(Maria) Carmela Colangelo Baldelli

Maria Carmela Colangelo was born November 10, 1906, in Montelongo, Campobasso, in the region of present day Molise, Italy. Called Carmela by the family, she was one of seven children born to Anna Maria Lariccia and Matteo Colangelo. Her siblings were Rosaria (Rose), Filomena, Guiseppina, and Pasqualena (Lena), Domenico (Dom), and Josephine.

In May of 1913, six-year-old Carmela and her mother with daughters Rosaria and Filomena left Italy for Youngstown, Ohio, to join Matteo, who had arrived earlier. At first, the family took up residence on Rayen Avenue, not far from Lariccia’s grocery store, owned by Uncles Giuseppe (Joseph or Gioso) and Gennaro (James). Later, Carmela’s other homes included Thorn Hill and Lane Avenue. Not having attended school in Italy, she was enrolled in Wood Street Public School, where she later graduated 8th grade in 1922.

Joseph Lariccia behind wife Lucia Biscelglia. To his right is Carmela Colangelo Baldelli, late 1940?s Youngstown, OH.

As a youth, Carmela worked in her uncles’ grocery store, Lariccia’s Imported Goods. There she met Tuscan-born Nello Baldelli, her future husband, who at the time was a fireman with the Pennsylvania Railroad and living in a nearby boarding house. A frequent customer at the grocery store, Nello would see Carmela who would make his lunch. From that encounter a romance bloomed. On January 29, 1925, Carmela and Nello were married at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Youngstown.

The couple’s first child Raymond (Domenico Raymond) was born November 27, 1925. He is often referred to as “cattivo” or mischievous in Nello’s letters. Anna Maria (Ann), petite, blonde, and blue-eyed, was born on July 9, 1930. She was named for both of her grandmothers, Anna Maria Lariccia and Anna Maria Baldelli.

Curly-haired Nello Martin (Neil) was born September 15, 1934. All three are affectionately mentioned in correspondence addressed to Carmela and Nello in letters arriving from the Baldelli family in Manciano, Italy.

The Baldellis in Italy and Carmela and husband Nello kept up a steady stream of mail over several decades. Both families felt they would never see their respective in-laws.  Thus the transatlantic correspondence carried a heavy emotional weight. Domenico and Anna Maria, Nello’s parents, wrote often to express their desire to know their new daughter-in-law. They exchanged gifts and photos. Assunta Baldelli Pratesi and Marsilia Baldelli, Nello’s sisters, and Zia (Aunt) Maria Tomisini were also frequent correspondents with the couple. Ann Baldelli Garcia, remembers her mother Carmela eagerly looking forward to letters from the in-laws in Manciano. Moreover, the newly arrived letters passed from hand to hand so that the entire family could keep up with news from Tuscany.

The bond between the two families continues today.  Ann traveled to Manciano in 2006 to see her Italian cousins for the first time. She exchanges letters and phone calls with Fosco and with the grandchildren of Assunta and Publio: Veronica, Michela, Patrizio, and Luca.

Ben Lariccia with Ann Maria Garcia Baldelli

June 29, 2008

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