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

Jan13th2019

Bernice’s Manicotti

by  Phyllis Zeck

Standing L to R: Lois, Lorraine, Helen, Bernice (in black dress), Marion & Grace. Seated: Grandpa Charles Bihler (Bernice’s father) & Paul

Bernice Dorothy Bihler is Joe Del Prinicipe’s mother. Joe shared his mother’s Manicotti recipe with me and said that he recently taught his granddaughter how to make it. Joe’s mother Bernice and Bernice’s father Charles Bihler are in the photo to the left taken approx 1950. Also in the photo are Bernice’s sisters. The photo below is Bernice’s mother Augusta Voss Bihler.  Thank you Joe.  Lori and I hope that Holly makes this soon!

From Joe:  Below is a recipe handed down from my mother for my favorite Italian pasta dish. It is not a quick and easy recipe to produce, but I have always found it to be well worth every minute of prep time while enjoying the fruits of the labor, or maybe it is from enjoying the wonderful glass of sherry while I was making it.   

Augusta Voss

Marion, Augusta Voss Bihler, and Lois. Approx 1926

Manicotti – Meat & Cheese filled 
Makes 8 servings

1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 lb. Ground Beef
1 lb. Ground Pork
1 lb. Italian Sausage – casings removed
¼ Cup Cream Sherry
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1 teaspoon Minced Garlic
¾ cup Grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano Cheese
15 oz. Light Ricotta Cheese
2 ea. 4.5 oz Sliced Mushrooms

3 cans 6 oz. Tomato Paste
2 cans 14.5 oz. Diced Tomatoes
1 ½ Cup Water
¼ Cup Cream Sherry (Optional)
2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
2 teaspoon Onion Powder
1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1 teaspoon Minced Garlic
2 tablespoon Oregano
1 tsp Salt

Manicotti Pasta – 14 Shells
16 oz. Mozzarella Cheese Grated

Add olive oil to large 12” skillet, heat over medium heat. Add ground beef, pork, sausage, and mix in garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, minced garlic, and cream sherry.

Stir frequently until brown and drain. Add parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese and mushrooms to meat mixture. Mix thoroughly. Set aside while making sauce.
In a large mixing bowl mix diced tomatoes, tomato paste, water, cream sherry, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, minced garlic, water, and cream sherry (optional – sometimes I prefer to just drink it).

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Using a 14” x 10” baking dish, place a ¼” layer of sauce on bottom.  Using the meat mixture, stuff each pasta shell and place in baking dish until all shells have been filled. Mix leftover meat mixture with remaining sauce and spoon evenly over pasta shells.
Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 60 minutes.
Remove from oven and increase temperature to 375 degrees.
Remove foil and place shredded mozzarella cheese evenly over top of shells.
Place uncovered baking dish back in oven for 15 minutes or until cheese begins to brown slightly.

 
 

Nov17th2018

I Will Love You Forever

by  Phyllis Zeck

Today is a very difficult day for my family and friends.  My brother passed away this summer and today would have been his 69th birthday.  Robert Gilbert Winike was the oldest of eight children born to Corinne and Robert.  Our father passed away when Rob was 20 years old.  Rob helped guide his siblings through life giving them strength and confidence as they forged their paths.

Rob was the first to move to Portland and one by one brothers and sisters followed him.  Many of us settled in the St Johns neighborhood where we raised our children who affectionately nicknamed Rob “Poppy”.  The Winike clan continued to grow. As my nephews and nieces arrived I realized that my siblings were the best gift my mother and father ever gave me. We leaned on each other as our children grew and we offered love, support, and guidance as our babies maneuvered through the bumpy road toward becoming adults. We made sure that family gatherings happened frequently.  With a clan like ours those parties were filled with stories of our childhood, teasing, laughter and love. Then, in the blink of an eye, there was a whole new generation of children and Rob became a grandfather.  The 1985 photo below is of  Rob, Lori, Janie, Paul, myself, Holly, Grandma Corinne (her grandchildren) and Steve.

Family was one of Rob’s greatest joys in life.  Rob loved to tell stories of his youth.  Until the age of 10 he lived in Chicago and was surrounded by Del Principe & Ciolli families, most of them living within a few homes of Rob, our parents and our grandfather. In 1958 our parents along with grandpa Gilbert and the 4 oldest children moved to the suburbs of Villa Park.  Janice was the first sibling born in Villa Park. 

Rob thrived on helping others. His service to the church started when he was a youth and lasted his whole life. When his children were young Rob would coordinate overnight shelters at his church so the homeless had a place to sleep.  Rob had a deep religious conviction, which helped comfort him through many of life’s good and bad times. Rob and my sister Holly are my daughter Ashley’s godparents.  Rob and his wife Judy are my granddaughter Abby’s godparents. 

Rob was an example of a Christian who used his faith and relationship with God to grow as a person.  He went through ups and downs and particularly during the lows in his life he leaned into his faith to improve his life and change for the better.

Rob and I shared the excitement of establishing this family history blog. He contributed so many of his memories to countless blog posts for which I will be forever grateful.  Rob was a gifted and talented writer.  Some of my favorite memories of researching and blogging with Rob is the time we audio recorded several interviews with Auntie Phyllis.  When you get lonely for Rob’s voice and laughter, click on one of the interviews. Click here to listen to one of my favorite posts.  This always brings a smile to my face. To hear more audio interviews click on the Category column in the right for “Vincent Family”.

Lindsay, Robin, Tyler, Rob & Judy

I feel the heartache daily of saying goodbye to this wonderful man and will for a very long time to come.  He has touched us all in different ways and for myself and Ashley there are endless memories of fun adventures that fill us with contentment and happiness.  We try to find peace rejoicing in the knowledge that Rob is in Heaven and watching out for us all, just as he did in life.  Rob will forever be deeply and dearly missed.

 

 
 

Apr22nd2018

Our Lady of the Angels Fire

by  Phyllis Zeck

On December 1, 1958 a fire broke out at Our Lady of the Angels Catholic grade school in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood.  92 children and 3 nuns were killed. The fire started in the basement and spread quickly through the school reaching many combustable substances which accelerated the fire. Jean Gallo, one of my mother’s best friends, had two children who survived this fire.

My mother had two close friends in high school who were sisters.  Their names were Jean & Teresa Spotts.  Teresa married August (Gus) Russo and they had two children, Barbara and Michael.  They lived near Berwyn.  Jean married Frank Ernest Gallo and they had four or five children; Frank Jr, Sam (Sandy), Anthony, and Theresa.  

My brother Tom told me the following details about mom’s close friends.  “Aunite Jean lived in the Del Principe apartment building at Harrison & Oakley while her husband served in the military. Everyone in the family loved Jean and Theresa’s father. The last time we saw the Gallo family was probably Christmas 1970.  We took 2 cars to their house in the south suburbs.  Rob & Janie took one car and mom took most of us kids in the other car.  Uncle Frank had a split level in a very nice neighborhood.  He stayed in the kitchen cooking Italian food the whole time.” Frank Sr passed away in 1973.

Tom continued, “Jean and Frank’s oldest son Frank Jr and his brother Sam survived the horrible school fire at Our Lady of the Angels Catholic school. Frank was 9 and in the 4th grade. Sam was 7 and in the 2nd grade. The boy’s father was a paratrooper in the Army Air Force and he had taught Frank Jr and Sam how to jump from trees and roofs, which is why Frank as able to survive the fire”.

If you click this link and scroll to Room 210 you will read the following:

Frankie was hospitalized overnight with minor burns and for observation of minor injuries. “A kid in my room jumped up out of his seat and hollered, ‘smoke.’ And smoke started coming through the cracks in the door. Our nun was writing on the blackboard. She told us to open the windows and start praying. Then everybody started running toward the windows because they couldn’t breathe. She just stood there, cool as a cucumber.” Frank said that after seeing several boys jump, he pulled himself onto the window sill, sat down and slid off, falling 25 feet to the hard ground below. “I felt like my back was broken. I crawled along a while and then got up. A lot of them couldn’t get up.” Firemen found Frankie sitting on a curb in shock, and had him taken to the hospital. Frank passed away on May 8, 2011.

Brother Sam Gallo age 7. Sam escaped without injury from his first floor classroom.  Neighbor Alice Tarsa took him into her home until his parents could get him. 

Tom also remembers “The church was rebuilt and is still open.  It’s 3 miles from the house where mom and Auntie Phyllis grew up.  The last Del Principe to live in the house was Uncle John and his wife Jeanette.  One of the most painful memories of Our Lady of Angels tragedy is that most of the children were taken directly to the county morgue which is where Jeanette worked. 65 children were taken directly to the morgue.”

Jean Spotts and Frank Gallo Gus RussoThe photo to the left is Auntie Jean and Frank Gallo’s wedding photo. My mother Corinne is second from the left.  Jean’s sister Teresa is between Jean and my mother.  I have two more photos of the bride and would love to forward these three photos, which are in excellent condition, to Jean or Theresa descendants.  Unfortunately we’ve lost touch with the Gallo and Russo families.  

 
 

Apr7th2018

Chicago Panhandling in 1914

by  Phyllis Zeck

del principe, ciolliI have a subscription to Newspapers.com and every so often I jump onto the website to search for articles about our Del Principe and Ciolli relatives.  I found a very interesting one page article from the Chicago Tribune dated Sunday April 19, 1914 which contained my great grandfather Pietro (Peter) Del Principe’s name. The photos are amazing however the author’s writing skills are certainly different from what we would read in todays news stories. There are 2 photos of the author playing Pietro’s hand organ.

You can read the whole article by clicking the pdf here Chicago Tribune Apr 19, 1914 however it can be hard on the old eyes. Zoom in to read the text.  

This is what the author wrote about my great grandfather. The section titled No One Cared for the Music says: “There are several reason why hand organ begging has its drawbacks. In the first place it is hard to get hold of a hand organ in Chicago. The art seems to be passé. Finally I got a tip through one of the big music houses that an Italian over at Harrison and Jefferson streets might have one of the instruments.  Peter del Principe had one, I found, and he promised to loan it to me. But when I went back the next day, dressed for the job (as a begger), there was nothing doing. He merely shook his head and muttered. It took a $20 deposit to get hold of a the battered affair. Afterward, when I asked Signor del Principe to explain, he grunted, “No lika da elo’s!”  

The author continued “I located in front of a saloon on the west side with a “please help the blind” sign pinned to my coat and placed my hat on the wheezy organ to catch the flow of gold.  Peeking out of the corner of one eye, I could see that I wasn’t “making good” at all. It seemed so easy for the pedestrians – men, women, and children, old and young – to pass me by. Every third note on the organ was flat, and the tune was of the “Don’t Turn Away, Madge, I am Still Your Friend” vintage. Just about when the thing was repeating the chorus for the fifth time the owner of the saloon came and tapped on the window. When I tried my luck farther up the street two Italians came along and one of them bent over me with a gutteral something about “Americano” butting in on somebody else’s trade.”

The rest of the article is interesting and I was able to create a visual for myself of what downtown Chicago was like in 1914 based on the photos and the authors narration. This was a fun find for me and I hope I can turn up more newspaper articles about our ancestors.

 
 

Jan3rd2018

Christmas Cards

by  Phyllis Zeck

Carl DiNella c 1960I love receiving Christmas cards. In the “old” days the cards started arriving the day after Thanksgiving and were hung across the window frames and lined the entrance doors to my house covering the doors like wallpaper.  My favorites were the cards that had glitter glued on them, they looked so elegant.

In the past 10-15 years the cards I receive have dwindled significantly. The religious tone of the season’s message was replaced by photos of family on some of the cards.  Digital cards have also become popular as they send messages of holiday cheer via music and magical animation.  

This year the beautiful card above was sent to me by my 3rd cousin Victoria Di Nella. Vickie lives about 2 miles from the house I was raised in. Her great grandmother is Bibbiana Celestina Ciolli.  My great grandmother Elvira and Bibbiana were sisters. I had the pleasure of meeting Vickie in 2011 at the home of another cousin, Allen Adezio. Allen and his wife Marie hosted a lunch for Vickie, myself and my sister Lori. You can read about our fun day by clicking here. If you click on the card to enlarge it, you will see the name DiNella in lower left corner. Inside the card was a lovely holiday message and text which says “The artist of this original watercolor was Carl DiNella. c 1960”.  

Me being me, I wanted to find out more about the card and Carl so I emailed Vickie.  Vickie explained that her father Emilio had an older brother named Carmello (Carl). Carl was an artist and Vickie took a photo of a watercolor Carl painted, then made it into the Christmas card. Carl has passed away but Vickie has created a wonderful way to keep his memory alive and share Carl’s talent. The painting to the right (click to enlarge) is a watercolor that Carl painted in 1952 which was the year that he visited Pescasseroli, Italy.

Below are a few more photos of watercolor paintings that Vickie has shared. Thank you Vickie, your uncle was very talented.