Michael Muro and I have been in touch since early this year thanks to another cousin and the family history project. After many emails, we moved on to contact by phone and text messages. We both have very involved schedules so the logistics for the meet-up took a while to work out.
We decided to meet for lunch on Saturday, February 25th at the Fraunces Tavern, a historic landmark in Lower Manhattan. The building dates back to the American Revolutionary War and was a meeting place for many of our Founding Fathers. Today the Tavern offers a delicious pub-style menu along with a diverse selection of brews (beers and stouts) and coffees. There is also a museum of American Revolutionary War artifacts on the second floor.
It had been a busy week at work and I forgot to take my 35mm camera so I could be guaranteed some clear, memorable photos. It was then that I also recalled I now had a new Android phone by LG. I decided to take the photos with the cell phone camera and then work them up in PaintShopPro to create something memorable.
I had not seen Michael in many years. He attended the wake for Grandma Josie in 1995 but since I was in such shock at the loss of my beloved Gran, nothing from that time is easy to recall. Michael had such a laugh when I told him that I can recall, as clear as if it was just a few years ago, how we sat together at Grandma Josie and Grandpa Sam’s 50th Wedding Anniversary dinner. The guy I had been dating at the time had already left and the dinner was not through yet. My boyfriend-at-the-time had a long drive back home and his departure was understandable. So there was Michael and I with my Mom and Dad enjoying the atmosphere of Romano’s, an old school Italian restaurant that was located on 13th Avenue near the corner of 70th Street.
I hope you will enjoy the story these photos tell. That I have finally gotten around to posting them on Memorial Day Weekend seems just right. This is more than just a weekend to kick off the start of Summer. It is a weekend to honor the memory of all who have given themselves in service to our country. This does not mean we have a blind patriotism nor a hateful scorn of our past. Instead it means learning from history by taking the events as they actually happened and extracting a meaning from the positive and negative. History teaches us much if we listen to what she tells us and do so with an open mind.
From Brooklyn, I took the R Local train to Rector Street in Manhattan. I thought a long walk from that station down to Pearl Street, where Fraunces Tavern is located, would be good. I worked in the Wall Street area for many years. I wanted to revisit Trinity Church and Federal Hall before I met Michael and Peter. As I recall the afternoon, these first two stops added to the meaning the second part of the afternoon had. This is because as Michael, his cousin Peter and I had enjoyed our time together we celebrated our shared bonds of ancestors from Agropoli and celebrated our heritage as Americans.
As a child I thought my Grandmother and Mother grew up in neighborhoods where the entire community was Italian-American. I was very scared about going to kindergarten. Some of our neighbors told me that the children of servicemen stationed at Fort Hamilton would be amongst my classmates. These children had travelled to different countries in Europe or different states in America. Some of their mothers were from different countries. Instead of looking forward to making new friends I became unsure of myself. I told Grandma Josie and my Mom that I didn’t want to go to Public School. Instead I wanted to attend St. Bernadette where the student body consisted solely of children from Dyker Heights.
Mom and Grandma Josie shared stories of their childhood and adolescence with me in an effort to show me that they never lived in the strictly Italian-American world my 4 1/2 year old imagination created. I was told that sooner or later the bigger world would call out for me to participate in it. Going to kindergarten was the first big step I had to take.
Uncle Sammy and I decided to check out the stories Grandma Josie shared with me and compare them with the ethnic mix as recorded in the 1920 Federal Census for the Muro family in Wilmerding, PA. We then compared our own experiences of growing up in Dyker Heights and the ethnic mix we encountered throughout our school years. This exercise showed us that official records can be used to check the veracity of the family stories. In the case of the examples my Mom gave, we learned how important it is to collect as much material on a topic from each generation as possible. This personal history is sometimes never entered to published works on a community since they can be written by people who have not grown up or experienced the life of members of the community. For this reason, we believe that researchers do a great service to the genealogical community and amateur family historians when they include interviews with the people from the community they are writing about.
Josie Muro Serrapede was:
- Emily Leatrice Serrapede’s Mother
- Sammy Serrapede’s Mother
- EmilyAnn’s maternal Grandmother
Emily Leatrice Serrapede was:
- Sammy’s Sister
- EmilyAnn’s Mother
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
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.