56a-Serrapede Family in America-A Depression Era Childhood-Little Treats, Part 2

Introduction

This posting is a continuation of  56a-Serrapede Family in America-A Depression Era Childhood-Little Treats, Part 1 in which we retold the family stories and memories Emily shared with us over the years.

This posting continues adds some photos of the treats and vendors mentioned in Part 1.  It concludes with Uncle Sammy and I sharing memories of our favorite childhood treats.

Memories of Sweet Times with Charlie Roose

Josie enjoyed little treats every so often. She didn’t need a reason to do indulge so long as there was extra money available. Often these little treats came when Josie and Emily were out for a walk on 13th Avenue. Emily remembers the site of a baker or vendor selling a sweet kind of sponge cake with a high tower of whipped cream. She called them “Charlie Roose”. It was something she enjoyed so much she didn’t know what part to have first. Sometimes she worked through all the whipped cream and then had the cherry before eating the little piece of cake at the bottom of the cup. Other times she just had the cherry first and then worked her way through the whipped cream to the cake. If she ate too fast Josie would tell her to be careful so as not to dirty her clothes.

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What Emily pronounced as “Charlie Roose” were actually called Charlotte Russe. The original recipe developed in Europe during the 18th century and was considered a very elegant dessert. The main ingredients were a light sponge cake with a layer of fruit or jam topped with a towering swirl of whipped cream. In France the recipe was named Charlotte Russe. It gained popularity in New York City during the early 20th century, especially because in its simplified form it consisted of a small piece of cake topped with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry on top. Bakeries could use fresh sponge or one that was not so fresh. The Charlotte Russe was widely available in bakeries or through vendors selling them on the street.

During the days when Emily grew up, Charlotte Rousse was a winter time treat because cold temperatures kept the whipped cream from going bad. In 1982 Mimi Sheraton, writing in the New York Times, describes her delight at locating a bakery in New York’s West Village that still made Charlotte Rousse. She remembered that they originally cost from 5 to 7 cents.

Once popular throughout Manhattan and the boroughs, today very few bakeries make them. In 2012 Leah Koenig wrote about Charlotte Rousse for “Politico”. In her search she located only one bakery that still makes them. Holterman’s Bakery in Staten Island sold about 48 Charlotte Rousse a week in 2012. At that time the owners were not sure they would continue to make them.

Memories of Cold Weather and Hot Potatoes

After picking Emily up from school, Josie would take her for a walk on 13th Avenue to buy any foods she needed for the next day’s meal. When the weather was very cold she bought Emily a hot, baked sweet potato from a street vendor. This was a hearty after school treat that quickly alleviated those after school cravings for a snack.

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Sweet potatoes sold on the streets were baked inside of coal fired ovens. These small ovens were on wheels which made it easy for a vendor to move around to the busiest locations. At his blog the late author Abraham Rothberg, shared many fond memories of eating hot potatoes on the street during the winter months. Abraham was born and raised in Brooklyn. His family could not afford to buy sweet potatoes, so he took some white Long Island potatoes from home and baked them over a fire he and his friends would make to keep warm. He also remembers the roasted chestnuts that many sweet potato vendors sold. The vendors wrapped the chestnuts and sweet potatoes in few sheets of newspaper so they could be handled. As they were held hands and face were also warmed.

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56a-Serrapede Family in America-A Depression Era Childhood-Little Treats, Part 1

Introduction

Despite growing up during the Great Depression, Emily Leatrice never felt deprived. She remembered her early childhood fondly and would recount stories about the little pleasures that made her days special and life sweet.

We’ve focused on the memories and family stories Emily shared with us and round them out with additional details gathered from the readings noted in the Resources section.

–Sam Serrapede, Jr.

–EmilyAnn Frances May

Relationship Note

Emily L. Serrapede (1931-2011)  was the daughter of Sam and Josie Serrapede. She was the older sister of Gerry and Sammy. EmilyAnn knew her as “The Mom.”

 Family Story: The Little Mouse

Emily liked to be in the kitchen on Sunday mornings whenever Sam was grating a chunk of Locatelli or Romano cheese. Josie was usually at the stove heating up the tomato sauce and cooking the pasta that were part of the main meal for the day.

 As Sam grated the cheese Emily would stare at him until he stopped and asked her “Che fa? (“What’s up?”) Emily pointed to the large chunk of cheese and said one word, “Please?” Sam laughed and cut off a small piece which she took and enjoyed eating.

 In a few minutes she’d come back and stare at him again. This time he’d ask her what she wanted and she would reach over for the chunk of cheese. He’d cut another little piece and she’d go into the living room and enjoy the sharp flavor of the cheese.

 When she came back again, Sam would tell her to get out of the kitchen quick otherwise she’d turn into a mouse. Emily was not to be deterred and she’d wait for one more little piece before calling it a day. She knew that more than three times would get her into trouble.

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Italian cheeses and olive oils were very expensive during the Great Depression. Since food preparation linked the family to their own culture and ancestral country many Italian families went without newer clothing or shoes just to make sure the quality of the traditional dietary items was the best they could get. This might be one of the reasons why Sam carefully measured out the size of the slices of cheese he would give Emily.

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55-Serrapede Family in America-Tap Dancing at Football Weddings in the 1930 and 1940s (Part 1)

Relationship Note

Emily L. Serrapede was the daughter of Josie and Sam Serrapede. She was the sister of Gerald and Sammy. Emily was EmilyAnn’s Mom.

Introduction

There are several photos of Emily in our collection of family photos that show how much loving attention Sam and Josie put into her childhood. This week’s photo shows her all dressed up in an outfit that includes gloves with ruffled cuffs and a little pocketbook, too. Based on a family story she shared with me we think she was on her way to a special occasion, perhaps a wedding.

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

Introduction

In this posting I share some updates on the Memorial Day Carnicelli-Muro family meet-up I joined and some details about Michael’s current trip to Italy.

Relationship Notes

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Michael Muro’s and EmilyAnn May’s pedigree charts showing our common ancestor, eNicola (Nick) Muro.  EmilyAnn’s shows just her maternal line.

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EmilyAnn’s Pedigree Chart showing descent from her4th Great Grandmother, Giuseppa Carnicelli

–Michael Muro, Nick Muro and I share Nicola Muro as our common ancestor.
Nicola (Nick after coming to the U.S.) Muro was Michael and Nick’s paternal Grandfather.
Nicola was my Great Grandfather through the maternal line.

–Giuseppe Carnicelli is descended from the branch of the Carnicelli family from which my 4th Great Grandmother Giuseppa Carnicelli came from.
Like other descendants with ancestors from Agropoli, Michael Muro also has a connection with the Carnicelli family.  Micheal and Giuseppe are cousins.

We have not discovered the common ancestor between Giuseppe Carnicelli and me but perhaps in time we will.

Like Michael, I consider the connection a living one.  And in keeping with the Muro family approach, we call each other Cousin.  There is no such thing as First, Second, Third or Cousin 1 time removed, 2 times removed and so on.  We share bloodlines and a common ancestral hometown.  Good enough–it’s all family!

Our Memorial Day Get-together

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At the Brooklyn Wine Bar.  Left to right:  Giuseppe, Michael and Nick.

During Memorial Day weekend I had a very pleasant meet-up with Cousins Michael and Nick Muro.  I met another relative I now consider a cousin, Giuseppe Carnicelli.  Giuseppe stayed with Michael for three months while they toured several towns and visited relatives in the U.S.  At the same time Giuseppe took English language conversation, reading and writing classes in Pittsburgh during the times they were not travelling.

We met up at The Brooklyn Wine Bar in historic Brooklyn Heights.  The venue was much, much smaller than the way it appeared on their website and the menu much more limited on a weekend.  What made the afternoon memorable was sharing our family stories and catching up all recent developments.  After lunch we took a short walk around Brooklyn Heights to make sure we sent Giuseppe back to Agropoli with some scenes that included shots in front of brownstones, old townhouses and a park in the area.

Photos from the Muro-Carnicelli Get-together, Sunday May 28th, 2017

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Nick Muro, Giuseppe Carnicelli and Michael Muro in park across from the Brooklyn Wine Bar.

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Giuseppe Carnicelli outside one of the historic townhouses in Brooklyn Heights.

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Pretty townhouses aside, we couldn’t leave Brooklyn Heights before getting a photo of Giuseppe in front of a brownstone house.  Many of these brownstones are 100 years old or more.

Update from Michael Muro while he is vacationing in Italy

I heard from Michael this past week.  After July 4th he returned to Italy with Giuseppe.  Giuseppe continues with his English studies via Skype three times a week.  Michael thinks he will do well when he takes an exam on his English langage skills for admission to the University in Torino next month.

On either July 28th or 29th Michael and Giuseppe will travel to Calabria to visit Antonio Aiello, the nephew of Rosina Aiello Marasco Muro (Michael’s Grandmother).   Antonio and his wife Aldisa will be there.  Antonio’s son and two daughters will be in town as well.  Michael is looking forward to meeting more of his newly discovered relatives from Calabria and learning more about his beloved Grandma Rose, as well.  Antonio shared many letters and photos during the last visit.

Michael will share more about his vacation in the weeks ahead.

For more details on Michael’s first meeting with Antonio and Aldisa please visit this posting:  https://throughthebyzantinegate.wordpress.com/2017/05/02/46g-aiello-family-of-calabria-connecting-with-the-family-of-rosina-aiello-marasco-muro/

31d-Interlude: Memorial Day Weekend 2016 in Bay Ridge

We are enjoying beautiful weather here in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, NY.  Spring is moving into Summer and the prelude is gorgeous.  I took a walk yesterday to Ridge Boulevard and eventually meandered down towards Shore Road.  I never tire of the many moods that the time of day, the weather and the people enjoying the parkland create.  These photos were taken after 6 p.m. Since this is a holiday weekend the mood was much different than a regular weekend.  There was a sense of relaxation and calm as people lingered to enjoy the view of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, Staten Island and all the boats gliding on the water.

I hope you’ll enjoy these photos.  I’ve not added any captions because none are needed.  The mood of the holiday weekend comes across very well in each photo.  If you went away this weekend or are planning a vacation, please tell us about it.

A walk along Shore Road, Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday May 28, 2016

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22g-Winter Break Update: Snow storm January 2016-One week later

The Great Snowstorm of January 2016-Sunset Park, Brooklyn one week later on January 31, 2016

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Outside of Sunset Park on the 44th Street side, walking up towards 7th Avenue.

I finally got around to fulfilling the promise I made to myself at the start of this Winter Break.  This morning I was in the Sunset Park neighborhood to get my hair cut and colored.  A mani-pedi was also in the plan.  When I got out of the subway and saw Sunset Park I was amazed at how much of the snow from last week has melted.

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