Cohorts, Companions and Competitors

A cohort is a group of subjects who share a defining characteristic – in this case, performing and playing music. Tony had an association with many musicians over the years and most likely competed for jobs in bands or orchestras with other accordion players. The small-scale 400 page book below is a membership list of the The Chicago Federation of Musicians, a goldmine of information published in 1942. Tony and his cousin by the same name were long-standing members up until their untimely deaths in 1963 and 1964. The book describes union members, instruments played, names of arrangers, bands and orchestras. The accordion section has over 600 accordionist members alone!

Chicago Federation of Musicians Membership List, June 1st, 1942. Union Local No. 10. Book courtesy of author.

CFM Members, Anthony Camarata Jr (Tony) and his cousin, Anthony Camarata, both accordionists on page 236. Book courtesy of author.

Art Van Damme, Andy Arcari, Robert Davine, Jimmy Blade, Bobby Tinterow, Horace Heidt, Don Orlando, Bob Smith, Art Cavalieri were some of the men he either knew personally, worked with or were inspired by. Many other musicians are noted on an earlier post.

Art Van Damme

Art Van Damme, theatrical photo by Maurice Seymour, Chicago, courtesy of the author.

Several years ago, I wrote to jazz accordionist Art Van Damme (1920-2010) to see if he knew Tony since the photo was dedicated to him. Here is his response to me:

Art Van Damme Letter

Letter from Art Van Damme to author, January 10, 1997.

Tony had a long history with Jimmy Blade, pianist, arranger and band leader. In addition to their professional relationship, they were also friends. Jimmy and wife, Jean were witnesses for Tony and Lucille’s wedding in 1941. The marriage took place at the Courthouse in Colorado Springs instead of their home town, Chicago. Jimmy’s orchestra had a four-week engagement at the swank Broadmoor Hotel resort that year and again in 1942. I was fortunate to meet his daughters in Illinois a few years back to who furnished me with a wealth of stories, news clippings, and photos, some that are posted here.

Tony played with Jimmy Blade

Jimmy Blade (1907-1974), Pianist, Arranger, Band Leader. Press photo by Maurice Seymour, Chicago, courtesy of P. Blade Cella.

Jimmy Blade, pianist and band leader

Jimmy Blade relaxing while reading sheet music, “Happy in Love” composed by Same E. Fain, Published by Leo Feist Inc. 1941. Photo courtesy of P.Blade Cella.

Jimmy Blade reading “Happy in Love” sheet music and as an arranger, probably making some notes for an upcoming gig. Jimmy’s career included recording and live radio in Chicago, and later had his own show with NBC.

Jimmy Blade’s Musical Synopsis – National Broadcasting Company. Courtesy of P. Blade Cella.

Sheet Music featuring Jimmy Blade and his Orchestra. Courtesy of P. Blade Cella.

Jimmy Blade news clip, courtesy of P. Blade Cella.

Jimmy Blade had a long run at the Camellia House from 1951 to 1967, playing with various musicians over the years; Nicholas Busta – clarinet, flute, tenor saxophone, Richard Caldwell – accordion, Ray Lube – bass, Earl Schwaller – violin, who was also a sideman with Wayne King, to name a few. After Jimmy retired, Bill Snyder took the helm until 1970.

Jimmy Blade news clip, courtesy of P. Blade Cella.

Jimmy Blade news clip, courtesy of P. Blade Cella.

Jimmy Blade featured in Orchestra World magazine. Article courtesy of P. Blade Cella.

In Tony’s archives, a vintage press photo of Robert Davine, accordionist and professor of music at the University of Denver, was found. According to many Robert Davine was a true virtuoso of the concert accordion.”  I believe he was an inspiration to Tony on some level, even if they never met, or he wouldn’t have had this photograph.

Robert Davine, Accordionist (1924-2001). Theatrical photo by Excelsior, courtesy of the author.

Another vintage photo from Tony’s collection was of accordionist, Angelo “Andy” Acari, originally from San Biagio, Italy. He made a name for himself in America as soloist in theaters, nightclubs, concerts, radio and television broadcasts including NBC.

Photo from Tony M. Camarata's archive

Andy Arcari (1907-1994) Theatrical photo by Excelsior, courtesy of the author.

The Excelsior brochure was also in Tony’s archive; he may have been considering this brand of accordion, the same one that Andy played. It was common to have more than one instrument in a musician’s possession. I am lucky to have one of my father’s Reno brand accordions, not as attractive as the earlier ornate instruments that got lost or sold over the years. They were quite decorative and at one point it was fashionable to have your name on your instrument. There’s a family story that the reason the name Cammarata was altered by removing one “m” was that it was too long to fit on the one of the smaller accordions, however, most family members kept the original surname with both letters.

Accordion Excelsiola Brochure of Tony C 1955

Accordion Excelsiola 1955 Brochure from Tony’s archives, courtesy of author.

Competitors, Cohorts or Companions?

Advertisement, “Excelsior Album of Stars for 1950”

Tony Camarata Don Orando Lyle's Monte Carlo news clip crop 1947 Jan. 2.doc

Tony Camarata  as strolling troubadour at same club as Don Orlando and his Trio  in 1947.

Don Orlando, accordionist and band leader, also performed live on radio for WBBM in Chicago as well as recorded music for various record label, many that can be found online.

Tony played with Don Orlando

Don Orlando, Accordionist

Don Orlando & his Symphony Five 78 Record featuring vocals by Sam Bari, baritone.

Don Orlando and His Symphony Five. Features Sam Bari and Danny Parker. Courtesy of The Billboard Magazine, Jan. 24, 1948.

Art Cavalieri, bass player was also part of the trio “Men of Rhythm” with Tony Camarata and Sam Bari. These guys changed band names or went solo depending on available opportunities at the time. Art’s advertisement says it all, “Duo,Trio, Quartet to augment any size desirable.”

Art Cavalieri. Promotional advertisement, courtesy of T. Cavalieri.

The Velvetones, unknown violinist, Al Rhomba, accordion, Art Cavalieri on bass. Photo courtesy of T. Cavalieri.

Jobs may have been plenty in the 40s and 50s, however, the market was saturated with musicians and entertainers all vying for the same jobs and many at the same professional level. Probably a lot depended who you knew, and where you hung out — a big plus if you had a good agent. By the time rock and roll appeared in the 50s, the accordion wasn’t relevant anymore so Tony’s job prospects pretty much dried up by the early 60s. About the same time, he returned to Chicago due to ill health. In 1963, just days before his 48th birthday, he passed away.



Tony Camarata – Show Bars, Swanky Clubs, Dance Halls, Hotels

1940s music was based on the big band sound, swing and jazz. Tony was active in the music biz, however, he never became a celebrated name, employed in large part as a sideman playing supportive roles in orchestras and small combo ensembles at a variety of night clubs, dance halls and hotels. To get educated in the various venues in Chicago, I suggest this comprehensive book by Charles A. SenstockThat Toddlin’ Town: Chicago’s White Dance Bands and Orchestras, 1900-1950. “He looks at the history of the white dance bands, theater orchestras, radio studio ensembles and night club bands… He has written extensively on Chicago music and other history.”

The Tropics at Hotel Chicagoan 67 w. Madison St. Chicago, IL

Sam Bari and his “Men of Rhythm” at the Hotel Chicagoan. L. to R. Sam Bari, Ginny Stone, Tony Camarata & Art Cavalieri. c. 1946. News clip courtesy of the author, Florette Camarata

1946 Chicago

Chicago Newspaper Review – “Men of Rhythm” with Tony Camarata, accordionist, Ginny Stone, songstress, 1946. News clip courtesy of the author, Florette Camarata

Tony Camarata's gig at The Topics, Hotel Chicagoan

Tony Camarata’s gig at The Topics, Hotel Chicagoan. 1946. Photo courtesy of Massoth estate.

Press photo above dedicated to daughters; “Antoinette and Paulette, love Daddy“. Third daughter, Florette and author of this blog wasn’t’ born yet.

Sam Bari, recording artist and band leader of Men of Rhythm. Promo photo courtesy of This Week in Chicago, 1944.

Sam Bari, recording artist and band leader of Men of Rhythm. Promo photo courtesy of This Week in Chicago, 1940s

Tony applied for his social security card in 1937, soon after it was signed in to law. He noted his employer at the time as the Casino Parisien at the Hotel Morrison in Chicago. Two years later his mother Pauline who he was very close to died of heart failure at age 42. His father, Antonio died a year later at age 49. Cause of his death? The story given was that he died in a car accident where he was crushed by the steering wheel. It wasn’t until the author located his death record that noted the true cause of death; Pulmonary Tuberculosis due to Syphilitc Meningo Encephalits and place of death, Chicago State Hospital. Young Tony was an only child and wasn’t close to his Italian cousins who eventually moved to California.  His best pal was his German cousin, Paul Massoth who must have been a comfort to him as well as a fan of his music.

Anthony Camarata Social Security Application0001

Copy of Tony Camarata’s original Social Security application, 1937. Courtesy of Social Security Administration.

Accordionist For All Occasions, Also Combo

Anthony Camarata, Jr. Business Card
Courtesy of F. Camarata

Hollywood Show Lounge folder that held the photo below with Tony Camarata and the LaRussa's.

Hollywood Show Lounge folder that held the photo below with Tony Camarata and the LaRussa’s.

Tony Camarata with friends, Florence or Felicia (?) Larussa and Michael Larussa, Buffalo, NY c. 1946

Tony Camarata with Buffalo, NY friends, Felicia (Gutowski) and Michael Larussa relaxing at the Hollywood Show Lounge at 87 W. Randolph St. Chicago. 1946

Partial list of Tony’s gigs in the 30s and 40s below. Some of the clubs were fronts for prostitution and vice protected by organized crime, pretty typical of Chicago known for corruption back in the day. Most of the venues were in the Loop. Chicago’s upscale hotels housed nightclubs that featured ballroom dancing, big bands and floor shows.

1936: Trevor Tavern, Trevor, Wisconsin

Trevor Tavern. Tony Camarata in the middle. Photo courtesy of P. Camarata Phillips

Tony played here

Trevor Tavern Newsclip. The Antioch News, June 18, 1936

1937: Casino Parisien event at Hotel Morrison at 15-29 Clark Street, Chicago, IL

Casino Parisien chicago

1938: 885 Club at 885 Rush St. Chicago, IL


1938/39: CBS Broadcasting Live radio broadcast

1939: 606 Club at 606 S. Wabash Ave., Chicago, IL

Tony played here 1939

606 Club Matchbook Covers.

1939: Silver Frolics at 400 N. Wabash.,Chicago, IL


1939: Congress Hotel at 500 S. Michigan Ave.,Chicago, IL

Tony Played at this hotel

Congress Hotel, Chicago, IL.

1940: Chez Paree Key Club at 150 E. Ontario St., Chicago, IL -The Chez Paree was a nightclub at 610 N. Fairbanks Court  known for its glamorous atmosphere, elaborate dance numbers, and top entertainers. It operated from 1932 until 1960. The Key Club was in a back room (different door and address) where illegal gambling went on – high stake dice and card games.

Chez Paree entrance at the SW corner of Ontario and Fairbanks, Chicago. Photo courtesy of The Schatz Building archive.

Chez Paree entrance at the SW corner of Ontario and Fairbanks, Chicago. Photo courtesy of The Schatz Building archive.

1940: Around Town Club at 2131 S. Cicero Ave. Cicero, IL

1940: Medinah Club of Chicago at 505 Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL

1940: University Club of Milwaukee at 924 E. Wells, Milwaukee, WI

1941: Broadmoor Hotel at 1 Lake Ave. Colorado Springs, CO

hotel broadmoor

Broadmoor Hotel, Colorado Springs, CO

Photo below: Tony and Lucy got married in Colorado while Tony was on a tour date with the Jimmy Blade Orchestra at the Broadmoor Hotel. L. to R. Jimmy Blade (pianist), Lucille Camarata, Tony Camarata, Mrs.Jean Kennelly Blade (one of the “Adorable Dancers” from Chez Paree, Chicago).

Tony Lucy Jimmy Blade and wife Sept 19410001

Wedding Day in Colorado Springs, CO. 1941. L. to R. Jimmy Blade, Jean Blade (witnesses), Tony Camarata, Lucille Camarata. Photo courtesy of Florette Camarata

Tony_Lucy_Wedding 1941 from Cella

Tony Camarata & Lucy Camarata with Jimmy Blade and Orchestra members. Colorado Springs 1941. Photo courtesy of Peggy Blade Cella.

Tony Camarata_Lucy Andersen Wedding Day 1941

Lucille Camarata, newly wed to Tony Camarata. 1941. Photo courtesy of Aunt Dot Miekle.

1941/42/43: Ambassador East at 1301 State St. Chicago, IL –The Pump Room opened in 1938 and is now the Public Chicago Hotel, owned by Ian Schrager.

pump room via crusin

1941/42 The Drake Hotel at 140 E. Walton St. Chicago, IL – Jimmy Blade Orchestra.


Jimmy Blade Ork from Peggy Blade Cella with Tony Camarata

Jimmy Blade Orchestra. Left. Jimmy Blade on piano. Right, Tony Camarata on accordion. Photo courtesy of Peggy Blade Cella. 1941/1942


Camarata Blade News Clip_1943

Chicago’s Town Tattle by Nate Cross, 1943. Tony Camarata, accordionist with Jimmy Blade’s Orchestra. News clip courtesy of the author, Florette Camarata

1942: Cazel Koch Tavern in Chicago, IL

1942: The Blackstone at 636 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL

Tony played here

The Blackstone, ad courtesy of This Week in Chicago 1942.

1942: Ivanhoe Gardens at 3000 N. Clark St. Chicago, IL

Tony played here

Ivanhoe Restaurant and Night Club founded in the 1920s as a speakeasy. After prohibition, it became a popular medieval-themed restaurant with a lower level bar known as “The Catacombs.

1943: Riviera Cocktail Lounge at 40 W. Randolph St. Chicago, IL


Riviera Cocktail Lounge Matchbook Cover. Courtesy of John Chuckman blog.

1943: Hotel Chicagoan at 67 W. Madison St. Chicago, IL

tropics chicago ebay postcard front

The Tropics inside the Hotel Chicagoan.

1943: Paddock Club at 2927 N. Broadway St. Chicago, IL

Created by ImageGear, AccuSoft Corp.

Paddock Cocktail Lounge Matchbook Cover. Courtesy of John Chuckman.

1943: The Whirlaway at 1701 Ogden Ave. Chicago, IL

1943/45 Rupneck’s Restaurant at 1127 Thorndale Ave. Chicago, IL

Rupneck's Restaurant Cocktail Lounge Matchbook courtesy of Chuckman blog.

Rupneck’s Restaurant Cocktail Lounge. Matchbook Cover courtesy of John Chuckman.

1943: Preview Lounge at 7 w. Randolph St. Chicago, IL – Newspaper Review on earlier post; Will Alexander Orchestra. Will on bass. Jack Chapman, piano, Lyle Sisk, trumpet, Tony Camarata, accordion and June Price, vocals.

Preview Lounge chuckman matchbook2jpg

Preview Lounge Matchbook Cover courtesy of John Chuckman.

1943: Helsings Vandvil Restaurant at 4361 N. Sheridan Chicago, IL

1943: Elbow Room at 3777 Broadway Chicago, IL

1943: The Dome at 507 Hennepin Ave. Minneapolis, MN

Tony played at the Dome

The Dome Theatre Lounge in Minneapolis

1944: Rio Cabana at 400 N. Wabash Chicago, IL

rio-cabana-400-n-wabash2 chucman blog

Rio Cabana Matchbook Cover. Courtesy of John Chuckman.

1944: Penguin Inn at 178 W. Randolph St. Chicago, IL

1944: Minuet Restaurant at 943 Rush St. Chicago, IL

Tony Played here

Club Minuet ad courtesy of This Week in Chicago, 1944.

1944: Wilpolts Tavern at 5605 22nd Ave. Kenosha, WI

1944/45: Vine Gardens 614 W. North Ave. Chicago, IL


1945: Ron-Da-Voo Tavern at 106 State St. Calumet City, IL


Ron-Da-Voo Gaming Token

1945: The Capital Lounge at 167 N. State St. Chicago, IL

CAPITOL LOUNGE - 167 N_ STATE - chuckmans blog

1946: Brown Derby Theatre Café at 104 S. Wabash Chicago


1946: The Tropics at Hotel Chicagoan 67 W. Madison,Chicago. Tony plays with  Sam Bari and his Men of Rhythm.


The Tropics at the Hotel Chicagoan, ad courtesy of This Week in Chicago.

1946: Meyers Inn at 52 S. Seventh St. Minneapolis, MN

1946: Thomas F. Aliota Restaurant in Kenosha, WI

1947: Drum Cocktail Lounge at 114 N. Dearborn St. Chicago, IL

1947: Panda Club 2521 Milwaukee Ave. Chicago, IL

Panda Club Tokens - Good for 5 cents in drinks only.

Panda Club Tokens – Good for 5 cents in drinks only.

1947/49: Club Lucky at 1824 Wabansia Chicago, IL – once served as a speakeasy during prohibition with a hardware store as a front.

ClubLuckyWaiterpic online

1947: Silver Spur Club at 4839 N. 79th Phoenix, AZ

1948: Marie’s Cocktail Lounge at 5707 N. Clark St. Chicago, IL

1948: Club Moderne at 5950 W. Chicago Ave. Chicago, IL

1948: James Restaurant at 1035 Lawrence Ave. Chicago, IL



Next post will feature more of Tony Camarata’s gigs, 1950s.


Tony Camarata – Stage Bars & Theatre Lounges

Our Town Magazine 1943 cover pageOur Town Entertainment magazine cover (November 19-26, 1943) features band member Tommy Decker of the Decker Foursome who played with Tony Camarata, Dick Bunn and Lorie Andrea at the Dome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Tommy was a “Versatile guitarist-vocalist heading his own aggregation, packing them in at the Dome.” (original magazine courtesy of the author)

Billboard Magazine Date Page

Tony Camarata on Accordion

The Billboard Magazine review. Nov. 27, 1943, page 25.

The review above was in The Billboard Magazine featuring the Tommy Decker Quartette. Tony Camarata on Accordion – Gal mentioned is Lorie Andrea, stage name of his wife, Lucille Camarata who toured with him from time to time.


The Billboard Magazine – Jan. 2, Aug. 28, Nov. 27, 1943 – Tony Camarata and others reviewed.

Our Town Magazine 1943

Our Town Magazine pg. 2 Tony Camarata & Lorie Andrea (aka Lucille Camarata) 1943

Our Town Entertainment magazine review by Kid Flash at The Dome in 1943: “Tommy Decker, an on-the-beam guitarist, aided and abetted by Tony Camarata on the accordion, Dick Bunn, bass violinist and Lorie Andrea (stage name of Lucille Camarata, Tony’s wife) who lent her gorgeous, you-know-what to the frivolities. All in all, they’re definitely solid and were worth waiting for – to coin a phrase.”

Lorie Andrea, stage name of Lucille Camarata

Songstress Lorie Andrea, stage name of Lucille Camarata (photo courtesy of Florette Camarata)

In the 1930s and 1940s the accordion was a popular instrument in small combos and big bands.Tony Camarata as well as his father Antonio and cousin Tony made full-time professional careers as accordionists. Tony was a member of the CFM, the Chicago Federation of Musicians, Local 10 from 1933 until his death in 1963. Members carried union cards – sometimes called traveling or transfer cards that gave a traveling musician the legal right to work around the country. The document below mentions Saxaphone as one of Tony’s instruments, however, no image exists showing him playing a sax. He may have played the mouth organ, a harmonica. It was found with his personal effects when he died.

Muscian's Union Card

Chicago Federation of Musicians Union Membership document (pg. 1) for Anthony Camarata – courtesy of Chicago Public Library CFM Archives. Thanks to Christopher Popa, Music Librarian.

The Billboard Magazine

The Billboard Magazine

The Billboard Magazine 1943

The Billboard Magazine – Aug 28, 1943 page 25 – Reviewed by Preview Lounge features Will Alexander Orchestra.

The Preview Lounge at 7 W. Randolph Street in the Chicago Loop was a popular venue that opened in July 1943. It was the fourth lounge owned by Al Martin who certainly knew what it took to keep the crowds dancing and drinking in the Loop. Will Alexander and his orchestra; Lyle Sisk, trumpet, Tony Camarata, accordion, Jack Chapman, piano, June Price, vocals get the joint going.


News clip courtesy of the author.

The Billboard Magazine

The Billboard Magazine 1943

The Billboard Magazine Display Advertisement. Jan. 2, 1943, page 84

Will Alexander’s music “makes you want to dance”. Will Alexander and his orchestra; Lyle Sisk, trumpet, Tony Camarata, accordion, Jack Chapman, piano, June Price, vocals will get you on your feet!  Night clubs and other entertainment venues thrived as a necessary distraction during the war years.

Many musicians contributed to the war effort and Tony was no exception. He didn’t serve in the military but did his small part by entertaining the wounded soldiers recovering at Vaughan General Hospital in Hines, Illinois.

Tony Camarata Vaughan Hospital Entertainer

Certificate of Merit October 19, 1944. Vaughan General Hospital, Hines, IL Courtesy of author

Camaratas Entertain at “Chicago World’s Fair” 1933-34

Tony M. Camarata and his father Antonio both performed at the Chicago Worlds Fair 1933-34. Poster image courtesy of Chicago Historical Society

Poster image courtesy of Chicago Historical Society

Tony M. Camarata and his father Antonio both performed at the Chicago Worlds Fair 1933-34. The exposition was held in Chicago to celebrate the city’s centennial. The first fair. The World’s Columbian Exposition was held in 1893 to commemorate the arrival of Italian explorer Cristoforo Columbo four centuries earlier.

The 1933-34 Fair transcended the Great Depression and provided entertainment to millions of visitors. The fair (over 400 acres) was located along the coast of Lake Michigan, which in its vast size seems like the ocean. With the main theme being Science and Technology, social, industrial and cultural life was depicted in realistic reproductions of ethnic villages from far-off lands. Tony, in full costume, wearing a fez below, performs in the Oriental Village or perhaps, the Moroccan Village.

Tony M. Camarata performing on accordion at the Chicago World's Fair 1933-34

Tony M. Camarata performing on accordion at the Chicago World’s Fair 1933-34.

oriental village 1933

Oriental Village – 1933-34 World’s Fair. Vintage Postcard Image

Promotional fair postcard features Tony M. Camarata posing in front of the Adler Planetarium, a lakeside observatory, founded in 1930 in Chicago where the public can see planets, stars, and galaxies up-close and in person.

PLanetarium founded in 1930

Tony M. Camarata performs at the Century of Progress, Chicago World’s Fair 1933-34. Photo courtesy of Florette Camarata

Tony M. Camarata hanging out in the back row, hardly visible, cranes his neck to be in this photo below. Check out the fella with the cowboy hat sitting on the bar. Notation on back of photo says Will Rogers 1933. Maybe? Or perhaps hands are waiving at Will Rogers.

Tony M. Camarata in back row

Happy-go-lucky crowd the Chicago World’s Fair. 1933.

Antonio on Accordion

Antonio Camarata (back row), one of many performers in the Revue at The Manhattan Gardens. Chicago World’s Fair 1933.

Antonio Camarata on Accordion

Close up of Antonio Camarata, accordionist, in Ernie Young’s Revue. 1933.


“Passing Parade of 1933” Program and Sheet Music. Program courtesy of the author.

Probably, the most popular attraction at the fair was burlesque dancer Sally Rand. She was perceived to be naked while dancing with ostrich feathers covering her body, but was actually wearing a nude bodystocking. She was arrested four times in a single day during the fair for indecent exposure while dancing and while riding a white horse down the streets of Chicago. Imagine that!


Sally Rand, Provacative Fan Dancer

Anthony Camarata (b.1915-1963): Professional Musician – Beginnings

Anthony (Tony) Camarata, the only child of Antonio and Pauline was born April 11, 1915. Don’t get confused with his older cousin by the same name, Anthony Camarata, born April 1, 1911, also featured on this blog. Both grew up in musical households in the same apartment building on 22nd Place in Chicago, one in the upstairs flat, one downstairs. Following the musical path of their fathers, both played the accordion, became professional entertainers, and may have played at some of the same venues. This must have been confusing for the booking agents!

About 3 years old

Tony Camarata on a tricycle ride.  c. 1917 or 1918. Photo courtesy of P. Camarata Phillips.

About 1920 in Chicago

Young Tony with father in front of family car. Photo courtesy of P. Camarata Phillips.

Young Anthony with Accordion

Tony with accordion, in front of his parents. Photo courtesy of P. Camarata Phillips.

Antonio, a Sicilian catholic and Pauline were not particularly religious, I suspect, but they did have an association with Santa Maria Incoronata in Chicago. This is the same Catholic church where his brother Charles and Julia wed in 1910 and had their children baptized. No marriage certificate or wedding photo for Antonio & Pauline was ever found, only a license to marry, dated March 6, 1915, a little over 3 weeks after son, Anthony was born! Pauline, even though in a relationship with Antonio, was considered an unwed mother in those days and if the marriage was ever solemnized at the church, it would not have been performed in public with baby in tow, not in 1915! It would have been in a private room away from disapproving eyes or maybe they went to City Hall, but still, no document has been found to date. Baby Anthony was baptized at Santa Maria Incoronata as Anthoninum Cammerata (Latin) on June 19th,1915 with Uncle Charles and Aunt Julia as patrini, godparents.

Anthony Camarata Holy Communion

Anthony Camarata – Holy Communion 1922

Anthony's Cross

Anthony’s Cross, possibly from his Communion in 1922, a lifelong keepsake.

Tony tucked away his crucifix and picked up his accordion to play his first professional nightclub gig at Club Alabam in Chicago. Save the prayers for later, much later. No curfew for this 14 year old! The main theme of this decade was the Roaring 20s. The country was full of good times and rebellion with things like jazz, bootlegging (response to Prohibition), flappers, high spirits, and a strong economy, until 1929 when the stock market crashed.

“Club Alabam at 747 Rush Street had been a night club with roots back in the 1920s. Through Prohibition, World War II, into the mid-1960s, it had been a comfortable place to eat and drink for Chicagoans and visiting entertainers such as Jimmy Durante, Tony Curtis, William Bendix and Carol Channing. It was also a pleasantly shady place with a history of police raids for gambling and after-hours drinking.” (Patrick T. Reardon, Chicago Tribune)

747 Rush Street @ Chicago Street in Chicago, IL

Club Alabam (formerly at 747 Rush St., Chicago) in the wee hours. Photo courtesy of

Personalized Accordion "Anthony"

Tony Camarata Press Photo c. 1928. Photo by Theatrical Chicago. Photo courtesy of author, Florette Camarata.

Camarata Four Vaudeville with Henry Pietro (from Jim)post.

The Camarata Four: Young Tony Camarata, Pauline, Henry Pietro, Antonio Camarata. Photo courtesy of Paul Massoth estate.

Antonio Cammarata Family Vaudville 1928

L to R: Tony Camarata, Unknown banjo player, Unknown guitaris, Antonio Camarata in 1928. Photo courtesy of Paul Massoth estate

Young Tony with father Antonio

Anthony with father Antonio Camarata. c. 1928. Photo courtesy of P. Camarata Phillips

Camarata Four Theatrical Photo crop (from Jim)post

Camarata Four: Tony Camarata, Antonio Camarata, Pauline Camarata, Henry Pietro. Photo courtesy of Massoth estate>

Antonio & Tony White Suit

Tony and his Accordion

Teenage Tony with friends, joined by some fans in Chicago.

Camarata Four publicity postcard (1930-33)

Camarata Four publicity postcard (1930-33). Photo courtesy of Florette Camarata.

Tony’s musical career continues to develop throughout Prohibition, the Depression and beyond…