POINT Chapter 15 Meeting - August 6, 2005

POINTers In Person
Chapter 15
Northern New Jersey

P.O. Box 636
Totowa, New Jersey

Pursuing Our Italian Names Together

August 6, 2005

Albert Marotta (#1018)

The Northern New Jersey chapter of POINTers In Person met on August 6, 2005 at the Elmwood Park Municipal Building.  Twenty people attended.

 Maria Carparelli (#2100) opened the meeting by alerting members to a special promotional offer for new subscribers by L’Italo-Americano newspaper.  For every new subscription that L’Italo-Americano receives through this offer, until October 31, 2005, it will donate $10 to the POINT National Conference of 2006.

Members were then asked to give their preferences concerning a possible historical/cultural or research outing for those interested.  It seems that the NJ State Archives in Trenton or the Lower East Side Tenement Museum in New York City elicited the most interest.  Sue Berman (#4405), Al Marotta (#1018) and Kathleen Mazzouccolo will look into the details.  Also, at the November meeting,  information will be presented to members by Loretta Tito (#4717) and Michele Marotta concerning the chapter’s restaurant get-together, which might take place in the spring.

It was also mentioned that Castle Garden.org has begun offering free access to their database
of original ship manifests from 1830-1892.  From 1855 to 1890 Castle Garden, at the southern tip of Manhattan, was America’s first official immigration center.  See www.castlegarden.org for details.

Maryanne Graham (#3654) presented the treasurer’s report.  The chapter has 87 members; 70 of them have kept their dues current.  A letter was mailed to all those with lapsed membership, reminding them that they have until October 31 to pay their dues in order to remain on the chapter’s membership mailing list.  Postage and stationary costs have made this necessary.

Jim Lacey, the author of La Scrittore, spoke to the chapter about the background of his book.  This historical novel tells the story of one woman’s journey from her native Italy to her confused and unsettled new life as an immigrant in Newark, NJ’s First Ward (“Little Italy”).  Here, too, is where Jim was raised.

Since Mr. Lacey’s grandmother wrote letters to Italy for those who couldn’t read or write, he entitled the book after the profession, ‘La Scrittore’.  He began researching his family history in 1995, with no intention of writing a book.  Much of his research was done at the Bishop Building (known for its strong genealogical and historical research collection) of the Ocean County Library, located next to the library headquarters in Tom’s River, NJ.  Although he had photos and information about his grandmother’s side, he knew nothing about his father’s family and was told that his paternal grandfather died early in his father’s life.  This intrigued him, as it does his readers.  Upon unraveling the ball of tangled family threads, he learns (after explaining the puzzles and holes he found in his genealogical research to older relatives) the true story. Without giving away the plot, the surprising discoveries include finding his father’s birth certificate filed under his grandmother’s maiden name, discovering that his father had a twin who lived with another family, learning that his biological grandfather and his grandmother’s spouse were not the same person and uncovering the connection between a mysterious death, a strange family visitor and The Black Hand.  Mr. Lacey also learned more about his blind Uncle Mike (who did much to improve the plight of the blind).

During his talk, Mr. Lacey conveyed to us his emotions upon learning all he did through research and family, especially when he found who his biological grandfather really was. While writing the book, he discovered some family branches and now he enjoys a close relationship with them.  Meanwhile, there are other branches of his family who want no part of his “discoveries”.  He wrote the book, attempting to see through his grandmother’s eyes.  Thus in this historical novel, only motivation and dialogue were created by the author’s imagination, but the characters are real and the story is based on true events documented by his genealogical research.

 La Scrittore: The Lady who writes the Letters was first published in 2002 by Linden Hill and will soon be available in a new edition through Xlibris, an online self-publishing service provider which recently joined in a strategic partnership with Random House Ventures. See www.Xlibris.com or www2.xlibris.com/bookstore/index.asp for updates on availability.

Future meetings will be held on:
     November 5, 2005
     February 4, 2006
     May 6, 2006
     August 5, 2006
     November 4, 2006

 For details, see our website:     https://sites.rootsweb.com/~njpoint/

Previous Meeting Report

E-mail POINTers Chapter 15