Our Family Stories: JFK – Memories from the Steps and In-laws

I asked all branches of the family to send me their memories of JFK. My memories are here. Memories from the Webber branch of the family are here. Today’s edition are those I received from the Hockensmith family (my steps) and the Morales family (my in-laws).

Frances Hockensmith:

My memory of the JFK assassination is more about me than the “big picture”. I was pregnant, had gone for my doctor appointment in Junction City, KS. for what I hoped was my last appointment before Alice was born. The receptionist (a Mrs. Eisenhower who was the widow of President Eisenhower’s brother Roy, a pharmacist in Junction City), was quite upset and told me as I was leaving that President Kennedy had been shot. We were Lee_Harvey_Oswald_being_shot_by_Jack_Ruby_as_Oswald_is_being_moved_by_police,_1963glued to our little black and white TV for days.

On the following Sunday, after Church and Sunday dinner, I had taken a nap. When I wakened, Bill told me that Jack Ruby had shot and killed Lee Harvey Oswald. I just remember the news showing the two shootings over and over. AND—I waited two more weeks for the birth of our daughter, Alice.

I guess the uniqueness of my story is my “connection” with 2 presidents that day.

Morales/Loverde Family:

I’ve pieced together the following from talking to my husband, calling my mother-in-law, emails from my husband’s siblings and a little internet research….

As a Catholic Italian-American family, my husband’s family was very happy about the election of John F. Kennedy as President. The women especially – my husband’s great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother – were quite taken with him.

Kennedy model 2Rick (my husband’s brother) and I remember that Nana (their ggrandmother Tenna Mamola Parlati) had a picture of JFK displayed in her home. My husband, Martin, assembled and painted many a plastic model (mostly airplanes) as a child and made a model of JFK sitting in a rocking chair for Nana. There a few for sale on ebay today – with quite a wide range of prices!

I found these two pictures clipped from the newspaper and glued to cardboard (probably for display purposes) among some of the family memorabilia.
Kennedy newspaperKennedys newspaper

Martin thinks they belonged to his grandmother, Angela Parlati Loverde, or Nana. They were clipped from The Houston Post published Friday, November 22, 1963 – the day of Kennedy’s death. The photos were taken during Kennedy’s visit to Houston on Thursday, Nov. 21st, 1963. Of course, the paper was printed and delivered hours before the shooting in Dallas.

Martin's 4th Grade Class 1963-64

Martin’s 4th Grade Class 1962-63

Both Martin and his sister, Janet, remember walking from the house where Nana and their grandmother and grandfather Loverde lived to Rice University to see President Kennedy. It was September 22, 1962 and JFK was about to give his famous speech to get the country behind him in supporting the space program. Martin was 9 and Janet was 7, so their memories of the day are a little vague. Their mother was with them and possibly his great-aunt Rosie and a couple of other women in the family.

They all remember watching the car driving down Main Street close to Herman Park and into the parking lot at Rice Stadium and watching JFK and LBJ sitting up on the back of the convertible. My husband took a home movie with their 8mm camera, but we unfortunately don’t have access to it right now. (We think it is in storage while brother Rick is building a new house.)

Rice stadium is quite large so the stands were not filled, although newspaper accounts report that 40,000 people were in attendance. The President was scheduled to speak at 10:00 a.m. and it was apparently a hot and steamy day. Classes had not yet started at Rice University, but incoming freshman were on campus for orientation. Reports say that the stands were mostly filled with young people – the incoming Rice students as well as bus loads of high school and elementary school children.

Martin and Janet don’t remember much except for being in the large stadium, far away from the President, and the crowd of people. Their mother said that the president’s complexion look reddish/ruddy to her – something she said you wouldn’t notice in the mostly black and white photographs of the time. The following video contains snippets of the speech, the context of the speech, and photos from the day.

Martin’s mother said she heard that the president had been shot while shopping with her mother at Craig’s Department Store in the Village –  a retail area also known as Rice Village because of the proximity to Rice University. She doesn’t know if there was a radio on or if people were talking about it and they overheard. They left and went home and started watching the coverage on TV.

Martin and Janet learned about the President’s death at school. Janet said:  My memory is of watching the funeral on TV and Mom crying. The other thing that has always stuck in my mind was that I was sitting in my 4th grade class at Holy Ghost (Mrs. Agnes class) and they announced it over the intercom.  One of the boys in my class – Larry Corti turned red in the face and ran out of the classroom crying.

Nana, Janet and Martin 1955

Nana, Janet and Martin 1955

Like nearly everyone else in the country, the family was glued to the television set until the funeral was over. Martin’s mom especially remembers how they all saw Jack Ruby shoot Lee Harvey Oswald live on TV.

And there were a lot of tears. Martin’s youngest sister, Marilyn, was not born at the time, but had heard that her mom and Nana had cried about it for weeks. When I talked to my MIL today, I asked if she had been watching all of the 50th anniversary specials that have been on this week. Of course, she had, and had been brought to tears again. Long after President Kennedy died, my husband painted a plaster bust for his mother and it is still displayed in her home.

I also found a publication from Holy Ghost School devoted to student writing after the death of President Kennedy. Neither Martin nor Janet have a contribution included, but it provides a look into the thoughts of these young people attending a Catholic school in Houston, TX as they reflected on the death of their president.

2013.11W.11I’m linking this to Sepia Saturday, so I’ll include today’s prompt picture and encourage you to visit the other participants.

Below is the Holy Ghost Clarion, Vol. 5 No. 3


Holy Ghost Kennedy 1Holy Ghost Kennedy 2Holy Ghost Kennedy 3Holy Ghost Kennedy 4Holy Ghost Kennedy 5Holy Ghost Kennedy 6Holy Ghost Kennedy 7Holy Ghost Kennedy 8Holy Ghost Kennedy 9




Sepia Saturday – Angela in Yellow


Sepia Sat 4 May 2013Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images.

I had decided not to participate in Sepia Saturday this week, but when I woke up this morning I thought of a photograph to share.

This is a picture of Angela Loverde nee Parlati, my husband’s grandmother.

Parlati,Angela in yellowI thought of this picture because of the similar side view, hair style, and age of the women.

I  have shared other photographs of Angela for Sepia Saturday. Her wedding pictures were featured here and she appeared in a post about her husband’s barbershop here.  As I mentioned in the post about the barbershop, Angela was a smoker and that is her other connection to the photo prompt.

Joseph Loverde and Angela Parlati

Joseph Loverde and Angela Parlati

Although Angela’s wedding pictures prompted speculation among commenters that the family was wealthy, in truth, they were not. The family put a lot of resources into the wedding but, as my husband says, “They were Italian. Of course they had a big wedding!” Angela and her husband, Joe Loverde, married during the Depression and moved in with her parents. They never moved out.

Angela’s father died fairly young, but her mother lived a long life and was always the head of the household. Nana, as everyone called her, had a strong personality. She did not abide Angela smoking in the house and Angela was relegated to the outside or the bathroom. I never saw Angela smoke in public. When she craved a cigarette, she would disappear to the bathroom and return after what seemed a very long time. Pity the poor person who needed to use the facilities after one of Angela’s disappearances!

Other Sepia Saturday participants would enjoy a visit from you too!



Sepia Saturday – Chair Memories: The Barber Shop

Sepia Saturday provides an opportunity for genealogy bloggers to share their family history through photographs.

I was pulled in several directions by today’s prompt, but finally decided to go with the appearance of the room. It looks like it is a place of business, so I’m going with a family business with chairs lining the wall and a clock on the back wall.


You may remember the man on the left from last week’s Sepia Saturday post.

Joe Loverde (L) and Johnny Trippodo (R?)

Yes, that’s my husband’s grandfather, Joe Loverde, on the left. I asked my husband to tell me everything he could remember about his grandfather’s barber shop. Then I called my mother-in-law for her input. I’ll do my best to share their memories.

The  Medical Tower Barber Shop was located on the ground floor of the Medical Tower Building, a high-rise of medical offices on Main Street in Houston, TX. near the Texas Medical Center.

Nelson Eddy

Joe Loverde and Johnny Trippodo were co-owners of the Medical Tower Barber Shop, which opened around 1950-51. Johnny must be the other man in the picture. My MIL thought Johnny looked like Nelson Eddy. What do you think?

Before they opened this shop together, both had worked at other barber shops.  Joe had been a barber at the Joe Chestnut Barber Shop in the Shell Oil Building, where most of his customers worked for Shell Oil. Johnny had been a barber at the famous Shamrock Hotel. When they opened their shop, both had customers who followed them.

The barber chairs were aqua and beige. The little white things at the top of the chairs are rolls of paper. Each time a new customer took a seat, there was fresh, clean paper for resting one’s head. Husband liked to play on the barber chairs – they went up and down and spun around. His grandpa would fuss at him to stop playing on the chairs. The sinks were aqua too.

Angela Parlati Loverde

Joe’s wife, Angela, also worked at the barber shop. She sat at the front and worked as the cashier.

Juanita was the manicurist. She had a little cart and would pull up beside the customers getting a hair cut to give them a manicure. That little table on the left is Juanita’s table (but maybe not the one with wheels).

James shined shoes in the back of the barber shop. He called Grandfather “Mr. Joe.” James worked at the barber shop for many years and Joe often took him to Galveston to fish on their days off.

Quite a few Italians and a few notable Houstonians came to Joe for their barbering. One was Joe Lucia, Sr., owner of Rudi’s Restaurant. Another was Frank Meyer, whose family developed Meyerland – he would come to the barber shop every day to have Joe give him a shave. If Joe had a customer who was in the hospital, he would go to the hospital to give them a haircut or a shave. MIL remembers that he would massage his customers’ heads – no wonder he had a loyal clientele.

At some point in time, Joe and Johnny had a parting of the ways and Johnny opened up a shop a couple of blocks away. Joe’s brother, Roy, joined him as the second barber.

The barber shop also served as a kind of babysitting service when husband’s mom had things to do. Besides hanging around the barbershop, husband would often go to the pharmacy in the building. They had a coffee shop in the pharmacy that his grandmother Angela frequented for a cup of coffee and a cigarette. Husband liked to go there for the comic books. Next door to the Medical Tower Building was Bill Williams’ Restaurant. In this picture, you can see the Medical Tower Building in the background. Inside the restaurant, husband liked to play the fortune teller machine.

Joe was also the family barber. Here is my husband getting a haircut in the kitchen of his grandparents’ and great-grandmother’s house (they always lived together). Kitchen haircuts were the norm for husband and his brother when they were little. Joe cut everybody’s hair…  sons-in-law, grandsons, nephews, grandnephews. When relatives from out of town came for a visit, Joe cut their hair too.

Husband says that the burr – or is it butch? – haircut his grandpa gave him came in handy during the years he was in Catholic elementary school because the nuns couldn’t get hold of enough hair to pull it. (He felt sorry for the girl with the long braids who sat in front of him.) Getting a haircut from Grandpa hit a snag, however, when husband was in high school. It was the late 60s-early 70s and longer hair was in style. Joe didn’t do long hair; he cut hair the way he liked it. After getting a couple of haircuts that husband and his brother thought were too short, they refused to let their Grandfather cut their hair again.

I don’t know exactly when Joe closed his barber shop, but the change in men’s hairstyles may have played a part in his decision to close. He didn’t retire, though. Joe worked part-time at another barbershop at Greenbriar and Holcomb until his late 70s, when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

I have shared other “chair memories” in previous posts. It all started with The Gold Recliner and continued here, here, and here. I’d been wanting to write a chair memory about my husband getting his hair cut and today I had the perfect opportunity!

And take a look to see what others did with today’s Sepia Saturday prompt.