By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jan 31, 2005 at 5:04 AM

{image1}Milwaukee writer Martin Hintz, who has been the editor of The Irish American Post for many years, has dozens and dozens of books to his credit. The latest, "Italian Milwaukee," is published by Arcadia Publishing as part of its "Images of America" series of photo books focusing on specific cities and ethnic groups around the country.

Hintz's paperback, like others in the series, is heavy on photos and lighter on text, making it more a family album of the Third Ward and Brady Street Italian communities than a history of Italians in Milwaukee.

"It is a combo of history and family album," Hintz agrees. "Naturally, I could not include photos from every Italian family in the city. Yet it was fun to find old photos, for instance of a wedding; then find a 50th anniversary year picture of the same couple; and perhaps a current family photo -- tracing the evolution of a particular group of individuals within the broader community."

Although Hintz, who is active in the Irish and Scottish communities here, had no specific connection to the Italian American community, he says he did have a few inroads, which made amassing a selection of useful pictures a pretty easy task. And word of mouth among Italian families helped add to the pot.

"Friends referred me to friends, relatives to relatives," Hintz says. "Most people were very supportive. I was enjoined to eat a lot of pasta, and I can now talk with my hands, too. Although I had a number of friends in the Italian community who promised photos, I started talking with Mario A. Carini, president of the Italian Community Center (who wrote the introduction).

"He made some suggestions and loaned a few photos from his ICC collection. From there, I went out into the community, called a lot of people, visited homes, restaurants and businesses and looked at their offering. Many people helped out."

While you won't learn much about historical figures -- like Angelo Cerminara, a prominent lawyer who also served as Italian consul here, or newspaper editor Frank Fragale, interned during World War II -- or incidents -- like the Black Hand bombings in the Third Ward and the Bay View riot in 1917 -- Hintz's selection of photos focuses heavily on families, and there are many portraits and photos taken around the dinner table at holidays, again, mostly in the Third Ward and around Brady Street. (Italian enclaves in Bay View, at 9th and State and in West Allis are scarcely -- and in some cases not at all -- represented.)

{image2}Those family photos are what breathe life into the book.

"Arcadia Publishing's 'Images of America' series has a certain format: five-10 chapters, 200-250 photos, descriptive copy," he says. "So, I organized the book into what I felt would be interesting sections: immigration, family, neighborhoods and so on. So I looked for photos that would fit within those categories and tried not to have too many duplications. I also took a number of photos to round out a more contemporary look at the Milwaukee Italians."

Hintz hit the bulls eye in terms of fulfilling his goal for "Italian Milwaukee."

"I would hope that (readers) would see a vibrancy of spirit, love of family and friends and pride in heritage," he says.

Next up for Hintz? More "Images of America" books that will focus on ethnic Milwaukee.

"The Jewish community is next in line, with probably the Germans following. The publisher is eager to showcase all of what Milwaukee's rainbow of ethnic diversity has to offer."

"Italian Milwaukee" is available at most area bookshops.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.