Protests are in the news today. My cousin, Fr. Thomas P. Craven, was the leader of one in Philadelphia in 1975. He made the front page.

The protest was a public show of support and call for justice for a family from Puerto Rico whose home was firebombed. A mother, her three children, and a friend were killed in the fire. As the crowd grew, the demonstration became less peaceful and more agitated. This was not what the organizers had planned.

It is only natural that Fr. Craven would speak out against a horrible act of violence committed against a Puerto Rican family. He spent time in Puerto Rico following his ordination. After returning to Philadelphia, he served as director of Casa del Carmen, the Catholic social service center for Hispanics and also was director of the Hispanic Apostolate for the Archdiocese. Fr. Craven was very involved with the welfare of Spanish-speaking people throughout his priestly ministry. I am proud that he took an active role in seeking justice for them.

Here are clippings about the demonstration from the Philadelphia Inquirer, October 11, 1975:



This is from an article published by the Philadelphia Daily News on the same day:


There are pictures of the demonstration in Grandmom’s collection of photo albums. I am not sure who took them; maybe Fr. Craven’s sister?



The confession of one of the accused firebombers is a disturbing story of someone taking the law into his own hands, a local government official no less. This article is from the Philadelphia Inquirer, October 11, 1975:



In January of 1978, Ronald Hanley was found guilty for his role in the killing of five people by arson. He received the maximum punishment, a life sentence plus 35 years.

Robert Wilkinson served 15 months in prison before he was acquitted after a key witness changed his testimony.

David McGinnis confessed to actually throwing the firebomb. He made a plea bargain with federal authorities and was sentenced to 22 years in prison.

Six Philadelphia homicide detectives were sent to prison for 15 months after being convicted of violating the civil rights of witnesses and suspects brought to the police station after the firebombing.


Service Flag Locket


Grandmom was devoted to the memory of her brother Taddle who was killed during World War I. Here is a photo of her locket with Taddle’s picture in it.

The front:


The back (MVC = Margaret Veronica Craven):


The image on the front is a service flag.


“The Service Flag is an official banner authorized by the Department of Defense for display by families who have members serving in the Armed Forces during any period of war or hostilities the United States may be engaged in for the duration of such hostilities.

“The history of the Service Flag is as patriotic and touching as the symbolism each star represents to the families that display them.

“The service flag (also known as ‘blue star banners’ or ‘son in service flags’) was designed and patented by World War I Army Captain Robert L. Queissner of the 5th Ohio Infantry who had two sons serving on the front line.”

If the soldier dies in battle, the blue star is replaced with a gold one. That means Grandmom must have gotten the locket while Taddle was still alive and serving in the Army.

“The color of the stars is also symbolic in that the blue star represents hope and pride and the gold star represents sacrifice to the cause of liberty and freedom.” (ibid)

Religious Articles

When my great-uncle Patrick “Taddle” Craven was killed in action on October 1, 1918 in Apremont, France, he had several religious articles in his possession. Here is a photo of his rosary:


I recently came across something Dorothy Day had written about the rosary. It made me think of Taddle:

“I have said rosaries on picket lines and in prisons, in sickness and in health, and one of our friends who lost a leg in the Second World War said that he held fast to his rosary as he lay wounded on the battlefield, holding on to it as he was hanging on to life. In peace, working for peace, suffering for peace, and suffering in war, in times of joy and pain and terror, Mary has been Refuge of Sinners.”

My great-grandmother Marya Janicki (nee Rybinska) belonged to the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary at St. Hedwig’s parish in Wilmington, Delaware. Here is a photo of the Miraculous Medal she wore when attending Mass with the Sodality, a pious association that engaged in devotional and charitable activities.


The inscription in Polish is the traditional one of the Miraculous Medal. In English it reads, “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us sinners who have recourse to thee.”

Marya also had a picture of Our Lady of Czestochowa, the Patroness of Poland.


The Wikipedia article describes the image thus:

“The Virgin Mary is shown as the Hodegetria (‘One Who Shows the Way’). In it the Virgin directs attention away from herself, gesturing with her right hand toward Jesus as the source of salvation. In turn, the Child extends His right hand toward the viewer in blessing while holding a book of the Gospels in His left hand.”

Additional information is available here:

According to my Mom, Marya kept this picture hanging on her bedroom wall. Mom remembers seeing it there when she was a child. It was probably part of a calendar at one point. Here is what is written on the back:


Mom thinks it is a Christmas greeting from a missionary association.

Both the medal and the picture date from the 1940’s.

These religious articles are little reminders of what was important to Taddle and Marya, of where they found hope and strength. The beads are worn, the medal is scuffed, but the passage of time seems to add an extra layer of holiness to them.



My great-grandfather William Charles McDonald owned a hardware store in Philadelphia. The address was 933 South Street. He and his family lived on the property, moving in sometime between 1895 and 1900. They rented the property at first, and then bought it in 1904. It was sold in 1914.

This item from The Philadelphia Inquirer, dated Friday, January 3, 1902, reports that the store was burglarized. Two revolvers were taken.

About eleven years ago, there was a break-in at the bookstore where I worked. It’s not a good feeling – in the pit of the stomach – to see a smashed window and know that you’ve been robbed.

Accordion, pt. 2


Here is another photo of Bob Lazarowski with the accordion. Next to Bob is his cousin, Sr. Joan Ference, and his father, Joe Lazarowski. Joan’s brother Charles is in front. Christmas 1965.

I like it when people provide their own entertainment instead of watching something on TV.



My godfather Bob Lazarowski played the accordion. Bob was the son of Elva Ference and Joseph Lazarowski, Elva being the sister of my grandfather. Unfortunately, I don’t have any memory of meeting Bob. He was born September 2, 1937 and died in June of 1991.

The name of Bob’s dog was Thor.


Bob performed at least once at an amateur night concert. I don’t know the date of this clipping.


Here is a later photo of Bob, taken in 1956.


At the Shore


Here are a few pictures of my aunt, Ciocia Hattie, enjoying some time at the beach with her friends. Ciocia means “aunt” in Polish; it’s sort of pronounced chow-cha. Her actual name was Hedwig and she lived from 1919 to 1996.

Ciocia Hattie is on the right wearing a white dress. I am guessing the pictures were taken in the 1940’s at the Jersey shore. I can see a sign in the background that says Atlantic City Beach Patrol.