Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Old Days Of Sheriff Street: An Interview With Sidney Fermaglich

Great stuff from the Lower East Side History Project
An excerpt from a 2005 interview:
I was born here; my oldest brother was born here. If he was alive he’d be over a hundred. I’ll be ninety in December. I got a baby brother who’s going to be eighty. My oldest brother… if he were alive today… he’d be about ninety-six… ninety- seven. My mother had six children… all boys. I lived… first I lived at 51 Sheriff Street… then we moved to 65 Sheriff Street... then we moved to the fancy one on 67 Sheriff Street where we had our own toilet and bath. And November 1930, we moved into the Amalganated on Grand Street..
The first co-op that went up here was the Amalgamated. I went into the army; came back and moved back in here. My brother gave me the apartment. So that was in 1945… the end of World War II.
When I was little… the games. It was rough games. We were east side kids and we played whatever we got a hold of… tag.... stupid games children play.
When I got home from school, first I would ask my mother to cut me a slice of bread with some shmear on it. And it was a treat. Then I went downstairs and played ball or did crazy things that the kids would do. We played ball. At times we broke into a peddler and stole sweet potatoes. That was a treat. We’d put them on the fire. We made a fire out of what we called our election fire… we saved up and we got crates and boxes. And on election day we made a big bonfire. That was a big thing. Then we went down to the Forward building and watched the results come in. We made the fire but I don’t recall who was Mayor or who was Commissioner.
I used to deliver the whiskey and he gave me a half a dollar Every time.
When I got a little older there was a saloon right underneath where I lived on 67 Sheriff Street. So I used to deliver... this was the Prohibition... you couldn’t buy a drink, but he had a saloon. His name was David. I used to deliver the whiskey and he gave me a half a dollar Every time. That was big money. And when we moved out of there in 1930. we moved here…Amalgamated. my father took five rooms. The rent was $62.50 a month. There was a Depression... the heart of the Depression.
I didn’t have too many friends here anyway. I went back to my old street… Sheriff Street On Sheriff Street they had a man and a woman’s bath house... there was one on Allen Street too.
We didn’t have bath tubs where we lived. We had a sink in the kitchen..and you washed up in the kitchen. There was a bath house at 62 Sheriff Street. The name of the bath house was Gang’s. It was owned by a man whose name was Gang. That was his name. He was my neighbor. I think one of his sons is alive today. He owned the bath house.You took a bath and you slept over... they had cots. There was more than one bath house. At 65 Sheriff Street… in the basement… they put in some bath tubs and we used to go in there to bathe. For a quarter, a half a dollar… you took a bath. It was a different time. Today... you turn the faucet on you get all the water you want. Then it was different.
In those days my father used to bring home the junk… the salvage. Certain pieces of wood; we put them in the stove and we heated the apartment. I can’t even describe it.
I went to school at PS 34. It was right here on Sheriff and Broome. And then I went to PS 22 on Sheriff and Stanton; from there I went to PS 97 for junior high school; From there I went to Seward Park. And then I got out of there and I went to work.
Sidney mentions the Gang bath house. I guess this is what Manny was talking about here. Originally I thought he meant the bath house on Rivington, near Mangin

Friday, April 29, 2011

More On Hank Greenberg's LES Roots

Looks like his dad may have worked at this address. The image in the inset is part of David Greenberg's naturalization application

Wednesday At The Tenement Museum, Part 2

Kurlansky was late and I shared this song with Kevin Baker to play for the audience.
It was a big hit.
Goodbye Mr. Ball Goodbye
Written by Bill Coryn & Harold Smith
Performed by Groucho Marx, Bing Crosby & Hank Greenberg
Courtesy of the Philco Radio Show
We’ve heard about those old time dangerous pirates
of Captain Kidd and Silver John the Long
but we prefer those modern dangerous Pirates
as our victims walk the plank we sing this song
Oh, goodbye, Mr Ball, goodbye
You are going to see an awful lot of sky
don’t hang around for Richard to open up that door
when Hankus Pankus hits you where you’ve never been hit before
Oh, goodbye, Mr Ball, goodbye
You had better kiss your relatives good bye
when Hank comes to the plate, Ball,
you’re gonna to be out late so
Oh, goodbye, Mr Ball, goodbye
Oh, goodbye, Mr Ball, goodbye
Say hello there to the sun up in the sky
a plate is mighty handy to eat the lean and fat
but not when Hank the Greenberg serves it up with his big bat
Oh, goodbye, Mr Ball, goodbye
Go fly ‘til the blue has met the dawn up in the sky
when Hank gets home run itch, Ball,
you’re going to drop a stitch
so goodBye Mr ball, goodBye
Oh nothing could be finer
than a partner like Ralph Kiner
in the outfield
and I am confirmin’ that I’ll work for Billy Herman
in the infield
Oh goodbye, Mr Ball, goodbye
you had better kiss your relatives goodbye
Wait a minute, when the count is 2-0 and I let that third one go,
what happens then?
You’re out
Oh Goodbye Mr Hank goodbye
And furthermore,
when I think I've got a hit and it winds up in Slaughter's mitt
How about that?
Too bad
Oh goodbye Mr. Hank Goodbye
Oh, Mr. Greenberg
Goodbye Mr. Hank Goodbye
from hungry for music

Wednesday At The Tenement Museum

One of KV's greatest punchball players, of any ethnicity , Prof. Bob Nathanson, joined me at the Tenement Museum to hear Mark Kurlansky talk about his biography of Hank Greenberg called Hank Greenberg: The Hero Who Didn't Want to Be One.
The talk was excellent, due in great part to Kevin Baker's expert facilitation, but I was somewhat disappointed in the book. Ira Berkow's bio is much better.
but I did pick up a clue from the Kurlansky book to the Greenberg's lower east side roots. David Greenberg, Hank's dad, had a job as a clothes sponger and with a little census detective work I figured out he lived at 210 E. 3rd Street in 1906. The document image in the inset is part of Greenberg's naturalization application.
about clothes' sponging
Basically, this is going be entirely dependent on how thorough the shrinkage process at the mill was. Top quality mills usually pre-shrink cloth better. However, any cotton fabric may still shrink to varying degrees. Some tailors who are particularly meticulous won't trust what cloth merchants say about their cloths being "pre-shrunk" and even "sponge" the cloth to shrink it before making it up. For those interested this is traditionally done with bed sheets that have been soaked in water. However, one tailor told me that he wets the cloth and places it in a dryer.
a previous post about Hank Greenberg

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hamilton House History: Including KV Basement Crap Games

Hamilton House History

Monday, April 25, 2011

38 Market Street History: 1888

38 Market
Note the wrong diagnosis and the subtle racism shown in portraying the Italian immigrant as the carrier of the Yellow Fever and the need to isolate him. 38 Market still looks like it once housed a doctor's office.

72 Market Street History

72 Market
I guess riding in a Tally Ho Coach was just asking for it.
PS 177 was in the second district.
I would guess William Homan of 72 Market Street, Mrs. John Kehoe of 37 Catherine Street, Miss Jenny Montgomery of 52 Market Street, Fred J. Seelig of 13 Allen Street
and Dr. William Henry of 97 Henry Street were all citizens of some stature to be on the school board.

The Ship On Hamilton Street: 1890's

More proof that Hamilton Street was rough and tumble.
Also evidence of Riis' questionable views on race and ethnicity.
from How The Other Half Lives
How the Other Half Lives. 1890.
IV. The Down Town Back-Alleys
We have crossed the boundary of the Seventh Ward. Penitentiary Row, suggestive name for a block of Cherry Street tenements, is behind us. Within recent days it has become peopled wholly with Hebrews, the overflow from Jewtown adjoining, pedlars and tailors, all of them. It is odd to read this legend from other days over the door: “No pedlars allowed in this house.” These thrifty people are not only crowding into the tenements of this once exclusive district— they are buying them. The Jew runs to real estate as soon as he can save up enough for a deposit to clinch the bargain. As fast as the old houses are torn down, towering structures go up in their place, and Hebrews are found to be the builders. Here is a whole alley nicknamed after the intruder, Jews’ Alley. But abuse and ridicule are not weapons to fight the Israelite with. He pockets them quietly with the rent and bides his time. He knows from experience, both sweet and bitter, that all things come to those who wait, including the houses and lands of their Persecutors.
Here comes a pleasure party, as gay as any on the avenue, though the carry-all is an ash-cart. The father is the driver and he has taken his brown-legged boy for a ride. How proud and happy they both look up there on their perch! The queer old building they have halted in front of is “The Ship,” famous for fifty years as a ramshackle tenement filled with the oddest crowd. No one knows why it is called “The Ship,” though there is a tradition that once the river came clear up here to Hamilton Street, and boats were moored along-side it. More likely it is because it is as bewildering inside as a crazy old ship, with its ups and downs of ladders parading as stairs, and its unexpected pitfalls. But Hamilton Street, like Water Street, is not what it was. The missions drove from the latter the worst of its dives. A sailors’ mission has lately made its appearance in Hamilton Street, but there are no dives there, nothing worse than the ubiquitous saloon and tough tenements.
I thought the building shown here was the ship, but it was probably the Seaman's Mission that succeeded it

Hamilton House: Dedication Of New Site, 1953

above, Marie Embarratto is mentioned. I wonder if it's any relation to?
below from the mcny collection

Hamilton House: 72 Market Street, 1891 site

The settlement house did not come into existence until later, this just shows the site on the map. Notice PS 177 was yet to be built. PS 36, on Monroe Street, was the local school for the area.
Some Hamilton Madison House History
1898 In Spring, Madison House of the Downtown Ethical Society is founded at 300 Madison Street.
1900 Under the leadership of Board Member, Bella Moses, mother of Robert Moses, Madison House embarks construction of a permanent summer camp.
1902 Hamilton House is founded on Hamilton Street. On June 17th Hamilton House is incorporated.
1910 Madison House acquires a building at 216 Madison Street.
1915 In November, Hamilton House moves from Hamilton Street to 72 Market Street.
1920 In September, the summer camps are replaced by Camp Rossbach for both boys and girls at Tompkins’ Corners near Peekskill. This camp later becomes Camp Madison and later is known as Camp Madison-Felicia.
1925 In the mid-twenties, Madison House is incorporated.
1926 Dr. Algernon Black becomes Headworker at Madison House until 1930.
1929 The building at 226 Madison Street is completed
1930 During the next ten years, Madison House provides facilities for WPA workers who serve the neighborhood’s cultural, health and social needs.
1941 World War II starts. Mrs. Josiah Willard, President of Hamilton House, from 1952-1954 and Helen Greenebaum, Headworker, share the task of managing the House during the war years.
1947 The neighborhood population becomes primarily by African-Americans and Latinos. Friction between the pre-war community and the newcomers escalates. Teenage gangs present an acute problem. Geoffrey Wiener is Headworker. Helen Hall, Headworker of Henry Street Settlement and a member of the Hamilton House Board, urges Mr. Wiener on. The budget is $12,000, with a deficit carried by Henry Street Settlement House.
1950 In the 1950s the first Hamilton-Madison House Thrift Store opens on Madison Street. The thrift store moves uptown to Third Avenue and moves again on Third Avenue before locating on Second Avenue.
1951 The Golden Age Group of Chinatown is established as a group of Chinese senior citizens at Hamilton House.
1952 In February, Hamilton House offers counseling and family care work as an experimental project through an arrangement with the Family Services Division of the Community Service Society of New York
1953 When the second half of Smith Houses is completed, a community space and a 55 child pre-school Day Care Center are allocated. Hamilton House is named the sponsor. In a dedication ceremony in March 1953, Mrs. Franklin Delano Roosevelt is the principal speaker.
1954 Mrs. Shirley Chisholm is named the Director of the Child Care Center of Hamilton-Madison House.

Hamilton House: 72 Market Street

below from the mcny collection
The 72 Market site would be torn down in the early 1950's

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Rough And Tumble Hamilton Street: The Heat Wave Of 1905

Hamilton Street Heat 1905

46 Market Street History

46 Market History
Evidently there was some hanky panky in the Scruton's acquiring of 46 Market Street.
Mr. James of 46 Market appears to be a man of some money with his Tally Ho coach.

An Article About Scruton's Pharmacy In 1896

Note the discussion that this area was once more well to do and how Scruton retained his clientele with his decorating skills which appealed to old world immigrant artisans.

46 Market Street, 1939: C.R. Scruton's Pharmacy

from the mcny collection
below a close-up of the display
We posted previously on this pharmacy
and also with a close up view

The World War I Hero From 45 Market Street: Corporal Patrick Regan

Lower Manhattan Republican Club On Madison Street: 1945-1950

below from the mcny collection
according to a previous post, the club appeared to have moved from 63 Madison to 90 Madison.
The sign pictured below, however, does not look like it is attached to 90 Madison.

Friday, April 22, 2011

More 43 Market Street History

above from the mcny collection
The above is not a building on Market Street. I'd guess somewhere on Madison or Henry. Mary instead lived at 43 Market in 1900. Below is part of the census report for that address. Looks like Mary may have had some money. She appears to have a servant. The money must have been "old", because from the census the block is populated with working class types.
Just who was this Mary St. John and the John Dows Mairs she was married to?
from an ancestry message board
Dear James,
I am actually a bit familiar with your family, but just a bit and only very recently. I am from the LaTourette family and I just finished up some basic research for a staff writer for the New Yorker Magazine. They are doing (or thinking of doing) an article on Golf Courses within the NY City limits. This is what I know, and again a bit limited:
From the NYC directory of 1869.
Mairs John Dows, mer. 20 South, h 114 E. 36th (he is a Merchant)
And I also found this today:
JOHN DOWS MAIRS, merchant, who died in Irvington-on-the-Hudson, Oct. 3, 1881, in his 54th year, was a native of Utica, N.Y., and a nephew of David Dows. He began life as a clerk for Mr. Dows, who entertained a sincere respect for his competent young nephew. He was drawn away to California for a time but returned to New York and by invitation of the senior partner entered the firm of David Dows & Co. in 1854. In the affairs of this house, he spent the rest of his life, gaining a fortune and the esteem of the whole mercantile community. He was a member of the Produce Exchange from its organization.
He married a woman by the name of Mary St. John and this is the obit I found on her:
The notice of her death was in the New York Times, 04/30/1906:
Mairs - On Sunday morning, April 29, Mary E. St. John, widow of the late John D. Mairs,
Funeral services at her late residence, 14 West 54th Street, on Tuesday morning, May 1, at 10 o'clock. Kindly omit flowers.
Their son was Edwin Hays Mairs and I believe they also had a daughter named Mary Dows Mairs who married Rev. John Betts Calveret.
Edwin Hays Maris married my distant cousin Catherine LaTourette Evans and they had four children that I know of (I could dig for more information): John Dow Mairs; Mary St. John Mairs; Joanna LaTourette Mairs and Walton H. Mairs.
As you probably know, John D. Mairs was born May 5, 1886, married Feb. 14, 1911 to Mary Dake Mattison, and died May 2, 1928. And I have them having at least three children: Edwin Hays Mairs; Unknown female Mairs and John Dows Mairs. You know the rest.

43 Market Street History

41-43 Market Street: 1953

from the mcny collection
with two close ups below

Madison and Market Street: 1950

from the mcny collection although it is incorrectly labeled Madison and Pike
below, a close up of the above

Sotcha Dillon and Mrs. James Mahoney: 12 Monroe Street

Anthony Maffia: 12 Monroe Street

Hamilton Street: Looking Towards Market Street, 1933

Hamilton Street: Looking Towards Catherine Street, 1933

The KV Pits: 1950

from the mcny collection
below I tried to magnify the image to make out what the plaque says, but I can't figure it out for sure. It might say west court, buildings GHIJKL ?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

90 Madison Street: In The News

90 Market

90 Madison Street: 1942

from the mcny collection

85 Madison Street: 1884


85 Madison Street: 1898

85 Madison
Evidently there was old money living on Madison Street at that time.
About Alexander T. Stewart

85 Madison Street: Then and Closer

from the mcny collection
The close up shows the campaign poster for John Lamula

The King's Daughters and Sons House In The News: 1895-1897

King's House
In 1897 the house moved from 77 Madison Street to 48 Henry Street.
A previous post about 48 Henry

77 Madison Street: Then And Now

above from the mcny collection
it's hard to figure if the current address was the same building as the location of the original King's Daughters and Sons' home. Often the grid numbers are shifted.

77 Madison Street: The International Order of The King's Daughters and Sons

Kings House 1897
from their current website
The Order began on January 13th, 1886 in the New York City home of Margaret Bottome, a Methodist minister's wife. Margaret was well-known for her drawing room talks, Bible studies and prayer meetings. Dr. Edward Everett Hale, originator of the Lend-A-Hand movement, had planted the idea for a "sisterhood of service" before Mrs. Bottome invited several of her friends to an organizational meeting.
At the January meeting were Mrs. Margaret Bottome, Mrs. Mary Lowe Dickinson, Miss Georgia Libby, Mrs. Theodore Irving, Mrs. Mary F. Payson, Mrs. C. DePeyster Field, Mrs. J. F. Ruggles, Miss Susan B. Schenck and Miss Helen Hammersley. Along with Isabella Charles Davis, these women made up the original Ten. Their church affiliations were Episcopal, Methodist and Presbyterian.
Mrs. Bottome was chosen President and served in that capacity until her death in 1906. Mary Lowe Dickinson was the General Secretary of the Order from the beginning until her death in 1914. She served as Editor of the Order's magazine, The Silver Cross, from its beginning in 1888 until her death. The Hymn of the Order, "Lead Now As Forth We Go," sung to the tune of "Nearer My God to Thee" was written by Mrs. Dickinson in 1887.
Congress of The King's Daughters and SonsMrs. Irving, an educator in New York City, suggested the name, The King's Daughters. For the badge, a little silver Maltese cross was chosen. In the early days, those who could not procure a cross wore a purple ribbon as an emblem of membership.
The motto:
Look up and not down,
Look forward and not back,
l Look out and not in,
And lend a hand
represents faith, hope and service to others. The watchword chosen was In His Name and the text, Not to be ministered unto, but to minister.
The object of the Order is the "development of spiritual life and the stimulation of Christian activities."
The Order unit was originally called a "Ten", but was soon changed to "Circle" to accommodate the numbers of women wanting to join.
Mary Lowe DickensonThe founders were firm in declining to choose a work for each circle to do, rather allowing them to choose any work that involved doing good In His Name.
Hundreds of letters flooded the Headquarters office from women seeking information about membership and within a short time there were more than 50,000 members worldwide. In 1887, men and boys began seeking admission to the Order, and the name of the organization changed to The King's Daughters and Sons in 1891.
The Order had a display in the Women's Building of the 1893 World's Fair where literature and badges were on display.
By 1896, there were Branch organizations in 26 states and circles in nearly every country in Europe, Japan, China, Syria and India. Canada had nearly 6,000 members.
Interstate Conferences, concerning the work of the Order, began in1897, but the first General Convention was held in Louisville, KY in 1912. Conventions continue to be held on even-numbered years. Central Council, composed of leaders of the organization, meets on odd-numbered years at Chautauqua, NY to conduct the business of the Order.
The Headquarters of the Order was based in New York City until 1972 when it moved to Chautauqua, New York where it continues to be today.

100-104 Madison Street: In The News

1972 94 Madison Street

106 Madison Street: Then And Now

The pic above from the mcny collection gives no address , but I figured it out by the unique building entrance

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

110 Madison Street History

evidenty Nunzio lived in the same building as his restaurant. His 1942 WW2 Draft Registration card

110 Madison Street: Then And Now

the image from the mcny collection

I remember Nunzio and his wife. The seating arrangements in the place were unique. Tables lined on a ledge approx three feet elevated from the floor of the most of the place. And a bar separating the table areas from the floor so you couldn't slide off your seat and kerplunk. The pizza has never been equaled. Forget about fancy schmancy anything. Brick oven, with each brick dismantled from equal parts of Canaan, Zion, Shangri-la and Arcadia. Not to mention Elysium and Utopia.
Son of Seth

Jack Molinas: The LES Connection

A recent email baseball discussion with prof Bob lead from Gustavo Molina to Jack Molinas. I did some research to see if there was a LES connection to Jack, since I knew he went to Stuyvesant. I thought he was Greek Orthodox, but he was a fellow Sephardic Jew. He lived in the Bronx at the time, but his father Louis lived for a while evidently in the 7th Ward near PS 147. The excerpt comes from an excellent book about Jack

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

153 Stanton Street History

the last page has a drawing of 153 modified from a great site called allthebuildings

A Different Kind Of Lower East Side Tour

beware strong language. featured is 153 Stanton Street

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Neal Hellman's Passover Crisis

an excerpt from the full story at Neal's blog
How Anne Baxter Changed My Religion
I had my first spiritual crisis at the age of eight. It was Passover 1956, our yearly ritual that was always held at my Bubbie’s apartment on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. I was turning a page of the illustrated Haggadah, a kind of a child’s guide to the Passover, when I found myself gazing straight into the face of the Angel of Death. She had long, wild hair, and she was descending from a darkened heaven and wielding a very foreboding scythe with both hands. It was on the same page as the four questions, and that’s where I came into the ritual. As the youngest child I had to read the questions. However, I was so fixated on the dark angel I could barley speak.
I knew the story well—Moses warned Pharaoh nine times before the big blow. In ascending order they were water to blood, a rain of frogs, lice, wild beasts, blight on livestock, boils, hail, locusts, and then the death of all the Egyptian firstborn. Staring at the Haggadah, all I could think was, “What kind of an angel would do that? I thought angels were sweet.”
After the plagues had been run by and the prayers had fallen silent, I piped up. My question probably came from a confluence of Seder wine and fear. I asked, “Why couldn’t God spare the Egyptian children too?”
My Uncle Samuel shook his head. “It’s part of the story, it’s always been that way.”
“Don’t take it so literally,” said uncle Max, “it’s a metaphor.”
My Aunt Esther added, “Try to view the spiritual side.
Yahweh loved the Hebrews so much He’d do anything to set them free.
My father, Solomon, commented, “God warned the Pharaoh with the previous nine plagues. He had plenty of time to think it over.”
Bubbie then spoke up. “There’s still chicken. Nobody’s eating it. Is there something wrong with the chicken?”
It made no sense to me, but I, like Jacob, often wrestled with God. I wrestled with many things growing up on the Lower East Side. I was constantly worried about breaking any of my parents’ numerous socialist taboos, like watching Walt Disney, who was antiunion, or eating any product made by John Welch, who was the founder of the John Birch Society. Besides my parents, danger lurked outside the apartment in the form of young men from the Catholic school, who held me personally responsible killing their Savior.
We had our pleasures, too. Baseball, comics, street games, television, and of course the movies. In those days there was only one big screen and the movie houses looked like great palaces. When a new movie opened it would play in just one theater. It was a major deal to go uptown and see a first-run film.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

166 Cherry Street, 1932

a close up of the above. These buildings would soon be torn down with the construction of Knickerbocker Village, They are just to the west of Market Street.
Three Triangle Shirtwaist fire victims and one survivor lived near this building in 1911. Images from the mcny collection

More On The Cherry Street Triangle Fire Connection

from Leon Stein's great book on the Triangle Fire. The connection between Sophie and Delia is mentioned previously

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Triangle Fire Victims’ Families Gather To Affirm Ongoing Legacy –

the above picture, from the mcny collection, shows the approximate site on Cherry Street where the victims mentioned below lived. In the background is PS 177. The girls could attended the school.
Triangle Fire Victims’ Families Gather To Affirm Ongoing Legacy –
from the article:
The Cherry Street connection
Earlier on March 25, descendants of Triangle victims marched down the streets of Lower Manhattan, carrying handmade shirtwaists (blouses) with sashes bearing the names of the dead. Mary Alice Del Castillo of Baldwin, N.Y., in Long Island’s Nassau County, bore a shirtwaist with the name of her aunt, Josie Del Castillo.
Another Long Islander, MaryAnn Lupinacci, approached her. “Are you related to Josie?” she asked.
“Yes,” Del Castillo responded.
Lupinacci told Del Castillo she was the niece of Josie’s best friend, Santina Salemi, who also died in the fire. In fact, their names were on the same tombstone. The families had a lot of catching up to do.
As it turns out, Lupinacci’s cousin Loo Miano, of the Astoria section of Queens, had been trying to find out more about the mysterious Josie for years. His mother was named after Salemi, so he felt a close tie to the fire.
“I did some genealogical research and tried to figure out this name on the grave,” he said. Both came from Cerda, a village in Sicily. After moving to America, Santina and Josie lived on Cherry Street together with Santina’s cousin Rosie Cirrito, who also perished in the fire. Salemi’s sister, Frances Salemi, survived. As the fire raged, she prayed to God for her safety — and promised that if she survived, she would devote her life to God’s work. She later became a nun.
“I was really thrilled,” Del Castillo said. “We didn’t know that much about Josie.” She first learned about her connection to the fire 45 years ago, when her husband’s great-aunt mentioned it. “We will definitely stay in touch.”