Category Archives: Laurence [Di Lorenzo]

Vacations and Visiting Relatives #AtoZChallenge

V is for Vacations and Visiting Relatives. Twenty-second of twenty-six posts in the April 2020 Blogging From A to Z Challenge on the theme “Endwell: My Elementary Years”— where my genealogy journey germinated. Wish me luck!

Holidays and summertime still evoke memories of vacations and visiting relatives during my elementary years. My family often took to the road in our Pontiac station wagon — and I well remember our seating arrangement inside the car.

https://pixabay.com/photos/dunes-sand-dunes-sunset-boat-352593/
Beach and dunes on Cape Cod. For two weeks every summer General Electric, where my dad worked, closed down — and that’s when we made our annual family trip to Dennisport, Mass. on Cape Cod. Photo: Pixabay

My dad was a road warrior and generally in the driver’s seat. On long trips, my mom sat in the back seat behind him. Why? So she could be in reach of all of us kids if we needed something — or if we got out of line and required a firm hand. Also, she could tap Dad’s head as a wake-up call if he  seemed to be nodding off.

Up front, I rode shotgun with my brother Mark in the middle, Jeff and Amy were in back next to Mom — and Carol, alas, had to sit in a cleared spot in the station wagon’s trunk. And thus we traveled from Endwell, N.Y. to our various destinations.

Vacations

General Electric, where my dad worked, closed down for two weeks every summer — and that’s when we made our annual family trip to Dennisport, Mass. on Cape Cod. We rented a family-friendly wood-frame house withing walking distance to the beach — and it became our home away from home for a fortnight.

https://www.historicnewengland.org/explore/collections-access/capobject/?refd=MS028.01.012.019
Cape Cod souvenir matches. During college, my mom broke up with my dad before her family’s annual trip to Cape Cod. Then she thought it over and sent Dad some souvenir matches — and that’s how they got back together. Talk about serendipity! Photo: historicnewengland.org

I associate Cape Cod with my childhood — but later learned of an important family history connection, too. Mom told me she used to go there with her parents (aka Boom and Gramps) — and during college before one of those vacations she had broken up with Dad, who she was dating at the time.

“But while I was at the cape, I thought it over and sent your father a box of Cape Cod souvenir matches,” she said. “And that’s how we got back together. Can you believe it?” Wow, talk about serendipity!

The cape was a great place to vacation as a child: hot, salty days on the beach and cool, foggy sweatshirt nights; weekly auctions of little trinkets outside the camp rental office, followed by fireworks; eating fried clams at noisy Kream ‘N Kone — and one time even boiling a lobster for my sister Carol’s birthday.

Plus there were tons of other children — some also from hometown GE families — to hang out and play with. My siblings and I all still love Cape Cod based on our fun childhood vacations there.

Visiting relatives

Other trips — usually for weekends or holidays — involved visiting relatives and gave me a larger sense of family.

Family buggy ride (1956). A visit to my grandparents’ farm was always fun. Here, we ride in an antique carriage that my grandmother was likely planning to sell through her antique business. I am sporting ringlet curls my grandmother created with tied rags. Out of sight is my grandfather, who acted as the “horse” to pull us down the driveway. Photo: Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence

Visits to my maternal grandparents Tony and Liz (Stoutner) Laurence on the farm were always fun — and sometimes surprising, as illustrated by our brief carriage ride above.

We kids loved running around in the fields, splashing in the small nearby creeks, skipping stones on the pond and feeding grass to the cows next door. But there were family gatherings, too.

A summer gathering of my maternal Italian- and German-American relatives. Boom and Gramps, my maternal grandparents, often invited their families over from Gloversville, N.Y. for family picnics at their Altamont, N.Y. farm — giving me a chance to meet everyone during my elementary years. Photo: Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence

My grandmother was big on keeping family connected, so she would invite her German-American and my grandfather’s Italian-American family over from Gloversville, N.Y. for big family picnics on their Altamont, N.Y. farm — giving me a chance to meet everyone during my elementary years.

Dad’s North Country family

On separate trips, we drove north of Utica, N.Y. to visit my dad’s family — his three brothers, their wives and children and the paternal family patriarch Grandpa Charboneau. And sometimes, in the summer, we visited their camps in the Adirondacks.

Dinner with Dad’s family in New York’s North Country (circa 1962). I’m on the left in a red blouse in this photo of a dinner with some of Dad’s brothers, their families and Grandpa Charboneau. Photo: Peg (Laurence) Charboneau

That’s how — little by little, through these regular visits to faraway relatives — I became acquainted with my extended family during my elementary years.

Up next: W is for Weeping Willow: Our backyard tree. Please stop back! 

© 2020 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Peg: My thirtysomething mom #AtoZChallenge

Sepia Saturday 516. P is for Peg: My thirtysomething mom. Sixteenth of twenty-six posts in the April 2020 Blogging From A to Z Challenge on the theme “Endwell: My Elementary Years”— where my genealogy journey germinated. Wish me luck!

When my family moved in 1957 to Endwell, N.Y., my mom Peg had been out of the work world for a few years — raising me and my brothers and carrying out the usual motherly duties.

But Mom had a bachelor’s in music education from SUNY Potsdam and taught high school music and chorus before marrying my dad, who she met in college. So during my elementary years — as we kids reached school age — she set her sights on resuming her paused career.

My family circa 1960. My mom had a bachelor’s in music education and taught high school music and chorus before marrying my dad. As my brothers and I reached school age, she set her sights on continuing her career. Photo scan: Molly Charboneau

Substitute teacher

During my elementary years, Mom reentered the workforce as a substitute teacher in the Endwell public schools — which created some embarrassing moments. I actually had her as a Hooper School substitute a couple of times — and the awkward dilemma was what to call her.

Certainly not Mom — although my tittering classmates would whisper, “Isn’t that  your mother?” So I learned an early lesson in professional demeanor and called her Mrs. Charboneau just like the other kids.

During Mom’s time at Hooper School she got to know Mr. Pierce — the same school principal who changed my fifth grade class — and he encouraged her to go to grad school.

“He was younger than me and convinced me to get my masters degree,” Mom told me years later. “He said it would really be worth it for my career.” But how to do it with three young children?

Ithaca College Masters

Mom stepped up to the challenge, researched nearby schools and settled on Ithaca College — which offered a masters program in music education and was a one-hour drive each way from Endwell.

I remember her school years. Dad came home from work and took over childcare duties — and Mom headed out for the drive to Ithaca, not returning home until late at night. Amazing to think of it now — but she was clearly determined.

My mother Peg (Laurence) Charboneau and family at her Ithaca College grad school graduation (1962). It was dress up clothes all the way as Dad and us kids stood proudly with Mom after her graduation ceremony. My maternal grandparents Liz and Tony (aka Boom and Gramps) attended, too. Photo: Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence

Mom’s plan went pretty well — except on one of her class nights when I told Dad that I had my sixth grade photo the following day and he had no idea how to fix my curly hair. Yikes! So I struggled with bobby pins as best I could — and posed the next day for my worst school photo ever. (And no, I will not be posting it here!)

Mom completed her masters in 1962, with her proud family standing with her at graduation. Then she resumed teaching at St. Ambrose, a Catholic parochial school in nearby Endicott — many of her former students still remembering her all these years later.

Mom at home

My bad hair day notwithstanding, Mom did a good job of balancing school, work and home life — possibly because she was a teacher who was trained in handling dozens of children.

She was a unique, no-nonsense mom who some neighbor kids, and even grownups, found intimidating. When one of the boys up the block hit my hip with a shot from his BB gun, Mom marched up to his yard, snatched the air rifle out of his hands and said, “If you want it back, send your mother for it.” That gun sat in our closet for years.

Also, instead of yelling from the porch like the other moms, she used to whistle for me and my brothers to call us home for dinner or homework or whatever — a habit she started on the farm. “Hey, your mom’s whistling for you,” became our playmates’ catchphrase as they adjusted to this odd behavior.

Mom’s beloved Easter Bread (2020). Mom pulled out all the stops for the holidays — making her famous turkey stuffing in November, preparing bouillabaisse on meatless Christmas Eve, and best of all braiding colored eggs into her famous Easter Bread, which my sister Carol still bakes every year. Bread and photo by Carol Charboneau

Unsurprisingly, Mom was also big on education — poring over our report cards, filling in the parent comment lines, giving us a talking to if we fell behind in school and even grounding me once for bad grades! A tough taskmaster at the time, Mom became an inspiration as I grew into adulthood.

She was also big on family. Mom kept us connected with our maternal grandparents. And she pulled out all the stops for the holidays — making her famous turkey stuffing in November, preparing bouillabaisse on meatless Christmas Eve, and best of all braiding colored eggs into her famous Easter Bread, which my sister Carol still bakes every year.

Up next – Quaker State Motor Oil and the alphabet game. Please stop back! Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of the other Sepia Saturday participants here

© 2020 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Italian Ancestors and Indian Arrowheads #AtoZChallenge

I is for Italian Ancestors and Indian Arrowheads. Ninth of twenty-six posts in the April 2020 Blogging From A to Z Challenge on the theme “Endwell: My Elementary Years”— where my genealogy journey germinated. Wish me luck!

One of the big area employers during my elementary years was the Endicott Johnson Corporation — a mass manufacturer of shoes.

EJ, as everyone called it, recruited workers from southern and Eastern Europe. This explained the large Italian and Czech populations in Endwell, N.Y. where I lived — and their closeness to their immigrant heritage, which was only one or two generations away.

I, on the other hand, was a motley mix of French, English, Irish, Welsh and Swiss on my dad’s side and German and Italian on my mom’s — all many generations back. Yet I longed for a more definitive ancestral identity to mesh with my playmates. Enter my Italian ancestors.

Four generations of Italian heritage (1956). Photo: Norman J. Charboneau

Just Italian enough

I took after my dad’s side — tall, fair with blue eyes and a mercurial Irish temper — but whenever my little neighbors or classmates rolled out their single-ethnic heritage I would chime up, “My mom is half Italian.” And just like that, I fit in.

Not only that, I had proof. Right before we moved to Endwell, our family went to Gloversville, N.Y. to visit my great grandmother Mamie (Curcio) Laurence [an anglicized version of Di Lorenzo] — and my dad snapped a picture.

Gathered on the steps of my Italian ancestors’ East Fulton St. home (shown above) are my great grandmother Mamie, my grandfather Antonio (Tony) Laurence, my mom Peg (Laurence) Charboneau along with me and my brothers — four generations of Italian-Americans all in one spot. So even if I wasn’t all Italian, I was still Italian enough to get by during my elementary years!

Indian arrowheads

Yet there was another heritage underlying our neighborhood that predated us all  — that of the Native American people who were early guardians of the land and inhabited the area before settlers arrived.

Depiction of a Susquehannock on the Smith Map (1624). The handwritten caption reads “The Susquehannocks are a giant-like people and thus attired.”  The Susquehannock people, whose original tribal name has been lost, lived along the Susquehanna River until displaced by settlers. Source: Wikimedia Commons

On my street —  just one block from the Susquehanna River — pretty much any digging with a backhoe unearthed carefully chiseled arrowheads.

These exquisite projectiles bore historic testimony to the sheer numbers of displaced Native people — like the Susquehannocks and others — who for generations had lived, planted, hunted and fished along same shores where I later lived during my elementary years.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Native_American_arrowheads.JPG
Indian arrowheads (2006). On my street, just one block from the Susquehanna River, pretty much any digging with a backhoe unearthed carefully chiseled arrowheads — tangible traces of the rich Native culture that preceded us. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The history of these Native people was not taught at Hooper School, so we kids had to learn what we could from Mr. Hughes — one of our street’s earliest residents.

He had a chest filled with arrowheads and other artifacts — unearthed as our houses were built — and once a year he’d invite us kids in to look over the amazing collection.

Our ancestors had been immigrants. But in Mr. Hughes’s living room we learned that a rich Native culture had preceded us — leaving tangible traces for us to discover many centuries later.

Up next: J is for Jello and other culinary delights. Please stop back! 

© 2020 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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