Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Pierina's Scrapbook - A Love Story

While on my way home from yesterday's garage sales, I passed a huge pile of junk that was too tempting to pass up. As I got busy picking my way through it, there were a couple of letters and old receipts paperclipped together with some other nondescript paper sticking out from under some wood just on top of the stained carpet lying in a heap and next to the gigantic cabinets with the metal casters. So I yanked them out, always loving a cool stamp and an interesting envelope with handwriting.


Underneath all of that I spotted what appeared to be a ledger half hidden by some red plastic folders. I gave the book a quick tug, hoping it would have some pages with figures on them that I could use for some of my paper projects. Wouldn't that be a nice find?

It appeared empty from the scant peek I got as I was filling my car with my plunder. I figured it must just be an old empty photo album, but those are very cool in and of themselves and definitely worth saving.

When I arrived home to unload all that I unearthed from the pile (you can read that story HERE), I pulled out the dark blue/green book to get a better look at the treasure I had salvaged. It turned out it wasn't a ledger or a photo album; it was a scrapbook, and it said so right on the front. Duh.

I wasn't empty either, not in the least. The very first page met my eyes and tugged at my heart; it turns out I was holding a young woman's precious memory book in my hands from the early 1930's.

Inside cover:

Pierina was Italian, so the romantic gondola image makes perfect sense. She expressed her love for Ernesto by including a poem.

Opposite page:

Standing by the side of my car carefully peeling back the pages of time, I choked up at the thought of someone allowing this memento to find its fate in a careless heap at the side of the road. Of course that made me wonder who Pierina was. Did she have no children, grandchildren, anyone who would have treasured the scrapbook of her youth?

The memory book is mainly comprised of news clippings and a few programs and such, but it's sweet and 70 plus years old. The age of it alone makes for intrigue.

From what Barbara (my impromptu picking partner) said, the woman had just died. She thought she was in her 90's. I discovered from some other papers that I found in the pile that her husband died back in 1997. Who knows if they had children, and if so, whether or not they are even still around.

Apparently I'm the scrapbook's next of kin now, so I will cherish Pierina's scrapbook, and share with you a little of the sweet memories she locked away in her dream book all those years ago as she met and married her sweetheart, Ernesto.

Her wedding flowers I presume:

I did note that in all the bridal announcement clippings she had of women, at least one of whom was related to her, the floral bouquets they held were more dramatic than today's standard. The bouquets were gorgeous in black and white, I can only imagine their beauty in living color.

Here's the page where she catalogued the cars they purchased together through the years as well as her husband's new accordion: (From the clippings she saved, it's apparent he performed at many functions and shows.)

I only wish she would have listed how much they paid for those cars and the accordion.

A hand written note from Ernie. I love such glimpses into simple moments gone by:

The program from a production of the Sacred Heart Parish, at which Ernie played the accordion.

From the program, according to an article Pierina clipped, this show was billed as a lot of singing and dancing. The program showed lots of tap numbers and great songs of days gone by.

More items from the book. I don't know if these men were friends or family of Pierina and Ernie, but the article says one of them is a baton twirling champion. I don't know who the beautiful woman is either, but I thought she was stunning.

This menu was included in the scrap book.

Wouldn't it be cool if we could pick and choose which parts of different moments in time we liked and bring them with us into now? I'd for sure pick the food prices for starters. Check them out.

Also found was the mail sent to she and her husband by someone in Italy. This mail is from the 90's right before Pierina's husband passed away.

A beautiful Christmas card was inside one of the envelopes.

I wonder if this woman in the article was one of Pierina's friends, or perhaps she just had dreams of a beautiful garden and this young woman was her inspiration. The newspaper was the community's way of keeping in touch and sharing information about fellow residents back then... the blogs of the times. They sure seemed to have a lot of fun attending social events, and it's interesting to read the writing style of the authors of the articles.

This article was in Italian. There were numerous Italian articles in the scrapbook. It seems they had a vibrant Italian community there in Massachusetts in the 30's. This was a contest between several groups. The group that won was regretfully not pictured because they were unable to get a print from the negative of the photograph they took. Check out some of the costumes. The second place winners, I think it was, are the two in the front representing the USA and another country. Not sure, but that looks like Ernie top center (you'll see later that hair style in another photo of him), and perhaps that's Pierina next to him on the right.

Maybe this one of the first movies Pierina and Ernesto saw together. There was no indication, just this ad that she had saved.

Ernie played the accordion with the Dixieland Rubes according to one of the articles. Pierina included many clippings even from before they were married where he was mentioned as the accordion player. Quite the musician he was, and she seemed so proud of him and his musical abilities, saving many stories of the musical venues he played.

Pierina had cut out a number of pictures from the paper of brides of her day. At least one of them appears to be a relative. And get a load of her husband-to-be's stag party ticket! My how times change. The bride on the left seems a bit out of keeping with the time period compared to the others. Reading through all the various stories and such, it was apparent, they took a much more graceful approach to certain things back in the 30's.

 Pierina's own bridal announcement shows her to be quite a lovely girl in her own right.

There were also clippings in her scrapbook about a 19th birthday party her fiance's parents had for her where 100 guests were in attendance.

I'll leave you with a photo of Ernest from one of the blurbs about one of his performances.
and once again, Pierina.

Ernie played at all sorts of events, at the Athletic Club, with a group who went to play for the convicts at the jail, at a production of the Sacred Heart Parish, with the Dixieland Rubes, and more.

Ernie and Pierina had a long life together. Ernie died in 1997 and Pierina was left to live alone. (I discovered papers about learning to cope with living alone as well as grief counseling in the mix, including notations she had made.)

I wonder if Pierina ever got that home of her dreams back then: The Wilmore. She lived out much of her latter years down here in South Florida.

I'd say, if you haven't yet, you should make a plan now for your own scrapbooks, photo albums and journals. What will become of them when you're gone? Would you want them found by a prying stranger who picked them from the pile of stuff thrown to the road after you are gone, even if said stranger was intrigued and willing to treasure them?

One of my sisters, Mary, and I, have long since vowed to rush in and snag the other's journals in the event of either of our untimely deaths, as much from the thought of anyone finding and reading our personal thoughts and rambling musings, more so than the thought that they might be trashed. Yet, perish the thought that they could be found by a picker who might plaster them across the internet or whatever is yet to come out there. Maybe it's best we burn them now unless we want the world to know the truth of what we did and felt from day to day. What do you say? Have you any memory books from your youth that you might like to have go with you when your time comes rather than be found and read?

Me, I'm glad this tiny slice of Pierina's story was lying in the heap in front of her former home or I would have missed it. What a joy to see preserved in her scrapbook the history of a day and a love gone by. It's like stepping back in time and capturing moments of joy, fun, grace and family as well as the history of the simple moments that in the end become the stuff one's life is made of.

What will someone find in your scrapbook that tells the true tale of your life and the things and people who mattered most to you?

I'll be sharing this love story at:

Ivy and Elephants

Cowgirl Up @ Cedar Hill Ranch

mop it up mondays

Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

Feathered Nest Friday @ French Country Cottage
Be Inspired @ Common Ground
Treasure Hunt Thursday @ FMFPTY
Savvy Southern Style


  1. Whoever would have thought that you would find this treasue in a garbage heap? Wonderful post!

  2. That is such a wonderful story! I enjoyed looking over your finds as much as you enjoyed telling us about them. Did you notice on the bottom of the menu the words, "The Garden of Satisfaction?" Isn't that a wonderful phrase?

  3. Oh my goodness, this story is so touching. Every once in a while I look on Ebay for handwritten journals....they are always so full of life. I dream of taking a story like Pierina's and writing a piece of historical fiction. I am sad that the scrapbook was in a pile of "stuff". Is that what happens to our most cherished possessions? It looks like Pierina was happy.I am glad you are the caretaker. Meant to be.

  4. Liz, You know how much I have enjoyed this post. Thank goodness you came along and saved this bit of history. When my neighbor died at ninety-something, she left a pile of photos and papers. I wanted a glamor shot of her hanging on the wall, but a distant relative who did not even bother to come and visit her or come to the memorial service asked that all papers and photographs be boxed and destroyed. It was like someone had just erased her whole life. I have already told my family to take my journals, sketchbooks, and scrapbooks if they want, but if they don't, I would love to think that someone like you would take and treasure them.

  5. I am sure that Pierina and Ernie are so happy that you found the scrapbook and have shared these snippets of their lives with us. I especially love the notation and ads of the cars they purchased! She was a beautiful and Ernie looks like one dapper accordianmeister! I bet they are tappin' their toes and marvelling at the fact that their story has been shared with so many. Well done my dear. :)

  6. so sad that it was just trashed like that! Looks like their relatives are from Vicenza, Italy (stamps on the envelopes, which is only a couple of hours from the city I was born and raised. It seems that they never had children...or she would have put pictures in the scrapbook. Definitely a piece of history!

  7. Oh my dear Liz...what a sweet, sad, heartbreaking and yet exciting find you have..the REMNANTS os a life...indeed a marriage I suppose. I am speechless.
    Every time I am plundering ina ratty old often dirty and/or dangerous fleak market and come upon a box of OLD OLD FAMILY PHOTOS...it tears at my heart..knowing there is surely someone who would find them a treasure.

    Have you thought of posting this info/photos on facebook to try to entice someone to speak up who might be connected to her? justa thought.

    I agree...how special that this fell into YOUR HANDS.


  8. Sorry for this add on..I meant to tell you also that I have had the thought indeed a plan to go through my journals and destroy them..my initial reason the realization that we change over time and what I wrote 25 years ago I might not agree with or want to share at the end of my life...I need to revisit that PLAN..


  9. I love that you rescued this journal and this couple's life memories. I would want anything like this to go on. I would want an artist or a book/journal lover to have my journal. It breaks my heart that these things are thrown out. I love old, vintage, antique snapshots that show one's life. Thanks for sharing this.

  10. This is indeed a treasure. I recently had fun looking back on my scrapbook from my freshman year of college. My mother had it among her things which ended up at my sister's home. It is now back with me. Interesting to look back at the things I saved in that album. Thanks for sharing Pierina's Scrapbook.

  11. What an amazing find. And I think all my rambling writings from childhood are gone. It's just my blog now. And a notebook here and there with some scribblings that might someday make it to my blog!

  12. Awesome post. I want to know more, I need to know if they had kids. Get on that would 'ya.


  13. Liz,
    I love this story. How great that you found this treasure, you Liz someone who would really appreciate her history. This is a heartwarming post. So glad you were in the right place at the right time to save this bit of history and enjoy her journey in life through her scrapbook. So beautiful. I bet she is smiling down on you that you are enjoying reading and looking at the pictures of her life.

  14. I do not understand family throwing scrapbooks like this away. Family history is priceless. Who would want to forget Pierina?

  15. What a lovely story from days gone by! I have a baby book from when my mother-in-law was born that nobody else wanted! Her father documented who gave baby gifts and what they were, and continued the tradition for each birthday. I'll pass in on to our daughters so it doesn't end up in a trash can.

  16. Wooooow, this is a real treasure! The brown pages say it all, and what beautiful vintage prints and photos on each page!

  17. Oh my goodness ~ what a treasure trove!! It must be an amazing feeling to hold the dreams of someone you never knew in your hands!
    Will you more research, trying to find any surviving family?

    it is a little scary to think of where my scrapbooks will end up ~ I've no kids; only 2 nieces who aren't into scrapping themselves...

    Please keep us posted if you find out more about the beautiful Pierina!

    Hugs ~

  18. This was beautifully written. Last year I went to an estate sale and on the second floor or was it the attic there was a table full of old papers and a scrapbook filled with newspaper clippings. I felt sort of sad that all of that was going to be thrown away and I believe it was from the 20's. I feel now that I should have taken it to preserve it also. I'd love to have you share this romantic article with my viewers at What to Do Weekends on my blog. Nice visiting. Linda


  19. I found my grandmother's dairy from the 30s in an Aigner shoe box when we were cleaning out her house. I treasure it so much. I'm glad you saved these items even though you don't know the person it belongs to... I bet you feel like you do now though. Beautifully shared.

  20. Oh, I have goosebumps after reading this story. I am so glad that you saved it from it's demise. I am sure both of them are smiling down from heaven. Just knowing that the love that they had for each other has been shared by you. Thanks for sharing with SYC.


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