Mt. Rainier and Lenticular Clouds - Dec. 2008 copyright: JMM

April 28, 2012


Y is yet another letter with which I struggled to find a topic.  I was completely out of ideas.  I thought about maybe driving to Yarmouthport and shooting some pics but didn't feel like going that far, what with gas prices and all. Frustrated, I finally said to my squeeze, "I'm out of ideas.  If you can think of a topic for Y, have at it."  Without missing a beat, he goes, "Yonkers?"  Just like with the letter N, it was a major league "DUH!!!" moment!!!!  How could I have not thought of the place my family settled when they came from Italy?  A place I've been to hundreds of times?

My great grandfather, Giovanni Marganella, came to Yonkers from Corvara, Italy, and worked hard to afford the cost to bring his wife Filomena and their two small daughters, Ersilia, and my grandmother, Maria, to the USA in 1911 (Filomena's parents, sister and brothers settled in Connecticut).  Yonkers is very hilly and has a few that rival San Francisco's hills, especially in the neighbourhood in which my grandmother lived, Nodine Hill.  In 1645, a land grant was given to Adriaen van der Donck, who was known locally as a 'Jonkheer', which is Dutch for 'gentleman'.  Yonkers is derived from 'Jonkheer'.

It's only about a 20 minute train ride to Grand Central Station in NYC, so it's an attractive place to live for commuters.  Parts of the city are beautiful.  My mom grew up there and all of it was nice in those days, but unfortunately the area where my grandmother and some aunts & uncles lived has deteriorated.  I only have one aunt and uncle left in Yonkers now, when once all my aunts, uncles and cousins lived there.  But throughout the 70s and 80s, they began to leave.

I spent a lot of time there as a child, and I have fond memories of making the rounds to see everyone.  I loved visiting Jeannie & Skee because I could see the clock from Yonkers Raceway out their kitchen window.  If I went down to the corner of their street, I could see part of the track and watch the trotter races.  I wish I had more pictures of Yonkers, but I don't.  And I don't see myself going there any time soon to shoot them.

Here's me and my dad, sometime in the spring of 1965, in front of the building in which my Aunt Gloria & Uncle Steve lived at the time, on Alder Street.  You can see the iconic water tower at the top of Nodine Hill in the background.  I always thought it kinda looked like the Jupiter 2 from "Lost in Space."

1968 or 69.  I loved that cowboy hat.  I lost it in Genung's Department Store on this trip.  Could my shorts be pulled up any higher?  They are practically in my armpits!

Looking all angelic, November 1968 at Nana's apartment.

Alder Street, 1974, walking my Aunt & Uncle's poodle.  Dig those groovy bell bottoms.

July 1972, me, Nana and my mom, on our way to my cousin's wedding.  Those 70's grandmother is wearing silver shoes.  Mom's rockin' the "Maude" look.  And the less said about my short hemline, the better.

This is my grandmother's apartment building on Alder Street, as it appeared in the mid-80's, one of the last times I was there.  There was a little alley between this building and the one next to it, and her apartment was down the alley, almost underground.  Therefore, her apt. windows are not shown in this picture b/c they can't be seen.  She moved there in the late 60s, from an apt. across the street.

I doubt I'll return to Yonkers again but I'm glad it was such a big part of my childhood.


  1. Nice story! What do they call people who are from Yonkers, by the way?

  2. Great photos! I'm stopping by from the A-Z challenge and following now too. This has been so much fun hasn't it? Have a great weekend and a great final challenge day :)

  3. Fantastic story JoJo! Yet another thing we have in common. Not the Yonkers part but the Italy part. My grandfather landed on Ellis Island with his parents when he was two years old. They were from a little village called Frisanco, way in the north in the alps. Never been to Italy. Have you?

  4. Wonderful pix, JoJo!! And a beautiful story!

  5. it sounds like a really interesting sort of place - transitory neighborhoods are always more fun.

  6. Well I never knew there was a place called Yonkers. Lovely photos,I remember my mum having a pair of silver dance shoes If I hadn'tread this I would never ave remembered. It nice for our family who have gone that we all still remember them and talk about when they were here.

  7. Beautiful pictures, beautiful story.

  8. I think this is my favourite so far - which, with only Z to go, means it looks like being my favourite overall!

  9. Anonymous6:07 PM

    This is a wonderful Y post! I'm a big fan of the San Fran Bay Area too...born and raised there and love the Pacific Coast. Oregon and Washington are both gorgeous states too. Made my way to the AZ desert some 16+ years ago, so I really do miss the beach, but I truly enjoy my life here too. Love the old pics...remembering when...Happy Saturday to you!

  10. I've heard that two heads are better than one, especially when one head is fresh out of ideas- lol! Glad your friend saved the day!

    Yonkers- that's a funnny name. I'm always amazed at town and street names; lot of history behind them.

    Yonkers just kind of took me back as you reflected on your history; old towns - lots of memories!

    It's nice to look back sometimes and recall the good old days.

    Oh, I saw the water tower; it does kinda remind me of that robot, Jupiter2. I use to watch the TV series "Lost in Space"; it was exciting!

    The good old days come and go - like every day does; it's nice to have memories to return to from time to time and above all to be thankful for memory!

  11. I loved this story and the pictures. I find old photos both moving and funny - looking at yourself in the clothes you thought were a good choice and wondering what on earth was going on in your head.

    Really wish I had more photos of where I grew up, but sadly there are very few.

  12. What a cutie pie you were!!!

    PS I had pants EXACTLY like the ones in the photo of you with your pup. I loved those pants!

  13. Wonderful post and great pictures.


  14. Anonymous7:25 AM

    I think you've done a remarkable job with the A-Z blogging thing!!!

  15. Great pics! I always wanted to see Lost in Yonkers. Such an interesting name!

  16. Hi JoJo, good Y post. It was nice getting a look at you as a kid and getting to know more about you and your family.

  17. great pics. baby you is so cute. so is you with the dog and bell bottoms. I had a hard time with y, too.

    Sonia Lal @ Story Treasury

  18. Anonymous8:07 PM

    What fabulous photos, and I have to admit, I'm a sucker for family history.
    Not too long ago, my sister sent several disks of old family photos and I get a great deal of pleasure when I can use them in my posts.

  19. Such wonderful nostalgic memories and photos of Yonkers! It's interesting how cities change over time and when our connection to a place is the people and they move - then the place no longer has a draw to visit. Have you been to Italy? It would be amazing to visit the places your ancestors lived before coming to America!

  20. Cool story... I'm sure you know that was the second water tower on Nodine Hill... the first collapsed on Oct 24th 1937

  21. PS... That looks like 27 Alder...