The shoe repair man

By Barbara F. Dyer | Dec 30, 2012

Of the Italian community of families that chose Camden in which to live, most were barbers, except for Vincent Nuccio. He had a shop on Mechanic Street and repaired shoe, and that today is almost a lost art. Before we became “a throw-away society,” we had new heels and soles tapped on our shoes to last for another year. So I am writing, for you readers, some things about him and his family.

His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Peter Nuccio arrived in Camden from Italy, during the early part of the 20th century. With them were their children: Frank, Mary, Rosa and Joe. Later Frank and Joe left for Beverly, Mass. Rosa worked in Brewster’s Shirt factory until she married Dominic Leo. Mary married Mr. Pellicani from Rockland.

Vincent went to Italy and brought back his bride, Angelina Merola, and they owned a home at 38 Pearl St. in Camden. He had a business on Mechanic Street called Nuccio’s Shoe Repair Shop and remained in his shop for 43 years.

Vincent and Angelia had the following children: Peter born in 1922, Angelina born in 1923, Frances in 1924, Louis in 1926, and Teresa about 10 years later. They all graduated from Camden High School — Peter in the Class of 1940, Angie in 1941, Frances in 1942 and Louis in 1944. The neighborhood children were always welcome at the Nuccio home and had a good time with their friends.

In 1937, at age 38, the mother of his children, Angelina, died in their home of cancer and the new baby, Theresa, was brought up by her Aunt Rosa Leo. Angelina was born in Esernia, Italy, and he mother was still living over there at the time of her young daughter’s death.

Vincent soon returned to Italy to bring back Angelina’s sister, Mary Asunta, to be his wife and care for the children. Her parents were Luigi and Francesca (Damiano) Merola. Later, Vincent and Mary had two sons.

Mr. Nuccio died April 10, 1956, at age 64. He had been born in Salemi, Italy, on Feb. 7, 1892. He belonged to the Lady of Good Hope Church, the Catholic Men’s Club and The Holy Name Society. Being a businessman in Camden and a good neighbor, he had many friends when he died. He was buried at Mountain View Cemetery next to his Pearl Street neighbor’s lot, Frank Alexander. I was told that when Vincent’s first wife died so young, and he had five children to support during the Great Depression, Mr. Alexander made sure they had a burial plot.

His eldest child, Peter, died suddenly in 1972 in East Orange, N.J. He had graduated in the Camden High School Class of 1941 and was a veteran of World War II. Later, he graduated from Seton Hall University of New Jersey. He was also a member of the National Association of Accountants. Peter was a business executive employed with Thomas Electronics, as treasurer and assistant secretary.

Funeral services took place in Camden, on Oct. 18, 1972, at Our Lady of Good Hope Church with Rev. Anthony Nuccio officiating.

Vincent’s second wife, Maria Asunta (Merola) Nuccio died on Dec. 26, 1993, at the Camden Health Care facility. She was born in Isemia, Italy, Oct. 12, 1905. She was a member of Our Lady of Good Hope Catholic Church, the Catholic Women’s Club and the Camden Senior Citizens. Surviving were sons: Antonio of Austin, Texas, Joseph of LaGrangeville, N.Y., and Louis of Auburn. Also daughters:, Angelina Sakalay of Moraga, Calif., Frances Salenius of Framingham, Mass., and Theresa Berger of Parkland, Fla., and a sister Josephine DiPaole of Provindence, R.I. She was buried from her church with Rev. Gerard Gosselin officiating.

Today, I believe, the surviving members of Vincent’s family are Angelina Sakaly and Antonio Nuccio. They were all an enjoyable family.

Barbara Dyer is the official town historian for Camden.

Comments (3)
Posted by: GLENNA DRINKWATER | Dec 31, 2012 01:10

Thanks,Barbara,I lived on Pearl St. and knew the older Nuccios and what fun we all had. Great family.Glenna Drinkwater


Posted by: Sandra Schramm | Dec 30, 2012 19:31

A big thanks for this article. Having grown up next to the Nuccio family I found it most interesting. Our neighborhood was fortunate to have Nino Sparta (a local barber) and his family and the Nuccio family. Camden was comprosed of quite a few Italian immigrant families.  They were such hard workers, fantastic gardeners and cooks and wonderful neighbors. I believe Joseph Nuccio lives in NJ or NY. I have some nice photos of him taken at my sisters birthday party!! Hope Joe or Anthony gets to read your tribute to their family.

Posted by: RUTH ROWLING MAXFIELD | Dec 30, 2012 13:35

Thank you again, Mrs. Dyer, for a nice article!!  We enjoy them!  Growing up in Rockland in the 40s and 50s, I well recall walking down Main St. to Rocco Ferrera's cobbler shop . . . sitting on the edge of the shop's display window, swinging my legs, as he put new heels on my shoes!  The smell of the shop was lovely . . all leather, oil and polish.  I am sure my mother made similiar journeys to Mr. Nuccio's shop in Camden as she was growing up there.


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