52b-Serrapede Family in America: The Great Depression-$120 a month (Part 1a)

Relationship Notes

Uncle Sammy and I have decided to simplify how we address our immediate family members in this and forthcoming blog postings.  To avoid confusing readers we will be using their first names.  Since the both of us are working on this blog it can become confusing if I say “My Mom Emily Leatrice told me…” and then Uncle Sammy’s contributions are phrased, “My Sister (Emily) did….”

At the start of each posting we’ll put a key describing our relationships to the people named in the posting.  This will help the narrative be easier to read.

In this posting is featured:

*Sam Serrapede:  Husband of Josie and father of Emily Leatrice, Gerald and Sammy.  EmilyAnn’s maternal Grandfather.

Our Family Stories, A New Feature in Our Family History Postings

This section will follow the research and any documentation presented in a posting and precedes the section where Uncle Sammy and I discuss and compare the results of our research with the stories and memories passed down in our family.

At the end of each family story will be given the source of the story and which one of us is now retelling it.

You may wonder how we can have so many stories and anecdotes to share.  Everything that happened in the lives of the Serrapede and Muro families became an opportunity to learn something.  During family gatherings or phone calls or casual visits, lessons learned were always shared from the experiences had in everyday life.  Since these lessons were often repeated to us they became part of our inner library to reference when it was time to think something through.

My Mom started this process with me when I was 4 or 5 years old.  She was not one to bring up the stories on her own.  I learned to seek her out.  By being patient and asking questions Mom began to assume the role of an expert story teller as she taught me lessons in life by this means.  In telling the stories of her family she’d leave off and pick-up on telling them at different times.  Mom would question me if I remembered what she told me previously before continuing the story.  In time I knew them as well, and sometimes better, than my schoolwork.  I was able to relate to her entire family without any difficulty because I knew all the intricacies of the relationships.

Uncle Sammy did not experience the telling of family stories in the manner I did.  He heard them during the times everyone gathered together for a special event.  Mostly his stories which we’ll share here are based on his own experiences.

Introduction

Josie Muro Serrapede left us a collection of over 250 photos of the family which span the years from the late 1920s through the 1960s.  The rest of the photos from the 1970s onward consist of Josie’s photos and ones given to her by relatives, my parents or me.  The photos that make up the Josie Muro Serrapede Collection are rich in detail.  As we study them we learn:

• The photographs of the family taken outside the apartments they live in help us identify the economic level of the community.  It was the section of Dyker Heights between 11th, 12th and 13th Avenues in the 60 Streets.  Here many hard working Italian immigrants lived.  The community was a combination of working class and modestly middle class residents.
• The family never looked hungry or gaunt.
• Their clothing was well cared for.
• Emily had many toys.
• There were many studio portraits of Emily and her baby brother Gerald.
• The Serrapede family shared happy times with their neighbors.
• There were many photos exchanged between Sam and his sister Philomena.

We will make use of these photos in future postings.

The photos show us that the basic needs were being met for housing, clothing and socialization.  Josie was very resourceful and a good cook so the family could be assured of something to eat at each meal.  For the reader the question arises as to how much money Sam made as a bootblack and if his salary alone supported the family.  There was not much information available about the average salary of a bootblack during the Great Depression.  We did learn a little about the history and have thought about some of the reasons why our immigrant ancestors might have found the work appealing.

For a married couple starting out $120 a month was considered a bare minimum to live on with a little left over for savings.  We’ll detail the sources of that info along with the budget in the next posting.  For this one we came away with the impression that if a bootblack worked hard enough and was resourceful he could get by.  Sam and Josie knew the Carnicelli family on 65th Street in Dyker Heights.  Joseph Carnicelli worked as a bootblack according to the 1930 and 1940 Federal Census records.  He was able to save enough money to become co-owner in a multi-family dwelling.  We still are amazed how the first generation managed to achieve so much even on a small salary.

The Shoe Shine Boy

In Western countries the profession of a shoe shiner or bootblack has been looked down upon.  In developing countries it is still the main source of income in some families.  Young boys get started in this line of work as a way to supplement or provide income in the family when the father is too ill to work.  In the U.K. a positive attitude is growing towards the shoe shiner.  Those who work in London’s financial district are knowledgeable about local events and willing to provide advice.  The clients look forward to the conversation as much as the shoe shine!

 52b-ragged20dick_zpsultjsjiz
Front piece from a “Ragged Dick” story.

The role of the shoe shine boy was the subject of a popular novel “Ragged Dick” by Horatio Alger.  The story depicted the rise of a young shoe shiner into the ranks of the middle class through honesty, hard work and sincerity.  The story was set in the late 19th century in New York City.  The front plate of one Ragged Dick book shows a luggage boy, two shoe shiners and a newsboy.  The book was published in 1895.  In a few years, Italian immigrant men would be among the adults competing with the boys for these jobs.

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

I received a few photos and an update from Michael Muro today.  The weather in Agropoli continues to be very hot and very humid.  Michael is staying with the family of Giuseppe Carnicelli, the cousin I met during our May meet-up in Brooklyn Heights.

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July is a festive month for Giuseppe and his brother Vincenzo.  They both celebrate birthdays this month.    Vincenzo will turn 23 on July 29th.  This photo of (left to right, Vincenzo, Michael and Giuseppe) was taken at Nero Cafe in Agropoli.  I love the bright, upbeat colors in the décor.

Giuseppe’s birthday was on July 11th.  The combination of birthday cake and champagne is irresistible!   Uncle Sammy and I wish both brothers a very good year ahead.

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A festival was recently held during the time Michael has been in Agropoli.  Here we see the Piazza all lit up.  I love the way the colors of the lights are so vivid against the night sky and the old buildings surrounding the piazza.

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Michael also had time to visit another cousin from the Carnicelli family, too.  Michele lives in Santa Maria which is about 20 minutes from Agropoli.  His mother is from the Carnicelli family.  I think I see some resemblance between Michael and Michele.

Giuseppe continues to take courses online with the school in Pittsburgh where he studied English conversation, reading and writing this past Spring while he was in the U.S. visiting Michael.  On Saturday, July 25th Michael and Giuseppe head to Calabria for another get-together with the newly discovered relatives of his Grandma Rose.  Eugenio and Aldisa Aiello and their children will spend a day with Michael.  He’s promised more photos along with all the details.  Eugenio is Rose’s nephew.

Uncle Sammy and I wish Michael safe travels, sunny weather and the continued pleasure of good company during this last phase of his vacation in Italy.

 

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.

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

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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/

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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46b-D’Agosto and Carnicelli Families-Agropoli and Brooklyn

Acknowledgement

The genealogical research by Anthony Vermandois of ImaginesMaiorum-Ancestors from Campania forms the basis of this posting. We have used Anthony’s charts of descent for the following families:

Charts for D’Agosto Family Lines

Carnicelli Family http://www.imaginesmaiorum.net/surname.cfm?id=582

Taddeo Family http://www.imaginesmaiorum.net/surname.cfm?id=134

d’Agosto Family http://www.imaginesmaiorum.net/surname.cfm?id=668

Introduction

This posting serves as a bridge between our introduction of Giuseppe D’Agosto in 46a-D’Agosto Family – Giuseppe comes to America and the three part series that follows this current posting. There are two Giuseppes in this narrative as well as what appeared to be a tenuous relationship between our families through the D’Agosto matriarch, Rafaella Carnicelli D’Agosto, and our matriarch, Giuseppa Carnicelli Ruocco (part of the Muro line).

Uncle Sammy and I are glad we paused to look through all these factors because the findings enabled us to be more accurate in our three part series. It also helped us understand how easily one can mistake a paeasano (friend from the old hometown) for a cugina or cugino (cousin). We also resorted to the expedient device of calling one of the Giuseppes by his American name of Joseph since that is what he used most often for the Census interviews.  You will meet Joseph Carnicelli in the next posting.

If any confusion remains after you read this posting, please put your questions into the Comment section and we’ll add more information. Continue reading