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Monday
Jul012013

THE STORY OF NEDDA, AN ITALIAN RESERVIST'S WIFE

Italian quarter in Boston's North End, 1915 – When the big White Star liner Canopic entered the port of Boston from Italy and backed in beside the new dock, there were no happier hearts among all its twelve hundred immigrants than Marco and Nedda Lucetti. They had embarked from sunny Sicilyon a double venture, matrimony and a new start in life, and they were both very young and very much in love. So indeed what more could one want to explain the smile on Nedda's pretty face and the confidence in Marco's black (more)

Friday
Jun282013

Will Giovanni Morosini rule Giulia from Grave?

New York, Sept. 24, 1908 — Now that wealthy banker Giovanni Morosini is dead, what will his daughter Giulia do? This is a question the smart set would like to have answered. Will the "best dressed woman in New York" continue queen of the Morosini Palace at Riverdale, among her art treasures, or will she, who for years obeyed the mandate of a stern, but loving, father and steeled her heart to suitors, capitulate, to reign queen of her husband's (more)

Wednesday
Jun192013

FRANK SINATRA AND THE 3 FLASHES

In 1935, the first year of radio network broadcasts of Major Bowes' Amateur Hour, more than thirty thousand acts auditioned for the talent contest program. One of the successful acts was the "Hoboken Four", Frank Sinatra, Fred Tamburro, Pat Principe, and James Petrozelli (aka “Tamby,” “Patty Prince,” and “Jimmy Petro” or “Skelly”). The vocal quartet auditioned as "Frank Sinatra and the 3 Flashes," but it was renamed, purportedly by Major (more)

Saturday
Jun082013

MEN AGAINST GRANITE - GIACOMO COLETTI

by Mary Tomasi, Vermont, 1938 - A cold February morning is breaking. A slanting sun has not yet pierced the winter-thin clouds. Only a chill grey sky, and a frosty haze hang over the sleeping 'Granite City.' But for Giacomo Colettiand some 1,300 Italian, Scotch, Scandinavian, Spanish and French granite workers, day has begun. For Giacomo the alarm goes off every morning at 6:30. It makes a harsh, grating sound, grating enough his wife Nina says, to call the morti from their graves. (more)

Thursday
Jun062013

I'D RATHER SHOVEL COAL THAN BE A CARUSO!

Meriden, 1919 - Caruso is the most famous and richest of tenors. His income from his voice runs into the hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. He is courted and feted wherever he goes, receiving often indeed, although beginning life as a butcher's boy, the honors of royalty. Hundreds of thousands of his countrymen look upon Caruso with eyes of admiring envy. Is there, in fact, one who doesn't? There certainly is! Tony Ponzillo brother of Rosa Ponselle, prima donna of the great Metropolitan (more)

Thursday
May302013

SANTA ROSALIA IN THE BRONX

Williamsbridge, New York, 1909 - They have vivid memories in Williamsbridge of Santa Rosalia of Palermo. In the colony on Jerome street are many Palermese [Palermitani, people from Palermo], andwhere there are Palermese there is Santa Rosalia. In far Palermo their own dear saint is more thought of than the Virgin. Her feast is the great feast—the 9th to the (more)

Wednesday
May082013

BONTI, A VETERAN ITALIAN CARVER

Barre, September 14, 1940 - A handful of stonecutters, less fortunate than their steady working brothers, live in the dingy south-end settlement. Generoso Bonti sat old and brown on his granite doorstep, his shoulders protected by a patchwork quilt even though it was a warm July evening. A gray, tobacco stained moustache hung limp over his mouth. A middle-aged woman sat in the window darning socks. "The wife of my son," old Bonti explained. His voice was deep, a choked vibrancy that shook his difficult English (more)

Wednesday
May082013

MEN AGAINST GRANITE - THE TOOL GRINDER

Barre, 1940 - It was a dingy, bleak, disordered room, sparsely furnished, uninviting save for the rich sunlight which filtered through the unwashed windows. Here Gianni unfolded his story between heavy potions of grappa. "Sure, I know you're all right or I wouldn't tell you a thing.But if you ever try to double-cross me on this, well, you know what's coming to you, eh?" With assurances that (more)

Wednesday
May012013

PORTELLA DELLA GINESTRA MASSACRE

On May 1, 1947, during Labour Day celebrations in Piana degli Albanesi, Sicily, 11 people were killed and 27 wounded in what is called  the Portella della Ginestra Massacre. Sicilian separatist leader and bandit Salvatore Giuliano and his gang were held responsible although many people believe that they were used as scapegoats by the mafia in cahoots with wealthy landowners and politicians. On April 20–21 there was a surprise (more)

Monday
Apr222013

PAOLO'S AWAKENING

by Jacob A. Riis, 1898 - Paolo sat cross-legged on his bench, stitching away for dear life. He pursed his lips and screwed up his mouth into all sorts of odd shapes with the effort, for it was an effort. He was only eight, and you would scarcely have imagined him over six, as he sat there sewing like a real little tailor; only Paolo knew but one seam, and that a hard one. Yet he held the needle and felt the edge with it in quite a grown-up way, and pulled the thread just as far as his short arm would reach. His mother sat on a stool by the window, where she could (more)

Saturday
Apr132013

SUNDAY AFTERNOON AT MRS. GERBATI'S (ca 1940) Barre, Vermont

The Sunday afternoon session at Mrs. Gerbati's was in full swing. In the kitchen the talking was mostly in Italian. The old grandmother who sat in the corner by the stove spoke nothing else. Her face was deeply wrinkled, her eyes dull, (more)

Friday
Apr122013

FEAST-DAYS IN LITTLE ITALY - by JACOB RIIS, 1899

The rumble of trucks and the slamming of boxes up on the corner ceased for the moment, and in the hush that fell upon Mulberry street snatches of a familiar tune, punctuated by a determined drum, struggled into the block. Around the corner came a band of musicians with green cock-feathers in hats set rakishly over fierce, sunburnt faces. A raft of boys walked in front, abreast of two bored (more)

Saturday
Apr062013

APRIL 7, 1906 - ERUPTION OF MOUNT VESUVIUS

Naples, April 9, 1906 - Reports of fatalities consequent the eruption of Mount Vesuvius are coming in. Probably five hundred lives were lost. It is said that more than 200 perished in San Giuseppe Vesuviano, while from the ruins of a church which collapsed, owing to the weight of ashes, forty-nine bodies were extricated. (more)

Friday
Apr052013

ITALIAN FEED

By Mari Tomasi, September 21, 1940 - The woman was sitting at the kitchen table feeding small pieces of meat, onion, garlic and spinach to a food grinder. She was well over fifty. As she spoke and worked, her long gold earrings bobbed and swung. "I'm getting a dinner ready for a party of twelve people. All from Montpelier. Not Italians. Italians know (more)

Friday
Mar292013

GORGEOUS ITALIAN EASTER SWEETS

The Sun, April 22, 1906 - Easter cakes and sweetmeats cost the Italian colony of New York thousands of dollars and untold indigestion. Not even the bakers and pastry cooks of the Gorman quarter, with their fifty kinds of sweetcake and their monstrous rabbits in gingerbread and white sugar, made such a display as (more

Wednesday
Mar272013

IRISH ATTACK ITALIANS AND ITALIANS GET ARRESTED

New-York Daily Tribune, Monday, April 26, 1909 - About fifty Irishmen and Italians tried to exterminate each other in a race riot at Tenth Avenue and 32d street last night, and not until an Italian saloon and an Italian grocery store had been wrecked (more)

Monday
Mar252013

TRIANGLE SHIRTWAIST FACTORY FIRE: ANNA GULLO’S TESTIMONY

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York City on March 25, 1911caused the deaths of 146 garment workers, mostly Jewish and Italian immigrant women aged sixteen to twenty-three. The oldest victim was Providenza Panno at 43, and the youngest were 14-year-olds Kate Leone and "Sara" Rosaria Maltese. Here is Anna Gullo’s testimony, one of the survivors, from the trial’s transcripts. (more)

Saturday
Mar232013

HOWARD MISSION ON THE BOWERY - 1872

The Howard Mission and Home for Little Wanderers is situated in the heart of the Fourth Ward, in one of the most wretched quarters of the city [New York]. Here the inhabitants are packed into their dirty dwellings at the rate of 290,000 persons to the square mile. The dirt and the wretchedness of this part of the city are terrible to behold, the sufferings of the people are very great, and the mortality is heavy. Sailors’ lodging houses of the lowest character, dance houses, rum shops (more)

Saturday
Mar232013

FIVE POINTS HOUSE OF INDUSTRY - 1872

The Five Points House of Industry is situated on 155 Worth Street, diagonally opposite the Home Mission.  It consists of two large brick edifices, covering an area about 100 feet square. This Mission was begun by the Rev. L. M. Pease, the same gentleman who was in charge of the Home Mission at the time of the purchase of the “Old Brewery.” (more)

Thursday
Mar212013

ITALIAN STREET MUSICIANS - 1872

by James D. Mccabe, Jr - It would be interesting to know the number of street musicians to be found in New York.  Judging from outward appearances, it must be their most profitable field, for one cannot walk two blocks in any part of the city without hearing one or more musical instruments in full blast. A few are good and in perfect tone, but the majority emit only the most horrible discords. Prominent among the street musicians are the organ grinders, who in former days monopolized the business. They are mostly Italians, though one sees (more)