52 Ancestors: #31 Dorothy A. Furlani, an Independent Woman

Posted by: Eileen A. Souza

Dorothy A. Furlani in August 1944

Dorothy A. Furlani in August 1944

Dorothy A. Furlani was born on 15 October 1913 in Connersville, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. She is the daughter of Candido (Condy) Furlani and Anna Bianchi. One of three children, she had an older brother, William, my father, and a younger brother, Robert. I do not know what her middle initial “A” stand for, but it might be her mother’s name. As I stated in my last Wordless Wednesday post, she made her first Holy Communion around 1920, probably at Saint Peter’s Church in Mount Carmel, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, where her parents were parishioners.

I found college yearbooks for her online. She attended Penn State, living in State College, Centre County, Pennsylvania from 1932 until she graduated in 1935. A member of the Theta Phi Alpha sorority, she was active in basketball and track.

Dot appeared in Harrisburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, around 1940, with a listing in the city directory and the 1940 US census, employed as a sales clerk in a department store. By 1946, she was a steno-clerk with the State of Pennsylvania. She remained employed by the State until her retirement.

I have very fond memories of my Aunt Dot. She lived a full life, and although, she never married, I would never have called her a spinster–the image did not fit her. She had a partner whom I called Uncle Bob. Bob and Dot remained together as a couple with separate residences until his death. I don’t remember Bob’s last name but he drove a train (engineer), which I thought was really cool. I also don’t remember her last two partners, except that the last one out-lived her.

Bob and Dot in Harrisburg in the 1950s

Bob and Dot in Harrisburg in the 1950s

Once, my sister and I stayed with her for a week. It was fantastic. Aunt Dot and Uncle Bob took us to our first country fair, where we saw live animals that we could actually touch (no petting zoos back then). Another excursion was to Hershey Park.

One day she took us to her office building. We had never been in a high building before and spent the day riding up and down the elevator. We had been in stores with an escalator, but this was our first time riding in an elevator. It doesn’t take much to make kids happy.

I loved our town library and was a great reader. Since I found myself in the “big” city of Harrisburg, I was excited as I anticipated the fantastic library it would contain. On one of our days, with my sister, I walked the ten blocks to the library. It was the one disappointment during this visit. The library’s children’s section could not hold a candle to the one in my home town. It was years later that I learned that our little town library was so great because, back in those days, it had an unlimited budget due to our township being financially set, collecting rents from the like of Westinghouse, Scott Paper and parts of the Philadelphia airport. Who knew?

Dot was a serious smoker and drinker. During this trip, many visits to her friends’ homes gave us ample proof of this. She would have been very much at home in the 21st century. As I said, she loved life and broke the mores of the times, living the life she chose.

My aunt Dot died of lung cancer on 23 October 1982 in Middletown, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, at the age of sixty-nine. She is buried in Saint Pater’s cemetery in Mount Carmel with her parents.




Week 31 of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, a blogging challenge initiated by Amy Johnston Crow in her blog No Story Too Small.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry posted in 52Ancestors, Family History | Bookmark the Permalink
<-Back to Blog

2 Responses to 52 Ancestors: #31 Dorothy A. Furlani, an Independent Woman

  1. Constance Bower says:

    What fun to see our “city” thru your eyes as a young girl.

    I also had an “Aunt Dot” who appears could have been your Aunt Dot’s twin .. right down to the smoking and a taste for the “vino” !!!
    But we all loved her so much..she lived in Ohio so our visits were far apart but the love was always there : )

    It remains a treat to see an area that one is already familiar with, appear in an article for another’s family.

    The picture of your aunt in front of the Susquehanna River is an area that has remained much the same.
    The mention of Hershey Park brings back memories for me when it truly was a beautiful park to spend time in.

    Thank you for sharing your memories..brought back some warm memories for me : )

    • Eileen A. Souza says:

      Thank you for your lovely comments. I have only been in the city of Harrisburg that one time, although I have driven through it on my way to RTEs 80 or 81. I must have really loved it to have such a vivid memory of it after all these years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *