I felt a great happiness when Betty Ann shared her photo albums with me during our first meeting in December 2014. As we turned the pages of the albums, it was like opening a gift. Finally I was able to see some of the relatives I had written about. I was also able to see younger versions of the relatives I had known as a child.
Anna Rossi Torregrossa took care to note the date on which many of the photos were taken. This little detail was able to help us reconstruct what was going on in the lives of those in the photographs taken on July 20, 1947.
The woman in the center of one of the photos, dressed in black, was Caterina Gioccimo Torregrossa. Caterina was Betty Ann’s Great Aunt and my paternal Great Grandmother. When Betty Ann and I exchanged emails about the photo she described Caterina as looking lost. This is understandable. On January 21, 1947 her husband Francesco passed way from stomach cancer.
The surprise for me was seeing Alfonso and his children Frank, Robert and Maureen Torregrossa in this photo, too. Alfonso was Caterina’s son and my paternal Grandfather. Frank was my father, Robert Edward my Uncle and Maureen my Auntie and Godmother. My Dad rarely spoke of his childhood relationships with his cousins or his paternal Grandparents. Seeing these photos gave me a glimpse into his past that filled in the empty spaces I have had questions about.
One of the delightful surprises was seeing how Grandpa Al resembled his mother.
Betty Ann and I think that three of the older women in the photo were Caterina’s daughters. We are not sure of their names. I vaguely remember my father’s Aunt Edith and think I have placed her in this photo. One of the older women with white hair may have been Bettina, Caterina’s first child. My parents often asked her to come to the house to babysit in the mid-late 1950s. I do remember a well dressed woman with silvery white hair but the facial features do not come to mind.
Seeing my Aunt Maureen as a 14 year old brought back so many memories of her and little things my Dad would tell me about her. She learned how to answer back and stand up for herself as a child because her three older brothers always teased her. I always pictured her as acting older than her years and there is something in these photos that reinforces that impression for me.
Another confirmation I received from the photos was that my memories of Grandpa Al’s brother Jessie (Gesuri) were also correct. I always remembered that when I saw Great Uncle Jesse with Grandpa Al there could be no doubt that they were brothers.
Even though the people and event during which the photos were taken are long gone, memories have been renewed and new connections have been made. In a way that day now lives on in me and for Betty Ann, too, as she shared her impressions with me.
The process of identifying who is who in the photo
It took Betty Ann and I several email exchanges to identify all the relatives in the photos. To make it easier, I saved a copy of the photo and then used Microsoft Paint to add numbers for each person in the photo. This is what it looked like during our sessions to sort out who is who.
I then made captions adding the numbers and the names of the people I could identify. Betty Ann reviewed and added the names of those people she remembered.
Betty Ann turned the captions into a numbered list which worked out better. It was easier to add more details as we took time to recollect the memories of long ago. This is what developed:
1. Maureen Torregrossa, daughter of Blanche and Al Torregrossa.
2. Betty Ann Torregrossa, daughter of Anna and Dr. Ermete Torregrossa.
3. Theresa, wife of Jesse Torregrossa. In some Federal Census records Theresa appears as Tessie.
4. Terry (Ermete, Jr.), son of Anna and Dr. Ermete Torregrossa.
5 and 7. Caterina’s daughters. Might be Bettina and Mamie. Bettina was a widow by this time.
6. Edith Torregrossa Dazzo, wife of John Dazzo and daughter of Caterina. John and Edith owned the property where the photo was taken.
7. Anna Rossi Torregrossa, wife of Dr. Torregrossa and mother of Betty Ann and Terry.
8. Husband of Caterina’s daughter who is number 5 in the photo.
9. Blanche Flashenberg Torregrossa, wife of Alfonso and mother of Frank Jesse, Robert Edward and Maureen
10. Al Torregrossa, son of Caterina and husband of Blanche, father of Maureen, Frank Jesse and Robert Edward.
11. Caterina Torregrossa, spouse of the late Francesco Torregrossa.
12. Might be Edith’s husband, John Dazzo
13. Robert Edward Torregrossa, son of Blanche and Al
14. Frank Jesse Torregrossa, son of Blanch and Al
15. Dr. Ermete Torregrossa, nephew of Caterina.
16. Catherine, daughter of Jesse and Theresa.
The biggest challenge was trying to place the eldest women who appear in the photo (numbers 5 and 7). Caterina had six daughters: Bettina (b. 1894), Mary/Mamie (b. 1896), Angelina (1899-1905), Edith (b. 1904), Adeline (b. 1906) and Eleanor (b. 1910).
We decided that based on their appearance the two women in the photos might be the eldest daughters, Bettina and Mary/Mamie.
A process such as this might help other family historians collaborating with their relatives on identifying group photos from family events. I can say that the collaboration with Betty Ann was very enjoyable. As we exchanged emails about the photos, many memories surfaced. Not every memory was directly related to the photos but I saved some of the information and will add it to family history notes I’m compiling. These notes often develop into short anecdotes or stories about someone in the family and get added to the relevant family member profiles at Ancestry.
Photo with Caption
Front Row (seated, left to right): Maureen, Betty, Theresa (Tessie), Terry (Ermete, Jr.), one of Caterina’s daughters. Might be Bettina and Mamie.
Second Row (seated, left to right): Edith, another older daughter of Caterina, Anna.
Third row (standing,left to right): Husband of Caterina’s daughter who is seated next to Theresa, Blanche, Al, Caterina, might be Edith’s husband John Dazzo, Robert Edward, Frank Jesse, Dr. Ermete Torregrossa, Catherine.
Other photos from the outing
Front row (seated): Terry, Betty Ann.
Second row (seated): Edith, Catherine, Jesse, Caterina.
Third row (standing): The first two women may be Caterina’s daughters Mary (a/k/a Mamie) and Bettina, the man next to the second woman from the left is husband to one of the sisters, unidentified man, Dr. Torregrossa.
I thank Betty Ann Torregrossa Falletta for sharing photos from her albums and for editing this post.