Archive | May, 2014

Through His Words: Day Twenty-Four (2nd letter)

29 May

Reflections From and About My Grandfather
Alexander Capraro, Architect

 

Hotel De Rome

Florence
Monday
August 8, 1938

Hello Darling

Well I sure got my fill of walking today. Florence is filled with art treasures of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Rafael, etc. There are three large art galleries: Galleria Pitti, Uffizi, and Museum of San Marco. They are blocks long and filled with paintings and sculptures of the famous old masters.

Outside the Uffizi -blogginginitaly.com

Outside the Uffizi -blogginginitaly.com

Dante’s house, the Cathedral and Ponte Vecchio all date back centuries and yet they are here and used as if they were built only yesterday.

blogginginitaly.com

The Duomo – blogginginitaly.com

The Duomo - blogginginitaly.com

The Duomo – blogginginitaly.com

blogginginitaly.com

blogginginitaly.com

Baptistry doors - blogginginitaly.com

Baptistry doors – blogginginitaly.com

My feet actually ache and I just got through taking a bath and treating my feet to soothe them a little. I am glad in a way that Joe was not with me, because he could never stand up under the strain, especially with a bad heart. It is just impossible to see everything worthwhile seeing in only a few days. It takes at least a week and I can’t spare that much time. I leave one place thinking it has the best in sculpture, painting, tapestries, etc., only to find the next place is richer than the one before. It actually makes you dizzy trying to take it all in.

Ponte Vecchio - blogginginitaly.com

Ponte Vecchio – blogginginitaly.com

I intend on leaving for Pisa and Montecatini at 8:10 in the morning and coming back to Florence later in the evening. Then I shall get to Siena for a half day and then Rome.

Pisa - blogginginitaly.com

Pisa – blogginginitaly.com

Pisa - blogginginitaly.com

Pisa – blogginginitaly.com

So much for my activities, now how about you? I still haven’t had word from you and I am actually starving for want of something from home. What in the world has happened? If you wrote me even after I landed here, I should have received your letters by now. Fortunately, I have met many Americans who are traveling about the same itinerary as I am, and it has been a comfort because as long as we are Americans when we meet here, we have a feeling of being neighbors.

It’s easy to understand Alex’s growing concern for news from home, especially after more than three weeks. His tone now had a slight edge to it that came across even on paper. Fortunately, there was much to keep him busy and distract him, at least until writing time, which was usually late at night when he was tired.

I have given up hope of hearing from you until I get to Rome now, but I hope to God I’ll get mail there, otherwise I’ll go nutty. I am starting to miss you more every day and the only medicine good for it is a letter from you. So good night and pleasant dreams. Love to the children and a big kiss for you, Al

Ciao,

Judy

 

Through His Words: Day Twenty-Four and Memorial Day Tribute

26 May

Reflections From and About My Grandfather
Alexander Capraro, Architect

 

Chicago
Monday, August 8, 1938

Letter written to Alex from his son (my father) Bill, age 15.  Photo of my Dad, some 7-10 years later. With today being Memorial Day, a happy one to you, Dad, and a heartfelt thanks to you and all who have served/are serving our country.

Bill Capraro, US NAVY

Bill Capraro, US NAVY

Hello Pal:

In my last letter, I told you it was plenty hard to write a letter to somebody, but after writing one, it’s all the harder to find anything to say in the next one. (He references his last letter, but it appears this is the only one Alex received.) Well here goes: everybody here is just about the same, all feeling fine, hot, and happy.

Vince (brother, 18) came back from Lake Delevan yesterday and while he was horseback riding, he fell off the horse and came back kind of stiff. HA-HA.  

 

Maude and sons, circa 1924

Maude and sons, circa 1924

Maude, Vince and Billy (L)

Maude, Vince and Billy (L), circa 1926

The weather in Chicago is still as hot as it was in my last letter. Marion (sister, 11) has been out in Long Beach for two days now and boy how I envy her.  She must be having a heckuva time. I am still going to Carl every Monday and Thursday and so far he has filled one tooth, filled one with silver, and will put a permanent filling in another Thursday.

Uncle Bob and family were here tonight and he and I are going to play golf someday this week because he gets every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday off in the summer. Last night, Larry, Joe, Alice (the singer), and Marie were over and we had a swell time because all of us, including Mom, were acting absolutely crazy, which I guess is the only way to have any fun nowadays. All of us are going on a beach party either this week or next and we probably will have another real good time.

Might as well tell you that “lights out” are no longer “on” so we get the feedbag a half-hour earlier on Wednesday nights (YIPPEE)!

Well, I hope those foreigners are treating you alright over there and if you run into any trouble, just mention that you are the father of the great accordionist Mr. William Capraro –  P.S. they’ll understand.

Funny, I never knew my Dad played the accordion. And per Aunt Marion, she played the piano, their father Alex sang, and they all were quite good!

Well, there isn’t much more I can think of to write about so I’ll sign off saying

“With most sincere wishes for a most enjoyable vacation, I, the great accordionist Mr. William Capraro, remain your jealous and perspiring son,”
Bill

P.S. To make you feel younger, I’ll sign
Billy

Dad always did have a good sense of humor.

Ciao,

Judy

 

Through His Words: Day Twenty-Three (2nd letter)

23 May

Reflections From and About My Grandfather
Alexander Capraro, Architect

 

Hotel Europa E Britannia
Venezia

August 7, 1938

Darling

 I arrived this morning about 11:30 on the fast train from Milan. It is almost unbelievable to see water where streets should be.

I remember feeling the exact sentiment the first time I visited Venice some 33 years after my grandfather. I still marvel at the engineering feat when I visit, despite the crowds and flooding.

blogginginitaly.com

blogginginitaly.com

Upon getting off the train, my luggage was immediately placed in a gondola and I had my first ride in a real gondola. We wound our way about 2 miles through narrow canals and finally came to the Grand Canal where my hotel is.

JM photo: blogginginitaly.com

JM photo: blogginginitaly.com

The charge was 13 liras or about $.65. It sure was worth it because it is hard work to row one of these things, a gondola being about 35 feet long.

That same ride would cost Alex over $160 today.

blogginginitaly.com

blogginginitaly.com

The hotel is a nice place, one of the best I have been in so far. It faces the Grand Canal and is 75 lira for room and meals ($3.75).

Now known as the Europa & Regina, Venice

Today known as the Europa & Regina, Venice

Luggage Tag © 1997-2013 International Poster Gallery

Luggage Tag © 1997-2013 International Poster Gallery

From the hotel’s website: During the autumn of 1908 it was here that the celebrated Impressionist painter Claude Monet stayed – a long visit in which he made the most of his talent with the magnificent views that the hotel offered. In a letter, dated October 16th, 1908, Mme. Monet wrote: “We have finally arrived at the Hotel Britannia, with a view, if such a thing were possible, even more beautiful than that of Palazzo Barbaro…

I was pretty dirty upon arriving here, smoke and soot from the train as well as perspiration due to the heat. It is pretty hot and I can look forward to a lot of hot weather from now on as I understand it is very hot in Florence, Rome, and Naples.

After having washed and changed and taken lunch, I went to the American Express with a feint hope that I might find a letter, but nothing doing. I was not surprised, however, because it was too soon for any mail to be forwarded from Milan. 

On the same day Alex was writing this letter, Maude was only just writing her first letter to him (previous post).

Well, I started upon my visit immediately as I will leave here tomorrow night for Bologna and Florence. I went to St. Mark’s Square, a picture you see many times in the States.

blogginginitaly.com

Family Photo: 2007: blogginginitaly.com

The cathedral is immense in its mosaic portraits.

blogginginitaly.com

blogginginitaly.com

The ceilings are all gold mosaic with lifelike figures of saints, etc. in very colored hues. Everything you see is a work of art done without thought of money or time. This cathedral was built in 832 and is now over 1100 years old. 1000 years doesn’t mean anything over here.

And then Alex has this random thought:

I’m just thinking I have been in several churches every day and prayed in all of them so I ought to be given some kind of special indulgence by the time I get through.

After St. Mark’s, I took a boat to the Lido and found it to be a sort of Atlantic city. As you know, this is on the Adriatic Sea, and I wanted to be able to say I bathed in the Adriatic. So, I rented a bathing suit and went in to get a few mouthfuls of saltwater. The place is miles long lined with cabanas and beautiful sandy beaches. With the weather being hot, I stayed a couple of hours in the water.

My hotel gave me a ticket which was good at a hotel on the Lido for dinner, so I had my dinner on a large veranda overlooking the sea and enjoyed my meal amid rosebushes and flowers of every description. One thing they have here a plenty is flowers.

 

blogginginitaly.com

blogginginitaly.com

I then took a boat back to St. Mark’s and found the Square full of little tables, people sitting and having coffee or gelato, all amid the strains of a half-dozen or more orchestras at various spots.

San Marco: blogginginitaly.com

San Marco:
blogginginitaly.com

 

2007: Enjoying gelato:blogginginitaly.com

2007: Enjoying gelato:blogginginitaly.com

2007: Enjoying the orchestras and vino: blogginginitaly.com

2007: Enjoying the orchestras and vino: blogginginitaly.com

I sat at a little table, had a cup of strong coffee, and am now back at my hotel writing some postcards and this letter to you. Tomorrow I shall take in other places of interest here in Venice, like The Doge’s Palace, and then leave about 6:00 PM.

JM Photo: blogginginitaly.com

The Doge’s Palace: JM Photo:blogginginitaly.com

I hope some mail will meet me here tomorrow as I’ll try the American Express office.

Unfortunately, Alex would be disappointed once again. 

Until then, good night and God bless you dear.

Loads of kisses and love.  Yours only, Al

Ciao,

Judy

 

Through His Words: Day Twenty-Three

13 May

Reflections From and About My Grandfather
Alexander Capraro, Architect

 

Maude Capraro
Chicago


August 7, 1938 

Dearest Al,

Received your three letters of July 28, 29, and 30, and indeed a pleasure to hear from you.

Although Alex’s first letters to Maude were written on board ship, July 16-23, his letters from Paris, written 12 days later, arrived in Chicago first. Traveling alone, Alex had been expecting/hoping for mail from home at almost every stop, yet Maude only penned her first letter once his arrived. After all, he was the one with new and interesting things to write about, and, truth be known, Maude didn’t really love writing letters.

Sorry to hear that it rained and that you missed your friends, but glad that you met the brother so that helped some. Judging by your letters, Versailles must be beautiful and historical.  Gee, I envy you. Well, maybe someday I’ll make the trip, who knows? You sure are kept busy. You’ll need another vacation when you get home, so take it easy and don’t get so tired. Of course, I realize you are trying to take in all you can because time is short.

Imagine, three weeks are gone yet it seems a long time, but it won’t be long and you’ll be home and that will be grand. I see you enjoyed Paris very much which I thought you would. It sure must be a lovely and wonderful place. I hope you didn’t fall for one of the French babes??? We will talk about that when you get home.

Maude wasn’t actually worried about her Alex at all. They had a great relationship and a wonderful family and friends. And they loved doing things together.

Alex and Maude, a a great big bottle of vino!

Alex and Maude, and a great big bottle of vino!

In regards to family, we are all well, children are behaving wonderfully. Vincent isn’t abusing the car because I don’t let him use it, only when I want him to. Billy is a good boy. Marion went to Long Beach Friday night. It certainly is lonesome without her because she was my pal so now I lost my two pals, you and Marian. I’ll make the best of it for the balance of the month. Nothing exciting here – mostly going to shows and visiting friends. We are having some pretty hot days – can’t wait till it gets cooler.

Maude goes on to tell him of their kids activities, Vince being 18, Billy (my Dad) 15, and Marion 11, as well as her outings with her girl friends. She had opted to stay home with their teenage children rather than go on the trip, something she would later regret.

Just called Mrs. Monte and she said Joe is getting better every day.

“Mrs. Monte” affectionately referred to Joe Montenegro’s wife. Joe had planned to accompany my grandfather on this voyage. Joe’s family still had a beautiful home in Naples, and he knew Italy and much of Europe well.  However, his serious illness shortly before the trip was what led to Alex traveling solo.

Joe might get out of bed by the end of next week. He is on a very strict diet and he’s getting tired of it. Dr. found a little sugar in his blood, so it makes it kind of hard for Joe, because he likes his pastry and sugar.

Well, honey, I must start my Sunday dinner so I must hurry, although I don’t have much else to write to you. The Montes send their regards, and so does everyone else who is receiving cards from you.

Love and kisses from your darling wife,
Maude
God bless you honey, and good luck

Ciao,

Judy

 

Through His Words: Day Twenty-One

7 May

Reflections From and About My Grandfather
Alexander Capraro, Architect

 

Day Nineteen
HOTEL DU PARC

Milano
August 5, 1938 (no letter written Aug.4)

Dear Maude,

Honey I feel blue tonight. I don’t know whether you are to blame or not, but I was terribly disappointed yesterday when I called at the American Express Co. here in Milan and found no mail. However, I was appeased by the information that mail from America was expected today and I went there late today feeling sure some mail would be there for me, but I was to be disappointed again. I am leaving for Venice early in the morning, and I left a forwarding address. You know, it’s about three weeks and I have not heard from you and not withstanding the fact that I am kept busy every minute of the day and night, I am getting lonesome for word from you and the children.

Well, let me tell you a little about Milano. It is almost a border town, being only one hour from Chiaso at the Swiss border. There seems to be quite a mixture here of dark and light-haired people. The women are mostly fair and have blue eyes but are not good-looking generally. Men and women dress about the same as we do at home. Outside of some real old buildings, (I saw a church today with relics in it from 2000 BC), there are decidedly very up-to-date and modern designed buildings here.

 Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Milan skyline: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

One of the places Alex would have visited is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, named after the first king of the Italy.  It is one of the world’s oldest shopping malls and is located in central Milan.  The Galleria was designed in 1861 and built between 1865 and 1877 by Giuseppe Mengoni. 

Photo circa 1880

Photo circa 1880

Galleria: Wikimedia Commons

Galleria: Wikimedia Commons

Night photo at Christmas: Wikimedia Commons

Night photo at Christmas: Wikimedia Commons

Last night, I attended an open air performance of La Traviata. It was held in the courtyard of an old castle which is big enough to hold 20,000 seats and every one was occupied. It cost 10 lire for admission and the performance was really beautiful.

Today, I went with a regular tour in a sightseeing car and covered the points of interest. Later, I went back to the Duomo di Milano because it is a world-renowned, magnificent structure made all of marble, setback in a large piazza. I spent hours in the place.

Duomo di Milano

Duomo di Milano

I also saw the original painting of the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. 

Da Vinci's Last Supper

Da Vinci’s Last Supper

I miss you a lot and hope I’ll get some news tomorrow. I hope there’s nothing wrong and everyone is feeling well. Goodbye dear, God bless you and the children.

Anxiously waiting for a letter.

I am as ever yours,
Al

 

Ciao,

Judy

 

Through His Words: Day Nineteen

2 May

Reflections From and About My Grandfather
Alexander Capraro, Architect

 

Day Nineteen
Grand Hotel Volta

Lake Como
August 3rd, 1938 (no letter written Aug.2)

Dear Majeski,

Arrived in Como last evening and immediately upon registering at this hotel, I stepped outside and ran into a lawyer friend, I.B. Perlman, and his family. He greeted me like a long-lost brother. He is staying at the famous Villa D’Este and invited me there for dinner. Well, this was a perfect set up for me as I did want to see that place so much and naturally, not staying there, I was rather hesitant about going there just to visit.

Villa D'Este website

Villa D’Este website

From Villa D’Este website: Set on the banks of one of the most romantic lakes in the world and just north of Milan, Villa d’Este was built in 1568 as the summer residence of Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio. The property comprises 25 acres of gardens, whose statues and landscape have been photographed for centuries.
Villa D'Este website

Villa D’Este website

It is necessary to take a boat to go there from Como, which is the town at one end of the lake, something like Lake Geneva, Wis., except that it is a lot more picturesque with little hills and mountains all around the lake and the mountain sides are dotted with houses and villas. At at any rate, I changed into the best I had, white pants and dark coat, and got there by 7 PM.

We had a cocktail outside and then he walked me around the grounds. This place is beautiful beyond description, great big magnolia trees, various other trees with big spreading branches and palm trees, and last but not least, the formal gardens.

Villa D'Este website

Villa D’Este website

Villa D'Este website

Villa D’Este website

I don’t know what they charge here but Perlman has been here 10 days and it must cost him plenty. They charge 8 lira (40c) for a cup of tea, so you can imagine what the other expenses and charges are.

For fun, I inquired about today’s rate for one person for the same date he was in Como, August 3. My quoted rate, for a classic room with courtyard view to a junior suite with lake view, ranged from 1360-3360 euro, or about $1900-$4700. For one night. But, it does include breakfast and tax! I think I’ll be like Maude and just be grateful for Alex’s photos and description.

The place has a large terrace right off the lake, and the back of it is quite steep. We walked up winding paths and  walks to create an appetite.

Villa D'Este website

Villa D’Este website

We finally sat down to dinner, al fresco, about 9:30  – practically every one in formal clothes except yours truly and a few others.

Villa D'Este website

Villa D’Este website

Well, now for the climax. King Alfonso was sitting just a few tables away, and several dukes and counts dotted the dining terrace. After dinner, they all move to another section of the garden where coffee is served, the tables set around a marble dance floor, lights hidden inside the foliage of the trees, and the people dance to the strains of soft music.

Villa D'Este website

Villa D’Este website

I left there at 11:55 at which time the last boat leaves for town.  This was really the first night I actually relaxed and rested instead of running my legs off, wrote a few postcards when I got back, and today I’m taking a trip on the lake to see a few other places and then to Milan.

Praying all is well at home and everyone is in good health and in good conduct, I am
Lovingly yours, Al

P.S. How is Clark’s office looking? It should be finished by now and really this is the first time I even thought of it. I haven’t seen the paper since I left and what is more, I don’t seem to be inclined to want to read anything. Have forgotten both offices, and the only thing ever in my mind are the thoughts of you and the children. I guess that is as it should be.

Grandpa, my sentiments exactly!

Mountains of love,  Al

A special kiss for Marion X and one for you X

Ciao,

Judy

 

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