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

Jan22nd2017

Family Stories – Pass Them On!

by  Phyllis Zeck

Auntie Phyllis and her daughter Gina’s Family

Today I will post the 5th and last audio clip that I have from a series of interviews that my bother Rob and I had with our beloved Aunt Phyllis in 2011. To listen to the other interviews, click on the box titled “Vincent Family” in the categories box to the right.

This series of blog posts have brought back wonderful memories for me and I hope that listening to Auntie’s voice has brought you as much joy as it has brought me. In the clip below you can hear the tenderness in Auntie’s voice as she tells us the story of how she sat in her grandmother Elvira’s kitchen on Sunday and Wednesday to watch her grandmother prepare spaghetti for dinner. Thank you for the priceless stories Auntie!

2244 Harrison St

Photo courtesy of Todd Harrison & Oakley 1939

The photo to the left is 2244 W Harrison St which was Auntie Phyllis and mom’s first home. I can envision the girls dashing across the street to see their aunts, uncles, and cousins each day. The photo below was taken in 1939. Click here to read more about the music store. If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you will see my great grandfather’s name (P. Del Principe) on the top of the building on the left, next to the gas station.

Auntie Phyllis was born Phyllis Elvira 16 Nov 1927 and passed away 21 Sep 2013. Some very significant events happened the same year Auntie was born. Population in Chicago was over 2.7 million people. Transatlantic telephone service began between New York and London, a woman took a seat on the New York Stock Exchange breaking the all male tradition, Babe Ruth signed a 3 year contract with the New York Yankees for a guarantee of $70,000 a year becoming baseball’s highest paid player.

Babe Ruth

The US Supreme Court ruled that bootleggers must pay income tax (still pondering how that was enforced), Charles Lindbergh flew from Long Island, NY on the Spirit of St Louis on his solo flight to France, the era of talking pictures arrived with the opening of “The Jazz Singer” starring Al Jolson. In Chicago Al Capone’s support allowed Big Bill Thompson to return to the mayor’s office where Thompson pledged to clean up Chicago and remove the crooks, and Chicago Midway International airport opened. 

My siblings and I love to reminsece about our mother and Auntie Phyllis and Holly has shared one of her favorite memories below.

Holly and Aunty Phyllis 2009

“Driving around with the ladies (Mom and Aunty Phyllis) was always a scary adventure. Mom was the navigator. I’m not sure how or why she got that job when she would get lost 10 feet away from the house. Aunty was the driver. I’m convinced she scared everyone
driving around her as much as she scared me. I was always designated to the back seat where I would have plenty of air for my panic attacks while we drove around aimlessly, mom yelling at aunty, “Turn here!” and aunty yelling back, “Which way??”. Every time aunty would turn left and go over the cement dividers in the middle of busy streets, I’d throw my hands over my eyes and say, “You’re not supposed to do that!”. She’s calmly brush her hand through the air and say, “Those are there just to make you go slower when you do U-turns… we should have left her at home Corinne”. They’d both laugh and turn the Andrea Bocelli music up louder.” 

Corinne Del Principe Winike (my mother). Corner of Harrison and Oakley

Click the audio below to hear the last clip of Rob’s and my interview with Auntie Phyllis.

 
 

Jan16th2017

Cousins Make The Best Friends

by  Phyllis Zeck

Since my father had no siblings, my only set of cousins were the children of Auntie Phyllis, my mother’s sister. They lived on the east coast so we didn’t get to see them often, but we made the most of the time we did see each other. The photo to the left was taken in 1962 in Springfield, MA. Back row: Auntie Phylllis holding Gina, Grandpa, mom holding Holly. Center row: Rob (kneeling), Tom, Mark, Toni. Front row: Ricky, Phyllis, Janice and Steve.

When my siblings and I started our families our children got together as often as possible. Now the middle generation help gather our grands for play dates, zoo lights, and pool 

Jared, Robert, Dominick, Ashley, Robin, Lindsay

parties all year round. It’s a miracle when everyone can unite at the same time! My two oldest children Buck & Heidi and my grandson Tyler are missing from these photos. Someday I’m going to corral everyone at the same time and snap photos like crazy.

I asked Rob to listen to one of the clips from our interview with Auntie Phyllis and he shared his thoughts below.

Ava, Abby, Kayla, Tyler, Gracie

Rob wrote “Phyllis included recordings of our ancestors speaking. Nothing recalls memories quicker than hearing the voice of a loved one who has long ago passed on. Especially when it involves people in the family who have shared many of the same experiences. Experts say that is one reason why siblings stay close in many families: the common bond of recognizing your mother’s stressful voice when she can’t find her car keys, for instance. No one else in the world would know that sound unless they had been there and shared the experience.

So, it was with that kind of anticipation and attention when I listened to the latest recording Phyllis sent me, of an interview we did with Aunty Phyllis many years ago. Hearing her speak again, and especially the sound of her laughter, brought her presence and spirit right back to me. Or maybe her voice brought me back to HER!” 

Michele, Toni, & Gina
Ricky, Richard, & Mark

In the 4th audio clip from our 2011 interview Auntie Phyllis talks about her uncles, growing up with her cousins, working in the music store, and eloping with Richard. I asked her about advertising that was purchased for the music stores. I ran across this advertisement in Google Books. It was placed in the Popular Mechanics magazine in March of 1938. The ad states that the music store was established in 1890. 

Click below to listen to part of our interview with Auntie. If you’d like to hear snippets of this interview in past blog posts, click on the “Vincent Family” category in the right column of the web site.

 

 
 

Dec17th2016

Auntie’s Godmother – Gemma Ciolli

by  Phyllis Zeck

Elvira Ciolli in center.  Antonio Del Principe far right.

Elvira Ciolli in center. Antonio Del Principe far right.

In one of the interviews my brother Rob and I had with Auntie Phyllis in 2011, Auntie Phyllis talked about her grandmother Elvira’s siblings. I was not aware that her sister Gemma Nicolina Ciolli Leone lived right across the street (didn’t every family member live right across the street?), or that Gemma was Auntie’s godmother.  Both mom and Auntie Phyllis were baptized at St. Callistus Church.

Click here to see a birth record for Gemma (item #62). In the audio clip below Auntie also discusses what life was like during the depression. The photo to the left is Elvira and her son, Antonio, is standing next to her.  I don’t know the other two people in the photo.   Elvira

The photo to the right may be Elvira and Gemma.  If anyone recognizes these ladies, please email me and let me know. Gemma (1855-1952) married Giacomo Leone and they had 10 children; Esther, Carmen (Mimi), Phyllis (Fifi), Jeanette (Gerr), Christine, Anthony, Rocco, Joseph, Anne, and Josephine. Carmen and Phyllis were twins. I am in touch with Rocco’s son, Giacomo. Giacomo emailed me and told me “Carmen and Phyllis were twins.  There were perhaps two other children who died from Tuberculous.  My parents were Rocco Mario Leone and Caroline Philomena Amici. My mother is a first cousin of Don and Jim Amici. Don was the more famous actor, his brother Jim was a local Chicago radio personality.” As a young adult Giacomo visited the family’s music store.

Auntie Phyllis and Mom (Corinne)

Auntie Phyllis and Mom (Corinne)

You can read about Gemma’s brave journey from Pescasseroli, Italy at this blog post and see her 1901 immigration record. It appears that she traveled to America with no other family member in 1901 onboard the ship Patria.  

Click the audio link to below to hear Rob and I discuss Elvira’s sisters and the depression with Auntie Phyllis. This is our 3rd audio clip from our 2011 interview Auntie Phyllis. For more articles about Gemma click on her name in the Categories column to the right.

 

 
 

May26th2016

Taylor Street Neighborhood

by  Phyllis Zeck

Corinne, Phyllis, Lori & Me

Corinne, Phyllis, Lori & Me

For many years, in the late 1990’s, Auntie Phyllis lived with my mother Corinne and my sister Lori in Romeoville, Illinois. In the audio clip below Auntie Phyllis talks of her love for Chicago, joining the Red Cross during WWII and the birth of her first child, Mark. The photo on the left was taken a few years before Lori bought her home in Romeoville. The next paragraph is one of Lori’s favorite memories of that time.

“Auntie Phyllis lived with me in Romeoville Illinois. Our house was a few blocks away from a Jewel-Osco grocery store/Pharmacy. Auntie Phyllis went to that store every day rain or shine. One day I went to the store and as I was walking in, I saw in the entrance corridor great big 20 x 30 pictures of people. Across the top was a banner that said our regular customers. I went home and said to Auntie Phyllis “you better watch yourself or you’re going to wind up on that wall”! We had a good laugh over that, and every time she went to the store after that I would tell her to wear a disguise or avoid the manager, and if she asked me to go to the store for her, I would say “yes but I’m not telling them it is for you, I don’t want to wind up on that wall”! She continued to shop there every day but somehow, she never wound up on the wall of shame! “

Phyllis Vincent

Phyllis and her granddaughter Becca

My brother Rob recalls “My first memories of Aunty Phyllis were in 1956, when she and cousin Mark came to stay with my family and me for a year while Uncle Vince was stationed in the Navy. I was enchanted having a playmate my own age. Aunty was in heaven at that time, returned to the bosom of her large family after a long period spent isolated in the East with Richard, in Springfield, Mass. Reconciling with her father was important and she often referred to that feeling of “coming home,” which in no small measure meant being close to her precious father. This would be the first time she would spend living with her beloved sister, Corinne. In time they would become “Golden Girls” and the easy familiarity of living together began that year when Aunty came home to Chicago.”

Click the link below to listen to part of the interview that Rob and I had with Auntie Phyllis in 2011. This is the 2nd audio clip. To listen to the other interviews, click on the box titled “Vincent Family” in the categories box to the right.


Thanks to my siblings for their memories of our Aunt. Lori lives in Utah now but comes to visit us in Portland frequently. Rob is a national leader and trainer for Recovery International.  Click on this link to hear Rob discuss Mental Health Recovery. 

 
 

Apr25th2016

Mending A Broken Heart

by  Phyllis Zeck

Auntie Phyllis  and her great grandchild

Auntie Phyllis and her great grandchild

This weekend I edited more of the three interviews that my brother Rob and I recorded with Auntie Phyllis in 2011.  Auntie was my mother Corinne’s older sister. You can listen to the first interview by clicking here. I’ve skipped ahead to our third interview but will be editing the other two interviews as time permits. In this discussion we asked auntie what has given her the most pleasure and satisfaction in her life. “My children”, she told us. Phyllis and Richard had five children; Mark, Toni, Ricky, Gina, and Michele.

We also talked about my genealogy research and how pleased auntie was to begin correspondence with her first cousin, Joe Del Principe.  Rob then moved the discussion to God, faith, miracles, and Heaven. Auntie Phyllis encourages her descendants (in 2011 she had 14 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren) to follow their dreams. We ended with a story about how Auntie “calmly” explained to an aide in her assisted living center the difference between spaghetti and macaroni.

Auntie’s daughter Michele shares a memory below about her mother, thank you Michele!

“My First Broken Heart. I suffered my first broken heart at the age of 15 and I’ll never forget how my mother helped me get over it. After I had been lying in my mother’s bed crying for a couple of days, my mom came home from work one day with a little pink and white heart shaped pillow about 6″ x 6″. Coming from a family of five children, we didn’t often get spontaneous gifts so it meant a lot to me and I knew it was an effort to help me get through my first broken heart. The pillow itself was nothing special but for some reason I kept it in my cedar chest for years. When I’d see it, It would remind me of my first love and my first broken heart.

Auntie Phyllis & Michele (appor 2010)

Auntie Phyllis & Michele (approx 2010)

Fast forward many years, and my grown daughter is lying on her bed crying her eyes out over her first broken heart and suddenly I understood. My heart was breaking watching my daughter with her first broken heart. I wanted so badly to help her get through it. I so wished there was something I could do or say to help her and I felt helpless. My heart hurt. I went to my cedar chest and picked up the pink and white heart pillow. It no longer represented my first broken heart. I now understood that when my mother gave me this heart pillow, it was because her heart was breaking and she wanted to do something, anything, to help me. It was now about my mother’s love for me. I knew what I had to do. I handed the heart pillow to my daughter and told her about my first broken heart and how my mother helped me get through it.”

Click on this button below to listen to an excerpt from our interview with Auntie Phyllis in 2011.