Top row - left to right: Marie Nicolazzi, sister of the bride; Louis Ponzini, groom; Anna Nicolazzi Ponzini, bride; Anthony Ponzini, brother of the groom; an unidentified female cousin; and Fiorindo Ponzini, brother of the groom; Middle row - left to right: Lena Mazza; Louisa Perfetto Nicolazzi, mother of the bride; two children, Louise Perfetto and Dominick Nicolazzi; Tom Nicolazzi, father of the bride; unidentified male cousin; Front row -left to right: Two children seated on the floor, Yolanda Bertorelli and Anita Bertorelli, cousins.
Diana Ponzini has so many stories to tell about her Italian immigrant family. Her grandparents and parents forged the way for future generations of the Ponzini and Nicolazzi families in America. Diana remembers going to church as a small child and hearing the Mass sung in Latin by Father Leoni. The rest was spoken in Italian, of course. Our Lady of Peace was an integral part of family life.
The Ponzini family immigrated in the late 1880s, and went back and forth between their ancestral home in Borgotaro, Italy, and New York City. Diana Ponzini remembers that her paternal grandparents, Giuseppe Ponzini and Domenica Leonardi Ponzini, had an Italian deli across the street from where they lived, at 233 East 59th Street. That's where Diana's father, Louis Ponzini, was born in 1898.
After each successive child came into the world, Diana's grandparents sent them back to Italy to be brought up by their parents. Louis Ponzini spent his first years in Italy with his grandparents, returning to New York City in 1907. He attended Public School 59, but left school after the fifth grade. Louis became a waiter at the Pierre Hotel, during the years when his father was the ice chef there. He served in the Army during World War I.
As a young man, Louis Ponzini did some of the tile and marble work when they were building Our Lady of Peace Church on 62nd Street. Eventually, he went into the tile and marble business, and worked in the business for most of his life. He died in November 1981.
Diana's maternal grandfather, Thomas Nicolazzi, had two fruit and vegetable groceries on East 59th Street. Nicolazzi also drove the 59th Street trolley crosstown as his night job, while his wife, Louisa Perfetto Nicolazzi, stayed home and took care of their children.
Diana's mother, Anna, was born at 1110 Second Avenue. After graduating from Public School 59, Anna Nicolazzi became a seamstress. Anna's sister worked in a radio store on East 59th Street, and one day, when Anna stopped in to see her sister, Louis Ponzini happened to be strolling past the store. The song Vieni sul Mar was playing on the loudspeaker outside. Louis looked up and saw a young girl with bright red hair. He went into the store and asked Anna to dance. A couple of years later, Louis Ponzini married Anna Nicolazzi on 19 April 1925.
The high points of their lives were celebrated at Our Lady of Peace. "Please keep our church open," Diana Ponzini wrote on the petition to Save Our Lady of Peace. "It is very close to all of us that grew up in the neighborhood."