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         News and Events - July 2014


Reunion 2014 - Finding Lost New York

The 8th Annual Crachesi del Nord America Reunion brings us back to New York City and its Little Italy in search of our lost heritage.

Taking place during the weekend of August 16-17 2014, the event, as always, will present us with an opportunity to meet with our "cousins’ to exchange stories, memories and just spend time together. There will be great food and wine to go along with the great company.

Timed to coincide with the 125th celebration of the feast of San Rocco in Manhattan, which is the oldest Italian celebration in New York and the second oldest in the US, Reunion participants can experience the same event and atmosphere their ancestors had.

With the rate of change in New York City the activities planned will focus on the "Lost Neighborhood of New York."

Based on the research done by Society Vice-President Bob Rubertone into the neighborhoods that Cracotans immigrants and their families lived, a walking tour was created. On Saturday morning we will embark on a guided walking tour of the "Lost Neighborhood of Manhattan’s Lower East Side." Using vintage maps, photographs, and narration, we will travel back in time to gain a glimpse of this neighborhood as it appeared to our ancestors before the vast urban renewal of the mid-20th century. We will also visit and learn about some of the historic landmarks and streets which have remained unchanged through the years. Of course, there will be a special focus on the unique connection of Crachesi immigrants to this area.

The tour will commence on Catherine St. across from St. Joseph’s Church, a landmark itself which may be impacted by 21st century changes, and cover about 1 ¼ miles in an easy and leisurely walk. The approximate time of the tour is 90 minutes.


After working up an appetite from our stroll through history we’ll enjoy a classic 5 course luncheon at the Zagat rated Forlini’s Restaurant, a mainstay on Baxter St., in the heart of the "old neighborhood." The leisurely meal will allow us to share time, companionship, and good cheer with our cousins.

Saturday ends with everyone free for individual exploration of New York City enjoy-ing dinner and night life there.

On Sunday morning, we’ll have an informal gathering for breakfast at Ferrara’s Bakery & Café, one of the area’s oldest and well know eateries that served our ancestors since 1892.

Afterwards attendees can join the special noontime Mass celebrating San Rocco at St. Joseph’s Church and then participate in the 125th Annual Procession through the streets of Lower Manhattan following the same route that our immigrant ancestors took.

When the procession ends at St. Joseph’s Church at about 5:30pm there will be food for sale in the basement and for the first time live music and professional Italian singers performing Neapolitan and Sicilian folk songs.

Full details about the Reunion and registration information will be mailed to members. Make it a point to plan on participating in this event that may be the last time to see some of the historic landmarks and sights that were so important to Cracotan history in New York City.

8th Annual Crachesi del Nord America Reunion  

New York City  

August 16-17, 2014

Jeff Viggiano Basketball Star

Who would have expected that the great-great-grandson of Antonio Viggiano (b. 1874 Craco) would return to Italy as a professional basketball star? At six feet six inches tall and weighing 217 pounds there is no doubt that Jeff Viggiano had the size to play basketball but after outstanding success at Suffield High School in Connecticut and college at the University of Massachusetts he went to Europe to play professionally.

Jeffrey Donald Viggiano was born on July 24, 1984 in Hartford, CT the son of James and Nancy Viggiano.

After playing in Sweden and Hungary he was signed by the Italian team, Nuova Pallacanestro Pavia in 2008. From there he progressed playing for the Armani Team in Milan (2010), Angelico Biella (2011), Benetton Treviso (2012), Enel Brindisi (2013) and presently Montepaschi in Siena.

Professionally he won the 2013 Italian Super Cup, played in the 2007 Swedish All Star Game, played the 2011 and 2012 Italian All Star Game, and is a member of the Italian National Team.


His great-great grandfather Antonio (second on the left), who was known by the nickname "Judge" immigrated along with three brothers (l to r), Donato, Prospero and Antuono and a sister Isabella, while their other sister Maria Maddelena remained it Italy. 

Crachesi in the 1940's New York

The decade of the 1940s was the start of changes for the Crachesi in the Greater New York area. Although still concentrated in Manhattan, the Borough of Brooklyn had attracted a large number of families along with smaller groups in the surrounding areas of Queens and Staten Island. Also, there were tiny enclaves in New Jersey and Connecticut. But these individuals maintained regular contact through work, family gatherings or events.

Among the events still holding the first and second generations together was the celebration feast of San Vincezo at St. Joachim’s Church under the direction of the the Società San Vincen-zo Martire di Craco .

It seems 1941 may have been the culmination of the Società’s efforts and also marked the end of the organization although no one was aware of it then. Although the feast of San Vincenzo was the smallest of the annual Italian feast events that occurred in the area for some reason this year there was an upwelling of effort, especially of the Crachesi youth living in the neighborhood to make the feast a special one. There seemed to be an attitude that "we could do better than them" and resulted in decorating of St. Joachim’s, and the streaming of banners and paper decorations along Roosevelt and Cherry Streets by them and local merchants.

Six weeks after the 1941 feast the United States entered World War II. In the following years, with the focus on war the ability and desire to organize festivals was impacted and the San Vincenzo feast events was suspended although the feast day continued to be celebrated annually at St. Joachim’s Church with a Mass.

Other changes were also driving the fragmentation of the Crachese community. The City of New York had committed to a program of redeveloping Lower New York. In 1934 the Federal govern-ment financed the public housing project known as Knickerbocker Village that is on Catherine, Monroe, Market and Cherry Streets which took up two whole city blocks changing the streets from their former layout. With the success of this project the New York City Housing Authority announced plans to continue redeveloping tenement housing in the "Two Bridges" area (between the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges). Plans were announced for a project that covered the area that included Roosevelt St and St. Joachim’s Church. The onset of the war delayed demolition and construction until the 1950s of this area but to the Crachesi families living in the area it meant they would have to relocate.

As the war effort built the burden of service fell on the second generation, who were born in the US. Most Cracotan families saw a relative going to war just as they had seen 25 years earlier. But in this time their service during the war exposed them to new experiences and also earned them benefits after the war like the GI Bill which enabled them to make changes in their lives. These changes would ultimately move them away from the old community and disrupt the culture that had been built during the past 60 years.

Individuals like Michael Camberlango after serving in the US Navy returned to Blanding, Utah and established his family there. Vincent Roccanova (b. 1923 NY) the son of Nicola and nephew of Carlo and Rocco Roccanova after serving in the US Army on the West Coast married and settled in Sacramento California in 1948.

On the home front, Cracotans played parts in the war effort. The John A. Sarubbi Construction Company’s reputation allowed them to secure work to improve security on the Lincoln Tunnel and the US Navy Ammunition Pier at Earle, NJ.

Even the work of those laboring in the paper stock was recognized with their industry getting addition gas rationing coupons and workers being given draft exemption status because the industry was ruled vital to the war effort.

Meanwhile, Frank Muzio, was forced to change careers by a decision made to eliminate individuals to take bets at race tracks. The government determined they would be the sole legal source of handling wagers forcing Frank back to the restaurant business.

This decade also saw the deaths of some of the earliest Cracotan arrivals who were instru-mental in establishing the community here.

In March 1942 Giuseppe Rinaldi, who had been involved in founding Società San Vincenzo Martire di Craco died in Brooklyn. In October 1943 Domenico Benedetto, who was instrumental in establishing the Crachese presence in the paper stock industry, died followed soon by his brother Paolo Benedetto .

With their passing and the influences and effects of WWII the end of an era was occurring unbeknownst to everyone.

The next decade would find that while the Crachesi were prospering to new levels in American society their community and culture was fraying and dispersing.


Cracotan Men Registering for the WWII Draft

A year before the United States officially entered World War II President Roosevelt had signed into law the first peacetime selective service draft in U.S. history.

After the U.S. entered WWII a new selective service act required that all men between ages 18 and 65 register for the draft.

Ancestry.com has a database of draft cards from the Fourth Registration, (often referred to as the "old man's registration"), that was conducted in1942 and registered men who born on or between 28 April 1877 and 16 February 1897.

By searching this database for men born in Craco we have an insight into those who were in the US at that time. Those who registered were:

Vincenzo Andrisano 27 Apr 1888 Craco, Italy Brooklyn, New York

 Anthony Basilio 17 Feb 1881 Craco Alien, Italy Kings, New York

Vincenzo Benedetto 11 Sep 1886 Craco Madera, Italy Kings, New York

 Lorenzo Branda 10 Oct 1885 Craco, Italy New York, New York

 Lorenzo Branda 10 Oct 1885 Craco, Italy New York, New York

 Antonio Camperlengo 27 Oct 1886 Craco, Italy Queens, New York

 Nicholas P. Caricato 13 Dec 1883 Craco, Italy Hudson, New Jersey

 Dominick Colabella 17 Sep 1891 Craco, Italy Kings, New York

 Francesco Colabella 17 Jan 1879 Craco Matera, Italy Brooklyn, NY

 Frank Colabella 19 Apr 1894 Cra-co, Italy Brooklyn, New York

 Joseph Conte 25 Jul 1892 Craco, Italy Brooklyn, New York

 Vincent Decostole 4 Jan 1890 Cra-co, Italy Si, New York

 Dominick Demarco 1 Nov 1896 Craco, Italy NY, Ny

 Nicola Digiovanni 29 Sep 1885 Craco, Italy NY, NY

 Anthony Donadio 16 Jun 1889 Cra-co, Italy Kings, NY

 Giuseppe Donnaddi 16 Oct 1882 Craco, Italy Kings

 Leonard Episcopio 24 Oct 1890 Cra-co, Italy Brooklyn, NY

 Charles Ferrando 5 Jun 1895 Craco, Italy New York, NY

 Pasquale Fezza 9 Dec 1883 Craco, Italy Queens, New York

 Nicholas Francavilla 23 Jun 1895 Craco, Italy Brooklyn, New York

 Antonio Frumento 9 Mar 1893 Craco, Italy Kings, New York

 Frank Frumento 24 Oct 1987 Craco, Italy Brooklyn

 Antonio Gaetano 18 Jun 1885 Craco, Italy New York, New York

 Ambrose Galante 18 Jan 1888 Craco, Italy Kings, New York

 Vincenzo Gallo 12 Oct 1889 Craco, Italy Manhattan, NY

 Pasquale Anthony Gesualdi 8 Sep 1890 Craco, Italy Bucks,Pennsylvania

 James Gesualdo 6 Nov 1892 Craco, Italy Kings, New York

 Peter Vincent Grecco 27 Dec 1890 Craco, Italy Kings, New York

 Egidio Grezzi 1 Jul 1887 Craco, Italy Kings, New York

 Leonardo Grieco 19 Feb 1882 Craco, Italy New York, New York

 Salvatore Grieco 24 May 1891 Craco, Italy Kings, New York

 Nicolangelo Grossi 25 Jan 1885 Craco, Italy Hudson, New Jersey

 Giacomo Grossl 22 Jun 1892 Craco, Italy Kings, New York

 Nicola Jacovino 10 Nov 1881 Craco, Italy New York, New York

 Joseph Laviera 2 Sep 1888 Craco Matteri, Italy New York, New York

 Vincent James Lombardi 17 Aug 1895 Craco, Italy Queens, New York

 Peter a Manfredi 27 Mar 1894 Craco, Italy Queens, New York

 Andrew Manghise 31 Oct 1884 Craco, Italy New York, New York

 Anthony Manghise 16 Nov 1891 Craco Portenza, Italy Corona Li, NY

 Joseph Manghise 11 Mar 1891 Craco, Italy New York, New York

 Andrew Marmo 21 Mar 1890 Craco, Italy New York, New York

 Frank Maronna 19 Nov 1884 Craco, Italy Brooklyn, New York

 Amedeo Marrese 18 Dec 1879 Craco, Italy Queens, New York

 John Mastrangelo 17 Nov 1887 Craco, Italy New York, New York

Charles A Mastronardi 14 Dec 1896 Craco, Italy Kings, New York

 Nicholas Mastronardi 16 Jan 1894 Craco, Italy Hartford, Connecticut

 Joseph Anthony Mastronardy 13 Oct 1880 Craco, Italy Hudson, NJ

 Daniel Patrick Matera 22 Jan 1897 Craco, Italy Kings, New York

 Dominick J Matera 23 Jan 1893 Craco Matera, Italy Kings, NY

 James Matera 21 Jul 1885 Craco, Italy Kings, New York

 Joseph Giuseppe Mormando 17 Jul 1883 Craco, Italy Kings, New York

 Michael Mormando 20 Sep 1890 Craco, Italy Kings, New York

 Nicholas Mormando 19 Mar 1896 Craco, Italy Kings, New York

 Pietro Padovano 12 Jun 1880 Craco, Italy Kings, New York

 Angelo Ralph Paduani 1 Nov 1881 Craco, Italy Middlesex, New Jersey

 Pasquale Vincenzo Palmieri 28 Sep 1882 Craco Potenza, Italy Brooklyn, New York

 Pasquele Parziale 15 Nov 1879 Craco, Italy New York, New York

 Thomas Pascariello 25 Feb 1888 Craco, Italy Kings, New York White

 Rocco Perretti 22 Sep 1888 Craco, Italy Kings, New York

 Antonio Prisco 18 Jan 1893 Craco, Italy New York, New York

 Giuseppe Rinaldi 11 Jul 1884 Craco, Italy Brooklyn, New York

 Leonardo Antonio Rinaldi 22 Jan 1891 Craco, Italy Queens, NY

 Peter Rinaldi 8 Dec 1884 Craco, Italy Kings, New York

 Frank Roccanova 12 Apr 1895 Craco, Italy New York

 Joseph Sarubbi 16 Jul 1894 Craco, Italy Hudson, New Jersey

 Michael A Sellare 29 Jun 1894 Craco, Italy New York, New York

 Anthony Sellaro 31 Jan 1892 Craco, Italy Kings, New York

 Peter Serafin 29 Jan 1886 Craco, Italy New York, New York

 Carlo Simonetti 9 Sep 1889 Craco, Italy Bronx, New York

 Dominick Anthony Spero 15 Jan 1883 Craco, Italy Queens, NY

 Frank J Spero 7 Jun 1886 Craco, Italy Kings, New York

 Frank Tocci 27 Apr 1877 Craco, Italy Camden, New Jersey

 Joseph Tuzio 22 Sep 1890 Craco, Italy Kings, New York

 Prospero Tuzio 9 Sep 1893 Craco, Italy Hudson, New Jersey

 Frank Vitarello 16 Apr 1878 Craco, Italy Kings, New York

 Joseph Viverito 2 Aug 1885 Craco, Italy New York, New York

 Nicola Zaffarese 7 Mar 1883 Craco, Italy New York, New York



Click here to view A Year in Craco.  Events in Craco for every month are listed.  Thank you to Joe Rinaldi in Canada for his contribution to this page.

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