Wednesday, September 28, 2011

New Look!

Hey guys, what's going on? Sorry for the delayed post, I haven't been really able to post as much recently as I just took a couple test in school. Studying tends to overwhelm me, especially at night.

I just wanted to post a quick notice to people who haven't seen the new look on the site, check it out! It's based off another HTML I found elsewhere with many tweaks here and there, links added and all good to go. I hope you guys like it!

Hopefully within the next coming days I can post more. I should be off of school for the rest of the week starting at 12pm tomorrow. (Yay!)

If you haven't followed my blog, nows the time! Just click the "Join This Site" button under "Followers"

Checked out my Twitter yet? No? You can click the button in the top right hand corner, and bam, you're there!


Friday, September 23, 2011

Some Pasta!

So I really don't have a "Timeline" topic as I'll call them, but I'll just let you guys in a little nip of our cuisine.

Pasta makes up a large portion of the Italian diet, among many things. It's also relatively cheap and easy to cook and/or create delicious meals from. It's a very flexible food with hundreds of combinations when it comes to sauces, additives, spices, makes, shapes, sizes, cooking styles, and much more.

Making pasta is, well, sort of a pain. I won't go too in-depth or in detail, but it involves loads of paitence and time, along with lots of space for drying longer strands.

Personally, and according to my family, Barilla is the most excellent brand if you are not willing to spend hours laboring over making your own pasta. It's the typical blue-box pasta that's found in many types of shapes. My personal favorite must be the rigatoni, mmh, slap a little marinara and you're good to go!

Here's a picture of Rigatoni. Infact now that I've seen the picture I am starting to get hungry!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Just a quick snippet

I had an after-thought about the last post I had made about our beloved uncle who landed on Manhattan island via rowboat to start a prosperous life.

One of my key questions was to why the Emergency Immigration Act of 1921 was even implemented, whereas Immigration was increasing the population to unprecedented levels globally. I gave it a little thought and may have a reason as to why the act was passed.

When Ellis Island and all immigration ports were opened for the New World, particularlly popular in the early 1900's or the turn of the century, the general aspect was to receive a wide range of immigrants with different working and living backgrounds. Particular to the Italians, the American Government had actually expected a large percentage of the arriving Italian immigrants to become involved in Agriculture among the nation and stimulate the farming goods industries, providing more foodstuffs for the rest of the nation, becoming much of a breadbasket. They had expected such a lifestyle from most Italians because said Italians had mostly grown up in a agricultural environment, shoot, even my grandfather's family comes from a farm. This misconception lead to the welcoming gesture to many eastern and southern European countries, but in truth, the typical immigrant settled right in the city because they were generally unfamiliar with the territories around them. Needing to make ends meet, most found cheaper rents in the smaller and more slum-like areas of Manhattan.

That's just opinionated, but it sounds reasonable as to why the Government would clamp such a restriction upon immigration. What do you guys think?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"The First Spensieri"

Sorry for the absence! I have been trying to balance my school work with other things and I have just finished a few test and ready for some blog action. How bout' it followers?

With the help of a very close relative I've been able to learn more about "Uncle Nashy" Sadly I never got to meet him, but I am sure he was a brilliant soul. He was the first Spensieri to land in America, at least in our branch of the family.

Ignazio “Nashy” Spensieri was born in the quiet town of Vinchiaturo, Italy 1905. He was theFirst Spensieri from my grandfather’s immediate family to come to United States (1922-23) at the age of 17. He was unable to enter the U.S. legally due to the Emergency Immigration Act of 1921 which restricted immigration into the U.S., particularly from Europe. Prior to 1921 the annual inflow of immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe was greater than 685,000 and after the Immigration Act it dropped to 158,000 per year. I was never really sure why the US had implemented such an immigration act, but I suppose it was because they had feared further immigration would shrink the US economy due to shortages of jobs.

Ignazio paid passage on a cargo ship traveling from Italy to New York and was dropped in New York harbor, however his friends on the cargo ship could not deliver him to the harbor without being caught. Determined to make it to shore, he moved on with a rowboat whereupon he rowed to the shore of Manhattan, arriving illegally. Unable to get work in the city during the depression, he moved upstate where he was able to get a job tapping maple trees for syrup. It's this kind of mentality to survive with whatever work comes his way that seems to re-occur quite often in our family.

During WWII he secured a job working in the construction industry in Manhattan for T&D Construction. After he became a foreman, he supplied jobs to two of his nephews when they came over to America from Italy. This helped the development of the Spensieri Building Material Co. in the future immensly.

He married Antoinette “Dooley” and they lived in Flushing, Queens in a 1920’s Tudor on a quiet, tree lined street. They never had children but his nephews and their wives and children visited frequently, filling their house on Sundays and during the holidays. Every year they would make wine and store the barrels in the basement to ferment, along with many types of cheeses and pastas. Typical snowbirds, after Nashy’s retirement, he and Dooley spent the winters in Fort Lauderdale, Florida every winter until Dooley became too ill to travel.

Uncle Nashy had died in 1995 in New York, living a full grand life of 85 years of freedom in America. His paving of the way into New York for the rest of the Spensieris left a lasting mark that would lay the groundwork for 6 new families to be established within the Northeast.

How's that for a post? Special thanks to a direct relative, not sure she'd like to be named but it's late, I'll stick with no for now, haha.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Little Italy

Historically, or tourist-thought, Little Italy is the largest area of Italian communities in New York. I've come to falsify this and bring a bit of light when you go to New York and think about Little Italy.

Starting in the early 1900's, Little Italy was populated with mass amounts of Italian Immigrants, primarily because there was cheaper rents, job opportunities, many Italians already located there, and it was not too far off where the Italians had hit the island on their own. Not quite sure where else to head this was an ideal location for them. The neighborhood was massive, nearly all of what is the Lower East Side was once this "Little Italy" or as some reffered it to, sadly as a "Ghetto" or "Slum"

Indeed, there were many poor immigrants in the area but it remained alive with culture and festivity. Many Italians found themselves opening shops and the fine smells that wafted from the restaurants, delis, bakeries, and the pastry shops was quite the delight. Parades were held a couple times a year and the area was bustling with market.

After World War II people began to see changes in Little Italy. Many Italians, having their family businesses open for such long periods of time found themselves with enough money to move to suburbs, like Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, and parts of Long Island, like Franklin Square, Hempstead, and a few more. During the 70's and 80's there was much more of a "Migration" to these areas, and the Italian community within Little Italy had dwindled. The new and much more dense population of Asians had begun to move into the area, thus giving a change from "Little Italy" to Chinatown. There was always such a Chinatown, but the roles have much reversed. Chinatown, starting in the early 1900's, was only a spec in the middle of Little Italy, but now, these present days, Chinatown is now the conglomerate and Little Italy is only 4 blocks long.

The Little Italy now is just kept for name sake. You'll see some restaraunts dotted and some gelato stalls and possibly even a bakery, but it's all a tourist trap these days. It is all owned and run by the Asians whom live within a couple blocks, and most of it is now touristy shops, selling those "I <3 New York" shirts.

Eh. You can find your better pasta, pizza, gelato, cannolis elsewhere in the city. Try Brooklyn for Pastries or Pizza. But I do find the restaraunt now in the "Heart" of Little Italy not so bad. If you just want to see those flags hanging from the tenements then there's no one stopping you. But it may not be as one whom glorifies Little Italy as it's former self.

EDIT: Here's a picture I found! 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Our family may have moved from the Italian farmlands and rolling country side but we never, ever once lost our love for Futbol. We have a deep compassion for the sport, not just for watching but for playing. On a sunday gathering the first activity you see on the outside is a group of us kicking the soccer ball against the school walls in the lot across the street. The tree provides great shade and a nice way to run around while dinner is still being prepared in the early afternoon. The smell of the food entices us to play more aggressively as we realize how hungry we actually are.

This all, of course, assuming that a match is not on concerning the Serie A or the World/Euro Cup. There are many indifferences in our family on who likes what team. My grandfather and I personally pull for AC Milan. I think they're probably the most prestigious and powerful team out there. Some of my uncles pull for Roma and a few other...unmentionable...teams...

There are many stories about watching futbol matches but I'll only share one for you guys today. Watching the Women's World cup this year wasn't as exciting as it was watching the Men's two summers ago. This summer was pretty laid back in the case of the games. There was never that much excitement over the women's rather than the men's. In the case of my grandfather, he will always pull for the Italian team, but his second guess is the US if Italy is eliminated.

After reporting to him that the Japanese were getting closer to the finals he was becoming concerned. But after hereing the final's results his response was: "Baaaah that game was fixed"

"Really? You think so?"
"Psh all those games are a fixed. When you go to a penalty kicks like that? No one should ever miss a penalty kick"
"Haha, I think you are just mad the US lost."
"No no no, I know that was a fixed, you know?"

Of course, I'm posting the easy-to-read-non-accented-version of the dialogue, but that's the jist of what he was saying.

I've watched those penalty kicks and I begin to wonder if it was fixed or not. Most of my family thinks it was purely error.

What do you think world? Do you think that final game was fixed?

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Through our families there was quite a divide on where the North American continent should be settled. The 4 younger brothers had chosen their spots in New York, situating themselves on Long Island and the city boroughs.

But there were the other two families whom spread throughout Montreal. Separated from their brothers they had it rough but made it through. Instead of adapting English as a main language they learned French too. When I went to visit them I was astounded at how many languages their children and grandchildren (Cousins, Cousins, more Cousins...) could recite! It really made me feel as if the American system of education (Which it does fail to provide for) a multilingual system. When I went to High School my first two years I took Latin because I had no intention of learning Spanish or French, and now I shame myself as I know no other language. (Other than parts of Italian)

However it wasn't always a separation. I hear countless stories on the little reunions they had, two or three times a year. The two eldest brothers would come to visit the younger brothers, staying at their houses, taking turns, it was almost like a week-long party! I laugh, because in every house, to keep the party going, there is a Bar in the basement. One of the stories I like to hear about is one of the younger brother's aspect on the parties. He would tell his daughters "Ok kids, get your coats on." and begin to leave. About 2 hours later he'd repeat his statement "Kids come on, get your coats on we're leaving", and yet no signs of leaving. Poor them! But of course, these events occured until about 2-3 in the morning! Children were "exempt" from school the next day.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Start of an Enterprise

When my Grandfather lay his eyes upon New York's harbor, I'm not really sure what he thought. His dream was to come to America in hopes of building a new life upon the soil of the city.

We already had relatives within North America, but his 2 oldest brother was in Montreal in Canada. All he had known within New York were his pictures and he had some older relatives living there that were able to take him in, his uncle and aunt.

He took up a job at a local coat-hangar factory and labored there for the next 4-5 years. It must have been a tough job, those coat hangars are twisted all in a particular way. Until his other 3 remaining, he lead the poor life. However, along with their uncle they had made quite a little bit of money.

At the bright idea of his uncle, my grandfather and at that time the 2 New York brothers had begun a family business after buying some property situated within Woodside, Queens, right on Long Island. (His youngest brother would join him later.) In a convenient location, they were into the construction and supply business. When I heard a bit more about our family history I was shocked when I came to the realization that there, from the small town farms in Italy, my grandfather and his 3 brothers had invested and worked in the construction business. How Ironic!

The building was divided into 3 floors. The ground level was a full 2 city lots, designated for delivery and sale of the materials. A masonry supply yard like that, it sold anything from Sand, Bricks, Cement, Blocks, Gravel, you name it he probably had it as long as it wasn't wood! The 1st floor was an office to sell supplies and demonstrate brick types and to place orders. When I worked there as a summer job, I normally wait for orders to come in and deliver them to the guys at the yard whom would deliver the goods. I would also haul and fill over 200 sandbags a day from as much sand as I could grab. When I read the records from ages ago at the amount my ancestors filled I was astounded, as I thought 200 was quite a lot, reading the numbers of 1000s or even 2000 in a day humbled me. The Top floor consisted of more offices, with a dining room, kitchen, and a bathroom meant to live in as an apartment. I was quite puzzled when I walked into the Kitchen for the first time: Each of the cabinet doors were in a different style and had a different handle. My parents chuckled and told me that was to demonstrate to clients the different types of cabinets they could purchase over some lunch. How genius!

The building was situated in quite a convenient location. It wasn't too far from the local burger/fry joint called the Orange Hut, and not too far from a multitude of pizzerias and delis. My grandfather calls one of the pizza places the best in Queens by far. I can heartily trust him. Even though the 4 brothers had made sandwiches the night before and stored them in the fridges for lunch the next morning, sometimes they would treat to some delicacy, cheesy pies.

Between the brothers they tackled many jobs, mostly working with laying bricks for smaller Duplex houses within the suburbs. Most of these buildings stand today!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Back from the School Shock

Hello Blog, how's it going? It's been quite a while since I posted so I was hoping I'd get to post a story.

This is more recent and hasn't really followed the timeline I had been sharing but I want to share our love for Scopa.

For those of you whom are Non-Italian probably do not know what this card game is, if you do then you haven't seen a family play it like ours. Scopa is italian for "Sweep" and is a commonly played card game. There are some key differences, such as the 40 card deck that is used rather than the 52 card deck. (There are no 8s, 9s, nor 10s. In a Napoletane deck it follows Ace-2-3 and so forth to 7, then goes to Jacks, Knights, and Kings. Sometimes the Jacks are portrayed as Women or Queens. The suits are also as follows: Swords, Clubs, Coins, and Cups, Coins being the most valuable.)

To sum the game up, you try to obtain cards based on 4 categories through matching. You must try to collect as many as the following as you can: Coins, the Sevens, the Seven of Coins, and as many cards as you can. There is also another way to earn points, called a Scopa, in which you clean the entire board by a single match. You are dealt 3 cards at the beginning of a round, and 4 are placed on the table to begin. Each player places 1 card and tries to collect what he/she can until they run out, in which they are dealt 3 more cards. After all the cards are split, scores are tallied and the first person to arrive at 11 points wins.

Scopa is played very much in our family. During or after our fruit we always have a few games for the "Campionato" and thus much taunting and intoxicated playing insues upon the plastic covered dinning room table. Even after coffee the games continue. Heated 3 player games, face offs, or even team 4 player games are bound to be at any gathering.

Currently one of my Uncles claims this title but Nonno (Grandfather) seems to beat him out. I am confident I am a stable player but maybe not as good as the "Champion". Infact, I visited some second cousins and removed cousins and easily swept the floor clean! I love to hear the groan when the 7 of coins is picked up, as that's worth a whole point!

When I return to New York I will bring my new tricks I have learned upon them. I downloaded a app for my phone called "La Scopa" and have been practicing there! It is such a quick game and takes a little bit to learn but with any type of determination it becomes a nice strategy game to play with a bit of a lucky streak. You always could use that seven of coins!

One of my infamous tips that I've learned comes straight from my Nonno. He always reminds me that if I have 2 cards of the same number I should always play them immediately to prevent a Scopa.

That's all I've got for now, I've got to get back to some school work. Hopefully you can challenge me on La Scopa!

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