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Italian Wedding: 1921

Washington, D.C., circa 1921. "Scalco, National Fruit Co." Salvatore Scalco, the groom, was company president. National Photo glass negative. View full size.

Washington, D.C., circa 1921. "Scalco, National Fruit Co." Salvatore Scalco, the groom, was company president. National Photo glass negative. View full size.


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I want that family as my own!

This is the most elegant celebration of understated quality. The guests have beautiful eyes, beautiful complexions and obvious grace. That cake is extravagant – prettier than I’ve seen in my lifetime. The photo is of a time when a wedding was the celebration of a life commitment. Instead of today, when a wedding is an excuse to get drunk, get gifts, give the 2-year-old a surname.

Another Scalco granddaughter

In response to some of the comments, the looks on their faces were typical of that of photos of people taken in that era. They were not used to being photographed and the flash was rather strange to them. This was my grandfather's first and only marriage. As for the dirty shoes, many of the streets in Washington were not paved at that time, everybody had dirty shoes. The tablecloth was rented. I have the table and a matching buffet piece in my home. We have had many family dinners on that table.

On August 1, 2009, 60 members of the Scalco family gathered at the home of one of Salvatore and Dorothea Scalco's grandsons on Kent Island in Maryland.

These are my Grandparents.

To the person who thought these people were related to their family, read on to the articles on Salvatore Scalco. See the Uneeda Banana photo. We have many other photos of the family at that time. My father was one of their 5 children. Four of whom are still alive and active. Good genes I guess!

Maid of honor

I think that's what she is -- next to the bride, the girl with the knotted string of pearls? I love her expression, dreamlike and yet focused, perhaps gazing into the future -- perhaps at some young man who's standing behind the photographer.

Those noses...

I'm surprised no one has commented on the family nose. What honkers!

Just off to the right

is a formal settee usually covered in plastic, removed for this very special occasion, a bowl of ribbon candy on a fancy coffee-type table, and military pictures of all the sons in service on top of the piano.

I come from Italian grandparents too.

40 Year Old Virgin

OK, I admit to having been biased against believing there were any 40 year old Italian bachelors in the early 20th century. But after consulting the census records I found Salvatore Scalco in the 1920 census: age 38, single. Perhaps Salvatore was too busy a man to marry early: running the family business and serving on the Chamber of Commerce.

I haven't been able to find any announcements regarding marriage. In 1924 there was a birth announcement: Dora and Salvador Scalco had a baby girl.

[Or maybe he was a widower. There also seems to have been a boy, Nick. In 1944, there's a memorial service notice for Dorothy Marie Scalco. Salvatore died in 1958. - Dave]

Update: Though not positive, I believe the census would have distinguished between marital status of widower and single.

Tables & Tots

I wonder if the table itself is a wedding gift, and that's how come it's got a tag.

I love that the girl who seems to have the most makeup on also has the dirtiest shoes. That combination of coquette and tomboy spells Flapper-in-Training!

Not so sure

Aside from the single clue of the thingy on the cake, everything else in this picture says "Wedding." The doodad on the cake may be an angel or something, but note, there's a bell over it. What else than a wedding bell? The bride and groom (especially the groom) have that shellshocked wedding look. The folks on the left all look related, as do the folks on the right. Gotta be a wedding.

Also noteworthy, the men all have tux jackets (not tailcoats, it looks to me) but are wearing white ties. Maybe Obama wasn't breaking precedent at the Inaugural Ball.

[It's Cupid ringing a wedding bell. A motif used on President Wilson and Edith Galt's wedding cake in 1915. - Dave]

Lovely cake

That is some lovely piping on the wedding cake, and I believe there are pizelle on the table along with those ginormous pears.

No disrespect to the Scalco Family

but 1921 must have been awfully thin on news! I'm aware of the small town "social columns" which reported gushing details of anniversary parties, birthday celebrations, out of town visitors, and such, but The Washington Post?


The photographer forgot to say "cheese". That is not a very happy-looking couple.

Also, is there someone out there who might be able to explain the strange assortment of edibles placed around the table? Or why that tag is attached to the tablecloth and tied around the table leg. How about who belongs to the shoe under the table on the right.

An altogether strange picture.


What is with the strips on tinsel on the ceiling? I guess it's festive, but it seems like there are so few pieces on each strip it's hardly worth it!

This group needs some boys, so...

"And may their first child be a masculine child."

Short Move

If the news clippings are correct, then Salvatore Scalco must have moved to the next block of Otis place over the course of the summer. Dave can you zoom in on the lower left corner and tell us what is tied around the table leg/table cloth?

[It's too blurry to read. - Dave]

Party Boy

There's no way that's not a wedding judging by the dress of all present. The cake seems to be adorned by a female figure being caressed from behind by a male figure.

One can only wonder if Salvatore stopped or started partying with his wedding.

Quite a gathering of the clan

I'm loving the dirty shoes of the little girl on the left. Whether it is or isn't, it looks like the wedding picture of my forebears, also Italian.

Could be My Parents

My parents were both Italian immigrants. They were married in Boston around this time. This picture is uncannily similar to ones that I have, right down to the ribbons across the foreheads. You have set me about to go looking for them.

What's the tag?

There's a tag attached to the corner of the table cloth (and wrapped around the leg of the table?). What's that about? Linen rented for the party?

Matrimonio, Non!

Not a wedding cake: note only one figure on top of cake.

Washington Post, Jan 3, 1921

4 Generations at Reunion

37 Members of Scalco Family Pay Great-Grandmother Honors

Four generations were represented at a family reunion which closed last night at the home of Salvatore Scalco, at 637 Otis place northwest.

Washington Post, Aug 8, 1921

Celebrate 40th Birthday

Friends of Salvatore Scalco Have Party at His Home

Salvatore Scalco, well-known produce merchant, yesterday celebrated the fortieth anniversary of his birth. A large party of relatives and friends gathered at Mr. Scalco's home, 705 Otis place northwest, in honor of the occasion.

"You talkin' to me?"

Mr. Scalco and the best man are keeping a close eye on the photographer...just in case.

Ribbons and bows ... and tags

The little girls' hair ribbons remind me of orthodontic headgear. Not a very pretty look, unfortunately. And what's with the tags on the corner of the tablecloth? Was it a rental?


I'm taken aback at how filthy the little girls' shoes are. Perhaps it was an outdoor wedding and they came in for the picture. I'm not sure the girls' headbands are being worn quite the way they intended.

As a professional cake decorator, I must say I am very impressed with the details in the cake.


All the changes of life gone by as WE know it, coming at these folks like a runaway train.

Not just fruit

The year before, Salvatore beat the District of Columbia in court over the question of whether the Reed Amendment allowed the seizure of booze unlawfully brought into "dry" Washington. In one of two test cases on that issue, the D.C. Court of Appeals held that, if Congress had wanted the Reed Amendment to allow a forfeiture, it should have said so.

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