Our Family Circle: Michael’s vacation, EmilyAnn’s coursework

Introduction

This posting debuts a new feature at Through the Byzantine Gate.  It is called “Our Family Circle” and will feature very brief updates on what is going on in the family.  This will include birthday celebrations, vacation photos, notices of achievements and other general events our family and friends will enjoy learning about.  I have updated the previous posting about Jake’s birthday to include the name or our new feature.

Michael Muro

Michael got away from the cold, snowy, and rainy weather that has been with us since before Groundhog Day.  This vacation took Michael to the West Coast where he’s visiting his brother Nick’s family.

michael20muro-ojai20ca20feb202018_zpsecoanjrd

Michael in Ojai, California.

Michael also had time to visit old friends in Ojai in California.  He said the temps were in the 80s when this photo was taken.  Michael returns to the East Coast this week.

EmilyAnn Frances May

I’ve been a bit scarce here at WordPress due to many positive and challenging developments in my personal life.  The client I work for is growing and I am focused on expanding my knowledge base so I will be more conversant in the nature of one of our clients’ business.  To better understand the terms used in boating and navigation, I took a one day course on Boating Safety taught by the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary (USCGA).  The class was given at Pier 40 in Manhattan.

This was a big step forward for me since I never operated a boat or understood all the terminology and intricacies of navigating waterways.  The course raised my awareness a great deal and helped give me more depth in understanding some aspects of boating I am somewhat familiar with because of our work with the client.

uscga2-10-18a20andy20me20drew_zpsgeqzthio

Andy, me and Drew after the presentation of the USCGA Certificate of Accomplishment for the Boating Safety course.

The instructors, Drew and Andy, are volunteers of the USCGA.  They were patient and thorough in their presentation.  At the end of the course an exam was given.  We all aced the test.  I was elated with my grade:  98%.  I plan to devote more time to studying the course manual so I can reinforce what I learned.

pier2040202-10-18a_zpsq0rn0omt

pier2040202-10-18b_zpsspn8iqvl

Pier 40 on Saturday evening, February 10, 2018 at 6:30 p.m.

It was a very misty day with very light rainfall.  Pier 40 looked like the setting for a detective or mystery story set in the 1940s or 1950s when I left the class and headed back to my apartment.  I hope to come back to Pier 40 in the future to take other classes once the USCGA schedules them.

I invite all members of the immediate and extended Muro, Serrapede, Aiello and Marasco branch families to contact me with any news or photos they want to share.  I will feature them in future “Our Family Circle” postings.

 

Christmas in Agropoli 2017

Cousin Michael Muro is spending the Christmas holiday in Agropoli.  His flight was late due to falling snow.  This necessitated Michael flying from Pittsburgh to Newark.  From Newark he flew to Toronto.  Then from Toronto to Rome.  He arrived safely in Agropoli this past Tuesday.

Michael told me via email it was raining when he first arrived.  He wasn’t able to get too many photos but I think the ones he sent give us a glimpse into how the town is decorated for the holidays.  I was very surprised to see the inflatable igloos and Santas that have been placed along some of the ancient streets.  We have similar inflatable displays here in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York, too.

Michael is staying with the Carnicelli family and plans to spend some time with Giuseppe and Vincenzo.  If time and schedules permit he will also visit other relatives.

Thank you, Michael for sending us these photos.  Merry Christmas to you, the Carnicelli family and all our extended family in Agropoli and Calabria.

–EmilyAnn
–Sammy, Jr.

agropoli-xmas2017-right20to20left-20gerardo20carnicelli20zio20antonio20carnicelli20maria20and20daughter20danielle20friends20of20gerardo_zpskalvpstk

Michael is visiting the Carnicelli family.  From right to left:  Gerardo Carnicelli, zio Antonio Carnicelli, Maria and daughter Danielle(friends of Gerardo).

michael-xmas-agropoli2017_zpshdl2ud0c

Michael is in the center of this large, lighted gift box in the Piazza of Agropoli.

michael20agropoli20xmas2017_zpsiiszsrck

Christmas tree made of lights in Piazza of Agropoli.

 

michael-xmas2017-shopping20agropoli_zpsrocm9vxm

Christmas market in Agropoli.

michael-xmas20agropoli2017_zpsjr6io25o

Inflatable igloo and Santa’s helper located on one of the streets of Agropoli.

michael-christmas2017-agropoli201_zpsozhum4ed

Another inflatable outdoor display forms an arch over one of the streets in Agropoli.

 

 

51a-Serrapede and Muro Families in America: How a baby book started the family history project

Introduction

Greetings to all. It is good to be back after Summer Break. Thanks to Michael Muro, Giuseppe and Vincenzo Carnicelli, the family of Antonio Eugenio and Aldisa Aiello, and the Dell’Amore family for the enjoyable entries they contributed to during June through August.

With this posting, Uncle Sammy and I begin a shift in the presentation of the Muro and Serrapede family history. While we still have official documentation to draw on, we realize that after the 1940 Federal Census there needs to be other sources of information that will add to or verify the narrative.

We are taking a creative approach by combining family stories, local history, news coverage, pop culture, and personal history. With all the resources available through the internet the possibilities are dazzling. To start, we won’t aim for dazzling or sparkling but hope you will enjoy this story about how the family history project got its start. If it touches the heart and warms the spirit that will be more than enough feedback for us.

EmilyAnn’s story: The Our Baby Book

51a-Our Baby Book Cover

Cover of Our Baby, A book of Records and Memories.

I didn’t know what to make of Mom’s idea to use the “Our Baby, A book of Records and Memories” as a starting point for writing down her childhood memories. She bought this book while working at Brooklyn Union Gas during a long term temp assignment in the early 1990s. She said it put her into a cheerful frame of mind and provided the prompts she needed to recall specific times in her childhood. There were other journals and memory books on her bookshelf that she used to record other periods in her life. The end goal was to collect all these brief entries into a collection of vignettes and anecdotes about her life from childhood to young adulthood.

In the early 1990s through 1996 the internet was not part of our lives yet. I had taken creative writing courses in college but it was for the most part tedious and heavy handed. We read selected samples of different styles of writing. Then based on the sample we had to create something like it. There was no free writing, no prompts, nothing that got the creative juices going to take us on a journey into the flights of fancy creative writers can experience today. Thanks to the internet there is a wealth of techniques and exercises available. And then there are wonderful writing tools like 750words.com that keep one disciplined in their daily output. I’ve no idea where Mom got her unique approach to writing but it was working out well for her. As I watched the small collection of memories take written form, I thought there was something to the free form process she took using only illustrations to get started.

Continue reading

Summer 2017: Michael Muro’s Trip to Italy, Part 3-A visit to the Aiello Family

Updated on 8-13-2017:

Thanks to Antonio Eugenio Aiello this posting is updated with the name, address and screen shots of the restaurant where Michael and the Aiello family had lunch.  The caption for the fifth photo was corrected.  Updated info is in italics.

Introduction

Cousin Michael Muro vacationed in Italy this July. He stayed in Agropoli with relatives including Giuseppe Carnicelli.  Giuseppe accompanied Michael when he travelled south to Calabria to visit Antonio Eugenio and Aldisa Aiello.  Antonio’s daughters Stefania and Sandra were also in town.  This was such a good development for Michael and Giuseppe.

It looks like the day in Calabria included lots of good food, good scenery, good company, and good conversation! Uncle Sammy and I are very happy that Cousin Michael had a chance to enjoy La Dolce Vita during this trip to Italy.

We introduced Giuseppe Carncicelli in two earlier postings.  Please see links in the Related Postings section.

Relationship Notes

Antonio Eugenio Aiello is the nephew of Michael’s paternal Grandmother Rose Aiello Marasco Muro.

Michael and Antonio connected after Antonio’s son Amedeo Aiello contacted me earlier this year. It is a beautiful thing to have facilitated the introduction through this blog and watch the relationship grow.

Ristorante Pesce Fresco

The Aiello family, Michael Muro and Giuseppe Carnicelli dined at the Ristorante Pesce Fresco.  The following screen shots from Google Maps provide the location and street view. 

Aerial view from Google Maps.  The orange dot denotes the restaurant location.

Street view from Google Maps. 

Michael Muro’s Photo Album: A visit with the Aiello Family of Calabria, July 2017

The white strip you see running across the sand on this beach is a concrete walkway. People can walk along it to avoid the hot sand.  When you reach a point where you want to be you can then go onto the sand.

At the beach (left to right): Antonio Eugenio Aiello, his wife Aldisa, Michael Muro, and Antonio’s daughters Stefania and Sandra.

The restaurant where Michael and the Aiello family had lunch is located near the beach. Around the table from left to right are:  Michael, Antonio Eugenio, Aldisa, Sandra and Stefania.

Michael enjoyed the meal which started with this dish of marinated fish, tuna and pink marinated onions.

The next course consisted of a choice of pasta with fish, spaghetti with claims and ravioli with scallops. Here are the raviolis.  Is anyone getting hungry?

Michael described the third course for me when I asked about how this fish was prepared. He told me that “There was a choice of swordfish or fish that was cleaned of the bones and split open with seasoning and breadcrumbs and baked in the oven. This fish was served with the head which I had the waiter remove. Sorry but I don’t remember the name of this fish. But it was very good.”

At home with the Aiello family.  Left to right: Antonio Eugenio, Aldisa, Michael Muro, Sandra and Stefania.

Michael’s beautiful day in Calabria concluded with Antonio asking for some photos of the family members back in the U.S. And so the relationships will continue to grow and, we hope, flourish.

Related Postings

Summer Break 2017: Michael Muro’s trip to Italy, Part 1

Summer Break 2017: Michael Muro’s vacation in Italy, Part 2

 

Family Story: The Carola Hotel

Title:  The Carola Hotel

Location:  Agropoli, Salerno, Campania, Italy

Occasion:  Visit to Muro and Serrapede Families in Our Ancestral Hometown

Time:  Summer 1976

My Maternal Grandparents, Josie (nee Muro) and Sam (Sabato) Serrapede, took me on a three week trip to Italy in the Summer of 1976.  The main purpose was to celebrate my Grandmother’s retirement and to reconnect with the family in Agropoli.  Both my maternal Grandmother and Grandfather were born in that town which is near Salerno in Campania Province.

Grandma Josie was firm that we were going to stay at the hotel because she wanted the comfort of all the modern conveniences.  I did not understand her emphasis until after we arrived in Agropoli.

The Carola was situated at the foot of the Old Town, a slight distance from the high hill upon which the Old Town is located.  There was a view of the beach from our room.  It was especially beautiful at sunrise.  I remember how the water looked bronze and the side of the hill began to light up from the base to the top as the sun climbed higher in the sky.  At night we could see the night fisherman out in their rowboats carrying lanterns.  I was told the light would stun the fish and make them less likely to escape from the nets.

The weather was very hot and on some days slightly humid, on other days dry.  I ended up taking two showers a day, frequently washing my hair.  The hotel did not have air conditioning at that time.

My Grandmother and I shared a room while my Grandfather had a large room to himself on the floor above us.  We could hear him from the terrace right above ours as he talked to friends who passed by on the street below.  Our room was very simple by American standards.  There were no rugs or fancy drapes or slip covers.  I’m glad there weren’t because the room would have felt too closed in during the hot weather.  The walls were smooth and painted a neutral color, beige or sand.  The furniture was very simple, too.  Everything was very neat, well-ordered and very clean.  Given how bright the sunlight could be and how hot the long days were, I found that simplicity and order all I needed to be satisfied with the comfort the room offered.

I didn’t appreciate just how much the conveniences at The Carola Hotel meant to me until we visited Grandpa Sam’s sister Italia.  She lived in a very, very old Pre-WWII building right at the foot of the stairs leading up to The Old Town.  It was quite an accomplishment that Italia’s family had gotten running water up to her apartment.  The toilet, though, was still a shared facility.  It was situated in a little room in the hallway of the floor where she lived.  Other tenants on the floor also used that toilet.  There were times a bucket of water had to be thrown down to ensure everything got flushed away.

I wasn’t aware that the Carola Hotel was owned by the family from which Mary Angela (née Carola) Muro’s father was born into.

Mary Angela was my Grandma Josie’s sister-in-law.  We always called Mary Angela by her nickname of Angie.  Angie was married to Grandma Josie’s younger brother Peter Muro.

On February 13, 2014 Claudia Muro, daughter-in-law of Angie and Peter Muro, told me the Carola Hotel was closed some time ago.  Claudia is married to Angie and Peter’s son, Robert Muro.

Claudia told me that the Carola Family operated the hotel and its restaurant separately.  She knew one of the cooks who worked at the restaurant.  He wanted very much to work in America and he loved Wilmerding, the Muro’s home town in the U.S.A.  He was unable to complete the process, though and could not come here to live and work.

As much as I loved visiting all the relatives, I was thankful we had the hotel room to retreat into each night while we were in Agropoli.  I enjoyed the quiet company of my Grandma Josie and the view of the beach each morning and night.  I needed that quiet time after all the sightseeing and visiting each day.

EmilyAnn Frances May

May 14, 2014

Family Story: “Special Conversations”

Introduction

This short story is a distillation of many memories I have of family get-togethers at holidays and throughout the year.  My maternal grandparents were not close to my paternal grandparents due to the friction between my parents as the years progressed.  Yet in that tug and pull that worked on me there was always a little oasis of calm wherever Grandma Josie’s sister Philomena was.  In her company I could even enjoy prolonged conversation with my paternal Grandmother Blanche.

Here I will share with you the bond I observed between Philomena  and my paternal Grandmother Blanche.

Relationship Notes

Philomena  was the sister of my maternal Grandmother Josie.  Technically she was my Great Aunt but because I was so close to my Mom I grew up calling her my Aunt.  There was no separation of the generations for me.

Blanche was my paternal Grandmother.

Family Story

Title:  Special Conversations

Summary:  Philomena was one of the few relatives who enjoyed long conversations with Blanche.

Place:  Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, NY 1950s to mid-1970s.

Grandma Blanche never backed down from a question and always had the confidence to stand firm on an issue.  One thing I always respected her for was her encouragement that I be consistent in my views and behavior.  Grandma Blanche said I was too easy-going and too eager to appease everyone, too quick to want to quell a conflict.  “Sometimes you have to stand ground,” she said firmly.  “You can’t always have peace between two people.  It’s not important if they like you or not.  They have to respect you.”  If I continued to make getting everyone to agree with me or with each other, she warned, I’d be here, there, everywhere and nowhere in terms of having any kind of a moral compass.

The relatives were polite to Blanche but kept their conversation to a minimum and of the most topical kind.  I’d watch my Aunts seek a retreat because once Blanche got started it was hard for her to stop.  The conversation could roll on and on and go back and forth between different time periods in her life .

At some point Grandma Blanche lapsed into the role of the Great Mom who knew everything and was going to make sure you learned about lessons her mother taught her or what she learned from experience.  Not everyone was always in the mood for a lesson, especially at holiday dinners.  There was never any offense taken but more a sense of wanting to be distracted by something else.  I’d watch whoever Grandma Blanche was seated next to offer to help wash the dishes or make the coffee.

The only person who sought Blanche out was Grandma Josie’s younger sister, Philomena.

Aunt Philomena was a quiet, modest woman of great faith.  She was especially devoted to the Blessed Mother and would share her experiences of prayer and divine intercession with whoever would ask her.  Aunt Philomena always said  she persevered through the many difficulties and challenges in her life only because she had a powerful advocate in the Blessed Mother.  Like Grandma Blanche, Aunt Philomena was also a teacher.  She just had a softer way but she was always insistent that God is in all things that happen to us.

Given Grandma Blanche’s belief that there were very definite forces for good and evil in the world I can now see how they would enjoy each other’s company.  I think that Grandma Blanche’s upbringing in an Orthodox Jewish home and Aunt Philomena’s great faith in God through devotional worship shaped them in different ways.  Yet they could look past the differences and find a common bond.   They both believed that in God there is mercy and justice, instruction and guidance.  Given how loquacious Grandma Blanche could be and how low key Aunt Philomena was they were an example of complementary forces in action.

 

EmilyAnn Frances May
Sunday, December 7, 2014

 

 

 

Family Story: “Please Stay!”

Introduction

Nick and Rose Muro are my maternal Great Grandparents through my Grandmother Josie Muro Serrapede.  Philomena and Rosie were my Grandmother’s sisters and my Great Aunts.  Since I was so close to my Mom and her generation I called them my Aunties.

This story is about Auntie Philomena.

Philomena’s mother Letizia passed away when she was a young child.  Nicola married again a few months later.  His new wife, Rosina, was a widow with a young son.  Rosina had five small children to become a mother to upon marrying Nicola.  She enforced her new role through the strict manner in which she ran the household.

Everyone in Wilmerding called Nicola and Rosina by their American names, Nick and Rose.  Their American names are used in the telling of this story.

Family Story

Title:  “Please stay!”

Time Period:  1930s through 1940s

Locations:  Wilmerding, PA and Brooklyn, NY

Summary:  Coming to America dealt a change in lifestyle Nicola never expected.

Nick journeyed to Calabria after the death of his first wife Letizia.  He met and proposed to Rose while there.  Rose, a young widow with one son, accepted his proposal.  They were married within the year.  Rose had a big job waiting for her in America:  to become mother to Nick’s 5 young children by Letizia.

Rose soon began having her own children by Nicola.  As the household increased in size Letizia’s oldest children got more chores to do everyday.  Rose wanted to be a mother to all the children but her strictness did not lend itself to that perception amongst Letizia’s children.  Although Letizia and Rose’s children got along very well and had good relationships for all their lives, Letizia’s children were never completely on-course with Rose.

Letizia’s three daughters were, in this order, Josie, Philomena and Rosie.

Josie was the first to leave in the late 1920s to get a job in Brooklyn.  She married within 18 months and made Brooklyn her new hometown.  Back in Wilmerding, the extra chores then fell on the next of Letizia’s daughters, Philomena.  Every morning she had to clean the floors in the children’s rooms.  Philomena was up very early mopping the floors and scrubbing the corners of the rooms.  All this was completed before she went to school.

After graduating school at age 14 Philomena decided she wanted to move to New York.  Once her sister Josie was married and living on 66th Street in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, Philomena slowly considered, prayed and eventually realized her plans to came up to Brooklyn.   This happened within a few years of graduating.

Nick pleaded with Philomena to stay in Wilmerding.  His sons Louis and Peter were also going out-of-state in search of work.  Nick said, “Dearest daughter, per piacere! Stay with us.  My blood is going all over the country.”  Philomena was not moved.  She proceeded with her plans.

Philomena got on board the train and made it up to New York.  She headed straight for Josie and her brother-in-law Sam.  Once she had gotten a job, Philomena had a discussion with her brother-in-law Sam.  Sam said it was better that Philomena get her own place.  The apartment he and Josie shared could not accommodate another adult since his daughter Emily needed her own room. Sam and Josie wanted to have another baby, too.

Philomena persevered and succeeded.  Her hard work and gentle nature won over a family in the theater who hired her as a nanny.  That was an experience Philomena always treasured and a story for another time.

In time Rosie came up to Brooklyn, too.  She had the assistance of Josie and Philomena.

Nick was saddened by the movement of his children away from the town he had settled in.  He had expected them to remain close so he could see his grandchildren and great-grandchildren in future years.

This was America and the family dynamic had changed.  Even if Letizia had not died the Muro family was no longer in Agropoli.  America offered opportunities family never had back in Italy.  Sooner or later, the movement away from the first generation who settled here was going to happen.

—As told to EmilyAnn Frances May by Philomena’s son
November 1, 2015