“A BETTER TOMORROW” 1945 filmed in East Harlem

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania is holding a collection of photos, files, and ephemera that belonged to Leonard Covello, the former principal of Benjamin Franklin High School. As kismet would have it, I stumbled upon an extremely rare, short film, filmed by Alexander Hammid, a Czech film director, and cinematographer. Technically, for all intents and purposes, this was a US government propaganda film. I’m not a fan of some of the statements that were made in this film, but it’s a fabulous “portal to the past”, and that’s good enough for me! This is a short film on American public education, intended for public use. It was filmed in 1945, in several New York City locations, with a special focus on Benjamin Franklin High School, located on Pleasant Avenue in East Harlem. I cropped the film to reflect what I would prefer to emphasize-which is daily community life in East Harlem. Oh, and you’re welcome! (wink) 🙂 If you wish to view this film in its entirety, here’s the direct link: https://digitallibrary.hsp.org/index.php/Detail/objects/13235

I must tell you that I have a personal collection of rare papers, photos, letters, and maps-some of which are shown in this film. Long story, but I’ll tell you a bit about how I acquired them. About 5 years ago, I received a phone call from the wife of a bookseller that I frequently bought from. I was asked if I would like to have the remainder of files from the archives of Leonard Covello. I was stunned! I had been searching for years, scouring the planet for anything remotely related to the East Harlem community, and in one phone call, I was given a fabulous gift! The book seller’s name is Michael Cordasco. Michael’s father, Francesco Cordasco, was a well known sociologist, Columbia graduate, and a close friend and colleague of Leonard Covello. When Leonard Covello died, Francesco was given Covello’s files, books, photos, etc. Most of the Covello collection went to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and, with sheer luck and serendipity, the rest went to yours truly! I will never forget that afternoon, when I received that phone call! I’ll post a video soon, talking more about how I acquired the collection. 🙂

I have been meaning to digitize my collection, for years now, but found it difficult to set aside the time to do so. Also, I’m a terrible procrastinator! Ha ha, there, I said it! 🙂 Now, due to the Covid-19 situation, I am not working outside my home, so I have the time to move forward with my digitization and preservation project. Aside from the Covello collection, I have a huge archive of “all things East Harlem” that I have been collecting since 2004. I also have a large photo library of vintage photos that were given to me by family and friends, and I have ephemera which relates to East Harlem as well. Oh, I haven’t mentioned the books, which I have been scouring the internet to find, for almost 15 years!
There’s so much for me to do. When I think about it, I get overwhelmed! Lol However, the clock is ticking, and I owe it to my readership, and to my East Harlem ancestry, to get the ball rolling! 🙂

So, watch this movie, and if you click through to my YouTube page, don’t forget to follow me! Oh, and if you are so inclined, watch my metaphysical videos on crystals, astrology, numerology, tarot, and all that fun stuff! Yes, I wear many hats! Lol 🙂

5 Comments on ““A BETTER TOMORROW” 1945 filmed in East Harlem”

  1. magimoment@aol.com says:

    Hi There.I have been having a bad time trying to up-load the film “A Better Tomorrow”My name is Bob BracilanoIn 1945 I was a student at PS 102 on East 113 Street .My family and I lived just around the corner on East 114th Street.From PS 102 I went to  James Otis Jr. High School which was located in the Benjamin Franklin H.S. Building.At this time a group was formed by a teacher: Mr. Simon Beagle.As the young president of this group, I was asked by Mr.Beagle to send a telegram to President Harry S Truman regarding the fact that a group of black kids had been denied a room in a hotel in Washington D.C.  Well, the press got a hold of this and I was called upon to read this telegram that I had sent to an audience in Town Hall in New York.Really don’t know how much was accomplished by this; but it was a voice speaking out way back in about 1948 about Civil Rights.My mom owned and operated a variety store on 114th Street:  Lee”s Variety and I was given a small counter space and shelving to start: “Robby’s Hobbies”Which in later years became the family business when we moved from Italian East Harlem in 1952 to Richmond Hill, L.I.. and formed: Bob and Lee’s Hobby ShopOf course, growing up in East Harlem has left so many many memories.We were members of the Jefferson Park Methodist Church on East 114 Street between 1st and Pleasant Ave….and that too is just a bundle of memoriesSincerely,Bob


    • Angela Bella says:

      Hi Bob,
      Did you try to view the video again? Maybe you are having wifi/reception difficulties? Let me know. Thanks for visiting! Are you following my blog? If not, please do follow! 🙂


  2. Paul T. Carroccio says:

    My father, Paul Carroccio, Sr. (1918-1965) lived on 107th until he married my mother Stephanie Catania (1920-2000) who lived on 2nd Ave. an 106th. After they were married they got an apartment on 106th between 2nd and 3rd. My father and his five brothers all lived on 107th and they knew Leonard Covello.


  3. Glenn Zeccola says:

    All my paternal ancestors lived on 119st and 2nd ave? My father was born in Harlem 1912.
    All his siblings and extended family was there. I think he eventually moved after the CCC’s, and WW11 to Corona Qns. Our Italian ancestry goes back to Muro Lucano Italy. He died at 103yrs old.


  4. Dominick Fighera says:

    Hi, my name is Dominick Fighera, I was born and raised on 112th Street East Harlem 2161 1st avenue across from Jefferson Park the address is no longer 2161 it’s now 2159 1st avenue I then moved around the corn to 309 East to 11th Street across from the consolidated gas tanks on 110th Street and 111 in 1965, my mother was Rose known as Rosie Red she worked for half Moon on 117 th Street I’m presently living in Morris Park area feel free to contact! How do you do thathow do you do that no


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