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


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.





Francesco Nova

by  Phyllis Zeck

Frank was the youngest of Pietro and Elvira’s sons, he was born in 1908.  His middle name means New.

 Elvira’s second child was born in 1889 and named Francesco.  He died as an infant in Pescasseroli, Italy.

Frank married Edith Veronica Vitullo and they had two children Muriel and Frank “Luke”.  

Frank worked for his brother Tony at the accordion store on Wabash Ave, in the Loop in downtown Chicago.  When Tony died from his injuries after a fall off a ladder, Frank took over the store.  Tony’s wife Margaret became Frank’s business partner.  Frank later moved the store to Cicero Ave & Madison St.

Luke’s daughter Lisa remembers the music stores well.  Her brothers took drum and guitar lessons and she used to listen to all the 45 records.



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.





by  Phyllis Zeck



Emil and Rose Solomon had four children: Bernard (Bernie), Anne, William (Willie), and Eleanor.  They raised their children in the apartment above the music store at 5518 West North Avenue in Chicago.  Emil ran the music store until 1960, then Otto and Frank took over.

In the photos: top left is Emil, top right is Emil’s son Bernie, bottom right is Emil (possibly with his son Willie), and bottom left is Emil’s son Bernie with Frank (Luke). Click on any photo to enlarge it.





Don Pietrantonio Amabile Ciolli

by  Phyllis Zeck

Arco (Arch) Ciolli

Joe Del Principe has been corresponding with Salvatore Toscano in Pescasseroli.  Salvatore is an Innkeeper who owns a Bed and Breakfast called Via Della Piazza.  Please visit Salvatore’s website at www.viadellapiazza.it

During their correspondence Joe and Salvatore discovered that they are relatives on the Ciolli side of the family!  Joe’s grandmother Elvira Ciolli Del Principe and Salvator’s great grandmother  Ester Ciolli Saltarelli were sisters.

Ester and her husband Francesco Saltarelli had 5 children: Carmela, Amelio, Maria, Paolo, and Angelo.  Paola immigrated to the US aboard the S.S. Duca Degli Abruzzo on April 1, 1920 and settled in Detroit Michigan.   Amelio immigrated in March of 1914 and lived in Chicago, Detroit, and Ann Arbor Michigan.  Ester died when her children were very young.  Salvatore’s grandfather Angelo Saltarelli was just 5.

Angelo Saltarelli married Ines Pistilli when he was 25.  He was a Shepherd like his father Francesco.  He would follow the livestock during the winter to Apulia and in the summer on the Pescasseroli mountains.

Winter in Pescasseroli

After he was married he and his father worked for the same employer building roads.  In 1937 he left for the then Italian colony in Africa – first Libya and then Somalia & Ethiopia to build roads.  In 1941 he was captured by the British army (even though he was not a soldier) and sent to a Raf camp in Uganda on Victoria Lake.  In 1945 he was taken to Glasgow Scotland and finally in 1948 he was set free and went back to Pescasseroli.  He did not see his family for about 11 years.

Angelo had 5 daughters, the eldest is Salvatore’s mother Ester who was born in 1931.  The other daughters were: Benedetta born in 1933,  Zelia born in 1935, Anna born in 1937, and Franca born in 1950.  Angelo had to wait 11 years to meet Anna.

Ester married Arnaldo Toscano and they had a son named Salvatore.

Click here to look back in time at our family tree.  You will see that another member of the Saltarelli family married a Del Principe back in 1789 when Mattia married Maria Scholastica Saltarelli.

The Ciolli home is behind the peach house

Salvatore told us that he recently spoke with a woman who is a direct descendent of the Ciolli family.  Her name is Ofelia Vitale and her grandfather was Florindo Ciolli, Ester & Elvira’s brother.  She lives in the house in the oldest part of Pescasseroli that was the dwelling of Elvira and her family.  A whole block seemed to belong to the Ciolli family.

Salvatore remembers some of the stories  that his grandfather Angelo, Elvira’s sister Gemma, and Ofelia have told him over the years.  Ofelia remembers that during the second world war the times were very hard.  American relatives helped the family in Italy by sending parcels to them.

This sign says “Salita (Uphill) Dott (Dr.) Ciolli”

Elvira’s father was Pietrantonio Amabile Ciolli.  He was the town’s Apothecary (pharmacist/chemist).  His wife Filomena Ursitti was a property owner.  Amabile and Filomena had about 17 children.  One of the children was a priest at Pescasseroli’s parish.

During one of her research project’s Kathy from GenTracer discovered that the 1854 marriage record shows the title “Don” before the name of my great great grandfather Pietrantonio Amabile Ciolli.  I asked Kathy about this and she said “Don is a title, as is Donna.  It is usually applied to landowners and is the top of the social strata in a town, topped only by a title (Baron, Duke, Prince, etc)”.  Also, the 1828 marriage records of Raffaele Ciolli states that Raffaele’s father Medici Carmine’s occupation is a doctor.   There is a sign hanging on a building leading to the Ciolli home that says “Dott (Dr.) Ciolli.  Does this sign refer to Dr. Medici Ciolli or to Pietrantonio Amabile Ciolli?

Salvatore told me that many people from Pescasseroli left for the United States the same time my great grandparents did.  A lot of the town folks abandoned the Catholic religion to follow a popular Protestant group in Southern Italy.   The town split in two and there were many arguments about important issues such as education.  The Bishop sent some missionaries to intervene and in the end they defeated the Protestants.  Most of the Protestant people left for America.  They may have gone of their own free will, or they may have been pressured to leave.  Salvatore relays this story from a very important Historian/Philosopher named Benedetto Croce born in Pescasseroli in 1867.

Thank you Joe for linking us to our new friend.  Thank you Salvatore for the wonderful photographs and all the information.  I hope to communicate with Salvatore again to learn more about the Ciolli side of the family.