Paul Dennis Sporer / Background /  A wide range of carefully selected biographical information, assembled from various authentic sources, for researchers and genealogists


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The photos in this section focus on my early life. This photo was taken of my parents, Charles and Barbara, in Rome, Italy after they had married there. The two men on the right seem to be discussing a camera, probably wanting to take a picture at this famous location themselves. My parents, who were both fluent in Italian, had their picture taken at other places around this historic and ancient city.






Another picture of my parents with their friends in Rome. My father is the tall one, my mother is second from right. The man between them is the priest who married them in St Peter's Basilica. There was a large community of Croatians living, working or travelling in Italy after the the Second World War. They developed connections with each other, and formed associations for their mutual benefit.






Here I am shown at three months old with my parents, in our first residence, the top floor of a house in Queens. This picture was obviously taken around Christmas, with the tree placed precariously on top of the television set. In our small apartment, there was also a large bookcase, since my father liked to read and do research. There is a large, rather impressive looking radio near the television set, which I do not remember ever seeing first-hand. My father, besides being a pilot, also worked as a radio operator during the Second World War.






Documents and photos concerning one's life are an important part of one's own personal history. After all, without this evidence, it is difficult to understand and maintain one's own unique identity. This is a copy of my baptismal certificate, showing I was baptised a Roman Catholic when I was 2 months old, at Sts Cyril and Methodius Church, a Croatian church that was located on 552 W 50th St in Manhattan. The church now known by the same name is on 502 W 41st, which became a Croatian church in the 1970s. The priest officiating at my baptism was Fr Romac, and my sponsors (godparents) were the Vitalichs. The certificate is stamped.







The rooms we had in Queens, like many other residences at this time, were rather small, and had no air conditioning, and in the stifling heat of New York City in the summer, we had to rely only on fans. When I was 5, we moved to an apartment house also in Queens, which was larger with better and cooler ventilation. I am five months old in this photograph. Years later, my wife would be designing clothing for infants and children, much more interesting than the simple outfit shown here.






This is a contact sheet of photographs taken of me when I was about 1 year old. Although my mother was hardly obsessed with celebrities, for some reason at that time she had the notion of possibly employing me as an actor in commercials. She had a professional photographer friend take a series of pictures of me and intended to use these photos to promote me. Using various devices, the photographer attempted to elicit a more buoyant mood, since I apparently looked bored with proceedings.






One of the photos from the photo shoot mentioned above. I looked very pensive and focussed. Evidently, no one thought that a pensive baby would be good for a part in a television commercial, and consequently, I never obtained any employment as an actor or model. If I had, my life would have taken a very different turn. Nonetheless, from early on, I had a fascination for drama and film. Although most people focus on the stars and the director, I always had more interest in the genuinely creative people behind the scenes, such as the art director, costume designer, cinematographer, etc. They actually had the most talent, and made the film medium into what it was, in the golden age.






I was about two years of age when this photo was taken. My mother is giving me some kind of instruction, or perhaps an intelligence test. Note the items on the table, including an apple, a book, thread, a peculiar small doll that is dressed up like a doctor. I am also wearing my authentic Croatian nationalist slippers. My mother was very involved in my early education and training; she, to her credit, tried to interest me in a wide variety of activities and pursuits.






When I was three years old, we took a trip to Niagara Falls (both on the American and Canadian sides); in this photo, the Falls are clearly seen in the background. We drove there from New York City, some 400 miles. We took a boat ride that got us very close to the falls, and that is why we are wearing raincoats provided to us by the crew. I visited Niagara Falls several times since then, and it has become far too commercialised.






This is again in Niagara Falls, where I am seen wearing a rather simple camera we took along, which at that time used bulbs for flash. My father also had a more professional German make camera. Behind me is the swirling mist of the famous waterfalls. Even then I was apparently interested in all things photographic. The complex challenge of capturing grand scenes on film spurred my interest in landscapes and nature.





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