Interlude: All Hallows 2017

Interlude-All Hallows 2017

The Harvest Moon
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1807 – 1882

It is the Harvest Moon! On gilded vanes
And roofs of villages, on woodland crests
And their aerial neighborhoods of nests
Deserted, on the curtained window-panes

Of rooms where children sleep, on country lanes
And harvest-fields, its mystic splendor rests!
Gone are the birds that were our summer guests,
With the last sheaves return the laboring wains!

All things are symbols: the external shows
Of Nature have their image in the mind,
As flowers and fruits and falling of the leaves;

The song-birds leave us at the summer’s close,
Only the empty nests are left behind,
And pipings of the quail among the sheaves.


It is that special time of the year when the pause between Autumn and Winter occurs.  The three days of Halloween (All Hallows Eve), All Saints Day and All Souls Day that take place from October 31st through November 2nd are filled with a special atmosphere for those who partake in the festivities and solemnities of the three days.

My late Mom and I used this time to combine the various elements into a personal time for seclusion, reflection on mortality and consideration of the life to come.  While Mom still lived with me, we would have an evening tea with cups of Darjeeling tea, tea biscuits filled with raisins and citrons by the light of a carved pumpkin with a candle inside.  Earlier we’d given out the treat bags filled with pennies and packaged candies to the little costumed children who rang the doorbell.  The quiet after sunset and the candle light in the kitchen provided a sense of being between the worlds.

We shared memories of our beloved departed.  No photos or keepsakes were brought out, just our words and the events we remembered were shared.  The next day we attended mass together before I left for work.  We refrained from TV, radio, newspapers and small talk during these three days.  None of this is required by the holiday but we willingly undertook abstaining from engagement with the outside as a way to recall as vividly as possible those who have gone on before us to the Greater Life.

I invite you to join me in prayer or in spirit as the time comes, as it does every year, to consider the cycles of life and the seasons of the year beyond what we see and delve into the deeper meanings behind it all.

–EmilyAnn Frances May
All Hallows 2017



Poem is in the public domain.
“Harvest Moon”
Photo-Public Domain
by C.E. Price
Wikimedia Commons

38b-Muro Family in America: The Accident, 1920

Relationship Notes

In this posting we consider the stories we have learned about the death of Ernest Muro, son of Nick and Letizia Muro. Ernest was 1 year old when he died. The official record of his death is in direct opposition to the cause we learned about during research and family discussions. To help you understand the relationships discussed in this posting we have outlined them in this section.

Ernest Muro was the son of Nicola and Letizia (nee Scotti) Muro. Ernest’s siblings were:

  • Josie
  • Peter
  • Louis
  • Philomena
  • Rosie

Ernest is related to EmilyAnn and Sammy. Ernest was:

  • Sammy’s Uncle (through Josie, Sammy’s Mom).
  • EmilyAnn’s Great Uncle (through Josie’s daughter Emily Leatrice).

Ernest’s sister Josie was:

  • Sammy’s Mom.
  • EmilyAnn’s Maternal Grandmother. 


In our previous posting we reviewed the safety issues that surrounded the use of horses in an urban environment in the late 19th-early 20th centuries. We also considered the manner in which pedestrians utilized the pavements and streets. The automobile eventually eclipsed the use of horses by the 1920s. Pedestrians were made aware, through public safety campaigns, that the street was for vehicles and the sidewalk was for people.

George Westinghouse ensured that Wilmerding had a mass transit system within the town when it was first built. Yet even as the 1920s began, there were small companies within Wilmerding that still used a horse drawn cart as a means of transport. As we researched the children of Letizia and Nick Muro we learned about their next to youngest child, Ernest. The family never spoke about him and we were ready to accept the story which official documentation gave about his death. That was until we interacted with other relatives at Ancestry and compared family stories we heard. This is how we learned that Ernest’s death may have been hastened due to an accident caused by a horse drawn cart.  Continue reading

19e-Halloween in Bay Ridge 2015

In posting 19d-Growing Up Italian American: Halloween through the generations I wrote about the annual Halloween art contest students at schools in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights participate in.  Students from grades K through 12 prepare their pictures in school and are then selected to reproduce their art work on the windows of shops in Bay Ridge that participate in the contest.  During an early morning walk, I passed by two colorful paintings.  This offered me the opportunity to use the camera in my new Android phone.  I’m delighted with the results.  Even more I’m very happy to see so many talented young children and teens participating in this yearly event.

For our local news coverage and photos of the 2015 entrants to the 63rd Annual Halloween Poster and Storefront Window Painting Contest, please check out the article at the Brooklyn Eagle’s online edition for October 27, 2015.

These photos were taken on Third Avenue in the 70s.  The paintings stay in the windows for a few weeks so I’m hoping to see more when I’m out and about running errands.

19d-Growing up Italian-American: Halloween through the generations

Illustration from “Tippety Witchit’s Halloween” originally appearing in “My Book House” ed. by Olive Beaupre Miller.


Uncle Sammy, Antoinette Serrapere and I share our experiences of celebrating Halloween as we grew-up in the Italian-American communities of our home towns.  This holiday is of Celtic origin and was not celebrated by our ancestors in Italy.  However, as the descendants of Italian immigrants grew-up in America they participated in the Halloween festivities through school and community sponsored activities.  The preparation of this posting offered us an opportunity to see how the participation has changed with each generation.

For children, Halloween is a point during the year when anything and everything can happen.  Ghosts might walk through the house.  The departed might appear in their dreams.  A generous neighbor might put $1 in each goodie bag.  The big kid who loves to scare the younger children might be waiting around the corner ready to shout “Boo!”  We shared expectations similar to these.

The celebration of Halloween has not remained fixed throughout the decades since our ancestors came to the United States.  By recording our memories of this holiday we found that it continues to grow and change.  The ways in which it does reflect the times we live in.  As an example, it was more common for children to go from house-to-house with their friends in the 1960s.  Today many children are accompanied by their parents to go trick-or-treating at planned get-togethers with neighbors or friends.  This development has arisen out of concerns for child safety.

Relationship Notes

Josie and Sabato Serrapede were the parents of Sammy (Sabbatino) and Emily Leatrice Serrapede.

EmilyAnn Frances May is their granddaughter through Emily Leatrice.  Sammy is her maternal Uncle.

Antoinette Serrapere is a member of the Serrapede family from Agropoli.  She is the daughter of Nicholas and Rosemary (nee Calhoun) Serrapere.  Her Grandparents Cosimo and Anna Marie (nee Botti) Serrapere immigrated to the U.S. from Italy in the early 20th century.  Antoinette’s family lived in Wilmerding as she grew up.

Serrapere is a variation of the surname Serrapede.

Dyker Heights:  1930s

  • My Mom, Emily L. Serrapede, never spoke at great length about Halloween.  She did mention that when she was growing up the emphasis amongst the first generation of Italian immigrants was on All Saints Day (November 1st) and All Souls Day (November 2nd).  She remembered that November 2nd was a day when many people went to church to light a candle for their departed relatives and friends.
  • The three holidays were not observed in the Serrapede household when Mom grew up.  The family visited the cemeteries and took care of the graves of their departed relatives as time and weather permitted.  Prayers or devotions were offered up for the departed on the anniversary of the person’s passing.

Continue reading