Writing a family history vs. a memoir

How is everyone doing this summer? I plan to resume  posting in September. I have completed editing the photos of Rosario Torregrossa’s musical compositions. The results are very good. The exquisite details of his handwritten sheet music are now clearer than in previous photos uploaded to this blog. I have to thank Betty Ann’s husband Nick who helped us with photographing the sheet music. Using his professional quality lighting made all the difference.

Rosario added many notations at the start or end of each piece. The date and place where each composition was written are also noted. He sometimes added comments about the time or inspiration for the composition. In each composition there is a mix of English and Italian. He was very careful to note what pieces were sold and the catalog number for them. This will help in future research. So far I have not been able to locate any recordings but having catalog numbers and the name of the record company are a start. I’m compiling the comments so that they accompany the other information for each composition. This will make for an online catalog of Rosario’s music and enable anyone researching mandolin music to find these postings.

I’ve also ordered documentation for my paternal Grandfather’s four sisters. With Betty Ann’s promptings I was able to piece together what happened to them. The material that was in my Ancestry Shoebox file finally made sense and is now attached to their profiles on the family tree. With the addition of the marriage certificates there will be more to offer in the series of postings about each of my Great Aunts.

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Staycation 2015: Taking a break and loving it. How about you?

I have decided to take a break from this blog for the summer.  There is so much work to be done in the background.  The most time consuming is making file copies of the postings.  I already have  files in MS Word but must save another file copy in plain text form.  I have found this a very helpful precaution in case the MS Word file cannot be opened by someone I email it to.  I also worry about backwards compatibility whenever Microsoft comes out with an updated version of Word.  I have always found plain text copies a life saver even though it means having to insert the screen shots when a document has to be created anew.  At least the text can be copied and pasted in from the plain text file.

This blog now has over 186 postings!  This is a true milestone and more are to come.  I do think it is prudent to take this break now and work to ensure all the information posted here is also in safekeeping for future use.

Right now I’m enjoying a leisurely vacation at home.  I’m still getting acquainted with my new neighborhood here in Bay Ridge.  I took a walk on Sunday, June 28th down to the shore.  It is lovely here.  The air is so much cooler than in Boro Park and on a breezy day you can smell the salt water as you near the shore.

Walk from Third Avenue down to Narrows Botanical Garden

The walk from my apartment is all the way downhill.  Some side streets have steps leading down to the avenues and roads that run below Third.  Each side street is lined with old homes that have been restored to their original beauty or modernized.  The homes are very colorful and the gardens a delight to look at.  I enjoyed this part of the walk very much.  I hope Bay Ridge stays a place where you can look up and see the sky.  Other neighborhoods like Sunset Park  and Dyker Heights have begun to see an increase in the heights of residential and commercial buildings. The beauty and character of the neighborhoods are lessened when this happens.  The congestion changes the ability to enjoy the beauty of the trees and gardens in this part of Brooklyn.  You also lose the feeling of open space and fresh air that fills the area once the buildings dominate the view.

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What’s coming next…Stay tuned!

Betty Ann and I are working on the next series of postings for this blog.  There will be one or two about more of Rosario Torregrossa’s original musical compositions.  We will also have photos of these precious compositions to share with you the beautiful details and love that he put into each handwritten one.

There is also an original photo of the 50th Wedding Anniversary Dinner of Rosario and Liboria Torregrossa which Betty Ann has kindly agreed to share with the readers of this blog.  At long last you will be able to meet many of the family members featured in previous postings.  Betty Ann and her brother Terry are helping to identify as many of the 100+ people in the photo as possible.

This is in progress while we are all busy with other engagements and activities that have arisen.  I’m of the belief that it will all come together in good time.  It is important to have an orderly presentation of the photo, close-ups and captions identifying who is who.

There is also the challenge of photographing Rosario’s sheet music.  The previous photos I’d taken at Betty Ann’s apartment had a yellowish cast to them.  For the next series of photos we are considering what kind of lighting to use.

Rather than proceed with other postings, as editor/owner of the blog I’ve decided to wait until we’ve completed this current project.  I think the narrative flow is very important to this blog.  It can become confusing for the reader when postings go back and forth between different branches of a family.  So we will have a break and resume when the results have come together.  It is quite a challenge to identify people in a photo and find a technique.  Right now Betty Ann and Terry are reviewing about 10 or 15 close-ups I’ve sent with numbers added to each person’s forehead!  The list containing these numbers is awaiting the names of the people they will identify.  There will be much to share once the process is completed.

In the meantime may you all enjoy the warmer weather that is coming our way and enjoy it in good health.

Links to the Tortorici, Jacobs and Frank Family Histories

The Tortorici Family History 1909-2000

The Tortorici Family 1909-2000: Until I rest with you again…

The Jacobs and Frank Family History

The Jacobs Family: Prologue

The Jacobs & Frank Families History Part One: 1904-1940

The Jacobs & Frank Families History Part Two: Highlights 1950-2014 (1)

The Jacobs & Frank Families History Part Two: Highlights 1950-2014 (2)

The Jacobs & Frank Families History Part Two: Highlights 1950-2014 (3)

The Jacobs & Frank Families History Part Two: Highlights 1950-2014 (4)

The Jacobs & Frank Families History Part Two: Highlights 1950-2014 (5)

The Jacobs & Frank Families History Part Two: Highlights 1950-2014 (6)

The Tortorici Family Get-Together-Saturday, April 25th, 2015 (Part Four)

EmilyAnn:  Connecting the past with the present

Nadenia Marie, EmilyAnn and Diane at Circles Café.

I was very comfortable with Bill, Diane and Dina Marie.  There’s a spiritual quality to the way in which we came together.  In my heart I feel that the purpose is not just to make a connection but to receive answers that better help us all understand events that happened in the past.  I also enjoyed hearing family stories and learning about my cousins.  Here are some of the memories they shared with me:

  • Bill and I have a very bad sense of direction. I’ve been like this since childhood. Bill told me his son Jon also shares this trait.
  • Anthony Tortorici, Bill and Dina Marie’s dad, used to work at the Copacabana. They enjoyed meeting their Dad after work and going out with him to different restaurants. He knew many clubs, bars and eateries in New York and Brooklyn.
  • Anthony loved to cook. Bill said the kitchen would be a mess but the pasta and sauce were very good. You just didn’t look at the kitchen until the meal was over and you had to clean up!
  • Bill’s mother Frances passed away very young at the age of 40 due to stomach cancer. His maternal Grandmother Dora Jacobs raised Bill and his sister June. Dora had a tough life as a young woman and knew how to handle herself when things got difficult. Bill said there was a landlord who once came asking for the rent in advance of the next month. Dora told him off in no uncertain terms that it was not going to happen. That landlord never asked for the next month’s rent in advance again!
  • Diane used to be a school teacher in the inner city. She told me it was a challenge for her students to build a family tree as part of a school assignment. The difficulties arise when the children do not have complete knowledge of their parent’s families.

We all agreed that this family history project has a very special quality to it.  I attribute this to the contributions made by the living descendants who work with me to bring the past to life through photos and memories.  It is in this collaboration that we are able to tell the story behind the information provided by the official records.  For this I am very thankful.

A Retro Look to Our Photos

I love working with photos from family events and making them look like they were taken with an old fashioned box camera.  Partly this is for the nostalgia appeal of the photos taken in the 1950s and early 1960s.  Many children of our generation learned how to take pictures with a Brownie camera using Kodachrome Color or Black and White film.  Here are some versions of the Tortorici Family Get-Together that were run through the Photo Time Machine feature of PaintShopPro.

April 25, 2015

The Tortorici Family Get-Together-Saturday, April 25th, 2015 (Part Three)

Nadenia Marie-Finding her Brother

Bill and Nadenia Marie.

One weekend in March I decided to google my Grandmother on my father’s side, Angelina Torregrossa Tortorici.  I didn’t know why, of course she would not be anywhere on the internet.  I was stunned when a picture of my father started to appear before my eyes.  My jaw dropped, it was a picture of a young Anthony Arthur Tortorici!  I just stared.  He had his arm around a beautiful blonde woman, and I knew she was my brother Billy’s mother.

Nadenia Marie and Diane.

I knew instantly Nonna Angelina, and my father had nudged me to look her up.  They wanted me to reconnect with my brother.  I am amazed, every day, of what I have discovered.  I met my brother Bill Frank and his lady, Diane, and my cugina EmilyAnn.

This is a new chapter in my life, and I am thankful to EmilyAnn, for writing her blog, or Billy and I would have died without ever reconnecting.

Nadenia Marie Angelina Tortorici Biondolillo
May 2, 2015

The Tortorici Family Get-Together-Saturday, April 25th, 2015 (Part Two)

Bill Frank Tortorici-Finding his Sister and meeting his Cousin

Bill and Nadenia Marie at EmilyAnn’s apartment.

My son Jon Frank, told me through DNA testing, that he was related to Emily May.  To my surprise Emily contacted me through email, she informed me about my relatives that I did not know I had.  I put her in contact with other family members and told her I had been searching for my sister Dina whom I had not seen for over thirty years.  Leave it to Emily she found my long lost Dina.  On April 25, 2015 we all were reunited.  Our time together was wonderful and I felt as if I was always in contact with them.  While walking to a restaurant I found a store with a broom that I was looking for (what a bargain.)  I can’t wait to see them again!  I had a wonderful time.

Bill Frank/Tortorici
May 3, 2015