Leader Board Ad

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dig Report 3/27/10 Trains, Planes, and Italian Immigrants

Even though I live in a small corner of the world, it's a little disappointing not to find something every week.  It has a lot to do with karma, I used to think it had more to do with quantity, but the fact is, I would rather spend a day at one sale then 15 minutes at 30 of them.  Unfortunately, it takes a search of 30 to find the one, but I'll know it when I see it.  It is usually upon viewing that first genuine artifact (meaning, it wasn't placed there like a prop in a play), or it could be the demeanor of the people at, or running the sale.  When  you find that sale, it is not unlike Apocalypse Now!  I can almost hear Martin Sheen's narrative: "as I head up the winding  uncharted paper roads, towards the overweight elusive and enigmatic  Brando-like find.  I can see the neighbors quietly emerge from their hiding places, their vacuous foreboding stares upon my foreign transport (Subaru) chill me to the bone.  My crew, now reduced to one, murmurs from behind, "I don't know daddy...I don't know about this..." She wonders why we are going so far; my only Intel is the last communicade I received (the classifieds) and I have to trust it until I see the signs...
That's another reason why I don't run out to the sales at the crack of dawn, I will find something when it is ready to be found.  I only know that serendipity is where you find it   My photographer and I stumbled on something like that:
After flunking out of 3 sales in New Milford (1 Non-existent, 1 Drive by, and 1 big waste of gas) we took the back roads back to reality and saw the signs. This weekend was the annual train exhibition at the Brookfield Historical Society's building at the corner of 25 & 133. AVA likes trains, mainly from visiting a friend's store in Danbury, "Railworks" where  she can go in and run the big railroad layout there. 

I think AVA is a better camera jockey that I am.  She uses a Kodak 1 megapixel camera that was $4 dollars at a sale last year.  With a fixed focus and large shutter button she wouldn't be overwhelmed in complexity, and if she dropped it, so what.  I watched as she went around from layout to layout trying to capture the trains as they sped by.  She was almost leaping at the trains to get the shot.  I figured they would be a blurry mess,

but I didn't want to ruin her fun by directing her, she wouldn't have wanted it anyway.  Then without any prompting she began placing the camera on the layout and pushing straight down on the shutter for a steady shot.  She experimented her way into some unique comparison shots.


Not bad for a 6-year old, which I think is a good segue for some old paper, because it has to do with what our grandparents (or great grandparents) do to their kids.  In a box of old papers pulled from the elephants trunk flea market, I found pictures and picture cards form the early 20th century.  The letters were written in Italian, but I can't tell from the pictures if they are first generation Italian-Americans or true immigrants.  In my favorite image of the bunch, they all look gaunt and weary as though they just got off the boat and on to Ellis Island. Take a look:
This has to be Coney Island or some boardwalk amusement photo set.  Maybe it was dad that coaxed them into this ridiculous scene. If they didn't  already look like they just "get off the boat," someone has got them right back on it, and they are not amused.  Only Mom looks as though she is barely about to crack half a smile, and the kids look like they regret coming to America. This card is from about 1912. There was also an interesting letter in the pile that I have tried to translate and would implore any reader to help me with it (Click for a larger image).

Clearly from 1930, and Napoli, but that's the best I can do. Here is the front and back of another picture post card:
I can make out the date on the post mark 7-7-14, but I can't do any better to read the note or figure out how it was delivered without an address.  These pictures are on the large side, so I apologize if they take a little while to download.  Please read it  and take a guess at who Figleo Cologero was writing to and what he had to say.  Comments are no longer moderated so, have at it!


  1. Interesting stuff!
    The post card is to Signore Russo. This is the older European letter s that looks like an f. Also Via is street, so it's Guiseppe Street. I'm also thinking the city is Minnesota, again that s. I didn't translate the letter.

    Hope that helps!

  2. Okay, I came back and looked more closely at the letter and post card. It's signed Figleo which means Son.

    The letter is written from the niece Rosa, 8 yrs, saying how it was so nice to see her cousins in the photos and she will send photos too. They will send prayers and kisses.


Found something unique? See something here you want to know more about? Start the discussion - I'll respond. Really!