Italian Gen. Society of NJ Mtg. Nov. 1, 2014

The Italian Genealogy Society of New Jersey





            The Italian Genealogy Society of New Jersey met on November 1, 2014 at the Elmwood Park Municipal Building.  Nineteen people attended. 

 Maria Carparelli opened the meeting by alerting members that Charles Scalia, a long-time member of the Society, died September 29, 2014 in his 87th year.  A card of condolence was sent to the family in behalf of the Society.  Maria reminded members of the need for a chairperson of the Trip Committee to organize two research trips.  Nine members planned to attend the luncheon after this meeting at Tiramisu Restaurante in Elmwood Park.

The Society’s original 1998 bylaws were amended and accepted by vote by the members in order to reflect the organization’s new name and to update and clarify some articles and sections.    The membership approved all revisions. 

Judy Bonzkowski presented the treasurer’s report.  The ending balance as of November 1, 2014 is $288.00.  The chapter has 31 members, 26 are active. 

Al Marotta mentioned that the Firestone Library at Princeton University had a special exhibit   “Nova Caesarea: A Cartographic Record of the Garden State, 1666-1888” in commemoration of  New Jersey’s 350th anniversary as an independent province. 

Angela Raimo gave the main interactive presentation, “Writing Memoirs: Is There a Book in You,” following Silvia Del Priore’s brief presentation, “My Kitchen Memories: How I started a Blog.” 
    Silvia Del Priore, after retiring, took writing courses, including memoir writing, with the belief that everyone has a story in them.  When you write it down, you will always be more exact.  It is not necessary that anything you write must be published, but the activity of writing will focus the mind.  She said that we often fail to realize that all families are dynamic families, but each in its own way.  Thus, no family can be considered too commonplace to write about.  Her fiction classes led her to begin blogging about her interests, especially cooking.  She created a food blog, “My Kitchen Memories: Every Recipe Has a Story”, which includes favorite memories of the person behind the recipe.  The senses of smell and taste often provoke cherished memories and these can add another facet to enhance a memoir or a family history.  Also, she is an avid collector of cookbooks and recipes and has been doing this for forty years.  

Dr. Angela Raimo is Professor Emeritus of Education Law and Forensic Psychology at Seton Hall University.  She is also an attorney-at-law for the State of New Jersey.   Her theme was that memoirs are reminiscences.  She had always loved reading memoirs and told the members that most of these authors were not writers, but celebrities.  One doesn’t need to be a writer to create a memoir.  Originally, a typical memoir was one about travel.  Dr. Raimo recommended two books as great examples of memoir writing.  One book she spoke about was “The Glass Castle: A Memoir” by Jeannette Walls.  This 2005 work traces Walls’s life from childhood memories growing up in poverty with her siblings and psychologically troubled parents to her adulthood as a journalist.  The other book was “Don’t Sing at the Table: Life Lessons from My Grandmothers” by Adriana Trigiani.  This 2011 memoir presented the treasured lives of Trigiani’s two Italian-American grandmothers and the life lessons they bestowed on the author.  Dr. Raimo also enjoyed reading “Never Have Your Dog Stuffed And Other Things I’ve Learned” (2006) by Alan Alda (Alphonso D’Abruzzo) and “La Scrittore: The Writer” (2007) by Jim Lacey.      Alan Alda’s memoir reflected on the start of his career traveling with a burlesque troupe as a child.  Jim Lacey’s work captured the influence of his mother who supported herself and her young son by being    La Scrittore.  She would write and read letters for those who were unable.

Dr. Raimo’s goal was to have the members learn to write a six-word memoir with the help of an exercise.  She provided each member with cards of titles to read aloud and each was to select three with the most interest.  These topics were to serve as a “conversation starter” to make one think more deeply and focus.  The topics on the cards were to be fuel for thought.  Sal Lagattuta thought that these were like autobiographical haikus.  Among the creative results were:    “No room at the holiday table”; “Still dancing every chance I get”; “My life as I remember it”; “Ordinary, but in a special way”; “Tossing Junk is a great Catharsis”; and “Grandpa’s garden, the family dining room.”  Now, with the “soul of the matter” discovered, the writing of a memoir could begin.

 Future meetings will be held on: 

                                                            May 2, 2015

                                                            August 1, 2015

                                                            November 7, 2015

                                                            February 6, 2016