23 April 2010

Circolo Operaio Torrese: By Jeff DeSantis

Jeff DeSantis has graciously offered to do a guest post for us.  He recently discovered an old family film from 1950 that depicts the annual Circolo O Torrese picnic.  He's done a great job editing it, adding background music and isolating some stills to help identify some of the guests.  I'll let him tell you all about it ... thanks, Jeff!

-  Carm

There's our Florindo in the doorway.

Circolo O Torrese

If you walk along the Via Generale Beniamino Rotondi in Torre le Nocelle toward the Piazza Vittoria you may notice a sign in raised gold lettering above a doorway on the right side of the street, Circolo Operaio Torrese.

A literal translation of Circolo Operaio Torrese would be Torrese Working-class Circle. Perhaps the Society of Torrese Workers would be a more apt translation.

Anyway, according to Cousin Flo, the Circolo Operaio Torrese (or Circolo O Torrese) was a group of immigrants from Torre le Nocelle who settled in the Boston area.

As you will see below, the Circolo O Torrese was active in the Boston area for at least forty-seven years (1903-1950). Whether or not they were operating before or after that date range is unknown at this time. But, there is still that building in Torre with the gold lettering above the door.

Funeral procession in Piazza Vittoria, Torre le Nocelle

A Funeral in Torre

The Circolo O Torrese probably functioned as a support group for Torrese in the U.S. as illustrated by this photograph of a funeral in the Piazza Vittorio in Torre le Nocelle. The photo is estimated to have been taken between 1933 and 1944.

The participation of Circolo O Torrese in the funeral procession is noted by the presence of their flag carried by their president who is wearing a sash.

The left front pall bearer is Nicolangelo Cefalo ( brother to Amorso, Ardita, and Sylvia (see below)). Also present in the photo is Florindo Cirignano. Mr. Cirignano’s grandson and namesake is a man of some note in Torre today. (Our Flo!)

1947 Circolo O Torrese Picnic

The Outings

For forty-seven years the Circolo O Torrese had an annual outing. The forty-fourth outing took place on August 10, 1947. Clockwise from the left  (photo above) are Ardita Lauretania Cefalo, Elvira Ardolino, Alfonsina Ardolino, Palmino DeSantis, Domenico Ardolino, Giuseppe DeMinico, Elizabeth Ricci, Unknown, Amoroso Cefalo, Unknown, Frank Magno, and Sylvia Cefalo. Mr. DeSantis and Mr. Magno were born in Taurasi. Everyone else was born in Torre le Nocelle.

On August 13, 1950 the Circolo O Torrese had their forty-seventh annual outing. Approximately eight minutes of the 1950 outing were filmed by Carmen DeSantis  (video above) on Kodachrome daylight type double 8 mm movie film using his Revere camera.

As you view the film, consider these comments:
It’s a picnic but a lot of the men are wearing suits, or at least jackets and ties. Some even have fedoras on their heads. And the women all seem to be wearing dresses. I guess that’s why they’re also wearing aprons too. It also seems that the more formally dressed folks are the old-timers, that is, those who immigrated to the U.S. from Torre. The younger generation seems to be dressed more casually.

Too bad there’s no sound, because I’m wondering whether this guy on the left is saying “saporito” or “mangia”.

I Torresi  


Domenico Ardolino (above left)  was a stonecutter. He worked on several projects across the U.S. with his cousins Raffaele and Eduardo Ardolino. By the 1920’s he had returned to Boston where he worked on the Parker House and also opened his own business with his brother Clamanzio, Ardolino Bros. Monuments in Roslindale. A number of the mausoleums and grave stones in St. Michael’s Cemetery in Boston will have an Ardolino Bros tag on them. Domenico was married to Elizabeth Ricci.

 Amoroso Cefalo (left), a life long bachelor, was a cobbler who worked at the French, Shriner, and Urner shoe factory in Boston for many years. He lived on Sheafe Street in Boston’s North End. He was a brother to Ardita Lauretania Cefalo and Sylvia Flaminia Emanuele Cefalo.

Ardita Lauretania Cefalo  was married to Giuseppe DeMinico. A beautiful woman, she was once considered to be the Belle of Torre. Shortly after marrying, she and Giuseppe moved to Maine where Giuseppe worked as a stonecutter. Having few cooking skills and even less English, Ardita was serving her husband pasta patate every night for dinner. The newlywed husband abided the repetitive menu for awhile, but eventually introduced his new bride to others who could help her broaden her culinary horizons.

Sylvia Flaminia Emanuele Cefalo (left) was married to Frank Magno. She was very ill during the Atlantic crossing and this as well as other illnesses led many family members to believe she would have a short life. Sylvia had a pacemaker implanted for almost half of her life before passing on at the age of 99.

Emma Gioconda Ida DeDominici was married to Enos Brown from Nova Scotia. She had one child, a daughter, Evelyn, and one grandchild, a grandson, Hank Levine.

 Giuseppe DeMinico was a stone cutter who worked on several naval projects across the United States before settling in Everett, Washington. At the end of the Second World War, he moved his family back to Boston where he worked at the Old John Hancock Building until his retirement.

Theodoro "Teddy" Vozzella was a blacksmith and operated a forge in the Roslindale section of Boston.

Mariti e Mogli di Torresi
(Husbands and Wives of Our Torresi)

Ciriaco Francesco “Frank” Magno was born in Taurasi. Frank worked as a custodian at the Lemuel Shattuck Hospital in Jamaica Plain. Frank liked his wine and would go to the club in the North End, have a drink or two and fall asleep. Whereupon his “friends” would play tricks on him such as giving him a hot foot. This would drive his brother-in-law, Amoroso, nuts as Amoroso felt that his sister’s husband should be better respected.

Elizabeth Ricci was born in Washington D.C.

Figli e Figlie di Torresi
(Sons and Daughters of Our Torresi)

Carmen Ardolino is the son of Domenico Ardolino and Elizabeth Ricci.

Adalgisa “Caesar” Carmela DeMinico was daughter of  Giuseppe DeMinico and Ardita Cefalo and the husband of Carmen DeSantis.

George DeSantis was the son of Elvira Ardolino, a Torrese, and Benigno Palmino DeSantis, who was born in Taurasi. Carmen is the primary cameraman and director for film of the Outing.

This little old guy has yet to be identified.  Who wants to claim him??

Search Massachusetts Naturalization Records At Footnote


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