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Short news items from page 1 of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

Page one combined headline stories such as a crisis in Nicaragua and a movement by Catalonia to separate from Spain with many short news items that were not the stuff of headline news. They provided bits of information readers could discuss with their neighbors or co-workers. In Florida, Conkey P. Whitehead was being sued by a woman claiming breach of promise. Jack Guzik, a business manager for Chicago gangster Al Capone, pleaded guilty in Federal Court to income tax evasion. And in Brooklyn, New York restaurant owner Patrick White was taken to Greenpoint Hospital after a former employee punched him in the jaw.

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Mrs. John Krall of Queens is pictured with her three sets of twins on the day her youngest ones were baptized.

Page 2 featured a photo of Mrs. John Krall and her three sets of twins. Her latest pair was baptized on April 18th. Mrs. Krall had three other children not included in the photo. She lived in Middle Village, Queens. We know a family in Bath Beach, Brooklyn who were also celebrating a happy day on April 18, 1931. Sam and Josie Serrapede welcomed their first child, a girl, into the world. This baby girl’s birth never made it to the newspapers but in our family history it was big news.

The baby Josie and Sam named Emily Leatrice grew up to be Sammy’s big sister and my Mom. Her birth certificate provides many details that enable us to create a snap shot of what life was like at the time she was born.

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50-Serrapede Family in America: Josie and Sam get married, 1930

Introduction

Around 1928, Josie Muro had to leave her hometown of Wilmerding, Pennsylvania to avoid the damage gossip would cause to her reputation and the honor of her family.  A young man named Ernest, who was already engaged to another woman, started a flirtation which Josie was reluctant to stop.  Josie’s parents met with the parents of the woman Ernest was engaged to.  All parties agreed the most expedient thing to do was send Josie to live with relatives in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn.  Ernest would not know where she went and the matter would be settled.  Josie came to Dyker Heights in Brooklyn where she lived with her maternal Aunt Elisa Scotti Errico and family.

Three years earlier in August of 1925 Sam Serrapede came to America from Agropoli.  Until 1930 he lived with his sister and brother-in-law in Red Hook, Brooklyn.  Given the distance between Red Hook and Dyker Heights we will try to use the Marriage Certificate to recreate a possible scenario as to how Josie and Sam got together.  Even though Josie and Sam shared many memories and family stories throughout the years, they never reminisced about how they met, their courtship or their wedding day.

Relationship Notes

Sam (Sabato) Serrapede was the son of Gennaro and Emilia (nee Papplardo) Serrapede.

Josie Muro was the daughter of Nick (Nicola) and Letizia (nee Scotti) Muro.

Josie and Sam were:

• Sammy’s Parents.
• EmilyAnn’s maternal Grandparents.

The Marriage Certificate of Sabato Serrapede and Josephine Muro

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Marriage Certificate of Josie and Sam.

Obtaining Josie and Sam’s marriage certificate helped answer the questions we had concerning their whereabouts prior to marriage.  Sam gave his address as 2472 West Street in Brooklyn.  This is the same address where his sister Filomena and her family were living when the 1930 Census was taken.

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49a-Father’s Day, June 18, 2017

49a-Father's Day 2017 Freedom from Fear Norman Rockwell

“Freedom from Fear” by Norman Rockwell (1943)
Public Domain.  NARA Archives, Washington, D.C . via Wikimedia Commons (see Resources for link)

This coming Sunday, June 18th, 2017 is Father’s Day in the U.S.  We remember the patriarchs of our family lines, the fathers of our ancestors and the fathers of our ancestresses.  We thank you for the strength, dedication, hard work, commitment and love you gave your families.

 “Silent Strong Dad”
by Karen K. Boyer

He never looks for praises
He’s never one to boast
He just goes on quietly working
For those he loves the most
His dreams are seldom spoken
His wants are very few
And most of the time his worries
Will go unspoken too
He’s there…. A firm foundation
Through all our storms of life
A sturdy hand to hold to
In times of stress and strife
A true friend we can turn to
When times are good or bad
One of our greatest blessings,
The man that we call Dad.

The Fathers of Our Family Lines

Serrapede Family

Luigi Serrapede
Sabato Serrapede
Gennaro Serrapede
Vincenzo Ruocco
Antonio Pappalardo
Nicola Pappalardo
Alessandro Patella
Sabato Serrapede

Muro Family

Nunziante di Muro
Pietro di Muro
Gaetano Ruocco
Nicola Ruocco
Luigi Serrapede
Aniello Scotti
Francesco Scotti
Carmine Scotti
Giuseppe di Giaimo
Francesco di Giamo
Nicola Muro

Aiello Family

Angelo Aiello
Alessandro Bartolotta
Vincenzo Aiello
Angelo Aiello
Eugenio Pujia

Remembering you with love,

–Sabbatino Serrapede, Jr.
–EmilyAnn Frances May


 

Resources

“Freedom from Fear” by Norman Rockwell, 1943
Wikimedia Commons
Public Domain
National Archives and Records Administration Identifer 513538
Record group: Record Group 44: Records of the Office of Government Reports, 1932 – 1947 (National Archives Identifier: 373 )
Series: World War II Posters, compiled 1942 – 1945 (National Archives Identifier: 513498 )
NAIL Control Number: NWDNS-44-PA-77
44-PA-77
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:The_Four_Freedoms_by_Norman_Rockwell

familyfriend poems
“Silent Strong Dad”
© Karen K. Boyer
Published: February 2006
https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/silent-strong-dad

Further reading

Norman Rockwell
Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Rockwell

 

 

 

 

 

47a-Mother’s Day 2017

maternal admiration)

“Maternal Admiration” by William-Adolphe Bouguereau
Public domain.  Wikimedia Commons.

We remember

The Serrapede Family
Angela Maria Borrelli
Anna Maria Conte
Filomena Ruocco
Antonia Ruocco
Nicoletta Cuoco
Teresa Marino
Giovanna Battista
Teresa Patella d’Alessandro
Emilia Pappalardo
Emily Leatrice Serrapede

We remember…

The Muro Family
Anna Maria Monzillo
Carminela Cavollo
Giuseppa Carnicelli
Clarice Serrapede
Giuseppa Ruocco
Anna Maria Baldi
Rosolia Patella
Maddalena Montone
Irene Guzzi
Maria Giovanna di Giaimo
Letizia Scotti
Josephine Muro

We remember…

The Aiello Family
Antonia Rocca
Caterina Mastroianni
Lucrezia M.F. Bartolotta
Caterina Pujia
Rosina Aiello

We remember with gratitude all our matriarchs in our family lines this Mother’s Day on May 14, 2017.
In memory of the Mothers of our family lines who were with us from our beginnings.  You not only fed and nurtured our bodies but also saw to the development of our spiritual, emotional and intellectual growth.  With your love we progressed and with your blessings we achieved.  With your advice we were guided and with your caution we were protected.  There are never enough words to express the gratitude we have so we’ll say it simply, “To all the Mamas in our family past, present and future–Thank you, thank you.  We will always love you.”

–EmilyAnn Frances May
–Sam (Sabbatino) Serrapede, Jr.

—————

Acknowledgement
Painting:  “Maternal Admiration” (1869)
Artisit:  William-Adolphe Bouguereau
Public Domain
Wikimedia Commons