The name Glen Edwards Avenue was perhaps an overstatement. "The Lane", as it was known by the locals, was a more accurate description of the area: A narrow street, one block long, nipped on the west end by a train trestle. For the residents, the railroad was part of their everyday lives, their main means of providing for their families. It was a tough neighborhood, populated originally by native Marylanders with a heavy sprinkling of Irish and an occasional German in the mix. Acquaformosans added their own color towards the start of the 20th century. Rocco Vicchio, a proud descendant of some of the locals, describes their beginning thus:
This group was very close-knit, and looked out for one another. They lived in a secluded area, backed by hills, bordering the railroad and the Jones Falls. They first lived in row houses on Falls Road. Later they moved to the Norristown (PA) area for a few years, and then back to the neighborhood in Baltimore, on a street called the "Lane", which was Glen Edwards Avenue. This was a dead end street that stopped at a train trestle or viaduct. The police seldom ventured down the Lane. Many on the Lane were renters who actually squatted in these houses near the railroad, when another family moved out. The landlord did not know who was occupying his property, and would only worry about picking up the rent, when due. If whoever answered the door had the rent money, all was good with the world. When you lived on the Lane, you aspired to move on up into the better housing of the neighborhood. One quick story, from John Deluca, who has passed away, was that he remembered as a small child being scared to death at night, sleeping with the covers over his head, while feeling some rats running over the top of him!
The location was not prime. The Lane is now part of urban archeology. For the first Acquaformosans who came at the end of the 19th and at the turn of the 20th centuries, however, it was their opportunity to start a new life in l'America. Their families visited, ate together, their children grew up together. We are going to tell their story, with the intention of keeping alive their experiences, as a part of the collective history of this great country. Rocco has gathered an impressive amount of material, which we have organized as follows: