Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Good Day For An Authentic Italian Ice...

Today I passed a tradition on to my children that my mother shared with me from her childhood. It is snowing here in MD today, and we got approximately 3-4" of snow. I remembered how over the Summer of last year, my mother told me a story after she'd tasted some of my cousin Vince Ghione's homemade wine: she talked initially about how the wine tasted similar to the wine her family had made at home years ago. But then, her story expanded into something even more special.. She talked about how during the Winter months, when it would snow, her parents would make "snow cones" for her and her brothers. However, the list of ingredients was pretty short: 1. a cup of fresh snow, and 2. a little bit of homemade red wine poured over the snow (for color). It was a simple recipe, but it was one that was special enough for my mother to remember after over 60 years.

Today, as I watched the snow falling, and I sat with my children, I thought about the "snow cone" recipe my mother had shared with me. I didn't go to the full extent of putting homemade red wine on the snow, but I did make some for them using Welch's grape juice, and also one with a lemon juice/honey combo. The kids really enjoyed it, and my daughter simply could not believe her eyes as I went out onto the back deck and scooped fresh snow from the recent downfall.

As I made the authentic "italian ice", it made me really reflect upon how our ancestors used such simple creations as these to keep their spirits up in a strange, new World: America.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Erminia T. (Ferraro) Odorisio (1920-2010)

This week we received the sad news of the passing of Squirrel Run native Erminia “Min” (Ferraro) Odorisio. Min passed away at her home in West Grove this past Saturday, January 23, 2010 at the age of 89.

Min was born at house #125 in the Squirrel Run community located at the DuPont powder mills along the Brandywine. She was the daughter of Francesco “Frank” Ferraro (known as “Brocìn”) and Maria (Bonifacino) Pesce.

Min’s parents were both immigrants from Giusvalla, Italy, but her father’s family - the Ferraros - were originally from the town of Cairo Montenotte (a neighboring town of Giusvalla). Francesco’s nickname “Brocìn” was derived from the neighborhood of “Broc” (where the Ferraro family originated in Cairo Montenotte). He came to the U.S. in 1905 and went to work for the DuPont family working in the powder mills.

Min’s mother, whose maiden name was Maria Lucia Bonifacino, was a native of a little village in Giusvalla called Cavanna. Maria came to the U.S. with her sister and brother-in-law and married her first husband, GioBatta “John” Pesce at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Wilmington, Delaware on July 24, 1902. She had four children by her first husband: Catherine “Katie,” Paul, Frances & Helen. John Pesce worked as a gardener for the DuPont family and died from injuries sustained in a work related accident on November 10, 1911 at the age of 33.

The widowed Maria (Bonifacino) Pesce remarried Frank Ferraro in Wilmington on December 16, 1912. By him she had five additional children: Frederick, an unnamed son who died at birth, Herman, Erminia “Min” & Charles.

After the powder mills closed in the mid 1920s, the Ferraro family moved to Chester county, Pennsylvania and went into the mushroom business. Min married Philadelphia native Anthony Odorisio, who passed away in 1970. At the time of her passing, Min had four children, eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Min can be seen as a little girl in the arms of her mother in the “Tutti I Giusvallini” banner picture above, which was taken at Squirrel Run on September 23, 1923.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Min’s family and friends. A full version of her obituary can be viewed at:

In the picture: Erminia's parents, Francesco & Maria (Bonifacino) (Pesce) Ferraro. Photo courtesy of Jim Brady (Ernest Salvo family collection).

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Even though many of those who spoke these expressions are no longer with us, my Squirrel Run family members, their descendants, and related community always had some expressions that I never seemed to hear from others outside of that part of my family. Some of the expressions were wise and inspiring, while others lacked some tact but were still simply unforgettable.

My Grandpop Salvo always had some great expressions that I remember clearly to this day. For example, if I wanted a cookie or a piece of candy, he would always remind me that "what tastes sweet to your mouth tastes sour to your stomach". He also mentioned regularly that any food that was grilled was better for you, because "the charcoal is good for your stomach". And one that my mother remembers him saying was that whenever you learned something you didn't know prior, that meant you would "live another day longer" for having learned it.

My Great Uncle Paul Ghione had an expression he was known by his children and extended family for: he seemed to believe that all children were born with a birth defect, because my cousins can all remember him asking them "do you keep your brains in your [rhymes with brass]???"

If our readers have expressions that they remember hearing their Italian ancestors say regularly, please drop us an email or post them to the Comments section under this article. I am sure there are many other expressions that are out there that I have forgotten my family saying, but will probably recognize instantly upon hearing them again!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Remembering 1993: 70 Year “Tutti I Giusvallini” Reunion

On a sunny day in September 1993, the descendants of the original Squirrel Run Giusvallini gathered to honor their forbearers. It was the first time in 70 years that the families had all come together to celebrate and there were nearly 800 in attendance. The event took place on Sunday, September 19th at St. Anthony’s in the Hills in Avondale and the guests of honor were composed of a very special core group: the 32 survivors of the original 1923 reunion at Squirrel Run.

Cousin Ernie Camoirano (who also happens to be my father’s godfather) was Master of Ceremonies for the day and kept the event lively in his usual gregarious way, and 1923 reunion attendee bunanima ed Carlèn d'Cianpè even joined us by phone all the way from Giusvalla! The beneficent Fr. Roberto was present to bestow his blessing, as he had done at many Giusvallini baptisms, marriages and burials through the years. The older generations reconnected and the young ones met for the first time, it was an event that many will always remember.

The ’93 reunion was many years in the making, but Rosemarie “Tootie” (Pia) Barber’s enthusiasm to get everyone back together inspired the group that made it happen. Those go-getters included Albert Baccino, Victorine (Marenco) Camoirano, Jennie (Pesce) Feliciani, Mary (Olivieri) Guerrina, Marie Guerrina, Arlene (Baccino) Kelly, Victor Pesce and many others who helped organize the event in endlessly invaluable ways.

Many faces that are no longer with us look back from our priceless pictures from that day, we are grateful for the great gathering that brought us all together.

We remember those we have lost in the years since the 1993 Tutti I Giusvallini reunion, but we also welcome the new generation of Giusvallini children that has joined us in the years since then. We hope to inspire in them a love and respect for family and one another; may the things that kept our grandparents’ generation connected live on through our children and grandchildren!

Sperumma ben!

In the picture: Tutti I Giusvallini, September 19, 1993, Avondale, PA

Saturday, January 16, 2010

In Memoriam

The blog post today regarding Joseph Carozzo brought to mind the several Giusvalla descendants that passed away in 2009. As a way of remembering those from our group who we’ve lost over the past year, we have added an “In Memoriam” section which will always appear along the right side of this page.

Our thoughts and condolences go out to the families of those who we’ve lost during these recent months.

In the picture: Madonna della guardia dei Riondi (Giusvalla)

In Memory of... Joseph Carozzo (1931-2009)

We apologize for this late posting, but we here at the Squirrel Run Blog would like to pay homage to a fellow Squirrel Run descendant whom we lost on August 8, 2009: Joseph Patrick Carozzo.

I recently met Joseph's nephew, Augustine V. "Gus" Carozzo, for the first time, and in preparation for our meeting, Gus brought with him some family photos and information. One of the photos was of his uncle, Joseph Carozzo, who had passed away in August of 2009. Joseph was one of 3 of Gus' uncles, the others being Victor and John Carozzo. Gus mentioned that he was already familiar with our Squirrel Run blog, and that he was so happy to see that in one of our prior 2009 postings, we'd highlighted another of his uncles, Victor. The posting on Victor can be found here:

At this time it is not known who the woman is in the photo with Joseph that is attached to this article. We are hoping that someone in our reader community may be able to help us out once more with identifying who the person is. The photo apparently comes from a wedding where Joseph and this woman were a part of the bridal party.

Along with this photo of his uncle, Gus provided me with a wonderful amount of additional information that I will highlight in future posts here at 'Run Squirrel Run'. However, with the recent passing of Joseph, I felt that an honorarium to him would be the ideal place to start. The obituary for Joseph can be found at the following link:

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Helper.

On Easter weekend of 1966 (or a year close to it), my father received a phone call from my Grandpop Salvo- Grandpop was working his shift at Granogue that weekend, and when it was time for him to head home, he was experiencing some car trouble.

My father drove up to the estate to see what was wrong with the car. At the time, my grandfather was driving a 1960 Corvair. My father pulled up to the car, and popped the trunk (Corvair engines are in the back) to see if he could diagnose the problem. Sure enough, while looking it over, he found the cause: the fan belt had managed to come loose from the cooling fan. In those cars, the fan belt is placed horizontally over top of the cooling fan, so it’s constantly fighting gravity. The slightest stretch of the belt or shift from the pulley, and it would come off.

As my father located the source of the problem, and began to work in the engine compartment of the car, he noticed under the car that another pair of feet appeared next to those of my grandfather’s. When he stood up to see who the newest spectator was, it was none other than Irenee DuPont Jr. himself. “Need some help?” he asked...

According to my father, Irenee had a 1949 Volkswagen that he maintained completely by himself. The DuPont’s of that era were no strangers to physical labor. It is for reasons like this example (among many others) that families like my Grandpop Salvo's had the greatest respect for the DuPont family.