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.”

52b-shoeshiner20bank202_zpskzqf2iqi

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.

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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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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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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.

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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-giuseppe20dagosto20in20new20york-192320passport20photo20close-up_zps6i3sivbo

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?

47-192020fed20census20with20giuseppe20dagosto_zpsxaiutafk

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

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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.

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46c-D’Agosto and Carnicelli Families in America: Family and Work, Part 2

Acknowledgement

The charts of descent from ImaginesMaiorum-Ancestors of Campania were used to research details about families appearing in this series of postings. To view these charts please click on the surname to open a new navigation window to the site. We thank Anthony Vermandois for making this valuable data available.

Carnicelli

D’Agosto

Romaniello

Margiotta

Comunale

Taddeo

Introduction

In Part 1 of 46c-D’Agosto and Carnicelli Families in America: Work and Family we learned about the relationships between Giuseppe D’Agosto and his cousins Joseph and Anthony. They were his first cousins through his maternal line.

In 1925 Joseph appears as a member of Giuseppe D’Agosto’s family who lived in an apartment in Brooklyn. Joseph’s marital status is entered as “Married” but no wife appears with him in the census record. Initially Uncle Sammy and I thought that Joseph’s job as a shoe shiner may not have enabled him to support a family. We wondered if his marriage suffered some financial strain.

Further research at ImaginesMaiorum provided details into the pain and loss Joseph Carnicelli suffered during the years of his first and second marriages.

Personal sadness: Losing a spouse in 1919 and again in 1924

Joseph’s first marriage was to Anna Communale. She was born on June 3rd, 1890 to Costabile and Giovanna (nee Ruocco) Comunale. There is no date for the marriage. Joseph and Anna’s son Saverio was born in 1914. Anna died in Agropoli on June 21, 1919. We do not know the reasons why baby Saverio does not appear with Giuseppe’s other children in the records of his second marriage.

Francesca Margiotta was Joseph’s second wife. She was born on April 1, 1895 to Luigi and Anna (nee Ciao) Margiotta. Francesca had three children by Joseph: Vincent (b. 1921), Anna (b. 1923) and Raphael (b. 1924). She died on December 15, 1924.

The 1925 New York State Census page on which Joseph Carnicelli appears as a member of the D’Agosto household was dated June 1, 1925. His marital status is entered as “M” for married. Given that Francesca died on December 15, 1924 we think that Joseph did not observe the traditional period of 1 year of mourning before marrying again. He had three young children to care for. We think at the time of the New York State Census, Joseph’s third wife was in Agropoli waiting to come to America.

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46c-D’Agosto and Carnicelli Families in America: Family and Work, Part 1

Acknowledgement

We acknowledge and thank genealogist Anthony Vermandois for the work he has done researching the families of Agropoli and other towns in Campania, Italy. The information he has gathered is presented through charts of descent at Imagines Maiorum. To access the particular charts for the families featured in posting 46c parts 1-3, click on the surnames that follow. A new screen will open and navigate to the page for that surname at Anthony’s site.

Carnicelli

D’Agosto

Romaniello

Margiotta

Comunale

Taddeo

Relationship Notes

Filomena Serrapede was the eldest sister of Sabato Serrapede who was Sammy’s father and EmilyAnn’s maternal Grandfather. She married Giuseppe D’Agosto in 1923.

This made Filomena and Giuseppe D’Agosto:

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

Introduction

During our initial research about Giuseppe D’Agosto, we learned that his mother was Raffaela Carnicelli. Uncle Sammy mentioned that as he was growing up the Carnicelli family who lived on 65th Street were paesanos of our family. Since many first generation families from Agropoli settled close to each other in Brooklyn, he wondered if they were our relatives. In particular, Uncle Sammy remembered a Julia Carnicelli who he thought lived in a multi-family dwelling where the other Carnicelli paesanos lived.

This set me on a search for Julia that was almost like following a fairy as she flew here and there leading me through the garden as I gathered flowers. Only I was actually gathering data that came together to tell a story not only about Julia, but her husband, brother-in-law and Giuseppe D’Agosto. The story is in the details and there are many. To avoid overwhelming the reader we have broken the posting into three parts. Part 1 will focus on Giuseppe D’Agosto and how he was related to Joseph and Anthony Carnicelli. We will also learn about Giuseppe’s life after his marriage in 1923 to Filomena Serrapede.

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