BIAGIO 'BENNY' ACQUARO was born in Philadelphia PA on March 22, 1906. Bruscamente (suddenly in Italian) 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 ail 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.

Passport Photograph - February 6, 1925


18 years of age

Left to Right:
Mary Acquaro Pizzollo,
Biagio 'Benny' Acquaro,
Teresa Acquaro Garaguso

Photograph taken
between 1939 and 1942

My father, Biagio Acquaro, had a self-owned business at 2713 Federal Street in East Camden, from the 1940's through the late 1960's. His establishment was called "Federal Hat Cleaning". My Dad would clean and block felt hats for people located all over the tri-county area. Even people from Philadelphia would come over and take advantage of his expertise.

I played varsity baseball for Woodrow Wilson HS back in 1952-1954 and what I recall most was my Dad cleaning and blocking the baseball caps of the teams from Camden High, Camden Catholic and of course Woodrow Wilson High School. The caps would be lined up so neatly on the shelves waiting for pickup. In those days the players had to turn their uniforms back in after the season was over. My Dad did the caps, but don't know where the uniforms were cleaned, probably Lynch's Cleaners.

-Joe Acquaro, September 1, 2004

Biagio 'Benny' Acquaro- Owner

Felt Hats Cleaned & Blocked
New Stetson/Knox Hats for Sale

2713 Federal Street, Camden N.J.

2713 Federal Street

late 1940s-late 1960s

Biagio 'Benny' Acquaro
with wife Frances (at right)
and daughter Anna
Photo from about 1959

  2314 Federal Street
2713 Federal Street

September 3, 2004

Thanks to Joe Acquaro for his help in creating this page.