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Title Photos, 3, of Ralph Riccio et al at his pool hall, 634 Grand St., Hoboken, n.d., ca. 1935-1945.
Object Name Photograph
Catalog Number 2013.032.0001
Collection Petrignani Family Papers
Description Sepia-tone photographs, three, related to Ralph Riccio & his pool hall, 634 Grand St., Hoboken, no date, circa late 1930s or early 1940s.

Digital images only scanned 2013 with added digital documents. High resolution tiffs media archive.

See notes and below for transcribed text by donor Cheryl Petrignani Bracht.

Photo 1: snapshot photo of men seated at a table in pool hall at 634 Grand St., Hoboken, with other men standing behind.

Notes on this photo from Cheryl Petrignani Bracht written 2013:

The photograph of men sitting in my mother's father Ralph Riccio's pool room was taken I believe in the mid to late 1930s. My grandfather Ralph Riccio is standing to the far left.

Frank Sinatra used to play pool here often with the men who are shown in the photograph. To the far left is Frank Gregory (De Gregorio), my mother's sister Margie's husband. Next to him seated is may mother's sister Paula's husband John Schisano. Seated next to him is may mother's sister Millie's husband Jack Churachella, and to the far right my grandfather's friend Ray Smith, who was an insurance agent in Hoboken at the time. My uncles used to speak often about Frank Sinatra.

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Photo 2: Michael Riccio in World War II Army uniform while playing pool at 634 Grand St., Hoboken, early 1940s.

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Photo 3: Michael Riccio, undated studio portrait, original circa 8" x 10" high.



Photographer n/a
Place Hoboken
Date 1935-1945
Year Range from 1935.0
Year Range to 1945.0
People Riccio, Ralph
Riccio, Eleanor
Sinatra, Frank
Petrignani, Geraldine
Riccio, Michael
Churachella, Jack
Schisano, John
DeGregorio, Frank
Search Terms 634 Grand St.
World War II
U.S. Army
Frank Sinatra
Notes Photos 2013.032.0003

Transcription of accompanying note by Cheryl Petrignani Bracht, written 2013.

(This is followed by related transcriptions from other sources or earlier relevant notes by Bracht.)

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Ralph Riccio's Pool Room
634 Grand Street, Hoboken, New Jersey

The photograph [photo 1] of men sitting in my mother's father Ralph Riccio's pool room was taken I believe in the mid to late 1930s. My grandfather Ralph Riccio is standing to the far left.

Frank Sinatra used to play pool here often with the men who are shown in the photograph. To the far left is Frank Gregory (De Gregorio), my mother's sister Margie's husband. Next to him seated is may mother's sister Paula's husband John Schisano. Seated next to him is may mother's sister Millie's husband Jack Churachella, and to the far right my grandfather's friend Ray Smith, who was an insurance agent in Hoboken at the time. My uncles used to speak often about Frank Sinatra.

The large photograph [photo 3] is of my mother's brother Michael Riccio, also the small photograph [photo 2] of him playing pool. Frank Sinatra also used to enjoy playing pool with Uncle Mike Riccio. I remember my uncle saying they got along very well.

During World War Two, my Uncle Mike was stationed in New Guinea. Frank Sinatra was now famous, and visited the area to entertain the troops. As fate would have it, he ran into my Uncle Mike, and yelled "RACK EM UP MIKE" in reference to playing pool. As the story goes they were glad to see each other. My uncle said that he was driving a beautiful convertable [sic - convertible] with the top down. Frank said to my uncle, "Get in Mike" as he introduced him to some beautiful starlets and said "this is my friend Mike from Hoboken." My Uncle Mike said that they "got along just as well as in the past."

Thank you for the interest,

Cheryl Petrignani Bracht

P.S. The photograph [photo 2] of Michael Riccio playing pool I believe was taken in the early 1940s since he is wearing an Army uniform.

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Related transcriptions below from other sources or earlier relevant notes by Bracht.

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Transcription of the Ralph Riccio obituary, undated, probably Jersey Journal or Hudson Dispatch newspapers.

Sports Enthusiast
Ralph Riccio, 77, Owned
Hoboken Tavern at 17

Ralph Riccio was a self-made man. He opened his first business, a tavern at 7th and Grand Streets, Hoboken, when he was 17 years old.
While his father was a successful real estate operator the son was determined to make it on his own.
For 25 years Mr. Riccio operated taverns in Hoboken until World War I began. Mr. Riccio's tavern was in a zone restricted for security reasons and he was forced to close.
'ONLY A block away on 7th and Adams Streets taverns were permitted to operate," said Mr. Riccio's only son, Michael.
But the loss of the tavern did not dampen Mr. Riccio's business spirit.
In 1917 he opened a pool room, which he operated for the next 30 years.
During that time Mr. Riccio and his wife the former Rose Calandrillo raised eight children.
'MY FATHER was a great sports enthusiast," said his daughter, Miss Eleanor Riccio.
"In fact his love for baseball rubbed off on all the children," she added.

Mr. Riccio's favorite team was the New York Giants. When they moved to San Francisco at the close of the 1957 season he continued to follow their games.
"When we were younger and he was still in good health we often went to the Polo Grounds. We would go at least once a month," she recalled.

'IN THE 1930s Mr. Riccio's pool parlor sponsored a baseball team, which played in local leagues.
"He was also quite a pool player," Miss Riccio said.
"He taught my brother, who is also very goad and most of my sisters can also handle themselves very well at the pool table," she said.

When Mr. Riccio closed the pool room at the end of World War II he opened a small neighborhood candy store where he lived at 612 Grand St. However,
about 10 years ago because of ill health he had to give up full-time work in the store.
'MY BROTHER took over, but my father used to come in and help out," Miss Riccio said.
Mr. Riccio and his wife celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary Aug. 10.
"But my father's illness prevented us from having too much of a celebration," Miss Riccio said.
Mr. Riccio was born in Jersey City. He was the oldest of nine children of the late Mr. and Mrs. Michael Riccio. The latter Mr. Riccio also had the distinction of owning the first automobile in Hoboken at the turn of the century, according to his grandson.
'IT WAS about the same time that my father opened his first tavern," the son said.
Mr. Riccio, 77, who died Thursday was told by his son that his favorite ball player, Willie Mays, hit his 535th home run the day before to become the second greatest home run hitter in baseball history.
Besides his wife and eight children, Mr. Riccio is survived by eight grandchildren and three great grandchildren, a brother and four sisters.
The funeral was today from the Bosworth Funeral Home, Hoboken.
[end]

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Transcription of letter by Cheryl Bracht as published in Asbury Park Press Tuesday, February 18, 1992, page B8, Panorama"

Remember when...

Aunt Paula sang with Sinatra

As a marching band passed by A the crowded streets of Hoboken, New Jersey, people were excitedly waving and yelling, "Here he comes," as a bright red fire engine rode by. My mother instructed me to wave and say hello to Mr. Frank Sinatra. I waved obediently as I was too young to fully comprehend what this lively event was all about. I later learned that the parade was in honor of both Frank and his Dad who had recently been promoted to fire captain.
As time went on, I would often hear my mom and relatives tell stories about Frank, of how he and the neighborhood boys enjoyed playing cards at a club called the Cats Meow and of how he would regularly visit my Grandpa Riccio's pool parlor. Grandpa sold pretzels, candy, hot buttered corn on the cob, roasted chestnuts and peanuts on top of a pot-belly stove in winter. Frank especially liked Grandpa's homemade red wine vinegar which he often bought to use at home for salad. My Uncle Mike and Frank were good friends and enjoyed playing pool together. Frank would often lean back on the pool table feet stretching forward and burst into song. This was usually met with a mixed review of cheers and jeers from the neighborhood boys.
Mom would often pass by the firehouse where Mr. Sinatra worked on her way to visit a friend. She recalls Mr. Sinatra as being a very friendly fine gentlemen always boastfully proud of his son's singing ability. He would often say, "Just you wait and see, someday my Frankie will be the biggest star in Hollywood." Mom would usually laugh and be on her way, thinking the comments far fetched and silly at most.
Franks cousin Marie was one of Mom's best friends. They attended junior high school together and were also taking an after-school beauty culture course. Marie would invite Mom to go and visit her Aunt Dolly. Dolly is fondly remembered as being a warm friendly woman with blue- green smiling eyes. Mom would style her hair in the finger wave which she was taught at school and was always given a generous tip. Later Dolly would offer the girls milk and cookies and would save some for Frank, who was busy singing and playing the piano in another room.
My Aunt Paula tells of how she loved to sing the blues and dreamed of being a famous star. She would sometimes visit Frank and they would practice singing at home by his piano. An amateur talent show was to be held in town at the Fabian Theater. Frank was to appear with two other singers; they called themselves The Hoboken Three. Aunt Paula had a solo act. The Hoboken Three performed on stage, won and went on to win other contests. Unfortunately, Aunt Paula had a case of stage fright and did not appear. She often wonders f she too would be famous if she had gone on stage.
One of Frank's big breaks came when he was hired to sing on a local radio show sponsored by Broadway Hosiery. His Dad would turn up the volume on the radio in the firehouse for all to hear. After awhile it had become a common sight to see Frank driving through town in a red Roadster sporting dark sun glasses and singing loudly.
Later on, when Frank did indeed become a big Hollywood star, he would sometimes bring celebrities into town to meet his relatives. He once brought in his new wife Ava Gardner; it was the talk of the town for years.
I wonder, Mr. Sinatra, if you ever think back in time to memories, faces, places in the past, of days spent by your piano in your home on Garden Street, the card games at the Cats Meow, of times when you ate corn on the cob and played pool at Grandpa Riccio's Pool Parlor; of all those times in your past which helped to shape the foundation of what you are today.
Cheryl E. Bracht
Englishtown
[end]

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Transcription of letter by Cheryl Petrignani Bracht of Manalapan, N.J., written May 15, 2010.

To Whom It May Concern,

I have enclosed some photographs of my mother, Geraldine Petrignani's father, Ralph Riccio. My grandfather owned taverns and pool parlors throughout theyears. The local boys including Frank Sinatra would go to the Cat's Meow, but they would also go to may grandfather Ralph Riccio's pool room at 634 Grand street. Frank would go there very often, shoot pool and sing, which would be met with cheers and jeers from the boys.

My grandfather sold pretzels, candy, soda and hot buttered corn on the cob and chestnuts, which were roasted on a pot belly stove. My grandfather made homemade red wine vinegar which Frank would by often to be used for salad.

Martin Sinatra and Rocky (the boy who was raised with Frank Sinatra) would also go to may grand parents home often. My grandmother Rose Riccio and Dolly Sinatra grew up as young girls together on Monroe Street and remained good friends. Martin Sinatra and Rocky loved my grandmother Rose Riccio's homemade ravioli dinners.

One of my mother Geraldine Petrignani's best friends Marie Jervis was actually a cousin of Frank Sinatra. She and Marie had taken a beauty culture course. After school, Marie would take Mom to Dolly Sinatra's home. Mom was very good at using a marcel iron and Dolly loved how her hair looked in the finger wave she created. For some time Dolly would let no one else style her hair. Dolly would offer Mom and Marie milk and cookies and save some for Frank who would be busy singing and playing the piano in another room. Mom fondly spoke of Dolly as being a warm friendly woman with blue green eyes.

Cheryl Petrignani Bracht
Malalapan, N.J.
(address and phone numbers redacted)

[end]

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Orig/copy Digital copy
Caption photo 1: full print
Imagefile 208\20130320001.TIF
Classification Recreation
Sports
Social & Personal Activity
Buildings
Interiors
War
U.S. Army
Men