The Bakery and Shoe Shop
For the Siracusano’s it was a family affair in the 33rd and California business district from
about 1912 to 1973. Both Mr. and Mrs. Joe Siracusano were born in Sicily but met and
married in Omaha. Joseph was a shoemaker by trade. Lucia was a baker, and in Sicily
she mixed her bread at home, baked it in the village ovens and sold it to the store. Joe
and Lucia never returned to their homeland believing that since they had made their
mark as Americans; America was the place to stay.
In Omaha, Joseph set up his shoe repair shop, Eagle Shoe Shop, at 3222 1/2 California
with an apartment in the rear for the family. There were five children: Carl, an artist; Al,
the barber; Sam and Jim, the bakers; and their sister, Virginia, who helped in the bakery.
Sam and Jim learned the baking trade at Technical High School and, together with their
mother, opened the bakery on the south side of California at 3225. It was called the
Nebraska Bakery. Sam and Jim would come to work at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning seven
days a week to make the day’s Vienna bread, their specialty; pan bread; sweet rolls;
cake; and more. Mrs. Siracusana ran the store in the front part of the building. Al studied
barbering at Tech High and had his own barbershop on 33rd street.
Meanwhile Joseph repaired shoes and custom-made shoes for special patrons. Business
was good, since nearly everyone at that time had to have his or her shoes repaired many
times. On the side, Joe invested in real estate, buying the Melrose apartments and other
duplexes in the area.
When World War II came, Sam and Jim went to war and Mrs. Siracusano kept the bakery
going by buying her baked goods from Ortman Baking Co. When the boys came home
from the war they expanded the bakery into the adjoining building and renamed the store,
“Master Pastry Shoppe.” They continued baking until early 1973 when they decided it
was time to quit and help their dad with his properties.
Mrs. Siracusano died in 1967 and Mr. Siracusano died in 1973. They had 17
grandchildren. Their legacy to the 33rd and California business district is their example of
hard, honest, and determined work. They started with nothing but determination, and
made a success of their lives and that of their family members.
Interview with James Siracusano, August 1995
|Gifford Park Neighborhood Association
P.O. Box 31462, Omaha, NE 68131-0462