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Vince grew up in and is a product of Taylor Street, Chicago’s Little Italy, the port-of-call for the Chicago area’s Italian American immigrants. Like many first generation Italian American’s who were the offspring of immigrant parents arriving at the turn of the 20th century, his identity was, in-part, the creation of the neighborhood and its institutions—and, in a larger sense, the dictates of the larger culture as orchestrated by the media.
Among those institutions was the Jane Addams Hull House, America’s first settlement house founded in 1889. The Taylor-Halsted area became known as The Hull House Neighborhood, the laboratory upon which Jane Addams tested her sociological theories and formulated her protests to the establishment. As early as 1895, Jane Addams and Ellen Starr described the inner core of the Hull House neighborhood as wall-to-wall Italians.
Later, armed with his graduate degree, Vince hired on as a social worker with Hull House. Included in his duties was counselor at the Hull House summer camp, purposefully named the Bowen Country Club as detailed in the stories of both the Jane Addams’ Hull House and the Bowen Country Club. Reversing roles, he now became a contributor to the fashioning identities of waves of first and second generation Italian Americans that followed.
It is from this unique perspective, which evolved from having been both the recipient of and contributor to that Taylor Street phenomenon, that sets Vince apart from most writers and historians of the Italian American experience.
The Taylor Street Archives reflects his distinctive perspective of a time, a place and a people that were and can never be again. While lacking political correctness at times, it strives for historical accuracy. The Taylor Street Archives was designed to go beyond family values and the work ethic so often espoused by those who report the Italian American experience.
Vince’s personal odyssey includes his serving as president of the Gregorians, an Association of Italian American Educators. During his presidency he addressed the media and other institutions via lectures and workshops on the impact of the media on the Italian American experience. As a result of those efforts, Chicago hired its first TV newscaster of Italian heritage and the Chicago Tribune was shamed into removing its prologue from their editorial page: “The purpose of a modern day newspaper is to guide and lead public opinion.”
Vince left the college ranks in 1983 and embarked on a career in the Financial Services industry. Holding the title of Senior Vice President at Morgan Stanley, the Romano Group serviced the financial and investment needs of businesses and individuals.
His avocation and his passion is the construction and preservation of the history and legacy of the Taylor Street phenomenon–a time, a place, and a people that were and can never be again. A people who defied the profound failure prophesy of our sociological soothsayers. A people and a subculture who, against all odd, had transitioned themselves from having been cast as servants to the dream to participants in the dream. The Taylor Street Archives, a chronicle of those who lived the Italian American experience, as it unfolded for those immigrants who settled into the Legendary Taylor Street made its debut in 2006.
In 2010, Vince petitioned the 33 member UIC Trustees to address the issue of the Jane Addams’ Hull House Museum’s flawed history being dispensed by the museum to historians, educators, writers and the public itself. Intentionally ignoring the history and synergy that existed between Jane Addams and the Italian American community, the Museum’s administration refused to even make mention that the first invitation to the immigrant community (1891) was written in Italian and signed Signorine Jane Addams and Ellen gates Starr.
The presentation won over all 33 members of the University’s trustees along with it’s president, Christopher Kennedy. The UIC Chancellor and the UIC student body were equally impressed. They had determined that the Taylor Street Archives was to be given its rightful place in the Hull House Museum.
Editor: Vincent J. Romano
Associate Editor: Vincent W. Romano
The stories of other contributors and corroborators are recorded in these Archives. They can be located via the “Search” engine. Feel free to reach into your memory bank and add to the the legacy of our legendary Taylor Street. I mention a few of the early contributors, corroborators, and collaborators here.
Eleanor Camardo, contributing writer
Luke Capuano, contributing writer
John “Johniie Boy” Parise, corroborator
Ralph Di Lorenzo, corroborator
Fred Mancini, contributing writer
Nick Balice, corroborator
Nick Caruso, corroborator
Frank “Horse” Caruso, corroborator
Joe “Joe Skornz” Esposito, corroborator
Mike “Wacker” Alesia, contributor and corroborator
Sarah Loconte, contributing writer
…and a host of others whose brains were picked in telling our story as they had lived it.