BIAGIO ‘BENNY’ ACQUARO was born in Philadelphia PA on March 22, 1906. His mother Nunziata passed away at the age 45 when Benny was only two years old, on August 22, 1908. His father Giuseppe took him and his two sisters, Mary and Catherine, to Italy. All three worked the fields in the valley of Accettura.
Giuseppe soon remarried and raised a new family of six children. It was then that sisters Catherine and Mary returned to the USA. When Benny was 18 years old, his sisters (Teresa, Florence, Catherine and Mary) saved enough money to reserve ship voyage for his return to Philadelphia, on February 6th, 1925. Somehow Benny’s eventual Grand-Mother-in Law to be, Theresa Esposito, became his godmother.
Benny began work at the Stetson Hat Company in Philadelphia PA., where he gained invaluable experience for future business. He next worked for Sun Shoe Repair and Hat Cleaning, where he was in charge of cleaning and blocking felt hats.
After his marriage to Frances Petrella, he opened his own hat cleaning business, calling it Federal Hat Cleaning, at 2314 Federal Street in East Camden, just across the street from Shellows, a well known malt and soda shop, and the hangout for local ballplayers and sport loving kids. The business was located next door to Harry Spuhler’s bar, which was known as Spuhler’s Grill in those days. In later times it was known as the Apollo.
Benny, wife Frances, son Joseph, daughter Anna were then living at 2114 Berwick Street, home of the Berwick Bears, a great semipro football team of that era. In 1949, Benny Acquaro moved his business and family to his newly remodeled home and shop at 2713 Federal Street, which he had purchased from his wife’s aunt, Mary Loscalso and her husband Mike.
Benny was an avid sportsman, and loved to watch all Philadelphia sport teams, especially baseball’s great Joe Dimaggio, when the Yankees came to town to play the Philadelphia Athletics. After semi-retirement, Benny worked in Camden City Hall as an Maintenance Operator, up until his death in September, 1978, at the age of 72.
Benny’s son, Joe Acquaro, was one of the top scholastic and amateur baseball players in Camden and South Jersey in the 1950s. He was inducted into the South Jersey Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012.