Meet Anna Rossi Torregrossa, Part 7: Family Life in the early 1940s

Close-up of the 1940 Federal Census entry for Doctor Torregrossa and family.

 Anna and Ermete lived at 6624 10th Avenue in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, New York when the 1940 Federal Census was taken.  This building is a large multi-family dwelling on 10th Avenue on the corner of 67th Street.

Review of the census pages before and after the entry show that the tenants were predominantly Italian immigrants or second generation Italian-Americans.  There were also some Irish and German immigrants, as well as Americans born in New Jersey, Brooklyn and New York.  Most of the tenants listed on the same page as Dr. Torregrossa’s family had blue collar or service industry jobs.

This is apartment is the one Anna wrote about in her journal entry featured in a previous post where she was raising son Terry (4 y.o. at the time of the census) and baby Betty Ann (1 y.o. at time of the census).  Anna was 28 years old and Ermete was 33 years old.  Ermete’s practice was conducted from the living room of this apartment.

Dr. Torregrossa had a very long work week.  The census records that in the week prior to the date the census was taken in April of 1940, he worked 72 hours.

The quality of life improved once Dr. Torregrossa and Anna purchased 6702 10th Avenue.  The first floor contained his complete medical office and the family lived upstairs.  Separate entrances kept the family private in their comings and goings from the house.

Meet Anna Rossi Part 6: 1930s (continued)

How Anna met Ermete and their courtship

Betty Ann’s December 14th, 2014 email to me painted a concise picture of how her parents met, their courtship and the depth of their emotions for each other.  I am very happy to share some of the highlights here.

–Anna was working at her sister Josephine’s Curtis-Bell photo studio in Manhattan when she met Ermete Torregrossa.  Her older sister Marie was working at the phone company.  Through Marie, Anna met Emma Fasinella, another employee of the telephone company.  Anna and Emma were the same age and enjoyed going to dances and shows together.

–Ermete Torregrossa and Joe Livoti attended one of the dances where they met Anna and Emma.  They offered to take Emma and Anna home.

–Ermete eventually asked Anna out for a date.  Betty Ann wrote that this happened during a very “confusing cross-wired phone call”.

–Not every family that had a telephone at this time could afford a private line.  There was available, at a lower rate, what was called a “party line” where many families accessed phone service through the same line.  There was no privacy and others could listen in and inquire when someone was getting off the line.  This may have been the type of service that carried the call from Ermete to Anna.

–As can happen amongst friends interested in the same person, Emma was annoyed when she learned from Anna that Ermete had asked her out.  Emma was interested in him, too.  Anna’s sisters encouraged her to go on the date and not worry about Emma.

–This was the beginning of Anna and Ermete’s courtship which lasted through his remaining years in medical school and continued during his internship.

–They were “madly in love”, as Betty Ann told me, and went to every school dance together.

–Rosario and Liboria were not aware of how deeply their son was in love with Anna until one evening he suddenly burst into tears at the dinner table and left the room.  One of Ermete’s sisters followed.  She was told that Anna was very ill with pleurisy.  Ermete feared she would get TB.  Betty Ann’s email related to me the intensity of his emotions.  “He was upset, worried and very much in love,” she wrote.

–Ermete and Anna married on November 24, 1934.


(to be continued)

Meet Anna Rossi Torregrossa Part 6: The 1930s


I think every child loves to hear the story about how their parents met, fell in love, celebrated their wedding day and began their life together.

An enjoyable part of researching through the Census records is discovering what our parents were doing in the years preceding the time they met.

It’s possible to recreate a series of snapshots leading up to that big day and get an idea of the forces at work in their lives just before their courtship began.

In addition to the official findings, family interviews add a depth and warmth to the resulting story.  I highly recommend collecting any tidbits, flashes of memory, even the briefest of anecdotes and putting them together into a document form.

No special format is needed except that at the start it helps to put the sequence into chronological order.  As the drafting of the chapter progresses, there will come a point when the narrative becomes apparent.

As we started this chapter about Anna Rossi, Betty Ann and I kept pooling our information together working from 1930 onward.  What emerged at the heart of this chapter is how much in love Anna and Ermete were and how vivid Betty Ann’s childhood memories remain.

Let’s take a look at what Ermete Torregrossa was doing in 1930, four years before he met Anna.

Continue reading

Little Treasures: My Mother’s Limoges Miniatures

A family history can be told in so many ways.  The two vehicles most bloggers I’ve met use are family trees and timelines created through vital records.  Photo albums and heirlooms add another dimension to the lives we document.   Through them we get to know the family member in a very personal way.  We can learn what they held precious and why they took care to leave this keepsake to the next generation.  Often the stories that accompany these little treasures bring the past back into the present.

It is very easy to overlook little keepsakes we are given as the years go by.  Sometimes it is not until after our family members have passed on that the true value of the article comes to the for.  It is not always the monetary value that renders these keepsakes precious.  It is more that they speak to us through time of the things in which our family members took enjoyment.

This is how I feel about all the little treasures my Mother left me.  She took great enjoyment in her curio cabinet and arranged all the dolls, angels, snow globes and other collectibles into groupings that expressed a holiday theme or revealed her mood at the time.

Here are photos from her collection of Limoges miniatures which I hope you will enjoy.  They are made of porcelain and painted with real gold. Do any of my readers have special keepsakes that they intend to hand down in the family?  Anyone have an antique that has been passed down?  Do you also have the stories that tell the history of how it came into the family?  I’d love to hear about it all, whether it’s a Barbie doll from the 1980s or a tea set from the 19th century.  Please share your stories.

Limoges tea set (sugar bowl, teaport, creamer, cups and saucers, tray).
Limoges Music Room (sofa with table and side chairs, harpsichord and chair).
Bedroom set (armoire, commode, bed, chair and dresser).

More photos from Arizona 2012 Trip

Uncle Sammy and Aunt Kathie are thoughtful, generous and very supportive.  They are always forthright with me and have offered good advice when I need it.  They are reliable and never more than a phone call or email away.  Their zest for life and inquiring nature keeps them young in spirit.  These are just a few more reasons why they are so important to me and why I am blessed to have them in my life.

I had a lot of trouble with the new WordPress blog template last night so I was not able to post the rest of the photos from the trip in 2012 to celebrate Uncle Sammy’s 70th birthday.

I want to share them with you now  as a way to show how thoughtful Aunt Kathie was to every detail of our comfort.  I had my own suite with lovely views.  The walk from the suite took me over a walkway with views of a gorgeous garden.  The hotel grounds were very Spanish-Southwest in style.  I hope you will enjoy these additional photos.

Living room of the suite where I stayed.   There was even a coffee maker with an excellent assortment of coffee, tea and creamers.  Bottled water was available in the refrigerator.


The rest of the living room included a desk complete with pens, writing paper and envelopes.


The bedroom. I loved this suite so much!


View from the walkway that connected the part of the hotel where I stayed with the main dining and reception areas.


Left to right: Uncle Sammy, Tessie and Antony outside the Hyatt Hotel.


Sunrise in Arizona on a beautiful Sunday morning, November 2012. This fountain was on the grounds of the Hyatt Hotel where I stayed.


These roses were in full bloom. I forgot for a little while that back in Brooklyn autumn was advancing into winter. Upon my return to falling leaves and bare trees I knew I’d be remembering these sunny Arizona days and cozy nights in the hotel suite as well as the wonderful time we had all shared together.