57-Serrapede and Muro Families in America-Bergen Beach, 1936

Introduction

Josie’s photo album contains two photos of an outing her brother Peter Muro and husband Sam took to Bergen Beach in Brooklyn during June 1936. At first we thought Peter was in Brooklyn for a short visit. We got in touch with Claudia Muro in Pennsylvania for some help with questions we have about Peter’s life during the 1930s and 1940s. Claudia is married to Peter’s youngest son Robert. The information she provided expands the story behind the photos. It also provides a possible link to other paesani in the Serrapede family’s network who may have helped Peter while he was in Brooklyn. We also learned quite a bit of local history as we pieced together a short history of Bergen Beach. What started out as a posting about two photos turned into a pleasant journey back in time based on the memories Uncle Sammy and Robert shared. It also validated family stories Mom passed on to me about my Grandpa Sam’s attitudes towards visits from relatives. The shorter they were the better to his liking.

Relationship Notes

Josie Muro Serrapede (1909-1995) was the wife of Sam Serrapede (1900-2002). They were the parents of Emily, Gerry and Sammy.

Peter Muro (1913-1992) was Josie’s younger brother. Their parents were Nick and Letizia Muro.

Emily Leatrice Serrapede (1931-2011) was EmilyAnn’s Mom and Sammy’s sister.

Bergen Beach, Brooklyn-June 1936

There are two photos from Peter Muro’s vacation in Brooklyn during June of 1936. One is of Sam in a rowboat looking very unhappy as he sits hunched over some rope in the boat.   On this photo Josie wrote “Bergen Beach, June 1936.” The other photo shows her brother Peter enjoying himself during the little excursion on the water.

The family knew that Sam did not encourage prolonged stays when the relatives from Pennsylvania came to visit. The Serrapede family was living in a very small apartment so the addition of one or two guests meant the living room would be crowded. Sam would not be able to relax and read his newspapers or listen to the radio when he came home from work. Sam never declined a request from his in-laws or own relatives when they needed a place to stay for a short time. He let Josie take care of the meal planning, sleeping arrangements and sightseeing activities. He felt that the little apartment was first and foremost a refuge for him, his wife and their children. Given the size of Josie’s family (11 siblings altogether) he thought it was the reasonable and right thing to make it clear what the guidelines were as far as staying over. He was very upfront, in a polite way, about that point.

Uncle Sammy and I saw this trait at work in Sam throughout his life. He was passionate about his privacy and having the full attention of his wife, children and grandchildren. Sam was dubbed “The Codge” by Uncle Sammy, a nickname we use with great affection whenever he comes to mind. Although “The Codge” would complain about all the work a visit from the relatives made, he was the first one to pour a glass of wine for the visitors and then engage them in a conversation.

The photographs used in this posting were digitized in 2014. The service we used eliminated the decorative borders around the photos as well as Josie’s handwritten comments.

Peter Muro in Brooklyn, NY 1936

In her email reply of April 16, 2016 Claudia Muro informed us that Peter came up to Brooklyn at the recommendation of his sisters. We think these were his oldest sister Josie and his second sister Filomena, both who were living in Brooklyn. His third sister, Rosie, was just 15 years old at the time. We do not think she came to Brooklyn until a few years later.

Continue reading “57-Serrapede and Muro Families in America-Bergen Beach, 1936”

53b-Serrapede Family in America-Emily Leatrice’s Baptism, December 1931

Relationship Notes

Emily Serrapede is featured in this posting. She was the daughter of Sam and Josie (nee Muro) Serrapede, older sister of Gerald and Sammy, and EmilyAnn’s Mother.

Introduction

In 1930 Sam and Josie were married at the Church of St. Rosalia. The church was built on 14th Avenue and 65th Street. When their daughter Emily Leatrice was born in 1931 they were living in the Bath Beach section of Brooklyn. Six months later she was baptized at St. Rosalia’s Church where the family moved before  Emily was Baptized. As young parents, Sam and Josie needed the help and companionship of their relatives and paesanos, most who lived in Dyker Heights. This was a good move. Their daughter grew up in the company of her cousins, many who became her best friends.

The Baptismal Certificate

53b-Mom Baptism Cert 5

Baptismal Certificate for Emily Serrapede.

Although her birth certificate had her official name as Emily, the Baptismal Certificate bears her name in Italian. Emilia Pappalardo Serrapede was her paternal Grandmother. This might have been a custom observed in the immigrant community. The official record has the English version of the name and the baptismal name is in Italian. Josie and Sam followed this practice with their son Jerry.

Continue reading “53b-Serrapede Family in America-Emily Leatrice’s Baptism, December 1931”

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

52b-shoeshiner bank 1

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.”

52b-shoeshiner bank 2

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-shoe shiner union square

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.

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

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

51-Mom's Birth Certificate 2

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.

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

49-Serrapede Family in America: The Little Church in Dyker Heights, 1930

Introduction

Filomena Serrapede D’Agosto was the eldest sister of Sam Serrapede.  She was the first member of Sam’s family to come to America.  Filomena married Giuseppe D’Agosto in 1923.  Giuseppe secured employment as a truck driver for the New York City Department of Sanitation.  The D’Agosto family lived in Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY.

In 1925 Sam came to America with the intention of making a new life for himself.  He aimed at getting himself established through securing employment and beginning the process towards citizenship.  Giuseppe and Filomena provided him with a place to live during his first five years in America.

Relationship Notes

• Sam (Sabato) Serrapede was:
• The son of Gennaro and Emilia (nee Pappalardo) Serrapede of Agropoli, Salerno, Campania Province in Italy.
• Sammy’s father.
• EmilyAnn’s maternal Grandfather.

Continue reading “49-Serrapede Family in America: The Little Church in Dyker Heights, 1930”

47-Giuseppe D’Agosto in New York-A young man with a job and a passport

Acknowledgement

The chart of descent for the D’Agosto family, available at ImaginesMaiorum, Ancetors from Campania, was used to provide information about the date of Giuseppe D’Agosto’s marriage. We thank Anthony Vermandois for making the results of his genealogical research available at his website.

Introduction

47-Giuseppe D'Agosto in New York-1923 Passport Photo Close-up

Close-up of Giuseppe D’Agosto’s photo affixed to the application for a passport in 1923.

Giuseppe D’Agosto is related to Uncle Sammy and me by marriage. He was the husband of Filomena Serrapede D’Agosto. Filomena was the elder sister of Sabato Serrapede who was Sammy’s Dad and EmilyAnn’s maternal Grandfather. This makes Giuseppe and Filomena D’Agosto:

  • Uncle Sammy’s paternal Uncle and Aunt.
  • EmilyAnn’s Great Uncle and Aunt along her maternal line.

In this posting we share the discovery the 1920 Federal Census brought us once we learned who Giuseppe was working for. Of all the relatives we’ve studied so far he is the first we know of who became a civil service employee. He achieved much and went far in the 7 years after he came to the United States in 1913.

What was the DSC?

47-1920 Fed Census with Giuseppe D'Agosto

Close-up of 1920 Federal Census entry for the Gibaldi family.

Continue reading “47-Giuseppe D’Agosto in New York-A young man with a job and a passport”

46c-D’Agosto and Carnicelli Families in America: Family and Work, Part 3

Acknowledgement

Genealogist Anthony Vermandois has researched families of the Campania region in Italy. We have used the charts of descent for several families in Agropoli who appear in Parts 1-3 of the posting 46c-D’Agosto and Carnicelli Families in America: Family and Work. To view the source information for these families, please click on a surname below. A new browser window will open and navigate to the page for that family.

Carnicelli

D’Agosto

Romaniello

Introduction

Uncle Sammy grew up on 65th Street between 12th and 13th Avenues during the 1940s and 1950s. As we reviewed records for his Uncle Giuseppe D’Agosto we discovered a connection to members of the Carnicelli family who immigrated to America and settled in Dyker Heights and lived on 65th Street. Uncle Sammy asked me to find out if the Julia Carnicelli he remembers from his childhood was related to Giuseppe D’Agosto.

At last, we find Julia

The search for Julia Carnicelli first led us to learn about her brother-in-law Joseph Carnicelli who was featured in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.

At ImaginesMaiorum, we found Julia entered as Giulia Romaniello, wife of Antonio Carnicelli. Antonio was Joseph’s younger brother. After his arrival in America he was known as Anthony. Anthony was born in Agropoli on January 22 1907. He immigrated to the United States in 1930 and became a citizen after that.

Continue reading “46c-D’Agosto and Carnicelli Families in America: Family and Work, Part 3”