My Motivation Behind the Creation of ItalianHarlem.com- My Father, Albert :-)

Daddy In December of 2007, I was 3 years into my “whirling dervish” obsession of gaining every drop of family history knowledge that I could garner. It became self-evident that my ancestral journey had begun, and so I conceived the idea of creating a website to memorialize, and forever “etch” into existence, the information that I would render from this extensive research. I named my website “Pathway to My Ancestry,” and so began the painstaking steps to build the site on the then existing “Live Spaces” platform. A few years into building the site, live spaces was drawing to closure, thereby necessitating me to find another platform to maintain my website. Hence, I found WordPress, and so here I am, and hopefully, will continue to be! In the interim, I had to transfer whatever was transferable to the new website, and decided to change the title of my blog to “Italian Harlem.”

Consequently, my ancestral journey transitioned from a personal family history journey, to a much broader sense of consciousness…that of the desire for public awareness of a now defunct Italian community in New York City. This “microcosm” of an urban neighborhood was “developed” in the 1870’s, with the building of tenement housing, and was originally inhabited by Italian immigrants, primarily male laborers. I discovered a broader sense of the “pulse” of this Italian community, through the voices of my father, his brothers, sisters, cousins, and others who once lived in East Harlem, when it was referred to by its residents as “Harlem.” As I listened to the stories of a bygone time, resounding with carefree thoughts of the “good old days,” it occurred to me that there was much more to this old neighborhood than the stories that were resonating in my mind. I was right! The posts that I have shared, and will share, within this blog, are a testament to the true nature, and fabric of a place that really mattered to a multitude of Italian immigrants and their families.

As I am drawing near to the 11th year anniversary of what has become a nostalgic endeavor of “genealogical/anthropological/sociological/historical” research of “Ye Olde Italian Harlem,”  I must tell you that this historical journey has been, and will continue to be an intrinsic part of my life here on this planet. My interest in preserving the memory of Italian Harlem will never falter. My research is a true passion of mine, one of many passions that I am fortunate enough to have in my life, including first, and foremost, my beautiful children, a loving and devoted husband, and my adorable rescue Shih Tzu furbaby “Romeo.” I also embrace my love of photography, and my fascination for the metaphysical sciences!

If there was one person that instilled in me an interest in the history of Italian Harlem, it was my father. My dad was born in 1924 in a tenement apartment on East 110th Street, right next to St. Ann’s Church. He was one of 7 children. His dad, Anthony (Tony) was a produce shop owner, who also sold fruits and vegetables on a pushcart on First Avenue. My dad’s mom, Catherine (Katie) was a seamstress, church secretary, playwright/producer, milliner,(hatmaker) homemaker, realtor, entrepreneur…a true Renaissance woman. I learned so much about my grandparents, and great grandparents, thanks to the amazing memory of my father, Albert, and his siblings.  I am forever grateful to them for sharing with me, through their youthful eyes, their life and times in the old neighborhood.

My father, who was “larger than life,” passed away 3 days before his 89th birthday, in January of 2013. I dedicate this website to the memory of my wonderful and charismatic father, who was known by many as “Uncle Al.”  Although he had hoped to live to “a hun 10,” (as he would often say,) his bright spirit and memory lives on throughout this weblog and within the lives of those who knew, and very much loved him.

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9 Comments on “My Motivation Behind the Creation of ItalianHarlem.com- My Father, Albert :-)”

  1. Michele Bell says:

    Uncle Al meant the world to me. He was my saving grace when I moved into Eastchester with my two children. He encouraged me to be greater than life. Motivated me through his incredible wisdom. He treated me with nothing but great respect. His presence inspired me in so many ways. He was a class act all the way. I miss Uncle Al dearly.

  2. Beautiful Dedication to our father! says:

    Angela I’m so proud of your way with words. YOUR DEDICATION TO OUR FATHER’S MEMORY BROUGHT TEARS TO MY EYES.YOUR TRULY AMAZING.

    Margaret

  3. Michele Bell says:

    Me too Angela! You and Margaret are like sisters to me! Love you both!

  4. Angela Bella says:

    ❤ Thank you, Margaret and Michele! ❤

  5. dana Aiello Haggett says:

    Angela, you have done an amazing job laying down the foundations of your past. I am so fortunate to have crossroads that share yours and have benefited and enjoyed those intersections. We too were raised with the instructions to love each other and cherish our family. I see so many correlations in our upbringing. Watching your posts remind me of our holidays, clothes, food, music, even our Easter outfits matched! You are definitely a chip off the old block and I can only think how excited our relatives would be knowing that you have found a way to bring us closer. I hope there are many more avenues to travel with exciting discoveries, photos, notes. As always, if there is ever anything that I can do to help, please let me know!!
    Fondly, dana

  6. Frank Budano says:

    Like a A site that I can find some of my old friends from 1970 -.1985. Thank you .

  7. Mike says:

    Hi, I love your website. My father was from Italy and my mom is originally from Puerto Rico so your website resonates with me. Although they met in another transitional neighborhood Corona, Queens I have enjoyed reading about this neighborhood where these two ethnic groups lived. Nice job!


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