This website is a loving collaboration of cousins across the US, from Dover, NH to Seattle WA and a lot of places in between. Photographs come from family collections saved over the years and gathered to preserve the history of this Italian-American family. Our first generation, and many of the second, have gone, and we want to pass our rich heritage on to the third and fourth while there is time - because there is never enough time.
Carmelina, the oldest of the Sangiovanni women, will celebrate her 97th birthday in February 2009. This site was a birthday gift to her, as well as to her siblings, most of whom are no longer with us. At a time when only men were given the privilege of an education and women were expected to tend the family, Lena cooked, cleaned and sewed nearly all their clothes and became a mother to her siblings when Rosina fell ill and died.
The Sangiovanni's weren't much different from other families of their day, living within one city block and sharing things like automobiles, clothing, toys. They raised chickens in a barn behind the market they owned and rented out the garage to a welder and half the store to a barber for extra income. They kept a produce garden and it was an adventure for the grandchildren to jump into Api's pickup truck to go pick vegetables and pull weeds. They fed the local policeman so he would turn his back on illegal production of grappa during Prohibition.
Many of his grandchildren were afraid of Api's gruff ways. He chased us when we used the unripe grapes for ammunition in our pea-shooters, or climbed out Mike's bedroom window onto the garage roof to pick pears. They played together and, when one came down with mumps, measles or chicken pox, it became a shared event. We never lacked for playmates, babysitters, or friends.
The old house and store, which more recently was the fitting location of a wonderful Italian restaurant, became the victim of a fire. The building was torn down and the whereabouts of the front stoop with "GS" intricately tiled, is unknown.
The hope is that this website will continue to be a "work in progress" from one generation to the next.
A sad epitaph for the Fenn Street property. The 168 Fenn St. building that once housed Breda's Cafe and Catering (and other forgotten historical and cultural endeavors) was demolished by D. Condron construction company of Lanesboro.
Fire destroyed Breda's on Dec. 9, 2001.