54b-Serrapede Family in America, 1930s-In the news and on the radio (Part 2)

Introduction

Our visit to the Serrapede family at home continues where 54b-Serrapede Family in America, 1930s-In the news and on the radio (Part 1)  left off.  In this posting we continue our visit to the family at their apartment on a weeknight.  Sam has returned from work, ready for dinner and some conversation about current events, radio programs for the evening and happenings in the neighborhood with Josie.

At the conclusion of our visit Uncle Sammy and I share some fun-filled memories of our favorite comics and magazines from our childhood.

All resources used for Part 1 and Part 2 are listed at the end of this posting.

Josie’s Advice to Sam: “Talk to me about what you read in the news.”

54b-Letters to Editor-Bklyn Daily Eagle June 10 1935 rugged

 

Letter to the editor written June 2nd and published on June 10, 1935.

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54b-Serrapede Family in America, 1930s-In the news and on the radio (Part 1)

Introduction

Josie and Sam subscribed to many magazines and newspapers. As a child I remember the sofa, end tables and coffee table full of such magazines as “Life”, “Time”, “The Saturday Evening Post”, “Cue”, and “The New Yorker”. Among newspapers the “Daily News” and “The New York Post” were the ones I remember most. Sometimes I found copies of “Mad Magazine” that belonged to Uncle Sammy in the drawers or on the nightables up in the attic.

I got to know my Grandparent’s favorite topics in the newspapers since I spent many weekends at their house as a child and a teenager. I also lived with them for 8 months during 1978-79. I thought it would be an enjoyable trip back in time to June 10, 1935 to select short articles or features in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle that would have caught their interest. The reason why I picked this date is because it appears on a photo of Emily taken at the Weise Photo Studio. I thought a good way for readers to get to know Josie and Sam would be through a visit to their apartment on the evening of June 10, 1935 after Emily had her photo taken that morning.

Relationship Note

Sam and Josie Serrapede were parents to Emily Leatrice, Gerald and Sammy. They were EmilyAnn’s maternal Grandparents.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle Monday, June 10, 1935

When her children were young, Josie prepared dinner early and ate with them sometime between 5 and 6 p.m. before Sam came home. She’d let the dishes soak before washing them and take some time to relax after dinner. Josie loved to read so she started with the newspaper. First she checked the radio programs that Emily would enjoy listening to before going to bed.

54b-Bklyn Daily Eagle-Radio rograms-June 10 1935

Listings for radio programs broadcasted on Monday evening, June 10th and Tuesday morning, June 11th, 1935.

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54a-Station Break-In the News 1934: The Dionne Quintuplets, Part 1

Introduction

I thought it would be good to do a short posting about the Dionne Quintuplets since they were a big part of the popular culture of the mid-late 1930s. The world was fascinated by the five identical sisters. As with the Hollywood child star Shirley Temple, it seems like the keen interest the fans of the Quintuplets had provided a needed escape from the harsh realities of life during the Great Depression.  The Quintuplets were very important to Emily as the following family story relates.  From there Uncle Sammy and I present the research results on the Quints, as the press and public often referred to the Dionne Quintuplets.

Relationship Note

 Emily Leatrice Serrapede was born on April 18, 1931. She was the daughter of Josie and Sam; older sister of Jerry and Sammy; and EmilyAnn’s Mom.

Family Story: My name in French is Emilie!

Emily was 3 years old when the Dionne Quintuplets were born in 1934. One of them was named Emilie. A few years later Josie and Sam bought her a Dionne Quintuplet spoon with the name “Emelie” engraved on it. The handle of the spoon was shaped to represent a little girl that looked like one of the Quints. The figure on the spoon had clearly defined ringlets and wore a smock type dress. Emily was very possessive of that spoon. Another object she considered very precious was her blue Shirley Temple drinking glass. The spoon and the drinking glass were brought out only when the immediate family had a meal together. If cousins or friends were visiting Emily asked Josie not to take them out to show anyone. She also asked Josie not to tell anyone about them.

It’s not that she thought the spoon and drinking glass had any power to make her somebody special. It was the idea that they connected her to two well known children she followed with great interest through listening to the news on the radio or heard her parents mention if an article appeared in the newspapers. Sometimes Emily wondered what Shirley Temple was having for breakfast or what it was like when Emilie Dionne met news reporters and had her photo taken for the papers.

–as told by Emily L. Serrapede to her daughter EmilyAnn Frances May

There are no public domain images of the Dionne Quintuplet spoons or the blue cobalt Shirley Temple drinking glasses. I located good examples at some websites for which I provided links to in the Recommended Reading with photos section at the end of Part 2 this posting.

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52c-Serrapede Family in America-1930s: $120 a month (Part 2a)

Special Note and Update 11-26-2017

The attempts to understand the 1930s life style given here are not a recreation of the way Josie managed Sam’s salary.  Uncle Sammy and I could not find exact information on what a housewife spent on food each week.  So I tried creating a scenario where we selected the fresh foods Sam liked best.  Then in Part 2 of this posting I created a menu plan for two to three days.  This exercise was very challenging.  I learned that growing up and coming of age during the Post-WWII economic boom did not prepare me to think as people did during the Great Depression.  It is one thing to have an intellectual understanding that life was difficult and quite another to try to take on the mindset of an era and approach a problem with the restrictions  that were in place at that time.  Josie and Sam never  provided great detail about the hardships of the Great Depression.  Most of the family stories they passed on emphasized working together during times of hardship.

I thank Amy of Brotmanblog: A Family Journey for asking the right questions that led me to create this needed clarification for the posting.

Introduction

Uncle Sammy and I never heard stories about the Great Depression that focused on extremes of poverty and hunger. Josie, Sam and members of the extended family spoke about how hard everyone had to work to keep their jobs. Family stories emphasized how relatives and paesanos helped each other with everything from providing a few slices of bread, to getting a job and even an introduction to a suitable marriage partner. We learned that the times were worrisome. We also learned what actions people took to remedy their situations. The emphasis was on solving the problem and working with the opportunity that came one’s way. There wasn’t any prolonged analysis of a job offer. The outlook was bluntly put, “No work, no food, no rent.”

Money was never explicitly spoken of so we do not have a point of reference in terms of what Sam’s yearly salary in the 1930s was. Once we locate a 1930 Federal Census entry for Josie and Sam that will change but so far we have not retrieved one at Ancestry. We have the memories Josie and Sam’s daughter Emily shared about the apartments where they lived when she was growing up. These provided a starting point.

I sat down and listed the characteristics of those apartments before preparing this posting. I also thought about the kinds of meals Josie would have made each day. I then went to the 1931 issues of The Brooklyn Daily Eagle to check out the costs of food and rent. The classified ads for rental apartments and the column with food prices gave me some idea of how much things cost. Living on $120 a month was very difficult. We do not know what the monthly budget for the Serrapede family really was but we can say for sure they worked very hard and were very resourceful during the Great Depression. Their daughter Emily grew up feeling loved. She never realized how difficult the times were until she was about 8 or 9 years old. 

Relationship Notes

In this posting we focus on Josie Muro Serrapede. She was the wife of Sam Serrapede, mother of Emily Leatrice, Gerald and Sammy. Josie was EmilyAnn’s maternal Grandmother.

The Family Stories are not dated because they were not recorded during a planned session. These come from conversations throughout the years that recurred many times

$120 a month: a budget for a very thrifty household

52c-The_Brooklyn_Daily_Eagle_Mon__Mar_2__1931_budget 1

Budget for $130 a month submitted by a reader to The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 2, 1931.

In the Spring of 1931 advice columnist Helen Worth of The Brooklyn Eagle asked her readers how they would allocate money for necessities a budget of $120 a month. The request was made on behalf of a reader named Elsa who was about to get married.

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52a-Serrapede Family in America: The Great Depression, Part 2

(This posting is a continuation of 52a-Serrapede Family in America: The Great Depression, Part 1)

Discussion with Uncle Sammy on Sunday, January 24, 2016

Topic:  What do you associate with the 1930s?

EmilyAnn:  First, I think of what happened on the day the Stock Market Crashed in 1929.  Mom told me that some investors were so shocked or ruined that they soon committed suicide.  Dad always said that as bad as things were that should never have happened.  People live through tough times by drawing closer to each other. Mom and Dad repeatedly emphasized this. With this in mind I wondered how people coped.

My parents and grandparents often told me that the movies offered a great escape.  I think of the Endicott Theatre that was located on 13th Avenue and 70th Street.  Mom and Dad shared many of their memories with me about their happy times at the Saturday afternoon matinees.  One of Mom’s favorite series of films came out towards the end of the 1930s.  She was a fan of Mickey Rooney and the “Andy Hardy” films he made.  Mom thought he was cute.  I couldn’t understand the appeal because as a child I knew Mickey Rooney as an older actor.  When I saw the photos of him as a teenage star I quickly understood how Mom, as a 6 or 7 year old girl, could develop a crush on him.

52a-Mickey Rooney
Opening credit for Mickey Rooney from 1939 film, “Babes in Arms.”

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