Celebrating All-Things Italian American
HONORING HER PAST
Author Stephanie Longo grew up with a kinship to her Italian ethnicity that has grown stronger with each passing year. Stephanie’s Italian American heritage has played an integral roll in her life since she was a child. Although her grandparents passed away before she was born, she says her mother never missed an opportunity to teach her about her ancestors.
“I always felt a deep connection to them. My grandfather and my other ancestors walk side-by-side with me every day of my life,” Stephanie remarked via an email interview.
Known as an expert on the Italian American history of Northeastern Pennsylvania and a spokesperson for the Italian-American community, her latest book, “Images of Modern America: Italians of Lackawanna County,” is her latest endeavor. She has authored previous works on the subject, including Italians of Northeastern Pennsylvania and Dunmore, both published by Arcadia Publishing.
“I wanted to demonstrate how we as Italian Americans are part of a whole, yet we all have individual ways that we celebrate who we are,” Stephanie says of her books.
Italians of Lackawanna County is indeed a celebration of all things Italian American in the county. The photos are arranged in an easy-to-follow format with the first and fourth chapters designed to focus more on the individual stories. Readers will find her work reads like a photo essay, although don’t be mistaken, the research, compilation, and writing took more than three years to complete despite life circumstances that forced her to temporarily shelve her project.
Another hurdle she faced was finding people to contribute photos – those who actually responded to her photo requests.
“I tried to cast my net as wide as possible to include as many people and stories as possible, but many emails and phone calls were not returned. I had previous connections with many people thanks to my previous works and, of course, social media was a big help in getting the word out,” she commented.
The photos are strategically placed so readers get a sense for the evolution of one of the county’s largest ethnic populations but Stephanie says there are many Italian American stories yet to be told. She deliberately placed the final photo in her book – Tony Cerminaro running, on the inside of the back cover. The final chapter serves to drive home the point there are many stories that either aren’t finished or have not been written.
She noted, “if you look closely, he’s running off of the page—metaphorically speaking, he’s running toward the future.”
Stephanie is a dual citizen of the United States and Italy and has made it her mission to continue to preserve the history her ancestors brought to the United States from Guardia dei Lombardi, Italy (her grandfather’s birthplace). She is the founder of SIAMO, the Italian American Heritage Society of Northeastern Pennsylvania and through her efforts, the City of Scranton, the Borough of Dunmore, and Guardia have been named sister cities.
“My family, like so many other immigrants sacrificed so much to come to this country. I feel a deep sense of gratitude for what they did for me and I try to honor them with how I live my life. You can’t separate me from my heritage, to do so would leave you with a very fragmented description of me as a person. I am Italian American.” ~Stephanie Longo
Stephanie Longo is presently the director of marketing and communications at the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce.
Visit her website: www.stephanielongo.net