Italian Feast In Brooklyn 1900

An Italian Feast: Lady of Pompeii  (1)

The Italians living in the Seventh Ward are making elaborate preparations for the celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Pompeii, which will be observed next week, and will continue for two days. The feast is a distinctly native feast of the City of Naples and the celebration was gotten up by the Neapolitans living in the district, which extends from Classon avenue to Skillman street, inclusive, and from Myrtle avenue to Flushing avenue. The larger percentage of the Italians in the district are from the City of Naples, although there are a sprinkling of natives from other parts of Italy. A meeting of the Neapolitans was called about a month ago, and an organization was formed and the coming celebration will be the first event under its auspices. There will be a public demonstration and beside, religious exercises will be held in St. Patrick's Church, Kent and Willoughby avenues, of which the Rev. Thomas Taaffe is the pastor. Father Taaffe's assistant, the Rev. William White, D.D., will conduct the religious services.

The celebrations will commence Monday morning and will begin with a parade of the Neapolitans through the streets of the parish. Along the line of march a number of arches will be erected, for which the permits have already been awarded. One of the arches will be constructed in front of St. Patrick's Church on Kent avenue and will span the street. Others will be erected on the block below.

The paraders will be accompanied by several bands of music. After the parade the Italians of the district will assemble in the church, where a low mass will be celebrated by Dr. White. In the afternoon and evening the festivities will be continued and the district will put on a holiday attire. Dr. White has had the promise of the attendance of a large number of Italian priests on Monday night, when the church will be given over to the Italians and confessions heard. It is expected that a very large percentage of the Italians will go to confession on Monday night and receive holy communion on Tuesday morning. On Monday night there will be a display of fireworks.

On Tuesday morning, however, the main part of the religious ceremonies will be observed. There will be a solemn high mass celebrated in St. Patrick's Church and the musical part of the service will be augmented by a full band. The regular church choir will sing the mass, under the direction of Professor Downs, the organist.

Source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle September 29, 1900

Italians Honor Their Lady of Pompeii (2)

When an Italian celebrates he devotes his whole time to it. Today the Italians in the Seventh Ward are honoring the memory of their lady of Pompeii and in consequence nobody in the neighborhood is doing any work; everybody has on his brightest neckwear and everything somber hued is covered with a profusion of many colored bunting or paper muslin. Up on Myrtle avenue the Dutch grocer waits on customers and watches the boy loitering near the barrel of fall pip-pins. Down at the corner the Irish policeman leans against an awning support and poses, but today the identity of both is lost. The Italians own the vicinity temporarily and they are making the most of it.

The fete which they celebrate is an annual autumn feature in Naples. Most of the Italians in the Seventh Ward are Neapolitans and those who are not were perfectly willing to help the celebration along. As a result of such co-operation it was not long before the feast day committee found the spirit of the colony to be thoroughly in sympathy with their endeavors. The men were all willing to take a day off: two days, if necessary, and when the subject of decoration was broached there were willing hands to help.

An Italian fete is a strange function when viewed from a crude Anglo-Saxon standpoint. it combines parades, noise, religion, fruit, song, red handkerchiefs, strange cakes and firecrackers. The combination seems to be arranged to suit divers tastes, and perhaps that is the reason why it is so popular. All the good features of other celebrations are brought together in one harmonious whole. The interior moistening of the German Schutzenfest, the ear splitting demonstration of the American Fourth of July, the refreshment harvest of the Sunday school anniversary day and a little bit of every desirable relaxation that can be thought of or imitated all this and a lot more can be seen in the neighborhood of Park and Kent avenues today.

On Kent avenue, on the particular block between Park and Myrtle, a man whose name was O'Harra would be strictly out of his native element. So would a man named Kleinschmidt. Each side of the way is Italian from house line to curb, and overhead, across the roadway of cobbles, strings of flags and rows of glass lamps that look like blackened tumblers wave or shine, according to their respective callings. The flags, however, are not all Italian. American colors are liberally displayed, but there the variety ceases.

In one respect there is no difference between an Italian on a fete day and an American. Both are fond of eating. The American, or a certain type of him, that is, takes his pink lemonade, bolivars and peanuts with a relish and with equal zest: the Italian fancies his, but goodness knows what it is he eats on fete days. There are cakes of all colors, cookies of a kind never seen in a Brooklyn bakeshop and candies of a sort that might make even a small boy hesitate and wonder if he dared. On the stands which line the curb on Kent avenue there are brown cakes, red cakes, green cakes, purple cakes and cakes that look like snakes, so realistic are their curves. The Neapolitans seem to like them.

Cr-cr-cr-rack, cr-rack, cr-rack, bang-bung! The policeman on the corner of Myrtle avenue aroused himself with a start. People in the street stopped to see. Along Kent avenue a small parade was approaching, and a celebrationist, in his ardor, had discharged a string of noisy explosives, with an extra loud one at the end. A horse drawing a peddler's cart with some furniture in it, a little in advance of the pageant, started violently at the sound, and an Italian table went by the board and broke one of its legs. When the wreck was cleared away the parade proceeded.

First came a red coated band, playing an air which was never composed in Naples. There was a suggestion of Mount Vesuvius about the trombone player, but that was all. A battalion of men in uniform followed the band and after them, in good marching order, came a score of little Italian girls, clad in white dresses and long veils. The little procession passed up Kent avenue to the corner of Willoughby, where it broke ranks and entered St. Patrick's Church. There a solemn mass was said, with more ceremony than usual. After it was over the residents of the street continued to celebrate by taking life just as easy as they could. Every now and then a celebrating parent would go up to his house and count his children, thus making sure that the family was having a good time.

Website: The History
Article Name: Italian Feast In Brooklyn 1900
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


(1)Brooklyn Daily Eagle September 29, 1900; (2) The Brooklyn Daily Eagle 10/2/1900
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