Ralph Pecora's tailor shop

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History of Freeland, Pa.
Ralph Pecora's Tailor Shop
What's on this page:
  • Photos and notes from Ralph Pecora's great-granddaughter
  • Links to Emily's Masters Thesis about Ralph Pecora and his business
[Photo at left courtesy of John Zubach; other photos courtesy of Emily Pecora. The enlarged version of the photo at left was digitally repaired by Jay Cawley - thank you, Jay!]

The notes on this page come from information supplied by Ralph Pecora's great-granddaughter Emily Pecora.

Ralph Pecora (1887-1959) was the son of John Pecora, was also a tailor and an Italian immigrant. Ralph Pecora owned and operated a tailor shop on Centre Street for more than 50 years. Tailors like him made clothes by hand, in an era before mass production took hold to the point where their skills were no longer prized. According to Emily Pecora, he started his business in 1908, when the number of men working as tailors in America was at its peak. He prospered during the 1910s and early 1920s, selling hand-made suits to the middle and upper-middle class residents of then-booming Freeland and other prosperous towns nearby. He struggled throughout the Depression of the 1930s, which affected the anthracite industry deeply, and continued to struggle until his death in 1959. Emily's masters thesis (see further below on this page) discusses him and his business in the context of economic changes in Freeland, the region and the country, spanning the first half of the 20th century. His shop stood at 528-530 Centre Street, on the spot where there is now a small vacant lot, next to the current VideoMania (formerly Newberry's).

Here is the final paragraph from Emily's thesis:

When asked his grandfather’s tailor shop, Carl Pecora, Jr. said, “Here, let me show you,” and led me and my escort Pasquo (also my father) out his front door. We walked past the playground where Carl, Sr. once slid down a bare board and got a rear end full of splinters, where Carl, Jr. once broke his arm on the monkey bars; past the bank parking lot that had been the site of the A. & P., one of the two grocery stores patronized by Amelia and her mother on their weekly trips; past the Refowich Building, which now houses senior citizens who once sat on the backless benches set up for children in the theater’s front rows. We crossed Centre Street, passed the building that used to be J. J. Newberry’s Five and Dime and is now a combination video store and tanning salon, and arrived at 528 Centre Street, paved from corner to corner ... Carl pointed out the tar line tracing the outline of what had been the tailor shop’s roof, staining the side of the empty brick building (once Albert’s and then Pitman’s Furniture) next door. Together, he and Pasquo walked me “through the house.” Here was the front door, here the shop; here the pantry; here the kitchen; here the stairs to the second floor. Madeline used to hand sandwiches to beggars through this window. These library rooms, where Ralph liked to sit, overlooked the street. Was Ralph kind, gentle, good with children? Was he stubborn, philosophical, business savvy, good with his hands? It depends on who you ask, on when they knew him, on what they are able to remember at the time. But everyone agrees on these three things: he was a tailor, this was his house, and Freeland was his town.

Ralph Pecora's tailor business and staff This is Ralph and his staff in front of the tailor shop, probably at some time in the 1910's.  From let to right, those pictured are Ralph Pecora, his sister Louise Pecora, Luther Peters, Gerard Mazziotta, and Ralph's brother Michael Pecora.  At this time, the tailor shop occupied the full first floor of the building.  Later, Ralph would rent out half of the space to an ice cream shop and then to an optician.

Ralph Pecora staff time book Two pages from a book used to track hours worked by one of Ralph's employees from May 1, 1927 to January 30, 1930. Ralph drew the red X's and dated the bottom of the pages after settling the accounts.

Ralph Pecora's daughter Amelia Ralph's daughter Amelia Pecora in Freeland, twenty-four years old. Although the photograph is undated, the following diary entry almost certainly records its taking: "Feb. 4, 1945 - Daddy took pictures of me by some huge snow banks on Ridge Street."

Ralph Pecora's tailor business Ralph standing in the doorway of his shop in 1939. The establishment on the right side of the building is the Hazle Dip Ice Cream parlor, where several of Ralph's children worked after school. Ex-Freelander Lorraine Rehn Gricevics used to hang out at this ice cream parlor as a teenager and was impressed that, though the patrons sometimes got loud, Ralph never complained about the noise.

The Tailor of Freeland: Everyday Life, Labor, and Community in a Pennsylvania Town, by Emily Pecora

Emily Pecora has recently completed a Masters Thesis about the tailoring business of Ralph Pecora, Sr., which stood on Freeland's Centre Street from the early 1900s until Ralph's death in 1959.  While the thesis will be of particular interest to those who knew Ralph or other members of the Pecora family, it should have a larger appeal to all Freelanders and ex-Freelanders.  It can be downloaded in full here (see below).

Emily is the great granddaughter of Ralph Pecora, Sr. and the granddaughter of Amelia Pecora. She welcomes comments or corrections and is particularly interested in any additional reminisces or information about Ralph and his family. She can be contacted at emily.pecora@gmail.com.

Clicking these links will open Adobe PDF files of Emily's thesis. If you don't have Adobe Reader on your computer you can download it for free at www.adobe.com.

PDF logo Preface, illustrations, table of contents - (PDF file size = 1 MB)

PDF logo Chapter 1 - (PDF file size = 3.1 MB)

PDF logo Chapter 2 - (PDF file size = 5.1 MB)

PDF logo Chapter 3 - (PDF file size = 4.7 MB)

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Site contructed by C. Tancin.
The URL for this page is: http://www.andrew.cmu.edu/user/ct0u/rpecora.html