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1904: My Grandfather Antonio W. Laurence at Age 2

Sepia Saturday 591. Sixteenth in a photo blog series on my maternal Italian ancestors from Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y.

The first studio photo of my Italian-American maternal grandfather Antonio W. Laurence was take in 1904 when he was 2 years old. My great-grandparents Peter and Mary “Mamie” Laurence were married circa 1901 in Gloversville, Fulton County, N.Y.

Tony was their first child, born 10 May 1902. And I’m sure Peter proudly sent a copy of this photo to his family back in Italy.

1904: Antonio W. Laurence at age 2. This is the first studio photo of my Italian-American maternal grandfather Antonio W. Laurence. Scan by Molly Charboneau/Charboneau-Laurence Family Collection

A jaunty nautical portrait

My grandfather looks so cute in this photo, wearing a belted wool sailor-collared shorts-suit, lace-up boots and a cabbie hat — with a nautical striped shirt completing the picture. I particularly love his impish grin — which lasted throughout his life.

This toddler photo of Tony was taken at the W.L. Havens studio, located at 16 Bleeker Street in Gloversville, N.Y. — the same studio where his father Peter had his wedding photo taken.

Bleeker Street, Gloversville, N.Y. (undated). My grandfather Tony’s first studio photo was taken at the W.L. Havens studio located at 16 Bleeker Street in Gloversville, N.Y. — the same studio where his father Peter had his wedding photo taken. Photo: Front Page Gloversville

The Laurence/di Lorenzo family takes shape

With my grandfather Tony’s birth, the Laurence/di Lorenzo family began to take shape. A couple of years later, my grandfather’s younger brother Joseph B. Laurence (aka Uncle Joe) was born — completing the family unit.

This might give the impression of a small family of parents and two sons. However, my great-grandparents Peter and Mamie lived with her parents (Antonio and Antoinette Curcio) at 128 E. Fulton St. for more than 15 years — a family within a family.

The vibrant Curcio household

This meant my grandfather Tony and his brother Joe grew up in the vibrant Curcio household of their maternal grandparents — surrounded by relatives and Italian culture.

There were some Curcio aunts their own age (their mother Mamie’s younger sisters) along with a few Del Negro cousins (children of Antoinette’s brother Michael Del Negro, whose family also lived there). So Tony and Joe had plenty of playmates and surrogate siblings during their childhoods.

Not until 1920 did the Laurence family move into a new house at 12 Wells Street — around the corner from the Curcios — to set up their own household. And by then, Tony and Joe were teenagers.

Up next: More childhood studio photos of Tony and Joe Laurence. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants.

© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

1897-1912: Evolution of a Shoe Shine Parlor

Sepia Saturday 587 and the Genealogy Blog Party. Thirteenth in a photo blog series on my maternal Italian ancestors from Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y.

The previous post chronicled the 1906-1917 Gloversville, N.Y., shoe shine careers of Michael and Vincenzo “Jimmy” Del Negro — the brothers of my maternal Italian second great-grandmother Antoinette (Del Negro) Curcio.

https://pixabay.com/photos/shoeshine-shoe-polish-shine-brush-72477/
Tools of the shoeshine trade. Photo: Pixabay

I wondered what more I could learn about the Del Negro brothers’ various work locations, which were listed in the Gloversville-Johnstown Business Directories. So I turned once more to Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps for the next phase of their story.

Evolution of a shoe shine parlor

Michael Del Negro moved to Gloversville, N.Y., in the late 1800s — buying property in 1896 from his sister and her husband Antonio Curcio and moving in with the Curcio family by 1900.

By 1909, he was the proprietor of Mike’s Shoe Shining Parlor at 12 N. Main Street — with a commercial listing under Boot Blacking in the Gloversville-Johnstown City Directory.[1]Gloversville, New York, City Directory, 1909, p. 385. Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line accessed 9 Aug. 2021]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Which made me wonder: what was the evolution of his shoe shining parlor?

In 1897, a Cigar Store operated at 12 N. Fulton St in Gloversville, N.Y., a small yellow wedge labeled Cigars on the lower left of this map. By 1909, Michael Del Negro operated Mike’s Shoe Shining Parlor from that location. What was the evolution of his parlor? Source: Library of Congress/Sanborn Map

The detail above — from an 1897 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of Gloversville — shows that when Uncle Mike arrived in town, a cigar store operated at 12 N. Fulton St., the future premises his shoeshine parlor.

The tiny building labeled “Cigars” was a one-story, wedge-shaped wooden structure (yellow on the map) with a slate/tin roof in a long line of stores near the Kasson Opera House.

Uncle Mike builds his career

On the 1902 Sanborn map of Gloversville, the 12 N. Main St. building still housed a cigar store. However, on the 1907 map (see detail below) “Shoe Shining” was added to “Cigars” at that location — the same address Uncle Mike gave as his place of employment in the 1906 Gloversville-Johnstown Business Directory. The “x” indicates the tiny building then had a shingle roof.

https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3804gm.g3804gm_g059511907/?sp=21
In 1907, 12 N. Main St. offered Shoe Shining and Cigars as shown in this detail from the Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of Gloversville, N.Y. Michael Del Negro gave this as his work address in a 1906 city directory. Image: Library of Congress/Sanborn Maps

A shoe parlor of his own

Fast forward another five years and the cigar store is gone. The 1912 Sanborn map of Gloversville shows “Boot Black” as the sole business operating from 12 N. Main Street (below) — the address listed as Mike’s Shoe Shining Parlor in the 1909 Gloversville-Johnstown Business Directory.

 https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3804gm.g3804gm_g059511912/?sp=8
By 1912, 12 N. Main St. was exclusively a Boot Black parlor as shown in this detail from the Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of Gloversville, N.Y. Michael Del Negro listed “Mike’s Shoe Shining Parlor” at this address in a 1909 city directory. Image: Library of Congress/Sanborn Map

Not only that, but the neighborhood had improved. A fireproof bank with a clock dome had been constructed at the corner of E. Fulton St. and N. Main St., two doors down from Uncle Mike’s parlor — which undoubtedly added some foot traffic to his shop. And the shoe shine parlor had a black dot, indicating a composite roof.

Alas, the building that housed Uncle Mike’s shoe shine parlor at 12 N. Main St. has not survived — but many of the surrounding buildings have. In the next post, we’ll take a look at the once bustling Gloversville neighborhood that made shoe shining a successful career — including for Uncle Jimmy, who shined shoes at various other locations.

Up next: Modern and vintage photos of the Del Negro brothers’ workplaces. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants. Then visit the September 2021 Genealogy Blog Party: What You Learned to check out the skills genealogy bloggers have shared.

© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

References

References
1 Gloversville, New York, City Directory, 1909, p. 385. Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line accessed 9 Aug. 2021]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

Junior Prom: My awkward first date #AtoZChallenge

J is for Junior Prom: My awkward first date. Tenth of 26 posts in the April 2021 Blogging From #AtoZChallenge. Theme: “Endwell: My Early Teen Years”— adding my story to the family history mix. Please join me on the journey.

When I started classes at Maine-Endwell Junior High in 1963 — we Hooper Schoolers merged with the other elementary kids from Homer Brink across town. This brought new experiences — like changing classes and many teachers — along with new friendships that have lasted to this day.

But best of all were the monthly dances in the school gym, where we teens learned to socialize. That’s where some of my crushes developed — on boys and on dancing itself. I never missed a school dance, they were that much fun!

So much fun, that when Junior Prom rolled around in 1965, I really wanted to go. The problem was, you had to have a date — and at 15, I did not have a boyfriend or even a close enough male pal who could escort me.  https://pixabay.com/illustrations/possible-impossible-opportunity-953169/Waiting to be asked

Then, boys were still expected to ask girls to the prom, and girls were supposed to wait/hope to be asked. The popular girls easily lined up dates — but as Prom Night drew closer, my dilemma seemed impossible.

Then one day after social studies, a classmate walked over to my desk — I’ll call him Guillaume (his French-class name) — and quickly asked me to go to the prom with him. I was so surprised, I blurted out “l’ll let you know” — and he blushed and walked away.

I’d known Guillaume since Hooper School. Although he was smart and a good classmate, I’d never had a crush on him — so he wouldn’t have been my choice for prom date. But our teacher, who’d overheard the exchange, thought I should give him a chance.

“Of course you’re going to tell him yes, aren’t you?” he asked. So in the end, that’s what I did — and that’s how I ended up on my awkward first date.

https://pixabay.com/photos/white-roses-roses-grad-corsage-1751943/Figuring out the rules

In many ways, the early teens are an embarrassing time when you try to figure out the rules of life and where you fit in — all while being buffeted about by myriad pressures. Attending Junior Prom on my first real date was a prime example.

To begin with, I was the only one on my street going to Junior Prom that year. So news of my date spread up and down our block of 50-odd kids, assuring a large, raucous audience would be milling around our front lawn on the big night. Yikes!

Then there were the unfamiliar rules for formal dances. I’d need to get a new dress and shoes, have my hair pinned and sprayed into a updo by the hairdresser mom across the street, and buy a boutonniere for Guillaume — who was sure to bring me a corsage. This was all too much when I was used to flying solo at more casual school dances.

Prom night arrives

Yet to be at the Junior Prom, I went through it all. The hooting of the neighbor kids when I stepped out the front door with a corsage at my wrist. The car ride to the Junior High in the back seat with Guillaume (his mother at the wheel). The arrival at the dance, where everyone was paired up.

But then an odd thing happened. Although we were supposed to be in couples, at the prom everyone gravitated to their usual cliques — and it felt like a regular dance. The girls admired each others’ dresses while the boys fell into their own groups — and most of the dance songs were fast and freestyle, with nobody really sticking to their date.

The only truly awkward moment was the requisite couples slow dance — when Guillaume and I danced close, even though we’d never spent time together outside of class. And with that, the prom was over.

When Guillaume’s mom arrived to drive us home, she asked if we’d like to stop off for hamburgers or something on the way. But I begged off, since we were going to my grandparents’ house early the next day.

And after they dropped me off, I realized that even though I definitely had no sparks with Guillaume, I’d had a pretty good time at the Junior Prom — and I was glad I’d listened to that teacher and said yes.

Up next,  K is for Kents and the creek. Please leave a comment, then join me as Endwell: My Early Teen Years unfolds one letter at a time!

© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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