beginning of the 1930s saw the United States in a major economic
depression. The Peter Carrocci family suffered right along with the rest
of the people in the Ohio Valley. While cash was always short, there was
that garden that provided a lot of food for the family that kept getting
bigger. Theresa Ann was born September 15th, 1933 at the
family home on Adams Street.
Jimmy, the one who is kneeling in front, was the man who talked Peter into becoming a Jehovahís Witness. That single event changed him for the rest of his life. There was no more heavy drinking and there was a lot of going to church services. Theresa Ann was the last of the Peter Carrocci children to be baptized as a Catholic. By the way, the others in this picture are Mr. and Mrs. Brown on either side of Anna Carrocci, and thatís me in the back. The Brown family lived two houses up from us on Adams Street.
I was born a year after Peterís religious conversion, was not baptized at St. Anthonyís church in Steubenville as were most of the other of his children.
The 1930s were also hard times for some others of Peter Carrocciís children, especially his sons. There was the time that Mary Basil and Julius Carrocci got into a major argument. Mary ended up so angry at him that she threw a kitchen knife at Julius, leaving him with a scar on his face for the rest of his life. This picture of Julius is when he graduated from Steubenville High School in the early 40s. Other of the sons of Peter Carrocci sometimes had harsh treatment from him when they made him angry. Joe, Julie, Larry and I all suffered corporal punishment from him. Peter often used an old fashion razor strop that he kept hanging behind the kitchen door to the basement stairs. The only one who seemed to be spared was Dominic James. Maybe that was because he was mama Carrocciís blue-eyed angel. Papa Carrocci didnít believe in sparing the rod and spoiling the child.
There was at least one happy event that happened in the 30s. Peterís adopted son Benny married Lucy Taravella of Mingo Junction, Ohio, which is a few miles south of Steubenville on the Ohio River. This picture was taken in the 50s and shows the Benny Carrocci family at the time. Lucy and Benny are in front and Roseanne and Nancy are standing in the back. Benny was the first of the Carrocci boys to get married and that was on February 22, 1936. I was just over two months old and although everyone says was at the wedding, I donít remember being there.
One of the things I do remember is the love and attention I got
from half-sister Mary. I wasnít the only one, either. I can recall all
my brothers and Theresa saying she was like a second mother to all of
Here are the two darlings: Theresa on the left is about two-years old; thatís me on the right also about two-years old.
Take a look at the cute yellow pants Iím wearing. Arenít they something? It was just shortly after I began to walk that Anna Carrocci started making me wear dresses.
Here are brother and sister making nice with each other. Youíll notice that in this photo Iím wearing a dress. The reason, according to family legend, was to keep me from running all over the neighborhood. By the way, the dog in the picture is Skippy, one of the many mutts taken in by the Peter Carrocci family during the 30s and early 40s. This picture was taken in August of 1938.
During the 1920s and the 1930s, Peter Carrocci worked as a shear man at the steel mill in Beach Bottom, West Virginia, which is across the Ohio River and south from Steubenville, Ohio. His bootlegging days were over. Compare Larry Tucci once told me that Peter was never involved in the local Mafiosi. I asked pop about it once and he said they once gave him a gun and wanted him to shoot someone. He said he wouldnít do it and threw the gun in the river.
Here is a picture of Peterís brother Ilario, or Uncle Larry as
he was known in the family. Uncle Larryís nickname was ďIceĒ
because at one point during the 1920s or 1930s he delivered ice to
homes. In those days before refrigerators people used iceboxes to keep
food chilled. There was a rumor that Uncle Larry got that nickname
because he iced someone, but I think that was just someone trying to
create an interesting story. Later on Uncle Larry went to work in the
coal mine in Steubenville.
Before he worked in the mines, Uncle Larry worked at a bar on 7th
Street and Washington in Steubenville. It was called the Washington
Street Bar and Grill.
One of the great things about living in one place for so long is
the group of friends that are gathered along the way. Here is Anna with
three of her friends. On the left is comare
Minnie Tucci, next to her is comare
Cristo. The woman on the right is unknown to us now.
Speaking of compari (plural for compare), here is a picture of compare Patsy Parillo. You might recall that Peter Carrocci was living with compare Patsy and his family in 1910 in McDowell County West Virginia just four years after coming to America for the first time. Compare Patsy was a frequent visitor to the house on Adams, where he and Pete Carrocci used to have long and heated discussions about the Second World War and what was happening in Italy.
This is good time to dismiss another family
rumor: that Larry Martin Carrocci had a twin brother or sister when he
was born on November 7th, 1928, but that the twin was not
fully formed and died as a result. If that was true, there would have
been a death record at the Jefferson County Vital Statistics office in
A big event that started in the 1930s was the
family winemaking. Peter used to make 150 gallons of wine every year and
the family would drink most of it.
The scene re-minded me when Peter did the very same thing in the
fall of the year when he would start to make wine. He told me that he
used a mixture of mostly zinfandel and some muscatel grapes. I have fond
memories of helping to crush the grapes and of being the first one to
start to press them after they had fermented.
There was always a gallon wine jug on the table and lunch and dinner time. Being the youngest in the family it was always my job to take the jug down to the wine cellar and fill it. Peter always kept the key to the brass wine barrel tap in his watch pocket. He would hand me the key and tell me to whistle while I was filing the jug. Those old Italians were sharp. He wanted to keep me from sipping any of the wine. I could drink a little glass only while I was at the table. Kids seem to always find a way around the system. I would go through the kitchen, pick up a small glass, fill it and stash it for later. Not that I wanted to drink the wine as much as it was a challenge to beat the system.
The whole neighborhood, which was made up mostly of Italian families, made wine at the same time. They each used the same kind of grapes, but their wine turned out differently. Some of the wines were sweeter and some were drier, but they were all good. I always thought that papaís wine was the best.
Another big event in the Peter Carrocci family was when he and
mama made sausage, capacola, and pasta. I can remember him grinding up
the pork shoulder meat, adding the spices and filling the sausage
casings. He would tie them into links and hang them up near the ceiling
of the basement to dry. They did the same thing with the pasta. They had
wooden dowels, like broom handles, lashed up near the ceiling where they
would drape over the pasta to let it dry.
They also kept chickens out back below the garden. There was a
peach tree in the chicken yard that grew peaches as big as grapefruit
because of the manure. Pop used to use the chicken manure to fertilize
his garden and always had large vege-tables. Having all those chickens
meant that someone had to clean the chicken coop and guess who that was.
I also had to help mama clean the chickens she butchered. She would dip
them in hot water and pluck the feathers. We had fried chicken, baked
chicken, broiled chicken, chicken casseroles, and chicken in the pasta
sauce. To this day I still donít like chicken very much.
In the fall of the year, at the end of the growing season, mama
would can all the peppers, tomatoes, beans, and peaches that came out of
the garden. There were shelves and cabinets in the back part of the
basement for storing all the jars of food.