2002-12-30 - Memorial to Casper (my dad) - My dad passed away today. He was 81 years old and a good father to me and my four brothers. He lived a good life and lived a lot. Here's a little about his life. Casper was born on August 11, 1921 in Brooklyn, New York. He was the fifth out of a family of seven. His dad, Anthony, was a Sicilian immigrant who knew a little bit about making wine and spent his first years in America figuring out where he fit in. He travelled a lot and eventually brought his family to the midwest areas of Chicago (and Milwaukee for a time). Dad raised four boys, Danny, myself (Joe), and my two smaller brothers, Jim and John. He was married for just over 50 years to Nancy Martinico (her maiden name).

Casper's father, Antonino Alagna, immigrated from Sicily in the early 1900s. One of his best friends was Gaspare Clemente who worked on building the railroads and helped him to get started in the United States. He also introduced him to his sister Diane, who Anthony later married. From what I understand, they never really got to settling down. They were poor and moved frequently just to keep a roof over their heads. I understand that they moved from New York to Chicago and then back and forth a few times between Milwaukee and Chicago, before mostly settling down on the south side of Chicago.

I don't know who all these guys are in the picture above, except for a few. I recognize my Uncle Casper (Gaspare Clemente) in the middle with the hat on. He was the boss. I think the guy to his right was his cousin, named Frank Tranchida. The last two guys on the far right were his brother Peter and Peter's oldest son, Joe. Anthony (Casper's father) isn't in the picture above, but I know he spent a lot of time with these guys. I don't have many pictures of Anthony as a young man with his first wife Diane. His picture to the right is with his second wife, Frances, who was the only grandma I ever knew. They were married until she died. I don't know who the other couple is.

Diane Alagna with her first son Diego (Dan)

Childhood Years - Casper's mom, Diane, died when he was only about eleven years old from an infection that anyone would have survived today. The story as I had it was that she scratched her leg on a rusty nail while washing the stairs. It killed her. His oldest sister Diane (Dee) took over caring for the family though while my grandpa was away. Casper made a few dollars dancing in jitterbug contests. I also know that he ran away from home a lot as a kid. I think his dad was a little rough on him. Of course, that seemed to be all forgotten by the time I came into the picture.

I never met her. This is the only picture I can think of that I've ever seen of my dad's real mom, but she seemed to be a healthy gal besides the fact that she caught that nail in the knee. I don't really know much about her. My dad always had fond memories for his real mom though.

Before Diane died she did have seven children, Dan (Diego) who is pictured above, Dee (Diane), Joe, Jim, Eva, Casper, and Tony. I think that their mother's death brought them very close as a family and they remained close for all of their lives. I think they had a lot of fun as kids even though life was tough for them being raised mostly by one parent, their dad. I know that Auntie Dee and Uncled Dan did a lot to fill in for their mom and took good care of their little brothers and sisters. This is a picture that they took in an empty lot next to 5411 S. Francisco in Chicago. I guess they used to live near there at the time. I'm not sure what year the picture was taken. The event was their cousin's communion party. This was the gal they called Butchie all their lives. I know that Butchie recently passed away and that my dad was really upset to hear about it.

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