The Page of My Grandparents

Now that I am as old as my grandparents, and mio figlio, Mike, has re-awakened my Italian heritage .... here is a (very casual, non-genealogical) page of nostalgia regarding my grandparents, all of whom were born in Italia.

Everything displayed here, I stole from (starting with the ugliest first) my son Mike, my nephew Robert (who has a treasure chest of family stuff) and my (very pretty and not in the same class as those other two jokers) daughter Loretta.

The plan is that I will post new stuff here from time to time, as amuses me, and that's all I promise. It will (slowly) evolve into something readable ...... hopefully.

png The players ....

Notably, brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles are missing, because I promised that this would not be a page of strict genealogy .... it's just stuff about my grandparents (and that is me over on the extreme right, dated 1945).

Note also that I record mom's name as "Ann", it was legally "Maria Anna" (which I only learned late in life ! ).

Footnote: My mother's name, as recorded on her birth certificate, is Maria Anna Fazio, but at some point in her life she casually starting using "Ann Louise Fazio" without legally changing it. In fact, my mother's name ("Ann Louise" on my birth certificate and her marriage license) is different from the name ("Maria Anna") shown on her (?) birth certificate. This could be a very real legal disconnect in any court. Luckily, the Italian citizenship laws are concerned only with the paper trail along your father's lineage....... I know of no legal document connection between "Ann Louise" and "Maria Anna" .

Add to that the fact that mom had a sister named Marie Anna, and we have some serious confusion going on. (I guess that's why they called mom "Fizzie" and my aunt "Mac".)


Dad's Mom and Dad (The Leo's)

My dad was born just months before my grandfather applied for American citizenship. So my dad was born to an Italian citizen. Under Italian law, that is my technical legal right to Italian citizenship. Technically, I have always had Italian citizenship - in addition to my American born citizenship - ...... what we are going through now is simply to get documents in order so I can have certified proof of that.

Since, legally, my Italian rights of citizenship flow from my dad's family, I will start with .... Davide Leo and Lucia DeFilippo, both from Siano, Italy.

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jpg this is a clip from their marriage certificate,
shows dates and city of origin (Siano)...


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As of June.22.2009, the five most common names in the town of Siano, Italy (shown on the right) are (top to bottom) .... Leo, DiFilippo, Alberti, Botta, Calazza.


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Grandma Leo and my brother Bob(by), in her back yard on 42nd street, on his communion day (?).


jpg Grandpa Leo died the month after I was born (dad was still in the Army overseas) .... so I never knew my grandpa. At some point, grandma Leo bought a 3-family house on 18th street in Brooklyn, and we (1951 - 52 ?) moved into the second floor. My cousins Lucia, Maria and Joanne lived on the top floor and my cousin Ronnie lived downstairs. We spent our lives either on the front "stoop", playing in the street (there were very few cars then) or in the back yard (which grandma was generally not happy about).

Here is a screen capture from dad's movies .... we are all gathered out on the front stoop..... this is one of the very few images I have of that house..... the city tore it down for a highway, in 1954-5 (?), and we all scattered around Brooklyn.


In my mind, this photo is an icon of the Leo side of my family, circa 1957. It is also that last photo I have of my grandmother (who died 10 years later)..... our great neighbor, Perry Kaplan took this picture !!!

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The only person missing in this photo was Joe Dolce (my cousin Chickie's husband) who, I think, had to work that day (?)



Cousin Pete sent me this great photo of my mother's generation of the Fazio side of my family.

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On the left, front left to right: Grandpa and Grandma Fazio, Uncle Sal and Aunt "Mac" Danese, my mom and dad.

On the right, seated, left to right: Mr & Mrs Fortunato, Uncle Al and Aunt "Cobina" (actually Dominica). This picture was probably at Uncle Al's and Aunt Co's engagement party.

On the right, standing, left to right: Uncle Joe, Uncle "Nino" (Antonino?) and Aunt Marion, Uncle Mel and Aunt Blanche. Uncle "Mo" is not in the picture.




Here is another family classic (again from Cousin Pete). This was taken in 1993 at Robert's (Pete's brother) wedding.

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Standing, L to R: Uncle Nino Fazio, Aunt Blanche (Uncle Mel's wife),Uncle Sal Danese, Uncle Joe and Aunt Adelaide (sp?) Fazio, Uncle Mo, Dad.

Seated, L to R: Aunt Marion (Nino's wife), Aunt Cobina and Uncle Al (Pete's parents), Mom.




Below is another "iconic" image for me, showing the second Leo generation born in the USA. The right side is from our 2004 family gathering, the left side is from mid-1950's. (Not everyone is here ... but it's the only group picture of it's kind that I have.)

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Top, from left: Maria, Lucia
Middle, from left: Bob(by), me
Bottom, from left: Christine, Joanne, Ronnie

Top, from left: Me, Maria, Lucia, Chickie
Middle, from left: Theresa, Sally, MaryLu
Bottom, from left: Bob(by) ,Christine, Joanne, Ronnie
Note: My cousin Anthony had passed away (he is Anthony Leo Jr. in the 1957 family photo).


Mom always talked about dad's family being from "up north" in Italy, and how the northerner's looked down on the southerner's (her folks were from Sicilia). Well ..... dads folks weren't from that far north !!!.

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For the social-genealogy junkies out there, here is the
Leo-Family-from-Siano-Italy Forum.

The SS Romanic.... the ship that grandpa Leo came over on ....

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Mom's Dad and Mom (The Fazio's)

jpg I don't have any documentation on what Sicilian towns my Fazio grandparents were born. However, the Ellis Island data for grandpa Fazio (see certificate below) shows that he lived in Augusta, Italy. And my mother said when she visited Italy, she visited cousins in Augusta and Syracuse (on the east coast), so I might guess they were from that area, somewhere.

Sicily did not become part of Italy until 1860, and my grandparents were born in 1890 - 1891, so their parents were possibly born in Sicily before 1860, which would make my Fazio great-grandparents not-Italian !

Italian or not, here they are. Maria & Santo Fazio, my Great (Fazio) Grandparents.

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I always thought .... I still think.... that grandpa Fazio was the handsomest man I've ever seen..... to me, he was an Ernest Hemingway kind of guy..... got on a boat at 13 years old and never went home again.

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Grandma Fazio was .... "don't even think about bullshytting me, kiddo." ...... (no one ever did!).

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"Nonnie" once sent me (10 years old?) to union street to buy a chicken from the Italian market. The guy grabs a LIVE chicken, slits it's throat, turns it upside down in a bucket, and when it stops bleeding he wraps it up, puts it in a bag and hands it to me (who almost passes out !)
...... one of my life's "awakening" events..... everything you eat was once alive and someone killed it for you !!!
...like I said, grandma was "no bullshytt kid ..... here's how the world works."

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My Fazio grandparents settled in at 36 Strong Place, Brooklyn, and lived there over 60 years. My grandmother died in 1978 and the house was sold in 1979 and split up among their children. My cousin, Pete Fortunato, sent me the two photos above showing the house and the dining room just before the house was sold. In 2004, the house was sold for $1,365,000 and gutted and totally renovated (twice !).




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Let's Call it Even !




Also see Mom's Memories (recorded by Loretta)



page written by Dave Leo

updated June.26.2009