Spotlight – Maria “Mary” (Mauro) Ficara

Maria "Mary" (Mauro) Ficara

Maria “Mary” (Mauro) Ficara

Maria “Mary” (Mauro) Ficara was my maternal grandmother.  She was born in Gallina, Reggio di Calabria, Calabria, Italy, on January 13, 1900.  She was married on April 19, 1923.  She emigrated from Italy to the United States on June 23, 1928 on the S.S. Duilio and arrived in New York on July 2, 1928.  She had with her Brigida Theresa “Bea” Ficara, her oldest daughter and my mother, and Concetto “Jo-Jo” Ficara, her oldest son.  She lived at various addresses in the Bronx for the rest of her life.  She was Naturalized in the U.S. District Court, New York City, New York, on April 4, 1944.

On February 10, 1966, while she was walking to work, she was hit by a truck.  She was taken to Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx.  She was in a coma and they performed a tracheotomy so she could breathe.  I don’t remember how long she was at Jacobi, but at some point she was transferred to Goldwater Memorial Hospital on Welfare Island, where she remained until she died on August 8, 1966.  Some of you may be familiar with Goldwater Memorial Hospital without even knowing it.  A scene from the movie “The Exorcist” was filmed in one of the wards at that hospital.

I was only 10 when my grandmother died, so I don’t have a lot of memories of her, but the ones I do have are good.  She was an amazing woman.  Her husband never took care of his family, so she raised 5 children on her own.  I don’t remember where she worked, but I do remember that she assembled puppets.  I still remember the puppets that she gave to me (one of them was Deputy Dawg).  One of the best memories I have of her is when I was in the 3rd grade, around 1964.  She was down visiting us.  I had a crush on the prettiest girl in the school.  Her name was Sandra Bielinski.  My mother told my grandmother about her, and in her heavily accented English she asked me, “Is she a Polack?”  Now, I had never even heard the word Polack before.  I thought she asked me if she was black, so I replied, “No, she’s a white.”  My grandmother and mother laughed so hard they had tears in their eyes.

Another great memory I have of her is one time when we went to the Bronx to pick her up from her apartment.  She gave me a little plastic piggy bank stuffed with pennies that she had saved for me.  There had to have been at least $3.00 in pennies in that little bank, which was a lot of money at the time.  I’m sure I spent every penny of it, but what I wouldn’t give to have that little bank with the pennies right now.

Spotlight – Biagio Francesco Paolo Scocchio

Biagio & Concetta (Lucarelli) Scocchio

Biagio & Concetta (Lucarelli) Scocchio

Biagio Francesco Paolo Scocchio

Biagio Scocchio was my Grandfather. He was born on Dec. 20, 1883 in Manoppello, Italy. His parents were Giustino and Lucia (Mincucci) Scocchio. He immigrated to the United States in 1905. He departed Naples, Italy on Apr. 18, 1905 on the S.S. Prinz Oscar, and arrived in New York on May 3, 1905. He traveled with his sister, Annina Scocchio, and his nephew, Giuseppe Cremonese. His passage was paid by his brother-in-law, Vincenzo Cremonese, who was married to his sister, Marietta (Scocchio) Cremonese.
Biagio married Concetta Lucarelli on Oct. 18, 1909 in Manhattan, NY. Concetta immigrated to the United States in 1909, arriving in New York on May 7, 1909, only 5 months before her marriage to Biagio. This was an arranged marriage. She and Biagio had only seen each other about 4 times before they were married.

I don’t have a record of where they lived after they married, until 1918. At that point, they lived at 2537 Amsterdam Ave., NY, NY. Biagio was also working for the Somme Furniture Shop in Manhattan as a varnisher. In 1920 they lived at 1149 Ogden Ave., Bronx, NY, with their first 3 children, Justin, John, and Lucy. Also living there were Concetta’s parents, John and Philomena Lucarelli, her brother Nicholas, his wife Mary, and their 4 children. In 1922 he bought his house at 1158 University Ave., Bronx, NY. That’s where he lived until the 1970’s when New York, citing eminent domain, forced him to sell the house so a parking garage could be built on the property. He moved with his daughter, Lucy (Scocchio) Colletti, to NJ for a few years and then they moved to Spring Hill, FL, where he lived until he passed away in 1981.

I didn’t live close to him so I didn’t get to see him very often. I’m jealous of my cousins who grew up in the same house with him. They have a lot of great memories of him and my grandmother (my grandmother passed away before I was born). I loved my grandfather dearly and wish I had the opportunity to spend more time with him. I loved hearing stories about him from my father, and especially from Aunt Lucy. My favorite story from Aunt Lucy concerns Jackie Gleason. Apparently, Jackie Gleason hired the Somme Furniture Shop to build a bar in his house in the Poconos. After Jackie Gleason saw my grandfather work he didn’t want anyone else to work on the bar. My grandfather was a great carpenter. I have a desk and a cigarette box that he made. I wish I could see that bar in Jackie Gleason’s house.

Spotlight – Giovanni Lucarelli

Giovanni Lucarelli and Grandchildren

Giovanni Lucarelli and Grandchildren

I’m going to try and spotlight various ancestors as I get the time.  First up, I would like to spotlight my Great Grandfather, Giovanni Lucarelli.

Giovanni was born about 1866 in Chieti, Abruzza, Italy.  About 1881, he married Philomena D’Angelo.  That would make him about 15 and Philomena 19 at the time.  I estimated that date because their first child, Nicolino, was born in 1881.  He sailed to the United States the first time on the S.S. Trave, departing Naples, Italy on March 21, 1901.  He was going to stay with his cousin, Angelo Lucarelli.  I don’t know how long he stayed, but he again sailed to the United States on April 2, 1908 from Naples, Italy, on the S.S. Republic.  He arrived at the Port of New York on April 16, 1908.  He must have been here until at least 1904 because that’s when his son, Nicolino, then 21, came over to stay with him.  Philomena and his daughter (my grandmother) came over in 1909.

They lived in the Bronx, NY, until around 1925, when they moved to Boyertown, PA.  At some point he bought a farm, but things didn’t go well, and he lost the farm.  I’m not sure if this happened before, or after, Philomena died in 1931.  After she passed away he moved back to the Bronx.  Nicolino and his family stayed in PA.  Giovanni contracted Pulmonary Tuberculosis, and died in St. Joseph’s Hospital in the Bronx on April 3, 1934.  He is buried in St. Raymond Cemetery in the Bronx.  Buried along with him are his granddaughter, Carmala Lucarelli, who was 1 when she died, and his Grand niece, Carmela “Millie” Alacci, who was 1 month when she died.