Throwback Thursday: White Lace and Promises

For Throwback Thursday, here is a photograph from my paternal grandparents’ wedding on August 10, 1936. She was 21 years old; he was 29.

Bart Petrini Sr. and Mary Piccioli were born in northeastern Pennsylvania after their parents emigrated from Italy. And both lived in that area their whole lives, except for my grandfather’s tour of duty in Europe during World War II.

And did you notice her elaborate lace gown and sumptuous flowers? These were not wealthy people. He was orphaned in the flu epidemic of 1918 and started working in coal mining at the age of 11. By this point he was out of the mines; his occupation on the marriage license is listed as clerk. She was a hairdresser (though I love the fact that the official who filled out the license wrote in her occupation as “beautishian”). But to Italian immigrant families, being well dressed for a major life event (and religious sacrament) like a wedding was crucial; they found a way to make it happen.

I remember her telling me that her parents didn’t want her to marry him. He had no parents, no education, and no prospects. But she was determined. And he went on to be elected county sheriff and then for many terms as mayor of the town. So I guess she showed them!

They were married for 35 years, until his death from leukemia in 1971. She passed away in 2001, and I still miss her every day.

3 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: White Lace and Promises

  1. I am a nephew of your grandparents. My mother, Helen, was your grandfather’s youngest sister. My family lived about one hour from Old Forge and visited with our Old Forge family frequently. I fondly remember your grandparents. They were thoughtful, kind, and generous people. We had many heartwarming and fun times with them. Is your father Bart or Frank?

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    1. Wow! I’m so glad you responded. My dad is Bart Jr. I am the second of his four daughters. My dad grew up in Old Forge. I went back often as long as my grandmother was alive. She passed away in 2001, and I still miss her terribly. I’m on Ancestry.com and have been working in a family tree, and would love to ask you more about your family. Are you still in Pennsylvania?

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      1. We did not live in PA. My parents met in NYC near the end of WWII as they were leaving military service (my mother was an RN and Army nurse during the war). My parents married and moved to Endicott NY where my father’s family lived. Your father, whom we called Chippy, is maybe 14-15 (?) years older than me. My memories of your father are limited because he was so much older than me and left Old Forge when I was quite young. My oldest sister Mary was closer in age to your father and she has better memories of your father. We knew your uncle Frank very well. He lived on our street in Endicott for several years when he worked for IBM after graduating from college. Frank was smart, calm, and engaging. Your grandfather also had those characteristics. It was wonderful being with your grandfather who, as a consequence of the deaths of his parents and being the oldest child, was very much a father figure to my mother and her 3 sisters. He was beloved by his sisters, and I vividly recall my mother’s profound sorrow when she received the call that the leukemia diagnosis was confirmed. My mother knew immediately that he was unlikely to survive. His untimely death was a terrible blow to the families and I sensed that it left a painful hollowness in the lives of my mother and her sisters. I was a junior in high school when he died. What is your name and where do you live? I live in Buffalo NY with my wife. Our 2 daughters are in college. My sister Mary lives in southeast PA. My sister Lucille lives about an hour from us in Geneseo NY. We are very close and our families are together frequently. We are also close with my aunt Phil’s children, Bart and Neil.

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