Mary F. Moscato

[Age 88] She and her husband, John, established Baltimore's first television repair shop in the 1940s.

March 03, 2007|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,sun reporter

Mary F. Moscato, who with her husband established Baltimore's first TV repair shop in the 1940s, died Sunday of heart failure Sunday at Heritage Center Genesis Eldercare in Dundalk. The longtime Highlandtown resident was 88.

Mary Fratta was born and raised in Baltimore, the daughter of Italian immigrants, and attended what was then Patterson Park High School. She worked at McCormick & Co. before her 1936 marriage to John Moscato, her childhood sweetheart.

Mr. Moscato, who completed a correspondence course in radio repair while working at the Sparrows Point shipyard during World War II, began bringing home the radios of his fellow workers and fixing them.

After the war, he opened John's Radio Repair on South Highland Avenue, and one day in 1947 returned home from a wholesale electronics shop on Redwood Street with a kit for a television set. After a month or so of soldering and connecting wires and installing vacuum tubes, Mr. Moscato completed the kit.

Mrs. Moscato "told her father that a picture was going to come out of that box one day, and he said it wasn't possible. He died before my father finished it," said a son, John Moscato of Kingsville.

"But when it was finished, John and Mary Moscato unveiled Baltimore's first television set. They put it in the shop window and turned John's radio repair shop into John's radio and TV shop," according to a 1998 account in The Sun.

At the time, there were no television stations on the air in Baltimore, so the couple had to climb on top of their roof and turn the antenna toward Washington, where they could pick up the signal from WMAL-TV.

"Hundreds of people gathered in front of the store just to look at that 7-inch set," the son said.

"People were out in the middle of Highland Avenue watching. Even the buses would go real slow as they went by," Mrs. Moscato said in the article. "The crowds in front of the store were largest when the boxing matches were on. We had lots more fights then. I remember Joe Walcott. He was popular."

After her husband's death in 1974, Mrs. Moscato, who always handled the business side, continued its operation until retiring in 1999 and selling the shop to employees. It closed in 2002.

Her son said that the store was popular with set designers for Homicide: Life on the Street, who came to purchase vintage 1950s and 1960s TV and radio equipment from its basement inventory.

Mrs. Moscato liked traveling to Italy, and also visited London, Paris, Israel and Hawaii. She also collected Italian music.

Services were held Wednesday.

Also surviving are another son, Thomas Moscato of Fallston; a daughter, Mary C. Chaikin of Princeton, N.J.; two brothers, John Fratta of Edgemere and Lou Fratta of White Marsh; two sisters, Anna Bianchi of Highlandtown and Elizabeth Francioli of Randallstown; seven grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.

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