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.