By Christina Del Vecchio Sizemore
My father, Charlie (Marcellino) Del Vecchio was born January 9, 1911 in Rome, New York. Both of his parents had emigrated from southern Italy (Campania) at the turn-of-the-century, so he was a first generation born Italian American.
Upon graduating from the Rome Free Academy, he worked for a short period for a photographic studio in Watertown, NY. Then, in 1930, he moved to Washington, DC to work for Harris & Ewing. At that time, Harris and Ewing was the largest photographic studio in DC and took the official portraits of Presidents and other officials from Roosevelt to Eisenhower. It was at Harris and Ewing that my father really learned his trade.
In 1934, my father married my mother- who was also a first generation born Italian American- at the Italian Church of Washington, Holy Rosary, which just this past year celebrated its first hundred years. In 1935, my started a new job with the Washington Post, where he remained for the next 43 years, garnering recognition and awards all along the way.
In 1961, he was elected President of the White House News Photographers Association, a recognition of which he was extremely proud. At the Association’s annual banquet, President John F. Kennedy joked about the fact that he was surrounded by Italians – not only was my dad Italian, but so too was his predecessor and the president-elect.
In 1968, my father had his first heart attack. Even though his health was not the best, he loved his job and would not retire from the Post, for another 10 years, in 1978.
When my father passed away in 1980, the Post published several editorials about him over two consecutive days – something not normally done for one of their employees. In one of these editorials, the following was said:
In the course of his years with the Post, he took photographs of just about every kind of event that occurs in the Washington area. He covered the White House, Capitol Hill, sports, civil disturbances, various crimes, including gambling in southern Maryland, the weather, sunrises and sunsets, beauty pageants and people from every walk of life.
My father was a great photographer and a very proud Italian American. In 2002, we donated more than 5,000 of his photographs to the Newseum in Washington, where they now reside for posterity.