"A family tree can wither if nobody tends its roots."


Amada’s First Communion May 1911

by  Phyllis Zeck

A trip to my sister’s house would never be complete until I’ve dragged out all of our mother and grandfather’s boxes and riffled through them.  Lori was thinking ahead and had the boxes stashed in my bedroom on the day Don and I arrived for our visit this past September.  One morning I decided to go through the boxes and discovered something I thought I had not seen before. Lori said we looked at it two years ago, but I don’t recall seeing it.

Amada Del Principe's Bible

Amada Del Principe’s Bible

The new treasure was a children’s bible that belonged to my grandfather’s brother Amada.  The front of the Bible is titled “Jesus Teach Me To Pray”. 

I went to our family tree to see if I had any notes about a child named Amada and couldn’t find anything.  So Lori and I searched on Ancestry.com and on Family Search’s website for information about Amada.  Click here for the 1910 census which lists Amada as 10 years old and records that he was born in 1900.  (He is not found in the 1900 census.)  I wondered if the census taker mixed up Amada’s name with one of the boys.  The 1910 census taker spelled Amada’s name wrong (Amalia) and listed the boys birth order as: Amada, Otto, Frank, Gilbert, and John.  This birth order is not correct.

So we searched for Amada in the 1920 census (click here).   The census taker lists the sons birth order as: Amada, Otto, Paul, Gilbert, and Frank.  This is correct.  I could not figure out why they twice put Amada’s birth before Otto who we know was born 20 Oct 1899.  

Today it hit me – Amada is Hank!  I have been spelling Hank’s name Amedeo and have his birthday as 01 Aug 1898.  This still doesn’t explain why Amada’s name is not listed on the 1900 census, but it clears up for me who this Bible belonged to. 

My mother Corinne Caroline’s First Communion

It also made sense that my grandfather Gilbert had Hank’s bible on his night stand.  Grandpa was very close to Hank. Hank passed away on 09 Jun 1969.  My grandfather lived until 1981.   

So it looks like Pietro and Elvira had 17 children, not 18.  This discovery will also explain how Amada “disappeared” after the 1920 census.  Lori and I debated how Amada could have lived to be 21 years old and then just vanish.  We couldn’t figure out how none of the brothers discussed Amada, especially since he left behind a bible from 1911.  If any other family members are researching the brothers and have a different conclusion please let me know.  Click on any of the photos of Amada’s Bible below to enlarge them.  Click the arrow button to return to the blog post.


I will add the photo of Amada’s Bible to our family Heirloom page.  I’m also adding a photo of Lori’s Grandfather clock from Germany.  Grandpa Gilbert bought it for his wife Bertha.  The clock was constructed in the 1930’s and still works like a charm.



Uncle Hank Takes Us for Coffee-and

by  Rob Winike


Coffee-and was a term invented by Uncle Hank. He loved rounding up us kids and taking us out on Saturday morning for Coffee-and Danish, Coffee-and Canolli, or even Coffee-and Sliders at White Castle. He just genuinely loved being in the company of a lot of kids.

On a hot humid Chicago July morning he might take us for coffee and ice cream sandwiches. During the summer breaks he might show up any morning of the week, and yell “Coffee-and! Anybody wanta’ go?!”

Yeah, hey! My brothers and sisters will spill out of their rooms like marbles, and when we still lived in the old neighborhood, cousins poured out of the apartments down the hall, floor to floor. When we were all packed into Uncle Hank’s 1948 Willys Jeep Station Wagon, we felt proud to be part of the “arrangement” we had with him. He would tease us with “How about some Coffee-and spinach?”

Sffpppt! We want Coffee-and Sliders! That was our favorite, especially on a cold, soaking wet morning. The arrangement was that he listened to us, and then decided where to go based on someone’s suggestion, be it from a bigger kid or a little one. He also loved his deli food, though, and had favored spots all over the South Side and West Side. These kinds of delis don’t exist anymore. The owners knew the tastes of their patrons like a doctor knows his patients. Uncle Hank enjoyed a bowl of chili, even for breakfast. Rail thin as he was, that might have been his only meal of the day.

He was reverent, but not churchy – before any sips or nibbles, he instructed us to bow our heads, make the sign of the cross and say “Jesus, Mary and Joseph, protect us.”

Uncle Hank lived with Uncle Paul’s family in one of two tenements the family owned. Ours was on the busy street, Harrison Street. His was on a side street across the alley, on Bell Avenue. Ours had only a pad of cement for a back yard, often cluttered with automobile parts and building supplies. His had a small patch of grass and a tall plank fence to keep out intruders. There was a chestnut tree in the middle of the yard with broad limbs strong enough to hold 5 or 6 kids at once.

When the Winike family moved to Villa Park, it was pure country out there – part marshes and meadows from Salt Creek, with woods everywhere. Uncle Hank loved getting out of the city into the country, and drove over an hour to round us up and look for Coffee-and that might be good to have in our sleepy town.

A couple of Grandpa’s others brothers had Willys Wagons as well, but painted them a different color. They were ideal for big family outings. As in, outings with your BIG FAMILY!

By 1959, he’d already made several trips to Arizona and always returned with fantastic western stories, photos, and souvenirs to show us. He once gave me a mounted collection of Arizona rocks and minerals. Then he showed me how to make my own collection box, with cardboard divisions and cotton backing, so I could mount different kinds of bugs and butterflies on pins. He made me the collector of fascinating objects that I am today.

I remember some of the other uncles jibing him about driving all the way out to “the desert” for two weeks every year.

But he must have inspired at least a few of the Del Principes to embrace life in Arizona, because quite of few of younger generations and their families have, such as Uncle Frank’s son, Luke; as well as my brother, Steve Winike.

Gentle voice, calm and slow demeanor were the big things I remember most about Uncle Hank’s personality. He worked as an elevator operator in the old Sears building in The Loop, and retired from there after 61 years. He could never have stood it for so long if he wasn’t such a calm and patient man.

This is a 6-Transistor radio, identical to the one Uncle Hank gave me. It was a big upgrade from the first one he gave me from the junkpile. It even had an earplug jack. I tried listening to the World Series with it, during class, but the teacher took it away. I explained that it was my hearing device, but he wouldn’t hear of it!

Wizardry with gadgets and electronics was his forte. His workshop looked like a cross between Leonardo Di Vinci’s and Gepetto’s. We were never allowed to go in there without him, and only one child at a time. He’d say, “Do NOT touch A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G,” drawing it out to make sure we heard it, then, “Ya folla?”

To get into it, you had to go underneath his back porch, down a stairwell that he’d dug out himself, through a door with three locks. It was a short door, and he had to duck to go in. We would tease him, “You should get a bigger door, Uncle Hank!” He’d chortle and say, “I’m a short guy, what’sa bigger door for?”

Sly like a fox, he was. Coffee-and was his special and unique gift — to our parents, and especially my grandfather — to sleep in, with no kids around. Grandpa was Uncle Hank’s best friend, and he wanted to give his brother the gift of peace. They were the closest two brothers in the family with many shared enthusiasms, one being Chicago Cubs baseball.

It turns out, the best gift he ever gave to me, he’d reclaimed from a junk pile. A 4-transistor radio, rare back then, was a treat few other kids had. It allowed me to listen to Cub games after school and on Saturdays. Cousins and school chums would crowd around me to hear Lou Boudreau’s shouting and the crowd going wild at Wrigley Field. Later he replaced it with a 6- and then a 9-transistor model, which allowed hands free listening while you rode your bike. The early models had to be held close to your ear.  

Uncle Hank also taught me how to keep score with an official baseball scorecard, which made following the game on the radio a real-time experience. Not only was I more involved in the game, it taught me to envision things out of my range. It encouraged me to use my imagination. And to appreciate some of the special joys that only kids growing up in Chicago would.





Amada (Hank)

by  Phyllis Zeck

Gilbert first row far right, Hank standing behind him

Amada aka Hank was born on Aug 1, 1898 in Chicago, Illinois and he died on Jun 9, 1969.  He and my grandfather were very close.  He’d visit us often in Villa Park when I was young.  He was always soft spoken and kind.  Hank was married to Anna wo was born in 1915 in New Jersey and he had a daughter named Kathleen (Cookie) who was born in 1940.  This photo was taken in the alley behind the music store on Harrison Street.  If anyone knows the other people in the photo, please let me know.