By Nancy DeSanti, 1st Vice President-Programs
Due to the ongoing renovations at Casa Italiana, we adapted and rescheduled our next in-person event for June 25, 2023. In the meantime, we have also scheduled two very interesting virtual programs which we hope our members will enjoy.
Our first virtual program this Spring will be on Saturday, May 20, at 3 p.m. and it will be a workshop on preserving history, presented by Stephanie Longo of Dunmore, Pennsylvania. Before giving her presentation, she will say a few words about her own Italian heritage and her work as a producer on the very popular “The Italian-American Podcast,” which is devoted to helping Italian Americans celebrate their heritage.
A dual citizen of the United States and Italy, Stephanie is a frequent speaker about Italian immigration to the United States, particularly in Northeastern Pennsylvania. She is a graduate of the University of Scranton, earned a Master’s Degree from Regent University, and she is now working on her doctorate. Stephanie said she has made it her mission to continue to preserve the history which her ancestors brought to America from Guardia Lombardi (Avellino province in Campania) and Lamezia Terme (Catanzaro province in Calabria).
Stephanie’s presentation will be an interactive workshop designed to give participants the necessary tools to begin preserving their local history. Topics covered will include sourcing material, writing, and eventual publication. Participants are encouraged to bring any ideas they might have for possible discussion.
Our second virtual program, on Sunday, June 4, at 7:30 p.m. will feature John Michael Howard who will talk to us about “Living To Be 100 (or 104, like Joe Rollino).”
The story John will tell us about Rollino, a strongman, weightlifter, and life-long vegetarian, is a fascinating one. He was the Brooklyn-born son of Italian immigrants and a decorated World War II veteran who called himself “the world’s strongest man” in the 1920s. John will talk to us about a book entitled, “Living To Be 100,” defining terms used in the health science field and making five points about aging well. He will follow up by briefly discussing the five “blue” zones, including Sardinia, where there is a very high occurrence of centenarians. Next, he will identify 16 lifestyle characteristics of centenarians, including their eating the Mediterranean Diet.
John is a native of Texas who comes by his Italian heritage on his paternal grandmother’s side. He graduated from the University of Dallas in 2016 and earned a Master’s Degree from Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia, in 2021. He is currently a counselor in Arlington and resides in Northeast Washington, D.C.
The book which is the subject of John’s talk, “Living To Be 100,” was published by Biomed Books in 2018 and was written by Dr. Michael E. Howard who teaches psychology at Texas State University in San Marcos.
Our in-person event will be a luncheon program at Casa Italiana on Sunday, June 25 at 1:30 p.m. and will feature AMHS member Daniel A. Piazza, who will give us fascinating details on Italian stamps and the Italian postal system. His knowledge of so many “fun facts” is bound to make his talk entertaining as well as informative.
Dan has been the Chief Curator of the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum since 2014. He is responsible for exhibitions, acquisitions, and research related to the museum’s collection of six million postage stamps and postal artifacts comprising one of the largest such collections in the world. Visitors might be surprised to learn that despite its name, about half of the material is international, from all around the world. The museum, located a few blocks from Casa Italiana, opened to the public in 1993.
Since Italy was not unified until 1861, its early postal history is tied to the various kingdoms that ruled the peninsula. The history of Italian stamps from pre-unification through the Fascist period until the Italian Republic is full of interesting controversies which Dan is very knowledgeable about. He will also tell us how the Italian postal system works — or does not.
AMHS members may recall that, in July 2022, Dan gave us a fascinating virtual talk on Italian stamps during the Fascist period of 1922-1941. Also, in October 2022, he gave AMHS members a private tour of the baseball exhibit he curated at the National Postal Museum.
For the two virtual programs, a Zoom link will be available shortly beforehand on our website and via e-mail. For the in-person luncheon program, the registration period will open in early June.