Toritto – A Life in Pictures – #3

Sixth grade – my last year in elementary school P.S. 187.  It was May Day – but in the early fifties May Day became the “Spring Festival.”  Mom, me, Nicholas and the two Alfreds (my brother and our neighbor).

Me as a teen having a cup of Joe at the home of my then girl friend’s grandmother, a very proper Swedish lady.  Note the cups!  Though we broke up 55 years ago, we still exchange Christmas cards.  She sent me the picture.



My paternal grandfather Francesco Scarangello at the wedding of his granddaughter circa 1950.  He was born in 1872 in Toritto, Italy  and a 33 year old widower in 1905 with 3 young children, no wife to care for them and no future in the new Italy.  He decided to come to America.  He courted my grandmother and they came to New York, built a life for themselves and had 5 more children.  My father was the youngest.  He died on my twelfth birthday in 1954.  Three of his grandchildren were named after him, including me.  What I wouldn’t give for an hour to speak with him.


My paternal grandmother Laura (DeVito) Scarangello at our  house in the early sixties. She married a man with three children and left her country for a life of adventure in America.  She never saw Italy again.  Her sister soon followed her.  She had five children of her own, raised eight and took my mother in off of the streets when she had no where else to go.  She died when I was in Eritrea.  I missed her funeral.  I miss them both.

A photo from 1923 which cannot be restored.  My maternal grandparents, Carmelo Lafragola and Antoinette (Forte) Lafragola with the first two of their five children.  My Uncle Joseph is the boy standing and my mother Mary is on his lap.  Antoinette died in the 1930s (She is buried with my parents) and the State, in its wisdom would not allow an Italian immigrant to raise five children with no wife.  My mother was sent to a Catholic orphanage run by the Benedictines and her baby sister sent to foster care.  By the time my mom left the orphanage at age 18 grandpa had remarried and  would not take his grown children in – even temporarily.  Grandma Laura above saw her sitting on the curb with her little suitcase and took her in.  There she met my father

Carmelo Lafragola. His children eventually make their peace with Grandpa (although I don’t think they ever forgave his wife!) and my mother was with him when he died in the Veterans Hospital in 1965, around the same time that Laura passed.  He was the only one of my four grandparents who became a U.S. citizen.  He served with Pershing in France during the First World War, was wounded and awarded the Purple Heart.


About toritto

I was born during year four of the reign of Emperor Tiberius Claudius on the outskirts of the empire in Brooklyn. I married my high school sweetheart, the girl I took to the prom and we were together for forty years until her passing in 2004. We had four kids together and buried two together. I had a successful career in Corporate America (never got rich but made a living) and traveled the world. I am currently retired in the Tampa Bay metro area and live alone. One of my daughters is close by and one within a morning’s drive. They call their pops everyday. I try to write poetry (not very well), and about family. Occasionally I will try a historical piece relating to politics. :-)
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Toritto – A Life in Pictures – #3

  1. beetleypete says:

    I really like the 1941 shot of Carmelo. I remember remarking on that one before. He looks like a real ‘Made Man’, someone not to be messed with!
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. toritto says:

    Pete – I’m standing next to him when he had a hat on in #1


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lara/Trace says:

    Well well well, these are some real characters! And immigrants who made American more tasty!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. allenrizzi says:

    Great photos from yesteryear. Your grandmother looks a lot like mine. Mia nonna parlava un inglese scarso, preferendo il suo dialetto “noneso” della Val di Non.


    • toritto says:

      My grandparents arrived in1906 and by the time I was born in 1942 they had mastered enough English to be easily understood. Everyone spoke Italian when they didn’t want us kids to know what they were talking about! My paternal grandparents were from the town of Toritto, now a suburb of Bari. As Pugliese they had the reputation of speaking the worst Italian in Italy! Stay well and best from Florida.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.