Sentimental Sunday: “Do Not Give In”: Part 2

José Enrique Florentino Huesca (1847 – 1919)
María Angela Catalina (Perrotin) Huesca (1893 – 1999)
Gilbert Cayetano Huesca (1915 – 2009)

Full Circle

Second in a two-part series – Continued

My great-grandfather, Enrique Huesca (about 1850 – 1920)

Jose Enrique Florentino Huesca, known as “Enrique,” lost his wife, Maria de la Luz Merlo, whom he called “mi Lucecita,” or “my little light,” some time before 1912, about three years before the death of his young grandson, Gilberto Huesca.

My father, Gilbert Cayetano Huesca, and his brothers and sisters recalled hearing stories of their grandparents’ unwavering devotion to one another, so it would not be unlikely that Enrique was still grieving for his beloved wife even as he was consoling his daughter-in-law.  Upon reading these tender and feeling words, however, one wonders whether he ever really recovered from the burdens of his own crosses.  He was about 70 years old when he died in Cañada Morelos, Puebla, on August 20, 1920.

Enrique’s son, Jose Alberto Gil Cayetano “Cayetano” and Catalina Huesca welcomed a baby son on November 1, 1915, in Tierra Blanca, Veracruz, seven months after the death of their beloved toddler Gilberto.  It is possible that the new baby reminded them of the child they had recently lost, and that may be why they gave him the same first name:  Gilberto.

Gilberto Cayetano (his middle name was given for his father) Huesca – my father – was called by his middle name, “Cayetano” (or “Tano” for short) by all.  Perhaps his parents decided not to call him by his first name because it might remind them of the tragic loss of the first Gilberto.  This may be the reason my father never learned of his first name until he was in his 40s, when, living in Chicago, Illinois, he obtained his baptismal record for his naturalization application to become an American citizen.  Upon seeing his full name for the first time, he asked his family and friends to call him Gilbert from that day forward.

Enrique Huesca’s words to my grandmother came full circle some 82 years later.  It was 1997, and my father, by then 82 years old, was still mourning the loss of my mother, Joan (Schiavon) Huesca, a decade earlier.  Like his parents and grandparents, he and my mother had been deeply in love, and her absence still permeated every aspect of his being.  He used to tell my sisters and me that he thought of her “every fraction of a second.”  We never doubted this.

My father was visiting us for dinner one Saturday evening when we called my grandmother Catalina at her apartment in Mexico City.  She was 104 years old but was as sharp as ever and would continue to reign as the respected matriarch of her large family until her death in 1998.

I turned the speakerphone on so we could hear each other, and after the usual greetings, she asked my father how he was.  My father, in an emotional voice, told her of the profound sadness he still felt without my mother.

Catalina and her son, Gilbert Cayetano Huesca
Mexico City, about 1948

My grandmother initially expressed her sympathy but then stopped abruptly.  “Hijo mío – my son,” she admonished him in Spanish, “ya basta – enough.  Of course you love her, and of course you miss her.  But what has happened is done.  You had a beautiful life with my daughter Joan, and she left you four beautiful daughters.  The time of mourning is over.  If I had done that when your father died at such a young age, I would have dishonored his memory and done a disservice to our family.  I still had so much to do, and so do you, my son.  You must not give in to the pain but live for the living.  You must not forget Joan, but it is time for you to live for your children now.”

It would be inaccurate and unfair to say that my father turned his sadness around right after that. Yet his mother’s heartfelt wisdom reverberated within him in the coming years as he began to live more fully for his children and grandchildren until his own death in 2009 at age 93.

His brother Gilberto had, in a strange way, given my father his name.  Maybe in another roundabout and mysterious way, the memory of the first Gilberto also gave his younger brother and namesake a renewed lease on life, even in his final years.

Copyright ©  2012  Linda Huesca Tully 

Sympathy Saturday: “Do Not Give In”: Part 1

José Enrique Florentino Huesca (1847 – 1919)
María Angela Catalina (Perrotin) Huesca (1893 – 1999)
Gilberto Huesca (1912 – 1915)


Cañada Morelos, April 25, 1915
Mrs. Catalina Perroton (sic)

Tierra Blanca

My Dear Friend,

As I send you my greetings together with all the well-deserved attentions to you and your kind family, I want to send you my deepest sympathies on the death of the Child Gilberto, and you must not believe that it was caused by a Cold, but by the bump he had on his head, which sooner or later would have a sad ending.  It happened…there is nothing you can do but have patience.

Now do not give in to the Pain; but Look at this news with some calm, understanding that it is better to grieve over the dead rather than wish  them alive again; as I did, for I have spent my life in tears wishing they were alive.

The conjugal bond offers us flowers and pleasures…but the cross of marriage, offers us a world of woes.  No matter how much a family may possess, all must go through that world of woes…but all you can do is have a big soul, a Heart that neither denies the truth nor gives in to tears but Sees that this is part of life.

Calm, my friend, calm, do not give in and do not carry this burden around with you.  Give my kisses to all the children.

Your friend who esteems you,

Enrique Huesca

The original letter in Spanish from José Enrique Florentino Huesca to Catalina (Perrotin) Huesca, 1915
The above is my English translation of a letter that my paternal great-grandfather, Jose Enrique

Florentino Huesca, of Cañada Morelos, Puebla, Mexico, wrote to his daughter-in-law, my grandmother, Angela Catalina (nee Perrotin) Huesca, in Tierra Blanca, Veracruz, Mexico, shortly after the death of her young son, Gilberto Huesca.

Gilberto was about two years old when he died.  The exact cause of death is unclear; many of the civil records of the village of Tierra Blanca from 1915 were burned in a fire, and most of those who might have known the details have gone on to their heavenly reward.

Page Two of José Enrique Huesca’s letter to Catalina (Perrotin) Huesca, 1915.

The letter mentions little Gilberto had a bump on his head. Did he fall or suffer a blow to the head while playing or pulling down some heavy object from above?  Could it have been a tumor of some sort?  We may never know, but we can certainly imagine the grief young Catalina felt at losing her sweet little boy.

She may have been feeling some guilt, too, as she seems to have believed her son had died of a cold.  Enrique gently reminds her of the bump and adds that “sooner or later,” it would have ended sadly.  In what must have been nearly unbearable for Catalina to conceive, he tries to reassure her that the child’s fate might have been worse had he lived.

His words today might sound terribly fatalistic, but they came during a trying period in Mexico.  The country was in the throes of a revolution, and Tierra Blanca and surrounding areas not only experienced the heavy casualties of that conflict but also lost many people, young and old, to outbreaks of measles, diptheria, and smallpox.

It would have been easy for a young 21-year-old mother to “give in to the pain” of losing her child when she was scarcely an adult herself.  But her father-in-law’s words must have given her the strength she needed to go on and care for her husband Cayetano and their three children, Enrique, Eduardo, and Victoria, even as she was in the first trimester of yet another pregnancy.

Like many of the women of her time, Catalina would prove to be strong and resilient.  She and Cayetano would have 17 children in all, 11 of whom survived into adulthood.

Catalina and Cayetano Huesca and sons (left to right) Gilberto, Eduardo, and Enrique,
in front of their home, Orizaba, 1913.

Enrique’s letter hints at his own trials and tribulations.  We know little about him except that he was born between 1847 and 1850 in Puebla, Mexico, to Jose Calletano de la Trinidad Huesca and Josefa Rodriguez.  A devout Catholic, he followed in the family trade as a carpenter, crafting interior furnishings for the cathedral and churches of Puebla, a city known for having as many churches as there are days in a year.  He taught his children to do good for others but to keep their acts to themselves, often reminding them to “never let the right hand know what the left hand is doing.”  This was a refrain that his children and their children would carry with them all their lives.

Born at the end of Mexico’s civil reform war, Enrique lived through some of the most turbulent eras of his country’s history.  Before he had even reached his teen years, he undoubtedly witnessed the Battle of Puebla between the French and Mexican armies.  He would have rejoiced wildly with his family at the Mexican victory on May 5, 1862, only to be devastated barely a year later when the French regrouped and defeated the Mexicans in a second battle at Puebla and went on to topple and replace the Mexican government with what Napoleon III referred to as his “Mexican Empire.”  He and his parents would have discussed the resurgence of the deposed Mexican president, Benito Juarez, who, with the backing of President Abraham Lincoln, reclaimed his government and had the puppet Emperor Maximilian Hapsburg executed by firing squad in 1867.

The uncertainty of the times and their severe impact on the nation would continue for many years as subsequent regimes rose and fell one after the other, culminating in the Revolution of 1910 and indelibly scarring the psyche of the Mexican people with the ironic realization that the only constancy in their lives was that  – save their faith in God and their love for one another – nothing, including happiness, could either be certain or last forever.

Next:  Sentimental Sunday – “Do Not Give In” Part Two

Copyright ©  2012  Linda Huesca Tully 


Sentimental Sunday: “…Wise unto Salvation”

Inscription in Bible by Catherine O’Grady Perrotin to her grandson, Edward Bennett, 1893
Cover of Bible given by my great-great-grandmother, Catherine (O’Grady) Perrotin to Edward Bennett, eldest child of María Dolores Perrotin and Timothy Bennett.  It has been passed down to my cousin, Dorothy (Meek) Stephens, daughter of Jane Bennett, Edward’s sister and the youngest child of Maria Dolores and Timothy Bennett.
Edward also was François and Catherine Perrotin’s first grandchild. He was born in Orizaba, Veracruz, on October 21, 1891, just a few months after François’ death. His birth must have been a comfort and source of joy to Catherine, who was grieving for her beloved husband.

The inscription reads:

Edward W. Bennett
by his Grandmother
Catherine with Love
Search the Scripture
which is able to
make you wise
unto Salvation.

The date of the inscription indicates that Catherine sent this to Edward, now in Ruardean, Gloucestershire, England, with his parents, from her own home in Orizaba, Mexico. Two years later, she left Mexico forever to join María Dolores, Tim, and their family in Ruardean. Surely Edward and his brothers and sisters enjoyed the blessing of their sweet and loving grandmother Catherine.  As she was now widowed, the children must have been blessings and great comfort to her.

Graveyard at Saint John the Baptist Church (also known as Ruardean Church). The family graves are located just behind the church, long with quite a few graves of the Bennett family, many of whom lived in the area. The graves at center are those of Timothy and Maria Dolores (Perrotin) Bennett (rectangular grave at front) and Catherine (O’Grady) Perrotin and two of her grandchildren, Edward and Mary Clements Bennett (rear). Rose Marie Bruton, the widow of Catherine’s great-grandson, Leonard Fisher, still lives in Ruardean Woodside and regularly brings flowers to the grave.
Edward Bennett died in Ruardean on June 3, 1899.  He was only eight years old.   Catherine is buried with him and his younger sister, Mary Clements Bennett, who died at two-and-a-half years old in 1895.
The marker on the left side of the grave reads, “Catherine Perrotin  1840 – 1901”
The marker in the center (front) of the grave reads, “Edward Bennett 1891 – 1899.”  The marker on the right of the grave reads,
“Mary Clements Bennett 1892 – 1895.”

At the invitation of our English Bennett cousins, my husband and I traveled to Gloucestershire and the Forest of Dean in August 2011.  We visited Ruardean a couple of times with Jennie and Don Murray and Dorothy, Bob, Tim, and Peter Stephens, who graciously endured our endless questions and my non-stop photography.  We also met new Bennett cousins:  Eileen, Linda, Susanne, Pearl, Marlene, Rebecca, and Joanne, among others.  It was such a wonderful feeling to know there were so many of this branch of our family when at one time we thought there were none.

Rear view of Saint John the Baptist Church, Ruardean, Gloucestershire

It is one thing to see a picture of where your ancestors are buried.  It is another thing altogether to stand next to the graves and touch them, knowing they worshipped at this church and walked the grounds at one time, that their remains are there now, and that generations of descendants like Rose Bruton (Jennie’s mother) and Jennie and Dorothy have tended them and visited them over the years.  It overwhelms the senses.

I felt incredibly close to my great-great-grandmother Catherine at that moment and still do.  The love of this family truly endures.  I feel so blessed – and grateful – to be a part of it.

Copyright ©  2012  Linda Huesca Tully

Marriage Record of François Perrotin and Catherine O’Grady

26 January 1860
Shreveport, Caddo Parish, Louisiana

This week marks the 152nd anniversary of the marriage between François Perrotin
 and Catherine O’Grady (also known as Catherine Grady), on January 26, 1860, in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Here is a copy of their Certificate of Marriage.  A transcription follows, along with a short background of a legendary Catholic priest who united the couple in Holy Matrimony.

State of Louisiana   }
Parish of Caddo      }
I hereby certify that on the 26th day of Jany 1860, I being a minister of the Gospel and authorized to celebrate the bonds of matrimony have celebrated the marriage between François Perrotin and C. Grady in the presence of the undersigned witnesses.
François Perrotin
Catherine Grady       X her Mark
Nancy Pettiss                                                                                
A Cook                                                                                                 
J P. Brinck                                                                                                                                                                                                      
Recorded 9th
(illegible) 1860
            Shreveport the 26th of January 1860, I the undersigned J. Pierre, Catholic parish of Shreveport have joined in holy and lawful wedlock after license of the Court has been obtained Mr. F. Perrotin and Wife Catherine Grady.  In testimony thereof its parties François Perrotin, Catherine O’Grady, N. (illegible)     A. G. Cook, Prof. Dr. Casiez Cte, Beaumont have hereunto affixed their names. 
                                                                                                J. Pierre
                                                                                                C. V.

What the Record Tells Us

According to this record, François and Catherine were no youngsters when they were married.  He was 42; she was 25 – a bit older than the typical brides of the time.  The priest’s  notation that Catherine signed her name with an X, “her mark”  suggests she could not read and write.  That would not be unusual for a young girl who fled dire poverty during the Great Irish Potato Famine.

There were three witnesses to the marriage: Nancy Pettiss, A. Cook, and J.P. Brinck.

A. Cook was Albert George Cook.  He was a grocery merchant in Shreveport who was a friend of François’.  He may also have been his employer, as François was a baker at the time. Martha “Nancy” Pettiss was the mother of his fiancée, Sally Gurney. 

I found J.P. Brinck in the United States 1860 Census.  He was a 34-year-old boot and shoe manufacturer from Norway, married and the father of five young children who ranged in age from six months to eight years old.  Another record lists him as Johannes Petter Brinck.  The census shows his wife’s initials were C.E.  She was a milliner, so she might have known or even worked with Catherine, a seamstress.

Father John Pierre, French Missionary

“J. Pierre” was Father John Pierre, the founding pastor of Holy Family Church, the first Catholic church in Shreveport.  As a seminarian in France, Pierre had been recruited by Bishop Augustus Martin of the then-new Diocese of Natchitoches to do missionary work.  He arrived there in 1854.  On his ordination date one year later, Bishop Martin appointed Father Pierre as pastor of the first parish of the diocese, Holy Apostles.  When he became aware that the Catholic families in the nearby city of Shreveport had no priests or places to worship,  Father Pierre persuaded the bishop to let him expand his missionary work. He bought land on the corner of Fannin and Marshall Streets in Shreveport, where he built a small wood frame church (the first in Shreveport) in 1856.  He replaced it with a larger brick church three years later.  This was Holy Family Church, where he likely married François and Catherine.

Father John Pierre, center
Thirteen years later (and long after  François and Catherine had departed Shreveport), the beloved Father Pierre died of yellow fever due to ministering tirelessly to those afflicted by the 1873 epidemic.* It was a sad day for the people of Shreveport, who had known Father Pierre as a tireless evangelizer for the Church and a devoted minister to the sick.  Another priest of the time, Father Joseph Gentille, wrote of Father Pierre, “His death was a public calamity.  He was loved and esteemed by all.”  

In a fateful coincidence, yellow fever would go on to claim the life of the Perrotin’s only son, Francisco, some 26 years later in Orizaba, Mexico.

* Because of Father Pierre’s heroic efforts and those of four other Catholic priests who gave their lives while ministering to the sick during the 1873 Yellow Fever Epidemic, the Vatican approved the path to sainthood for all five in 2020.

Copyright (C) 2023  Linda Huesca Tully

Ralph Schiavon – Part Four: Twilight

Ralph Schiavon

January 27, 1898 – August 16, 1970


(Last in a four part series about my wonderful grandfather)

Ralph Schiavon, at train station,
Chicago (date unknown)

My grandmother Alice had lost her eyesight in the early 60s.  Her diabetes worsened, and she died at home on New Year’s Day in 1963.  My parents moved our family to Mexico City the following year.  We stayed there until 1967, when my sister Joyce became ill and we had to leave the high altitude city.  We moved back to the States and settled in  California with its warm Mediterranean like-weather.

Now in his late 60s, Ralph began to think about retiring.  He spent more time with Tom and Angie and their family, as well as meeting old friends for dinner or an evening out.  He enjoyed inviting his brothers Leo and Tony and his cousin Ralph Sannella and their wives and children up to the family cottage, Bunny Rest, in Big Blue Lake, Michigan.  And of course, he continued visiting his mother, Emanuela, and his family back in Massachusetts.

Emanuela Sannella Schiavone was now in her 90s.  For many years after Vito’s death, she had lived with Filomena’s family, but as she became increasingly bedridden, her children decided it was time to move her into a nursing home.  Ralph and Leo arranged a room for her at the Don Orione Nursing Home in Revere. 

Ralph loved his mother dearly.  He visited her twice a year, taking the train from Chicago to Boston for Mother’s Day in the spring and later in the fall.  He and Leo contributed to the building of a new wing for the nursing home, ever mindful of the loving care she had given them as children.  For these efforts, as well as for their philanthropic contributions to the postwar rebuilding of their native land, the Italian government had awarded Ralph and Leo the Stella della solidarietà italiana, or the Star of Solidarity, and made them Honorary Cavalieri, or Knights, of the Italian Republic.  The Cavaliere, similar to a British knighthood, is regarded as the highest honor that can be bestowed on an individual by the Italian government.


Order of the Italian Star of Solidarity,
originally established in 1947, recognized
expatriates and foreigners for outstanding
contributions to the reconstruction of post-
World War II Italy.
Emanuela, who had never learned English or even to read or write in Italian, had been relegated to a lonely life.  Unlike many immigrant women around her who worked in the factories, she had stayed home to care for her children and was somewhat limited to her Italian neighborhood.  Her granddaughter, Gloria Scicchitani Johnson, Filomena’s daughter, remembered that Emanuela prayed often throughout the day.  Unable to read, she recited from memory Bible stories and stories of the lives of the Saints that the village priest in San Sossio had told her many years ago.  Though she could converse with her own children, many of her grandchildren could not speak Italian and did not understand her.  She could watch TV, but she had no idea what the people on it were saying.  It was no wonder that she looked forward to her sons’ visits and seemed to come more to life when they came.  Pasquale was present during these visits, and the brothers held animated political discussions long after tucking Emanuela into bed for the evening.
Left to right:  Pasquale Schiavone, Emanuella Schiavone,
and Ralph Schiavon, Revere, MA, about 1960
Shortly after his 78th birthday, Pasquale “Pat” Schiavone fell ill in early December of 1965, just as Ralph was preparing to return home from Boston.  He was diagnosed with uremic poisoning – the final stage of kidney failure.  He died a few days later on December 7th.   His death came as a shock to Ralph.
Emanuela had been suffering from advanced heart disease, and she died five months later on April 18, 1966.  At the time, no one knew her exact age and believed her to be 103.  In fact, she was just a few months short of her 99th birthday.
In the years that followed, Ralph became acutely aware of his own mortality and growing loneliness.  He began to have health challenges of his own, and after being a widower for six years, he realized that he could not go on living alone.  In July of 1969 he married Emily Scheurer, and the newlyweds flew to Italy on honeymoon.
It turned out that for many years, Emily had lived two doors down the street from Ralph in a single-story, red brick Tudor house at 7133 South Luella.  I remember meeting Emily when I was a little girl of about 5, though we didn’t know her name at the time.  With our wild imaginations, my friends and I thought her house looked just like that of the witch in the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale.  Perhaps she unwittingly had perpetuated that impression one Halloween when she greeted all the trick-or-treaters wearing a pointy witch’s hat and stirring a large cauldron filled with steaming black ice.
One afternoon, we were playing on the sidewalk when Emily appeared at her door and offered us some apple pie she had just finished baking.  To us, this could only confirm that she was a witch, because witches were wily and always used apples as a ruse to trick children so they could eat them.  My friends screamed and ran home, but for some reason I stayed behind.  She beckoned to me, and I found myself walking up the walkway to her door.
Emily invited me in and gave me a piece of her witch-pie.  Terrified, I took it because I had been taught to be polite.  I gingerly bit into the crust, wondering whether I would be poisoned, eaten, or ever see my parents again.  To my friend’s and my own surprise, I lived!  Although my miraculous survival (not to mention the tastiness of the pie) should have been sufficient evidence for us kids that “the lady in the witch’s house” might just be a nice older lady after all, we continued to keep our distance.
Ralph and Emily were married for two years, and her companionship surely filled a void during the latter part of his life.  During the summer of 1970, Ralph’s health worsened, and he began losing weight.  A lifelong smoker and recently diagnosed diabetic, he was suffering from emphysema and colon cancer.
Ralph’s family kept vigil with him during his final stay at Chicago’s Wesley Memorial Hospital as he drifted in and out of consciousness.  On the morning of August 16th, before his family arrived to see him, Ralph asked one of his nurses to turn on the television so he could watch Sunday Mass.  She obliged and noticed a faint smile appear on his face as she left the room.  She returned just as Mass was ending in time to see him close his eyes one last time.
He was 72 years old.
From what I heard years later, Emily Scheurer Schiavon lived for several years after Ralph’s death, and then her only child, Yvonne Cooksey, brought her to live near her in Madison, New Jersey, where she died a short time later.
Coincidentally, as I write this, it is Ralph Schiavon’s birthday.  How I wish I could tell my dear grandfather – my Baba – that I love him and miss him, but somehow I feel he must know.  I think he would be happy that his memory lives on through his grandchildren and great-grandchildren and that we are grateful for the many blessings he gave us through his legacy of devotedness to his family, strong work ethic, love of learning, unwavering integrity, and pride in his heritage.  Baba, grazie per tutto.  Vivrai sempre nei nostri cuori.  



You will live on forever in our hearts.




Copyright (C) 2011 Linda Huesca Tully








Ralph Schiavon – Part Three: Halcyon Days

Ralph Schiavon

Halcyon Days

(Third of a four-part series about my maternal great-grandfather)

A self-made man, my grandfather, Ralph Schiavon, was not afraid of anyone.  Not even “Scarface” Al Capone.

In the late 1920s, Ralph was working as a supervisor for the Internal Revenue Service and lived on the South Side of Chicago with his wife Alice and their two small children, Tom and Joan (my mother), when two of Capone’s henchmen summoned him to the mobster’s infamous headquarters in the Windy City at the Lexington Hotel.  There, he was asked to help a paesan, “Mr. Capone,” to straighten out the books,” for which he would receive a handsome recompense.  As Ralph sat there listening to the men, his mind was racing.

As an employee of the IRS, he surely was aware that Al Capone was under scrutiny for tax evasion. Though Capone ran a number of illegal gambling and bootlegging operations, he made sure all his assets and properties were not in his name but in those of his frontmen.  He had never filed an income tax return or declared any taxable income or assets.

Ralph knew he was in a delicate situation.  The request for an IRS agent’s help was brazen enough, but the thought that he should regard Capone as his paesan might have rankled him, too.  While he knew there could be consequences for saying no to Al Capone or his henchmen, he was a moral man with a strong sense of integrity that was far greater than any fear he might have felt.  Thanking the men for the offer, he tactfully said he could not be of much help and was astounded when he was dismissed summarily.  He hurried home, looking over his shoulder all the way for fear of reprisals against him or his loved ones. Fortunately, nothing ever happened.  He must have breathed an enormous sigh of relief in 1932 when Capone was convicted of tax evasion.

Like many Americans at the time, Ralph’s job fell victim to the Great Depression, and he and Alice found themselves in dire financial straits.  To ease the burden, they sent my mother, then two years old, to live with Alice’s mother and maiden aunt until they were able to get back on their feet some four years later.  It was as though history was repeating itself, as Emanuela Schiavone had sent her own toddler Ralph to live with two maiden ladies so many years before in San Sossio.

Ralph had always been resourceful and was able to find a job at a grocery store.  Though it was a better place than most to work during such hard times when many people were starving, it just helped the family get by.

Still regretting that he could not attend college, Ralph determined not to let this happen to his youngest brother, Leo, who had shown great academic promise.  He mustered enough money to send Leo to college, first to the University of Chicago and then to Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana.  This was no small effort, considering he began the endeavor around 1928 and was somehow able to see it through to Leo’s graduation from Notre Dame in 1932, in the midst of the Great Depression.  It must have taken a great deal of sacrifice, but Ralph loved his brother very much and believed Leo was worth the effort.

It was a proud day for the Schiavones.  Indeed, it was a special day for all of Revere when Leo graduated from Notre Dame cum laude.  He was the first Italian-American from the town to graduate from college, and the mayor threw a party at City Hall and invited everyone to celebrate the accomplishment.  Leo went on to earn an advanced law degree at DePaul University in 1934 and was hired by a Chicago law firm, eventually repaying his brother in full.

Ralph established his own practice as a tax consultant with an office at the Title & Trust Building at 111 West Washington Street in downtown Chicago.  As things improved, he and Alice took a vacation to Cuba.  Upon their return in 1933, they brought their daughter (my mother), Joan, then five years old, back home to live with them again.

On May 4, 1935, Vito Schiavone, Ralph’s father, afflicted for several years with arteriosclerosis and kidney disease, suffered a cerebral hemorrhage.  He died a week later at the family home at 33 Eastern Avenue in Revere.  Ralph brought his mother, Emanuela, to live with him and his family for a short time afterward.  She later returned to Revere and moved in with Ralph’s sister, Filomena Schiavone  Scicchitani, and her husband, Tommasso, for most of the remainder of her life.

Filomena herself would die an untimely death a few years later, on October 23, 1941.  On the evening of her death, she had received an award at an American Legion banquet for her involvement in local Democratic politics and was returning to her seat when she collapsed of a cerebral hemorrhage, as had her father.

Her death came as a terrible shock to her brothers, who loved her dearly.  Years later, her daughter, Gloria (Scicchitani) Johnson, recalled the funeral procession from the church to the Scicchitani home at 48 Eastern Avenue stretched for blocks, with family, friends, and local politicians in attendance.

My mother worshipped her father and fondly remembered his tenderness to her as a child.  In contrast to his own stern upbringing, Ralph never spanked her or Tom.  Not long after Joan had been brought back home, she broke a favorite mirror of her mother’s.  Alice was furious and sent Joan to her room to wait for a spanking from her father when he got home from work.  My mother later described the incident in her autobiography:

“All afternoon, I worried.  My father had such BIG HANDS! ‘This will be some spanking,’ I thought.  The hours passed, the front door opened, and there was my Daddy…so BIG.  He had a smile on his face, which quickly disappeared as my Mother told him of my misbehavior.  A stern, serious expression crept across his face, and I stood there, grasping my Mother’s dress hem, trying to disappear behind her.

“My father grunted, ‘Come with me.’  I followed as slowly as possible, cringing inside with fear.  We entered the bathroom; my Father closed the door, turned to me, and asked if I was sorry for what I had done.  In a small voice, I replied that I was very sorry and promised never to do it again.

“In the meantime, my Mother, waiting outside in the hall, was having second thoughts about my punishment.  A smile appeared on my Father’s face, and he plotted with me to clap his big hands together, and I would scream as loud as I could. . . My Mother called out for my Father to stop spanking me.  We opened the door with big smiles, I in my Father’s arms.  From that time on, there was a special bond between (us), as through my life, (he) tried to shield me from harm.”

My great-grandfather, Thomas McGinnis, built this home on
South Drexel Avenue for his family in 1913; after he
and my great-grandmother Mary Jane died, my grandparents
Ralph and Alice Schiavon moved their young family here.

When Alice’s mother, Mary Jane (Gaffney) McGinnis, died in the summer of 1940, the Schiavons moved into the McGinnis family home on South Drexel Avenue, on Chicago’s South Side, where they lived for several years before moving to a larger home on Saint Lawrence Avenue.  Ralph loved these homes with their large gardens and spent long hours digging out weeds, planting flowers, and trimming hedges.  He loved working with his hands.  Maybe he felt connected to his roots, especially his Sannella grandparents, who had been gardeners by trade in San Sossio.

Ralph Schiavon in his garden on
Saint Lawrence Avenue, Chicago.

Ralph traveled back to Italy at the end of World War II and was shocked by the poverty and devastation there.  The large number of children who had been orphaned during the war especially moved him.  He befriended a young priest, Father Piccinini, who ran an orphanage in Southern Italy, and he began sending funds to assist this and a number of other postwar relief efforts.  

In 1946, the Schiavon’s eldest child, Ralph Thomas, known as “Tom,” married Angelina Ciliberto, a strikingly lovely brunette from Iacurso, Calabria, Italy.  They went on have four children:  Ralph, Alice, Michele, and Paul.  

Alice had taken up several hobbies that included doll and stamp collecting.  Over the years, she also became an avid collector of fine antiques.  Ralph supported her in these interests and helped her open an antique and gift gallery, Chatham Galleries.  In 1950, he sent Alice and Joan to Europe on the luxury liner Queen Mary on an antique-buying trip.

While Alice was delighted at the prospect of going off to Europe to hunt for new treasures, Joan, 21 at the time, balked at the idea.  She envisioned herself trapped for months among a boring melange of older people and even older antiques.  Ralph saw the trip as an opportunity for his sheltered daughter to be exposed to a rich world of culture, tradition, and history.  He arranged for my mother and grandmother to stay in the finest staterooms and hotels and tour the most beautiful cities on the continent.  It would be the trip of a lifetime for my mother, who returned to New York from Cherbourg, France, on the cruise liner Queen Elizabeth I as a wiser and more worldly young woman, thanks in large part to her father’s vision and encouragement.

Sometime during the 1950s, the governor of Illinois appointed Ralph as State Bail Bondsman Inspector.  He continued his tax consulting business, commuting by train daily to his office in the Loop downtown. He also joined the American Legion and the Swedish Club, where he held court with colleagues and clients alike and often hosted large banquets for them.

As much as he loved eating out, he was an equally accomplished cook who enjoyed inviting people over for his memorable Italian dishes, which he had learned to cook from his mother.  This was quite a godsend for all concerned, as Alice was uninterested in cooking and gladly relinquished kitchen duties to her gourmet husband while she used her artistic talents to decorate their home lavishly and create elegant table settings.  The house overflowed with family and guests on holidays.  Thanksgiving, in particular, called for Ralph’s signature turkey with a rich dressing of mascarpone and other Italian cheeses, Genoa salami, golden raisins, and pine nuts.  His daughter-in-law, Angelina Ciliberto Schiavon (my Uncle Tom’s wife – and my godmother), once remarked that on these occasions, it was hard to tell by evening’s end which was more stuffed – the turkey or the guests.

My precious mother and grandparents, Joan, Alice, and
Ralph Schiavon, Chicago, Illinois, early 1960s.

One day in 1954, a handsome young man walked through the door of Alice and Joan’s shop to buy a birthday card for his mother back in Mexico City.  He and his landlady had been out shopping, and the landlady, having met Joan Schiavon on a previous visit to the store, dared the young man to go inside to ask her for help.  He and Joan were immediately attracted to one another and began taking long walks around the block together.  Walks turned into movies and dinners, and the young couple’s relationship deepened into love.

My grandfather, still protective of his daughter, was not happy when the young man, Gilbert Huesca, came to the house to ask him for Joan’s hand on the Fourth of July, her birthday. He had assumed his daughter would marry an Italian, just as her brother Tom had a few years earlier.  He looked down sternly at Gil.  “Do you have any insanity in your family?” he asked.

The man who would become my father looked squarely back.  “No,” he smiled.  “Do you?”

Ralph knew he had met his match.  Had he remembered that he, too, had married a non-Italian?  He gave his permission and began planning a large wedding with a guest list that would fill the church with family and all his clients and professional contacts.

Gilbert and Joan Huesca in their first apartment,
Chicago, November 1, 1954.

My mother, who had wanted an intimate wedding, proved equally as willful as her father.  She and my father eloped one afternoon during his lunch break.  The date was August 19, 1954.  That evening they sent a telegram to Ralph and Alice, who were vacationing in Florida.  Though they must have been surprised by the news, they took it graciously and sent the happy couple a lovely floral arrangement with their congratulations and best wishes.

In 1959, Ralph and Alice bought a two-story residence at 7123 South Luella Avenue.  They moved into the upstairs flat and invited my parents to move our family into the flat below.  I was fairly young at the time, but I recall being greeted on moving day with a marvelous swing and slide set in the backyard, along with a yellow rectangular wading pool for my sisters and me.

Ralph kept his lawns in pristine condition.  Both front and back lawns were bordered by tidy boxwood shrubs and colorful flowerbeds of snapdragons, roses, petunias, geraniums, irises, gladiolas, lilies of the valley, and birds-of-paradise (my grandmother’s favorite flower).  He also had an herb garden with sweet basil, Italian parsley, and oregano that he used in his wonderful Italian dishes.  He was always telling us to keep off the grass, yet he seemed to understand that as children, we needed to run and play, and he indulged us in the way that only a loving grandfather could.

My grandparents doted on our cousins and us.  They bought my sisters and me a large Swiss-made child-size surrey with a pink-and-white fringe on top that seated four.  We used to pedal it down the block or to the park with our parents or lead neighborhood parades on Flag Day and the Fourth of July.  Though he was not one to fuss over children, Ralph loved each of us, his grandchildren, dearly. His letters to my mother during the last decade of his life reflected his pride in all eight of us as we grew into young men and women.

 My grandparents, Alice and Ralph Schiavon, with me (at age 1),
at my parent’s apartment, Chicago, Thanksgiving 1956.

I vividly remember one Sunday afternoon, when I ran upstairs after Mass to visit my grandparents.  My Nana Alice, who had been ill with complications from insulin-dependent diabetes, was napping, and my grandfather was sitting in his big leather club chair in the den.  He was watching a Chicago Cubs baseball game on TV and listening to a Notre Dame ball game on a small transistor radio he had up to his ear.  He motioned me to come in, and I clambered onto his lap. 

We sat there, he and I, in awkward silence together for quite some time, he puffing occasionally on his cigar and I wondering what to say to him.  Unlike Nana, who could be the consummate playmate to her grandchildren, my Baba (that was the closest I could come to as a little girl to saying the Italian word Babbo, or Grandpa) was not easy to talk to, and at seven years old, I really didn’t understand why.  What I did understand in some obscure way was that even on the lap of that silent, enigmatic man, I felt safe and loved.

Copyright ©  2011  Linda Huesca Tully

NEXT:  Part Four – Twilight

Ralph Schiavon – Part Two: Young Immigrant in a New World

Ralph Schiavon

Young Immigrant in a New World




Ralph Schiavon, Boston, about 1910

(Second in a four-part series)

Like most newly-arrived ethnic groups during the turn of the century, Italian immigrants dreamed of becoming successful in America.  This meant owning their own home.  To the former peasants who for decades had endured la miseria – a miserable existence of innumerable indignities and hopelessness and poverty in their native land – home ownership, the ultimate definition of prosperity to the Southern Italians, represented independence, security, prosperity, and self-respect.

Vito Schiavone, who first arrived in America in 1890, had lived for a time with his brothers-in-law in a tenement house at 198 Endicott Street at the heart of Boston’s North End.  Living in that crowded, dirty neighborhood had made him determined to buy his own home in another part of town so his family would not have to bear such oppressive conditions.

The dream was not unachievable, but it depended on great sacrifice and effort on the part of everyone in the family.  Vito pulled Ralph out of school as soon as he was old enough to work and sent him to join his brother Pat in a shoe factory in Roxbury. Child labor was commonplace at that time, and boys and girls in the shoe factories made up about seven percent of the total workforce in the Boston boot and shoe industry.

Children were given jobs that required little training, such as stitching shoe uppers or working in the shipping department.  Ralph worked in shipping, putting in 10 hours a day Monday through Friday and half a day on Saturdays, rain or shine.

Shoe leather would arrive at the factory in wooden boxes.  Once the crates were emptied, Ralph would break them down flat and load the wood into a small wagon so he could sell it.  For this he was paid about $6.43 a week, the average wage for a child laborer of the time.  (Men and women, by comparison, earned on average $15.17 and $10.39 a week, respectively.)

The long dreary hours left the boy without much time for a childhood. He never had a toy of his own and had little time for play.  Instead, money took on great importance in his young life as he worked long hours to help support his family.  Like other young boys, he learned to save at an early age and often walked the long distance home rather than take the streetcar, so he could have more money to give to his parents.

One freezing winter day on his way home, young Ralph met a man who gave him some baby chicks that were nearly dead from the cold.  He tucked them into his wool coat to keep them warm and set aside some of the wood from the shipping crates to make coops for them.

Upon entering the kitchen, he removed his coat and proudly showed his new pets to his parents.  While Emanuela cooed at the chicks, Vito flew into a rage at the thought that Ralph had lost money by bringing home the wood instead of selling it.  He rose from his chair and thrust his fist at his son.  Emanuela jumped in between them to block her husband.  Vito’s fist, meant for Ralph, struck Emanuela instead, knocking out her front teeth.

Emanuela recovered and nursed the chicks with an eyedropper and a little wine and warmed them on the oven door.  Ralph never forgot his mother’s loving sacrifice for him.  Needless to say, the chicks may have been pets for a time but ran the usual course that chicks do and eventually made their inevitable appearance on the dinner table.

Postcard of Wonderland Amusement Park, Revere, MA

Nicholas Schiavone, Boston, 1910

Tragedy struck the family in the spring of 1911 when eight-year-old Nicky Schiavone drowned in the marsh behind Wonderland Amusement Park, a popular Revere landmark in the early 1900s.  He and Ralph had been playing in the marsh with a young neighbor, Leo Dowling, when Leo began flailing his arms.  Nicky managed to rescue Leo but got caught in the marsh himself and began sinking into the muck.  Ralph watched in horror as the thick mud sucked his brother in deeper and deeper, until he drowned.

Some would later say that Ralph’s “lucky veil,” or caul, had protected him from the same fate as Nicky, but it seems that Ralph was in fact burdened by the fact that he had been spared instead of his brother.  The accident haunted him for the rest of his life, and he never forgave himself for not being able to save his little brother.  His children (my mother Joan and my Uncle Tom Schiavon), as well as my own sisters and I, heard the story over and over as we grew up, along with a coda of instructions on how to save a drowning person.

When Filomena married Tomasso Scicchitani in 1913 and Pasquale (known as “Pat”) married Dora Salemme two years later, Ralph became the oldest child of those still living at home.  He took on the role of a third parent to Tony and Leo, sometimes treating them more strictly than their own parents, much to the chagrin of the younger Schiavones.  Perhaps he was overcompensating for his inability to save Nicky.  From what I have heard from my own mother, Joan Schiavon, and my cousins, he saw it it that his youngest brothers would not have to leave school as he did at a young age to work.  Even in his youth he comprehended the value of an education as a path to success, and he encouraged Tony and Leo to continue their studies, making it very clear that he expected them to graduate at the top of their class.


Ralph entered the United States Navy on August 26, 1918, and received his training in Norfolk, Virginia.

Assigned as a Seaman Second Class on the submarine USS Carolina.  The tight quarters of submarine made him feel claustrophobic, and he was relieved when he was later transferred to the battleship USS Kansas.  He was a member of a crew that traveled to Brest, France, at the end of World War I to bring many of the Special Expeditionary Forces home to America.  His jobs entailed standing various forms of watch, such as lookout and security, and his days would have consisted of learning such basic duties as being part of the gun crew; setting up and using rigs for loading fuel, ammunition, and supplies; firefighting; food cleanup; sweeping and swabbing decks; and painting and polishing equipment.

Two months after he enlisted, the Armistice Treaty was signed on November 11, 1918.

In 1919, Ralph was stationed at Great Lakes Naval Station, near Chicago, Illinois.  One day while on leave he met Benita McGinnis, a young artist and member of the Chicago Movie Censorship Board.  After dating her briefly, he was invited to her home, where he noticed her younger sister, a lively, 26-year-old redhead named Alice.  He was smitten immediately by her laughter and sense of adventure and soon began courting her instead of Benita.

Although we do not know for certain how it happened, it seems that the McGinnises did not know Ralph was Italian when they first met him.  He may have deliberately dropped the “e” at the end of Schiavone, which would have put the accent on the last syllable and made it sound French, or maybe it happened some other way.  (In later years he would say that the U.S. Navy had dropped the “e” from his name to make it sound more American.  His service record and his naturalization petition, however, do not show this to be so.)  He apparently was afraid of being found out as Italian and said nothing to change Alice’s impression that she was in love with a Frenchman.

Speaking the language of
the Axis powers during
World War II was
considered “Un-American,”
as shown in this poster.

His fear was not unfounded.  For years, Italians, in particular those from the south, had been perceived as gangsters, womanizers, and lower class members of society.  They had been subjected to ethnic jokes and racial slurs such as “goombah,” “wop,” and “dago.”  During both World Wars, Italians were viewed with suspicion and often regarded as Fascists.  Italy being an enemy nation during World War II, the six thousand Italian aliens then living in the United States were required by law to register as “enemy aliens.”  This included Ralph’s mother, Emanuela, who had never changed her citizenship.  In a lesser-known incident, several hundred Italian-Americans on the West Coast were rounded up and interned in detention camps from 1941-1943, not because of anything they had done but simply because they were Italian.

In later years, Ralph himself would be mistaken for Benito Mussolini, the Italian dictator, as well as for the infamous mobster Al Capone.  In the latter case of mistaken identity, the Chicago police actually stopped him for a short time, releasing him only after verifying his identification.

Considering that Italians were at the bottom of the ethnic ladder in those days, it must have been a difficult decision for Ralph to change his last name to something that sounded less Italian.  Some of his family were hurt by this action and believed that he had been disloyal to his heritage.  They may have had valid reasons to feel that way, as they, too, had faced the same prejudice and discrimination – perhaps even more so because they kept their family name.

But the truth is that Ralph was not alone.  Many of his countrymen changed their names to avoid bigotry and discrimination, sometimes even translating their surnames into English.  Ralph was proud to be Italian and would never dishonored his origins, but he, as any other human being, had a right to be treated with dignity and respect.  Though we may never know the depth of the inner struggle he must have experienced over this decision, we can be certain that ultimately he did what he felt he had to do in the climate of the time.

Ralph was granted U.S. citizenship on May 12, 1919, two weeks before he was discharged from the service at Great Lakes Naval Station.  He returned to his parent’s home on Eastern Avenue in Revere and began a long-distance correspondence with Alice that would span nearly four years.

Ralph Schiavon, second window from rear,
Cologne, Germany, early 1920s

He found a job selling shoes at a store in Revere.  He soon discovered that he enjoyed working with numbers and solving problems more than selling shoes, and he began taking night school classes in accounting.  He also seems to have returned to Europe after World War I, as the photo above shows.

Alice McGinnis accepted his proposal sometime in early 1923, setting off a short personal crisis for Ralph as he realized that “the jig was up.”  He knew it was time to honest about his nationality, even if it meant losing the woman he loved.

He wrote Alice a passionate letter that spring.  In it, he confessed his Italian nationality and apologized for having deceived her, explaining that he had not wanted to lose her. He went on to tell Alice how much he loved her and that he dreamed of opening a small general store in Chicago so he could always take care of her and she would never have to work.  He closed by adding that he would understand if she decided to break off the engagement.

Alice McGinnis was not one to reject someone on the basis of his origins.  She understood prejudice only too well, as she and her family had experienced it first-hand as Irish-Americans.  It had not been that long ago that her grandfather, father, and brothers had been excluded from jobs whose ads warned that “Irish need not apply.”  

She wrote back to Ralph right away and forgave him.  The couple were married on June 18, 1923, at Saint Joachim’s Church in Chicago and honeymooned at Starved Rock Park, a popular campground not far from Chicago.

Copyright (C) 2011  Linda Huesca Tully

Next:  Part Three – Halcyon Days


Ralph Schiavon – Part One: Auspicious Beginnings

Ralph Schiavon

Born January 27, 1898
Died August 16, 1970    

The following is Part One of a four-part series on the life of my wonderful Italian grandfather.       

Auspicious Beginnings

My maternal grandfather, Ralph Schiavon, was one of those rare children born with a veil over his head.

The “veil,” known medically as a “caul,” was part of the amniotic membrane that covers a child’s face or head.  This occurs in about 1 out of every 80,000 births. Italian superstition viewed this as an omen that such children were destined to be special and do great things, as they had gifts of wisdom and vision (also called “second sight”).  The caul was seen as a lucky talisman that could protect a person from harm, especially from drowning.  For this reason, it became popular for many seamen to seek these out and purchase them for personal protection.  However, others viewed the caul as a curse because it supposedly brought great challenges and heavy burdens. 
As was tradition for such a special circumstance, Rosina Coppola*, the midwife who delivered Ralph, rubbed a sheet of paper across his head and face so that the material of the caul would stick to the paper.  She then presented this new treasure to the child’s happy mother, who sealed it in a small jar for safekeeping. She later carried it across the sea on the ship to America, eventually giving it to her son when he grew old enough to take care of it.  My mother said that Ralph kept the caul with him all his life.
Ralph was the third of six children born to Vito Schiavone and his wife, Emanuela Sannella, on January 27, 1898, in San Sossio Baronia, Avellino Province, just east of Naples, Italy.  Most of San Sossio’s residents were poor and illiterate and were leaving the village in droves, and many families emigrated to Boston and its environs.  Vito Schiavone left for America in 1890, barely three years after Emanuela gave birth to the couple’s first child, Pasquale.  He returned at intervals to San Sossio as daughter Filomena and sons Ralph and Nicholas were born.

Ralph, named for his mother’s father, Raffaele Sannella, was born with a “caul,” part of the placental membrane covering his head.   Italian superstition had it that such children were destined to be special and do great things, as they had gifts of vision and wisdom.  The caul also was said to protect a person from harm and especially from drowning.  For this reason, it became popular for many seamen to seek these out and purchase them for their own protection.  However, others viewed it as a curse because it supposedly brought with it great challenges and heavy burdens.  Emanuela’s midwife placed the caul, also called a “white veil,” into a small jar for safekeeping and gave it to the happy mother, who later passed it on to her son.  My mother said that Ralph kept it with him all his life.

Emanuela sent Ralph to live with some maiden ladies – possibly relatives? – for the first years of his life.  She may have needed help because her husband was away in America for much of that time.  The ladies were a bit better off and kept him well-fed and healthy.  They owned several farm animals, one of them a goat, from which Ralph would drink milk directly and then ride around until he was too big to carry.    

San Sossio had a rivalry with San Nicola Baronia, a village on a neighboring mountaintop.  One night before Christmas, as the Sossians prepared for their annual saints’ procession through the village, some of the rival townspeople sneaked into the village and stole the statues for their own procession.  A rock-throwing war between the villages ensued until the culprits returned the statues. 

In her 1987 autobiography, my mother wrote of one of Ralph’s earliest adventures:

When Daddy was five or six, he and some of his friends met on the Church steps in the village square and planned to undertake a hunting adventure.  One boy would bring a gun, another the ammunition, another some spaghetti, and still another, some tomatoes for sauce, and they would go out into the woods to catch their dinner.  Off they went, but to their dismay, all they could catch were some little birds.  They decided to make the best of their spoils.  Cook dinner they did, and when it came time to add the “meat,” they threw in the birds – complete – feathers and all!  Needless to say, dinner was not a success!

In 1902, Vito declared that 15-year-old Pasquale was ready to go to America, and he took him along to New York on the ship S.S. Washington that May.  By then, he had rented a house on Tapley Avenue in Revere, determined that the family would not live in the Boston tenements that housed so many other Italian arrivals.  Even so, Revere was a working-class town, and rents were relatively expensive.  So, like many of his fellow villagers and cousins, son Pasquale (known as “Pat” in America) went to work at a shoe factory in the Boston area.  Father and son saved their earnings carefully until they could send for the rest of the family.

It took four years, but finally, in 1906, Vito sent Emanuela the money she needed to buy passage in the steerage compartment for herself and children Maria Filomena, 16, Ralph, 8, and Nicholas, 4.  The little group departed Naples on October 6, 1906, on the S.S. Republic.  The trip took 48 days, with the Republic arriving in Boston Harbor just before Thanksgiving on November 23rd

Times were hard, and like many newly arrived immigrant families, the Schiavones expected those children who were old enough to work to help bring in enough money to house, feed, and clothe their growing family, especially as Anthony and Leo were born in Revere in 1908 and 1910, respectively.  Vito and Emanuela were frugal and in a few years, managed to save enough money to buy a house just around the corner at 33 Eastern Avenue.  It was near Saint Anthony of Padua Church, where Ralph would serve as an altar boy for many years.

The Schiavone Family, about 1910
Left to right, back row:  Pasquale, Ralph, and Filomena
Front row:  Vito, Emanuela, Anthony, and Nicky
Photo by Fotografia Italiana, Hanover Street, Boston

Not long after arriving in America, Ralph began selling newspapers after school. He also worked for a time helping load pianos on freight cars.  Though his jobs left him little time for homework, he was a natural student and a quick study.  His principal at the Shurtleff School, Miss Adams, called him “brilliant” and “very businesslike.”  Perhaps the latter description was more revealing than at first glance, as it is clear that Ralph had to grow up quickly.  Unfortunately, Vito, who, like many of his fellow immigrants, had never learned to read or write in the old country, decided in 1908 that Ralph had spent enough time at school and should be working full-time to help support the family.  Over Miss Adams’ loud protests, he pulled his young son out of the third grade and sent him to work in Roxbury at the same leather shoe factory as his brother Pat.  Ralph, who loved school, was devastated, but he had no other choice but to obey his father.  He was barely 10 years old, but the greatness for which he had seemed destined at birth was waning in his eyes.

* Rosina Coppola reported Ralph’s birth at the Town Hall in place of his father, Vito, who was in America at that time.

Copyright (C) 2011 Linda Huesca Tully 


Calling W6RMQ . . .

Calling W6RMQ . . .

We lost Dad (aka my father-in-law, Welner “Bing” Tully) three years ago today.

He had been in hospital for about a week after his heart and kidneys failed, and he was on his way home when he died in the ambulance as it left O’Connor Hospital.


Dad was a ham radio buff from an early age – think of ham radio as his generation’s version of Facebook or Blogger — and instead of “friends,” “fans,” or “followers,” he collected calling cards — colorful postcards with the call signs, names, and cities of his fellow radio operators.  Here he is at his homemade radio station at his Aunt Amelia Binning’s home on South Grande Vista in East Los Angeles, sometime in the mid-to-late 1930’s.

Incidentally, I think this is the only picture we have of him with “long” hair – after serving in the United States Army during World War II (as a radio operator in the Pacific Theater), he wore it “high and tight” for the rest of his life.  He used to say he saved money on combs that way!

I wonder if he has a radio station up there in Heaven, so we could tell him how much we miss him but how his spirit lives on through his family and those who loved him.

Caliling W6RMQ…Bing Tully, do you read me?


Copyright © 2010 Linda Huesca Tully

Marriage Record of Francisco Perrotin and Maria Amaro

Marriage Record
Francisco Perrotin and Maria Amaro

Orizaba, Veracruz State, Mexico
March 3, 1889

The following is my translation of the Marriage record between my great-grandparents, Francisco Perrotin and María Amaro:

Number 25.

Second act of The Marriage of Francisco Perrotín with María Amaro

In the City of Orizaba, at nine in the morning of the third of March of one thousand eight hundred and eighty-nine, before me, the undersigned Judge of the Civil Registry of the Town, appeared Citizen Francisco Perrotín, demonstrating that as the term prescribed by law for the publication of his convened marriage with Miss María Amaro, without no impediment imposed whatsoever against it, asked for a date and time to celebrate it.

The Judge, certain of the above, by the individual and in agreement with him, indicated five-thirty in the afternoon tomorrow and signed with the same.     = Mr. Galindo. Francisco Perrotin = Fernández

Number 26.
Marriage of Francisco Perrotín and María Amaro

In the City of Orizaba, at five-thirty in the afternoon of the fourth of March of one thousand eight hundred and eighty-nine, before me, Agustín Portas Ariza, first Justice of the Peace, legal substitute of the Town Civil Registry, by physical impediment of the second (judge), appeared with the object of celebrating their civil marriage, the Citizen Francisco Perrotín and Miss María Amaro, the first twenty-two years old, originally from and neighbor of this City and a mechanic, current in the payment of his personal taxes, son of Mr. and Mrs. Francisco Perrotin and Catalina Ogradi (sic), married, of legal age, of this vicinity, the first originally from France, industrialist and the second from Ireland.

The bride is celibate and seventeen years of age, originally from Tecamachalco, Puebla State, of this vicinity, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Rafael Amaro and Soledad Cid, married, of legal age, originally from Tecamachalco, of this vicinity and the first an artisan. Both bride and groom demonstrated that: their matrimonial presentation of the fourth day of last February having been verified, the publications having been made as prescribed by law, without any impediments having been imposed to the contrary; that the bride’s father having given his consent in the act of the presentation and ratified by same today, in this act they petition the present Citizen Judge to authorize their concerted union.

In virtue of having fulfilled all the requirements of the law, the relative articles of the law of July twenty-third, one thousand eight hundred fifty-nine having been read to them. The bride and groom having been interrogated as to article One Hundred Fifty-seven of the State Civil Code, whether it was their will to unite in civil matrimony, each taking the other and submitting mutually to one another as husband and wife and in view of their affirmative answer, I, Agustin Portas Ariza, first Justice of the Peace in this city and legal substitute of the Town Civil Registry Judge, made the following declaration.

In the name of Society, I declare Citizen Francisco Perrotín and Miss María Amaro united in perfect, legitimate, and indissoluble matrimony. The final part of the aforementioned article was read to them. Witnesses to this union were the Citizens Félix B. Marín and Francisco Salas, both single and Francisco P. Carmona, married, all of legal Age, the first originally from Alto Songa and the second from Puebla, both of this vicinity and the third from Veracruz.

The present act was read to them, with which all agreed and signed and sworn.   = Ag. Portas Ariza = Francisco Perrotín = María Amaro, = Felix B. Marín, Francisco Salaz, F.P. Carmona.

Copyright (C) 2012  Linda Huesca Tully