51a-Serrapede and Muro Families in America: How a baby book started the family history project

Introduction

Greetings to all. It is good to be back after Summer Break. Thanks to Michael Muro, Giuseppe and Vincenzo Carnicelli, the family of Antonio Eugenio and Aldisa Aiello, and the Dell’Amore family for the enjoyable entries they contributed to during June through August.

With this posting, Uncle Sammy and I begin a shift in the presentation of the Muro and Serrapede family history. While we still have official documentation to draw on, we realize that after the 1940 Federal Census there needs to be other sources of information that will add to or verify the narrative.

We are taking a creative approach by combining family stories, local history, news coverage, pop culture, and personal history. With all the resources available through the internet the possibilities are dazzling. To start, we won’t aim for dazzling or sparkling but hope you will enjoy this story about how the family history project got its start. If it touches the heart and warms the spirit that will be more than enough feedback for us.

EmilyAnn’s story: The Our Baby Book

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Cover of Our Baby, A book of Records and Memories.

I didn’t know what to make of Mom’s idea to use the “Our Baby, A book of Records and Memories” as a starting point for writing down her childhood memories. She bought this book while working at Brooklyn Union Gas during a long term temp assignment in the early 1990s. She said it put her into a cheerful frame of mind and provided the prompts she needed to recall specific times in her childhood. There were other journals and memory books on her bookshelf that she used to record other periods in her life. The end goal was to collect all these brief entries into a collection of vignettes and anecdotes about her life from childhood to young adulthood.

In the early 1990s through 1996 the internet was not part of our lives yet. I had taken creative writing courses in college but it was for the most part tedious and heavy handed. We read selected samples of different styles of writing. Then based on the sample we had to create something like it. There was no free writing, no prompts, nothing that got the creative juices going to take us on a journey into the flights of fancy creative writers can experience today. Thanks to the internet there is a wealth of techniques and exercises available. And then there are wonderful writing tools like 750words.com that keep one disciplined in their daily output. I’ve no idea where Mom got her unique approach to writing but it was working out well for her. As I watched the small collection of memories take written form, I thought there was something to the free form process she took using only illustrations to get started.

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Summer 2017: Michael Muro’s Trip to Italy, Part 3-A visit to the Aiello Family

Updated on 8-13-2017:

Thanks to Antonio Eugenio Aiello this posting is updated with the name, address and screen shots of the restaurant where Michael and the Aiello family had lunch.  The caption for the fifth photo was corrected.  Updated info is in italics.

Introduction

Cousin Michael Muro vacationed in Italy this July. He stayed in Agropoli with relatives including Giuseppe Carnicelli.  Giuseppe accompanied Michael when he travelled south to Calabria to visit Antonio Eugenio and Aldisa Aiello.  Antonio’s daughters Stefania and Sandra were also in town.  This was such a good development for Michael and Giuseppe.

It looks like the day in Calabria included lots of good food, good scenery, good company, and good conversation! Uncle Sammy and I are very happy that Cousin Michael had a chance to enjoy La Dolce Vita during this trip to Italy.

We introduced Giuseppe Carncicelli in two earlier postings.  Please see links in the Related Postings section.

Relationship Notes

Antonio Eugenio Aiello is the nephew of Michael’s paternal Grandmother Rose Aiello Marasco Muro.

Michael and Antonio connected after Antonio’s son Amedeo Aiello contacted me earlier this year. It is a beautiful thing to have facilitated the introduction through this blog and watch the relationship grow.

Ristorante Pesce Fresco

The Aiello family, Michael Muro and Giuseppe Carnicelli dined at the Ristorante Pesce Fresco.  The following screen shots from Google Maps provide the location and street view. 

Aerial view from Google Maps.  The orange dot denotes the restaurant location.

Street view from Google Maps. 

Michael Muro’s Photo Album: A visit with the Aiello Family of Calabria, July 2017

The white strip you see running across the sand on this beach is a concrete walkway. People can walk along it to avoid the hot sand.  When you reach a point where you want to be you can then go onto the sand.

At the beach (left to right): Antonio Eugenio Aiello, his wife Aldisa, Michael Muro, and Antonio’s daughters Stefania and Sandra.

The restaurant where Michael and the Aiello family had lunch is located near the beach. Around the table from left to right are:  Michael, Antonio Eugenio, Aldisa, Sandra and Stefania.

Michael enjoyed the meal which started with this dish of marinated fish, tuna and pink marinated onions.

The next course consisted of a choice of pasta with fish, spaghetti with claims and ravioli with scallops. Here are the raviolis.  Is anyone getting hungry?

Michael described the third course for me when I asked about how this fish was prepared. He told me that “There was a choice of swordfish or fish that was cleaned of the bones and split open with seasoning and breadcrumbs and baked in the oven. This fish was served with the head which I had the waiter remove. Sorry but I don’t remember the name of this fish. But it was very good.”

At home with the Aiello family.  Left to right: Antonio Eugenio, Aldisa, Michael Muro, Sandra and Stefania.

Michael’s beautiful day in Calabria concluded with Antonio asking for some photos of the family members back in the U.S. And so the relationships will continue to grow and, we hope, flourish.

Related Postings

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

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

 

Links to postings with photos of 1976 trip to Agropoli

One of our blog subscribers, Amy, asked about photos of the Carola Hotel which was featured in a family story in the previous posting.  I’m sorry to say that during my move into my current apartment things got lost including those photos.  The rest of the photos from the trip to Agropoli were included with the very earliest postings to this blog.  My Uncle and I decided to use them as a starting point for presenting different members of our family past and present.

I have compiled a list of all the postings that contain the photos.  It is not necessary to read through each posting since each photo has a caption that tells you where the photos were taken and who is featured in the photo.

I know this is a lot of clicking and scrolling but if you have the time you can take an armchair journey back to the Agropoli of 1976 when convenient to you and at your own pace.

3-The Byzantine Gate 1976
https://throughthebyzantinegate.wordpress.com/2015/02/22/3-beginnings/

4-Agropoli Through the Centuries
https://throughthebyzantinegate.wordpress.com/2015/02/27/4-agropoli-through-the-centuries/

5-The Serrapede Family in Agropoli:  Luigi and Angela Maria
https://throughthebyzantinegate.wordpress.com/2015/03/06/5-the-serrapede-family-in-agropoli-luigi-and-angela-maria/

6-Serrapede Family in Agropoli:  Sabato and Filomena
https://throughthebyzantinegate.wordpress.com/2015/03/12/6-serrapede-family-in-agropoli-sabato-and-filomena/

7a-The Serrapede Family in Agropoli:  Gennaro and Rosa
https://throughthebyzantinegate.wordpress.com/2015/03/20/7-the-serrapede-family-in-agropoli-gennaro-and-rosa-part-1/

30b-Muro Family in Agropoli-The house where Josie was born
https://throughthebyzantinegate.wordpress.com/2016/04/27/30b-muro-family-in-agropoli-the-house-where-josie-was-born/

31a-Bella Italia in 1976:  Paestum
https://throughthebyzantinegate.wordpress.com/2016/05/11/31a-bella-italia-in-1976-paestum/

31b-Bella Italia in 1976:  Amalfi
https://throughthebyzantinegate.wordpress.com/2016/05/18/1258/

31c-Bella Italia in 1976:  Positano
https://throughthebyzantinegate.wordpress.com/2016/05/25/31c-bella-italia-in-1976-positano/

31d-Bella Italia in 1976:  Gaeta
https://throughthebyzantinegate.wordpress.com/2016/06/01/31d-bella-italia-in-1976-gaeta/

31e-Our last week in Italy, July 1976:  Back to Rome
https://throughthebyzantinegate.wordpress.com/2016/06/06/31e-our-last-week-in-italy-july-1976-back-to-rome/

 

Family Story: The Carola Hotel

Title:  The Carola Hotel

Location:  Agropoli, Salerno, Campania, Italy

Occasion:  Visit to Muro and Serrapede Families in Our Ancestral Hometown

Time:  Summer 1976

My Maternal Grandparents, Josie (nee Muro) and Sam (Sabato) Serrapede, took me on a three week trip to Italy in the Summer of 1976.  The main purpose was to celebrate my Grandmother’s retirement and to reconnect with the family in Agropoli.  Both my maternal Grandmother and Grandfather were born in that town which is near Salerno in Campania Province.

Grandma Josie was firm that we were going to stay at the hotel because she wanted the comfort of all the modern conveniences.  I did not understand her emphasis until after we arrived in Agropoli.

The Carola was situated at the foot of the Old Town, a slight distance from the high hill upon which the Old Town is located.  There was a view of the beach from our room.  It was especially beautiful at sunrise.  I remember how the water looked bronze and the side of the hill began to light up from the base to the top as the sun climbed higher in the sky.  At night we could see the night fisherman out in their rowboats carrying lanterns.  I was told the light would stun the fish and make them less likely to escape from the nets.

The weather was very hot and on some days slightly humid, on other days dry.  I ended up taking two showers a day, frequently washing my hair.  The hotel did not have air conditioning at that time.

My Grandmother and I shared a room while my Grandfather had a large room to himself on the floor above us.  We could hear him from the terrace right above ours as he talked to friends who passed by on the street below.  Our room was very simple by American standards.  There were no rugs or fancy drapes or slip covers.  I’m glad there weren’t because the room would have felt too closed in during the hot weather.  The walls were smooth and painted a neutral color, beige or sand.  The furniture was very simple, too.  Everything was very neat, well-ordered and very clean.  Given how bright the sunlight could be and how hot the long days were, I found that simplicity and order all I needed to be satisfied with the comfort the room offered.

I didn’t appreciate just how much the conveniences at The Carola Hotel meant to me until we visited Grandpa Sam’s sister Italia.  She lived in a very, very old Pre-WWII building right at the foot of the stairs leading up to The Old Town.  It was quite an accomplishment that Italia’s family had gotten running water up to her apartment.  The toilet, though, was still a shared facility.  It was situated in a little room in the hallway of the floor where she lived.  Other tenants on the floor also used that toilet.  There were times a bucket of water had to be thrown down to ensure everything got flushed away.

I wasn’t aware that the Carola Hotel was owned by the family from which Mary Angela (née Carola) Muro’s father was born into.

Mary Angela was my Grandma Josie’s sister-in-law.  We always called Mary Angela by her nickname of Angie.  Angie was married to Grandma Josie’s younger brother Peter Muro.

On February 13, 2014 Claudia Muro, daughter-in-law of Angie and Peter Muro, told me the Carola Hotel was closed some time ago.  Claudia is married to Angie and Peter’s son, Robert Muro.

Claudia told me that the Carola Family operated the hotel and its restaurant separately.  She knew one of the cooks who worked at the restaurant.  He wanted very much to work in America and he loved Wilmerding, the Muro’s home town in the U.S.A.  He was unable to complete the process, though and could not come here to live and work.

As much as I loved visiting all the relatives, I was thankful we had the hotel room to retreat into each night while we were in Agropoli.  I enjoyed the quiet company of my Grandma Josie and the view of the beach each morning and night.  I needed that quiet time after all the sightseeing and visiting each day.

EmilyAnn Frances May

May 14, 2014

Family Story: “Please Stay!”

Introduction

Nick and Rose Muro are my maternal Great Grandparents through my Grandmother Josie Muro Serrapede.  Philomena and Rosie were my Grandmother’s sisters and my Great Aunts.  Since I was so close to my Mom and her generation I called them my Aunties.

This story is about Auntie Philomena.

Philomena’s mother Letizia passed away when she was a young child.  Nicola married again a few months later.  His new wife, Rosina, was a widow with a young son.  Rosina had five small children to become a mother to upon marrying Nicola.  She enforced her new role through the strict manner in which she ran the household.

Everyone in Wilmerding called Nicola and Rosina by their American names, Nick and Rose.  Their American names are used in the telling of this story.

Family Story

philomena muro - emay file
Philomena Muro circa early-mid 1930s.

Title:  “Please stay!”

Time Period:  1930s through 1940s

Locations:  Wilmerding, PA and Brooklyn, NY

Summary:  Coming to America dealt a change in lifestyle Nicola never expected.

Nick journeyed to Calabria after the death of his first wife Letizia.  He met and proposed to Rose while there.  Rose, a young widow with one son, accepted his proposal.  They were married within the year.  Rose had a big job waiting for her in America:  to become mother to Nick’s 5 young children by Letizia.

Rose soon began having her own children by Nicola.  As the household increased in size Letizia’s oldest children got more chores to do everyday.  Rose wanted to be a mother to all the children but her strictness did not lend itself to that perception amongst Letizia’s children.  Although Letizia and Rose’s children got along very well and had good relationships for all their lives, Letizia’s children were never completely on-course with Rose.

Letizia’s three daughters were, in this order, Josie, Philomena and Rosie.

Josie was the first to leave in the late 1920s to get a job in Brooklyn.  She married within 18 months and made Brooklyn her new hometown.  Back in Wilmerding, the extra chores then fell on the next of Letizia’s daughters, Philomena.  Every morning she had to clean the floors in the children’s rooms.  Philomena was up very early mopping the floors and scrubbing the corners of the rooms.  All this was completed before she went to school.

After graduating school at age 14 Philomena decided she wanted to move to New York.  Once her sister Josie was married and living on 66th Street in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, Philomena slowly considered, prayed and eventually realized her plans to came up to Brooklyn.   This happened within a few years of graduating.

Nick pleaded with Philomena to stay in Wilmerding.  His sons Louis and Peter were also going out-of-state in search of work.  Nick said, “Dearest daughter, per piacere! Stay with us.  My blood is going all over the country.”  Philomena was not moved.  She proceeded with her plans.

Philomena got on board the train and made it up to New York.  She headed straight for Josie and her brother-in-law Sam.  Once she had gotten a job, Philomena had a discussion with her brother-in-law Sam.  Sam said it was better that Philomena get her own place.  The apartment he and Josie shared could not accommodate another adult since his daughter Emily needed her own room. Sam and Josie wanted to have another baby, too.

Philomena persevered and succeeded.  Her hard work and gentle nature won over a family in the theater who hired her as a nanny.  That was an experience Philomena always treasured and a story for another time.

In time Rosie came up to Brooklyn, too.  She had the assistance of Josie and Philomena.

Nick was saddened by the movement of his children away from the town he had settled in.  He had expected them to remain close so he could see his grandchildren and great-grandchildren in future years.

This was America and the family dynamic had changed.  Even if Letizia had not died the Muro family was no longer in Agropoli.  America offered opportunities family never had back in Italy.  Sooner or later, the movement away from the first generation who settled here was going to happen.

—As told to EmilyAnn Frances May by Philomena’s son
November 1, 2015

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.

michele20carnicelli_zpsnhmsscao

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.

 

Family Stories: “Free samples”

Introduction

Nicola “Nick” Muro, 1950s.

I thought it would be a nice change of pace to share some very short stories that are finally being attached to the family members of the Serrapede-Muro Family tree.   I began writing down the stories in 2013.  They vary in tone and content.  Some are vivid, others more a recall of an event so long ago.  All are recorded in a manner that I hope conveys something of the people in the story.  The way in which each one is told also reveals a little about the person telling the story, too.

The following story is about my maternal Great Grandfather Nick Muro.  He ran a small grocery store located on the ground floor of the building he owned on State Street in Wilmerding, Pennsylvania.

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Family Story:  “Free Samples”

Time Period:  Late 1940s to mid 1950s

Location:  Wilmerding, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA

Summary:  Nick’s attempts to attract new customers doesn’t work out as he expected.

Nick was a very generous man.  He had a kind heart, too.  If anyone from the plant(1) was laid off or had a decrease in hours they often experienced hardship.  Nick would extend credit to them when they came to buy groceries.

One customer, though, took advantage of Nick’s kindness.  This customer’s wife came into the store and told Nick not to give her husband credit.  “The money he saves here, he drinks away at the bar,” she told Nick.  Nick understood the wife and put up a sign that said, “Do not give any credit to Mr. _____.”  When the other shopkeepers heard the story in private from Nick, they also refused to give this man any credit.

Nick wanted to get more customers into his store so he had his wife Rose cook up some dishes using the fresh vegetables he was getting into the store.  Corn, tomatoes, peppers, onions–all were made into tasty dishes which Nick put out for anyone to try.

Many people started coming in first on their own, then with their children.  Rose told Nick, “We should open a restaurant if you’re tired of the grocery business.  What’s going on here?”

Nick told Rose he wanted to extend the experiment a little longer.  When no new customers resulted from this promotion he stopped offering the free samples.  None of the people who had come to eat at the store came back to buy groceries from him.

 

—As told to EmilyAnn Frances May  by one of Nick’s grandsons, who is still living in Brooklyn, on January 9, 2016.  His mother Filomena was the daughter of Nick by his first wife Letizia.

 

(1) WABCo (Westinghouse Air Brake Co.)

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