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


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


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



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

giuseppa carnicelli

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


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


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

giuseppe brownstone

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/

46d-Spring Break 2017 (Part 2)

Greetings to all!  I hope everyone who celebrated the holidays–be it Easter, Passover or Spring–had enjoyable get-togethers with family and friends.  My own Spring break is doing me a world of good.  The week before Easter a very nasty virus came back to visit me and I was determined to get over it for good this time.  By resting and eating only light meals I was better by Good Friday.  I also got out into the sunshine and took long walks on Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday and Tuesday, April 18th.  I took photos to capture the beauty I found in the flowers and trees I saw during each walk.

Each time I went out the flowers looked more beautiful as the days of sunlight and warmth increased.  The peak of this beauty was on April 18th when the warmth of the sun filled the air with a floral fragrance that mingled with that of the earth and the grass being trimmed in some gardens.

I hope you will enjoy these photos and give permission for them to be circulated and re-used so long as a link back to this blog is provided.  They provide good examples of the simple abundance to be found in the midst of our everyday lives.

I will be checking in to catch up with all my WordPress friends.  Postings will resume in 2 weeks.

Afternoon walk on Holy Saturday, April 15, 2017

Clouds and sun alternated in the late afternoon but that did not take away from the bright, cheerful colors of the daffodils and tulips in the gardens I passed.  I loved the idea of creating an Easter tree decorated with eggs and pastel colored ribbons like the one I saw in a garden I passed.






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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


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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22g-Winter Break Update: Snowstorm-Brooklyn, NY- January 2016

The snow continues to fall.  It is still unearthly in whiteness and softness.  The snow continues to dance and swirl glittering in the light of the street lamps.  Neighbors who put out generous sprinklings of salt earlier have helped prevent icy patches.  Here is how the avenue looked at 4:55 p.m. on Saturday, January 23, 2016.



It is so still and quiet except for the sound of the clock ticking in my kitchen.  It’s a beautiful night to read a book and go to bed early.



I release these photos into the public domain.  I request a link back to this blog with a credit to EmilyAnn Frances May.

Christmas 2014-The gorgeous lights of Dyker Heights

A soft rain was falling after sunset when I walked from Bay Ridge to Dyker Heights on Friday, December 5th, 2014. As much as I tried, there were times when droplets of water were blown by the wind onto the lens of my camera. Yet the photos of the houses glowing in the darkening night came out alright. There was an intensity to the lights the closer I came to 82nd Street near St. Bernadette’s Church. Yet even the more modest displays of lights in the blocks I had previously come from had a beauty all their own. I do not commit to memory which house is on which street whenever I go to view the lights. Instead I let the spirit of the experience guide me first up one block then down another. Sometimes I cross a street, go all along that side, cross to the side I was on before and walk back. The homes and decorations look different each time and I am no longer in this world but a place of happiness in which only the present moment exists. I hope you get a glimpse of this special feeling, too. This corner house on 12th Avenue was the first one to greet me as I entered Dyker Heights.  Everything a child associates with the visit of Santa Claus was on display. At this house Santa was bringing the toys, candy canes and gifts by train.  This festive display was placed above the garage of one home. This home has a very pretty appeal given by the twinkling lights and the way in which the lanterns glow as the night darkens. These smaller homes gain extra glow by stringing twinkling or colored lights on the shrubbery and Christmas trees in the front garden. When viewed through the close-up lens of a camera the lights on display become even more otherworldly.  Here a tree decked out with red twinkling lights appears almost like a galaxy of stars. The light displays become bolder and more brilliant as I neared 12th Avenue and 82nd Street.  The mini-mansions are clustered around this area.  Their displays are sometimes over the top but the ones I saw this night were well thought out.  The figures were all in proportion and there was not the kind of cheapening caused by inflatable plastic figures like I had seen in previous years. Close-up of one of the mini-mansions featured in the previous photo.  I do not know what poodles have to do with Christmas but they do look impressive amongst all the trimmings over the doorway and on the trees. This mini-mansion, like many in Dyker Heights, has it’s own fountain.  In the summer time some homeowners put up signs stating that the fountain or pond is supplied with water from a well on the property.  The decoration which looks like a frozen cascade of water and projects from the fountain created a stunning effect.I wondered if any children lived in these homes and if they would be able to sleep given how enchanting the homes look.  I was reminded of fairy stories where children could be led astray and bedazzled by the world of the fey.  Here I saw ordinary homes transformed into something more.  I think what I saw and felt was a bit of the creative spirit in which the homeowner is expressing themselves and their desire to share this happiness and child-like wonder with neighbors and visitors. I passed by two mini-mansions where Nutcracker and Toy Soldiers kept guard at the entrance.  These homes had clusters of tourists and photographers lingering all around.  I understood their desire to take it all in. This home preferred little elves in the garden along with garlands around the front pillars.  The elves reminded me of the characters Snap, Crackle and Pop from the Kellogg’s Rice Krispies box! This Santa with his reindeer is one of the pretties I’ve seen in Dyker Heights.  I think it is the presence of the gazebo and lighted shrubbery that add to the beauty.  Also everything is very well proportioned.  I am always amazed at the extent to which the homeowners go to create a beautiful scene.  On the night I went, some homes were still preparing for the display.  There were workmen putting up angels or Christmas trees while others were affixing wreaths to doors and windows. Even without figures the right combination of colors and lights give a home an entirely different aspect as night time deepens. The light display really elevated me to a very special level of awareness when I saw, all of a sudden, these ornaments suspended from the bare branches of a tree.  They looked otherworldly in the increasing darkness.  I had lost track of time and thought it was best for me to get centered, grounded and ready to go home. The drizzle resumed as the chimes of St. Bernadette’s announced the 6 o’clock hour.  I had been in this state of joy for over an hour and walked without thinking towards the Church. I reviewed the photos already taken and was glad that at least one of the nativity scenes had made for a good photo.  The rain had ruined a few of the other scenes but this one remained serene and appropriate to the season of Advent which was upon us as we awaited Christmas