A few weeks ago I received a visit from a fellow genealogist and Tyrolean, Judy Givens. Judy lives just six hours up the road from me in Colorado. We met online through the Facebook group Trentino Genealogy – La Genealogia del Trentino of which we are both members. Like me, she is 50% Tyrolean and was born in Hazleton, Pennsylvania.
Sometime ago Judy emailed me about a group of photos saved by her father, dating to the early 1930’s. At the time, her father worked for – you guessed it – the Genetti Markets! Judy said she would stop for a visit next time she was in New Mexico and bring her photo memorabilia with her.
We finally met-up in August, sharing memories of Hazleton, laughing about our overlapping family stories and, of course, discussing the three photos she had brought for me to scan.
What a surprise! The large panoramic was a group picture taken at a Genetti staff picnic, circa 1934. I immediately recognized the four Genetti brothers reclining on the grass, front and center. Dressed in summer white, were Stanley, Albert, Leon (my grandfather) and Gus Sr. What a fantastic moment captured on film!
After scanning the photograph and enlarging it for restoration, I had another surprise. Sitting directly behind Stanley (first brother on the left) is an elderly woman. It was Oliva, mother of the four brothers (and my great-grandmother)! Looking closely at the many smiling faces, I recognized one more person. The young boy sitting behind the third brother from the left, Leon, was my Uncle John! In 1934, John Damian Genetti, Leon’s oldest son, would have been fifteen years old. As an adult, he worked as a butcher for the Genetti Markets.
Wondering if any newspaper notices existed for the event, I searched Newspapers.com for the month of July 1934. Yes, there was a short article about the company picnic published in the Hazleton Plain Speaker. Now we had a bit of info to go along with the photograph.
I was amazed that in 1934, during the years of the Great Depression, Genetti Markets employed two hundred people. I wondered just how many neighborhood groceries had been opened by the four Genetti brothers. From June of 1934, I found a clipping listing all of the local Genetti markets. At the time of the company picnic, there was a total of eleven markets run by D. Genetti and Sons.
Judy’s other images were just as compelling. I immediately recognized Genetti’s Popular street store in Hazleton. It was the family’s first neighborhood market, managed and operated by my grandfather, Leon Genetti.
Located at 436 South Poplar in Hazleton Heights, the market was right next door to my grandparents’ home. When I was a little girl in 1960, my grandmother Angeline would take me by the hand, walk me next door and let me pick out penny candy and little tubes of toothpaste. I remembered the old-fashioned hanging lights and stamped tin ceiling, exactly as pictured in Judy’s photos. Of course by 1960, my grandfather had long ago retired. But his son-in-law, Steve Kashi (married to Leon’s daughter Adeline), now owned and operated the little market next door.
Judy’s photos from the early 1930’s pictured the interior of the grocery store along with several employees. Her father, Quentin “Knute” Knies (1910-1974) stands to the right of the gentleman in a suit.
With a little research, I learned that “Knute” lived right down the street from the market on South Poplar. What a small world it is indeed! Judy’s father had worked for my grandfather, lived on the same street as my family and most likely knew my aunts and uncles, perhaps even my father who was only a toddler in 1934.
My special thanks to Judy Givens for finding me, making the trip to Santa Fe and sharing her photographic memories with our website followers.
I hope to see you in the future, Judy, when I take my next trip to Colorado. Mille grazie et un abbreccio!