My paternal Grandfather Al Terry always told us we were in for a memorable day whenever preparations were in progress for an outing to his sister Edith’s house. My Dad was equally excited as we began the long drive to New Jersey. Since Grandpa Al and Grandma Blanche didn’t have a car of their own, they depended on their son-in-law Alex, to take them there. When I knew that Uncle Alex and Aunt Maureen were coming along I knew we’d have everything we needed. Aunt Maureen spent a lot of time planning what kind of snacks she’d make as well as whether or not she’d take along a little cooler filled with juice and soft drinks. This was in addition to the thermos of coffee she prepared for Uncle Alex.
It was great fun for me when Grandpa Al would travel in our car. This gave me a chance to enjoy the ride in Uncle Alex’s car. He had a stuffed tiger in the back along with bobble head dolls on the dashboard in the front. The radio was usually tuned to a station playing Aunt Maureen’s favorite big band stars. Uncle Alex waited for her to get distracted and then he changed the station in hopes of hearing a Connie Francis song. Even though we took trips every few months to visit Uncle Alfred and Pat’s house on Long Island, it’s the trips to Aunt Edith’s that are the earliest ones I remember. Whenever I hear the word “road trip” today, I still think of Aunt Maureen’s preparations and Dad coordinating the route with Uncle Alex.
We made these trips in the mid to late 1950s, Dad told me that going out to the country would be an experience I’d remember as I grew up. He was right. Aunt Edith’s home in New Jersey was that kind of a place—far removed from the noise and crowding of the city. I felt that change once we started driving deeper into New Jersey. In the late 1950s there weren’t any large shopping malls or strip malls. If you can think of a state filled with meadows and grazing cows punctuated by little towns you’ve got the idea. There were still towns where factories dominated and sometimes a chemical odor filled the air. But these encounters were limited to the first half hour or so of the drive into New Jersey. It didn’t take long to enter that place my Dad considered the open countryside.
Dad always spoke of his Aunt Edith as my Aunt Edith. This was the same way Mom spoke to me about the Aunts and Uncles in her family line. The term Great Aunt and Great Uncle was never used. So in this posting I will continue to use the designation Aunt Edith. It’s the one I’m most comfortable with. This posting would have come together much earlier if I’d noticed all the little details that supported the findings. The delay was caused by Aunt Edith using two other names during her lifetime. I was only able to piece everything together as I finished this posting on Friday night, February 5, 2016.
Brief overview of Edith’s early years
Edith was the 6th of 9 children born to Francesco (Frank) and Caterina (Katie) Torregrossa. Her parents immigrated to the United States from Sicily in the late 1890s. Frank was co-owner with his younger brothers of a macaroni manufacturing business that operated out of New York City’s Fourth Ward. Edith’s siblings were:
Bettina (b. 1894)
Mamie (b. 1896)
Alfonso “Al Terry” (1902-1964)
Jesse Orlando (1907-1991)
Eleanor (b. 1910)
New York Birth Index entry for Ida Torregrossa.
There is a New York Birth Index entry for Ida Torregrossa born on February 16, 1904 that I put in my Ancestry Shoebox file over 3 years ago. I wasn’t sure if I’d need. After all, I thought, I never heard anyone call Aunt Edith by the name of Ida. Why would she use the name? The next batch of records challenged my approach.
In the 1905 NYS Census the entry for the family of Frank Torregrossa lists one of his daughters as Ida. When I first reviewed this I thought it was a mistake. I submitted a correction noting that this daughter appeared as Edith Torregrossa in the 1910 and 1920 Federal Census entries. I thought the matter was settled and went back to working my way through all the fascinating discoveries about the Torregrossa Brothers macaroni business.
In September 2015 I began piecing the information on Francesco and Caterina’s daughters. When I got Aunt Edith’s marriage certificate I discovered she used the name Ida as well as yet another name. I wasn’t sure if the marriage certificate contained numerous errors or if something else was going on.