Through His Words: Day Four

5 Dec

Reflections From and About My Grandfather
Alexander Capraro, Architect

Day Four:

Tuesday, July 19, 1938 
On board ship        
Chapter 4

Darling Maude,

I got up rather late this morning due to a nasty sunburn on my legs, especially my shins. The sun is different on the ocean, much more intense and the salt water seems to add to its power.

Apparently, Alex and his new friends were all a bit sunburned and decided to sit in their deck chairs fully clothed for a day.

Aboard Conte di Savoia

Aboard Conte di Savoia, Alex (right) and friends

Alex loved being near water, whether it was spending time at Wilson Avenue Beach (Lake Michigan) in Chicago with Maude and friends,


Maude, Alex, Margaret


Alex (front center)

or heading to Paw Paw Lake in neighboring Michigan.

Paw Paw Lake: "Throw out the Life Line

Paw Paw Lake: “Throw out the Life Line” 1912

Ironically, my brother Bill bought a home on Paw Paw Lake 93 years later. Now we know what led him to that location!

This afternoon I made an inspection of the first class quarters and believe me, there is a lot of difference between 1st class and tourist class.

Alex was not extravagant, but he was very classy and did appreciate beautiful things. Sometime after they were married, he designed and built three three-flat buildings in Chicago and kept the third one for his family. It was beautiful with a sunken living room, a large dining room, three bedrooms, two baths, a butler’s pantry and a very large kitchen. Unfortunately, when the depression hit, his tenants could no longer pay rent, and he lost the buildings to the tune of more than one million dollars.

The lounges, bars, decks, swimming pool, etc., are simply gorgeous, but there are only 200 1st class passengers on board.


The Grand Colonna Hall, (Steven Ujifusa)


Conte Di Savoia First Class passengers in dinner dress visiting the stabilizer system – a first for trans-Atlantic liners in the 1930s.
(,  Scott McBee’s New York Social Diary )


First Class Lounge, (From Scott McBee’s New York Social Diary)

I also went down to see how the other class lives (3rd class). Well, there is also quite a difference between there and tourist.

If you’ve seen the movie Titanic, you get the picture.

There was a fine time in the main lounge tonight with orchestra, dancing, and finally a great show put on by home talent, that is, the passengers. They sang, told stories, or played instruments. I did not sing “O Sole Mio” as it was murdered plenty throughout the evening by others.

O Sole Mio, translated as My Sunshine, is a globally known song written in Napoli in 1898, with lyrics by Giovanni Capurro and melody by Eduardo di Capua. It has been performed by a number of famous artists including  Enrico Caruso, Mario Lanza, Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, The Three Tenors, and Il Volo.

Caruso alongside his piano

Caruso alongside his piano (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The movie tonight was “The Bad Man of Brimstone” with Wallace Barry, so I still have yet to see a new picture. 


We passed through the Azores today but it was so cloudy over the islands it was almost impossible to see anything. I was quite disappointed because I could not take a picture of it for you.


Azores, (Google Photo)

The Archipelago of the Azores is composed of nine volcanic islands situated in the North Atlantic Ocean and is located about 1,500 km west of Lisbon. Quite a spectacular site – no wonder Alex was disappointed.

Tomorrow I expect to make an inspection of the engine room through permission of the offices.

Being a registered professional engineer and architect, he was certainly interested in the many parts of the ship, including the massive engine room and the stabilizers.


Love to the children and of course you. 


To be continued.


To see The Three Tenors having fun with O Sole Mio, click on the link.

11 Responses to “Through His Words: Day Four”

  1. Judy Sayre December 5, 2013 at 8:29 PM #

    Judy, what a wonderful treasure for your family! The pictures especially make your grandfather come alive to us. I’m enjoying his adventures immensely. Judy


    • loren larsen December 5, 2013 at 9:16 PM #

      Juju, this is just phenomenal. I so appreciate the research you are doing to allow us to get to know this amazing man. I feel such a connection to him, and I love the pics of Nonnie.

      I hope that in the coming days we learn the following:

      1. Alex finds a bottle of sunscreen
      2. He unearths scandal amongst the first class passengers; and
      3. They finally show a film he hasn’t seen

      I can’t tell you how excited I get when I see a new post pop up in my inbox!



      • blogginginitaly December 5, 2013 at 11:26 PM #

        Loren, I feel the same way, finally getting to know him! As for your comment, perhaps fodder for my novel?


    • Judy Gingerella December 5, 2013 at 11:24 PM #

      Thanks, Judy. Your ears must have been ringing. I was just talking about you and our Cortona times together with another recent Casa Celeste visitor. Always love hearing from you!


  2. loren larsen December 5, 2013 at 9:17 PM #

    Also, I can’t BELIEVE he used to go to Lake Paw Paw! That is CRAZY!!


  3. Jean and John Lawrence December 5, 2013 at 11:19 PM #

    Wow Judy. I find myself hanging on every word about Alex and the goings on aboard the ship. The picture of the Grand Colonna Hall is magnificent. And the wheeling and dealing in the first class lounge! Looking forward to the next letter, just like Maude.
    Jean Lawrence


    • blogginginitaly December 5, 2013 at 11:32 PM #

      Hey Jean, so nice to hear from you. Maybe we should all take a ship over together next time. Love your comment, “…just like Maude.”


  4. l. gingerella December 6, 2013 at 9:52 AM #

    Excellante!! Len


  5. florence Connelly December 6, 2013 at 6:51 PM #

    Judy – this is fabulous ! i’m enjoying every one of the entries !!
    Florence xo


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