Furnishing a Neighborhood
641 Morris Street
The neighborhood around Dan’s Furniture Store at 641 Morris Street provided Daniel Di Santo the foundation for his customer base. Its residents lived in redbrick row homes of 1256 square feet with a living room, dining room and kitchen on the first floor and three bedrooms and one bath on the second.
The 1940 US census lists most of its residents as owners with very few as renters. Most of the heads of households were married men. Those husbands and wives were born in Italy and had lived there since 1935. Their children were all born in Pennsylvania. They provided the labor force in the neighboring industries. There was a wide variety of occupations ranging from skilled craftsmen to machine operators. A few were listed as laborers.
The male heads of household were the main breadwinners. They had no more than an elementary school education. Some of the women worked as w:ell as the single children who were not in school. Yearly salaries ranged from about $350 to $1000. Everyone lived at home until they married.
Dan’s Furniture Store was in operation from the late 1940s until the early 1970s. According to custom, the name of a business was either the family name of the male owner or his first name. While the names of family run businesses were identified through the men, there were many skilled women who worked behind the scenes. In this case, much of the credit for the success of this operation is due to the skill and tenacity of Dan’s wife, Philomena DiBartolomeo DiSanto.
To read more about the history of the store and this partnership, read the full essays - The Running of a Family Business: Philomena and Dan and The Di Santo Family.