S: LaManna Family History
BC: A Very Special Thank You to Mario LaManna Take a look into the past through the stories that Mario wrote and the photographs he gathered while researching and learning about our genealogy.
FC: LaManna Family History | "Those who fail to write about their ancestors lives. Deserve to be forgotten themselves."
1: Preface | This story is about my parents, Francesco and Annatonia. The saga began in Giolia del Colle. My father first started thinking about coming to the U.S.A. at the age of 18 years old in 1906. Frank worked as a piano refinisher for over 40 years. He lived in East Harlem for 23 years in a boarding house. At the age of 42 years he went to Bari to claim his wife, Annatonia. She was from a wealthy family who went to a nunnery for her education. Anna married my father even though her family, was against her marriage to a peasant. They had three boys together Mario, Joe and Jack. They loved each other for fifty years. ~ Mario LaManna This book is dedicated to: Francesco and Annatonia LaManna
2: Mario, Jack and Joe
3: Table of Contents | A Short History of Italy Italian History for the Past 125 Years The Italian Peasant Guiseppe LaManna & Anna Teresa Giove Giacomo Castellano & Maria Caterina Boscia Francesco LaManna & Annatonia Castellano In Search of Maria The Search for Giacomo Castellano Why They Left the Old Country Ship of Misery Hope for Ellis Island My Mother My Father Sadness for My Mother My Mother – The Competent Physician The Feast Harlem 318 East 112 Street The 3rd Avenue El Being on the Dole The Merchant of Venice The Iceman Cometh The Wine Cellar The Burial Society A Football Wedding The Bronx Royal Occupations for Dad's Sons The Refinisher Man The Funeral Religion Disapora The Greatest Love Mary Zemen The Bad Son Cornell Carpet Cleaners The Chicken Store The Movies The Boy Scouts The Stoop The Black Panthers The Parties The Dances The Gangster The Gangs The Wise Mother Losing My Mother The Awakening The Journey to Wisdom | 8 10 11 12 14 18 22 23 28 29 28 32 36 37 40 41 42 44 45 49 51 52 53 56 57 60 61 62 62 63 63 64 66 66 66 67 68 68 69 70 70 71 71 72 73 76 77
4: Castellano Family Trees
6: LaManna Family Trees
8: Southern Italy | In the eighth century BC, southern Italy was colonized by Spartan and Athenians Greek cities, who imparted their wonderful Greek culture to Southern Italy. It was known as (Magna Gracie) meaning Great Greece. Then in the year of 463 BC, Southern Italy became part of the Roman Empire. Then for more than one thousand years the south was under Roman rule. After the Romans the south was under Germanic barbarian rule for a short period of time. They were the ones who introduced Feudalism to Italy, than new rulers took over Southern Italy. They were the Byzantine who was the eastern Roman Empire, which was located in modern turkey. They had control of southern Italy for a couple of hundred years. In early 11th century, knights from Normandy drove the Muslims and Byzantine out of Southern Italy, to make it into the Kingdom of Naples and Sicily. By 1124 the two regions were completely unified. Bari was a very important shipping port to world at this time. In Bari and Gioia del Colle you will see many castles of the Norman’s. They were the Vikings from northern Europe who settled in northern France. The Norman Queen Constance, heiress of the two Sicilians, marries the German King Henry the Vl, whom Constance will poison fatally a few years later. So their son Frederick the ll would inherit the German land, Norman kingdom in France and the Kingdom of the two Sicily’s to make him an emperor. He was an emperor who spoke 6 languages. His court was filled with the most educated people of Europe. We will tell you of some of his accomplishments. He started a religious and military order called the Teutonic Knights in 1224 AD. He built the University of Naples, and many more centers of learning. He was born in 1194 and died of dysentery in 1250 AD. Charles D`Anjou a French nobleman, and a favorite of the Pope. He will soon have possession of the two Sicily’s. He and his heirs had possession of the 2 Sicily’s for 150 years. Now we come to an infamous part of Southern Italian history. This was when Spain was the absolute ruler for 350 years. It started with King Ferninand, who financed Columbus expedition in the 15th century.
9: The King sent his conquistadors and the so-called inquisition to Southern Italy to torture and humiliate the people. You will see many of the Spanish influence in architecture, mantillas and the title of Don which came from Spain. They were finally kicked out by Garibaldi in the year of 1848. Only the educated Italians saw him as a hero. The peasants refused to join his army because the priest told them they would be dammed in hell. The peasants have always belonged to the church, which kept them ignorant. After the Spanish in the early 1800`s are kicked out of Southern Italy by the French. Napoleons general Murat is proclaimed King of Southern Italy. In 1815, the Spanish drove out Murat. He came back, was captured by the Spaniard and was then executed within 5 days by firing squad. Thank you Garibaldi, Cavour, Mazzini, King Emanuel and Napoleon, for giving Italy liberty and justice.
10: Migration of the people of Troy, which is in Turkey led to the beginning of Italy. The republic began with the founding of Rome by Romulus and Remus. Rome began in 753 BC, in the mid 700 BC the Athenian and Spartan Greeks began colonization of Southern Italy and Sicily. The Italian Empire lasted for 1100 years. The Romans were great borrowers of great ideas and religions. Their talents lay not in the creation of ideas, but in organizing them, especially in the field of engineering and architecture. It started with a small village of mud huts. In five and a half centuries they became masters of the Mediterranean and of the known world at that time. It was accomplished by the combination of brains and backbone never equaled in the recorded history of the world. This was Rome with the best engineering, beauty of the arts, sculpture, literature and excellent administration of government. The Greeks controlled the lower part of Southern Italy. It was called Magna Grecian. That was also added to the Roman Empire. From the Emperor Augustus to the last Emperor Romulus, there were 48 emperors in total. They contributed to the grandeur of Rome. Is it a coincidence that the first and last ruler was called Romulus? The conquest of Rome was by German tribes. | Its Emperor was called Odoacer. They ruled for a very short time. After that, for 600 years Italy was in the dark ages. From 354 AD to 1036 AD Constantine the great split the Roman Empire in two. He created in Turkey the Byzantine Empire. It lasted from 312 AD to the middle of the 1400s. Even during the Middle Ages, 1154 AD to 1380 AD. The growth of cities such as Venice, Genoa and Florence led to world trade. In 1298 AD, Marco polo went to China. In 1348-49 the black plague wiped out half the population of the world. Italy created the renaissance, which lasted from 1379 AD to 1500 AD. It was Italy that gave the world the greatest art, music and literature. To this day any nation has never equaled it. In 1492 Columbus discovered America. In that period three great artists emerged. I am referring to Advance, Raphael and the great Michael Angelo. This happened during 1445 AD to 1564 AD Southern Italy and Sicily were taken over by Spain. The conquest lasted from 1283 AD to 1504 AD In 1036 AD the Normans conquered the area where my parents came from which is Southern Italy. The Norseman originally came from Sweden, Finland and Denmark. They conquered Northern France and became the Normans. Finally in 1796-1814 Napoleons Bonaparte unified Italy into one country. For the first time since the Roman Empire Italy was finally unified. They were well governed under Napoleons rule. | A Short History of Italy
11: Italian History for the Past 125 Years | Italy as we know it today existed for 125 years. As a country it’s younger than the U.S.A. Before 1796 it was made up of city-states. These states were under control of various invading empires of French, Turks, Germans Austrians and Spain. The states were culturally unique, spoke different languages and Italian dialects. There was no standardized form of record keeping. The Council of Trent formed by Pope Pius in 1564 required all priests to document all baptism, marriages and deaths. These records by the church had essential information that varied in different ways. Some were written in Latin, or Italian or dialects. During this period Italians greatest art, sculpture, music, science and opera were produced. It was during this period that Napoleon extended his control over most of Europe. The invasion of Italy was in 1796. He politically unified Italy and then proclaimed himself king. During his rule he centralized the administration, judicial and the civil code. Feudalism was virtually eliminated. Creation of new roads, allowing a new middle class to emerge. Napoleon introduced the maintenance of all records. Births, marriages and deaths were all recorded. We have Napoleon to thank for the consistency of Italy’s vital records. From 1815-1860 after the fall of Napoleon, Italy reverted to its city-states. During this time the northern states were ruled by Austria, the central by the papal state and Spain ruled the south. Secret organizations were formed to throw out these countries. The carbonating was formed to free Italy. From 1860-1870 King Emmanuel, the house of Savoy, a Northern Italian state and Sardinia ordered his prime minister to incite the Italians. The king wanted to make Italy a unified country, which he did my 1870. The newly united Italy reverted back to Napolenic ways of keeping records. Feudalism in the south was finally eliminated. Lands were divided among the peasants. The peasants cut down the huge forests, so they could farm. Due to the trees being cut down, topsoil was washed away, the soil became unproductive. Raising crops was difficult in this environment, if not impossible. With no trees it caused water to be polluted and breed mosquitoes, which caused malaria. Hundreds of thousands of people died because of malaria and other diseases. The Northern Italians benefited from unification. The Southern Italians were left frustrated and angry. These conditions made Italians immigrate to the Americas. In the 19th century society was divided into different classes. The aristocrats, who were land owners and royalty, who lived in the big cities. The middle class, lawyers, notaries and merchants, were refereed by titles of respect, Don (Sir) Signors (Mister) or Maestro (Master) the Contadina (Peasants) consisted of laborers and farmers which was the largest class. There was little interaction between the classes. By 1927, 9 million Italians out of a population of 35 million people left Italy to go to the New World. This is why my father Francesco left Italy. My father made great sacrifices to come here. Even though he was exploited, barely made a living, he loved this country. My father and his brother Donato never spoke about Italy. My father knew his children would be better off being in America.
12: The Italian Peasant | The sun was the light needed to work; it was the alarm clock for the peasants. There was short work days in winter, and long work days in summer. Sleeping on a wooden plank bed, covered with a mattress of dried cornstalks. The peasant would put on wooden shoes. Only the wealthy could afford leather shoes. First thing in the morning the animals were taken care of, chicken eggs were sold. Much too valuable to be eaten by the peasants. Water for drinking, cooking and washing was carried in from the central well. Breakfast was a chunk of bread or polenta. Men, who did not have land or jobs, would work as laborers. They would go to a place in town, where the landowners would pick the workers they needed. The work would include hauling stone, picking rice, grapes or clearing land. The children were expected to work even at the age of 5 or 6 years old. They would pick rice or grapes during the harvest. When it was too dark to work, the day was over. They would eat cabbage soup, boiled potatoes or pasta. No meat except maybe on Sundays or holidays. The piazza served as a place for families to socialize and walk. They would exchange news and gossip. In the winter the families would warm up in the barn with the animals. It was too expensive to use wood or coal for fuel. They would all sleep in the same room to keep warm. The next day everything would be repeated. The peasants had no goals or dreams. They just lived a day to day existence. He could never consider getting into a higher class to improve his life. Usually a house was one story. It was one room with no running water or drainage. The bathrooms were outside. It housed extended families sometimes with the animals. With all t this crowding there was no privacy. The unification of Italy made education available to everyone. Still the poor could not send their children to school. They were needed on the farm to work to support the family. The first son would inherit the land. Since the peasants were very poor, only the eldest son and daughter could hope to get married. The remaining children would not marry, resulting in many unwanted pregnancies and abandoned children. Most marriages were arranged while the children were still babies, to friends or neighbors. The fathers public role was to be the authority of the house. In reality the mother saw to it that her wishes and desires were carried out. They held a great role in catering to the men and caring of home and family. Religion played a major role. Peasants were not religious. They prayed, went to church out of fear, superstition and obligation. They loved the pageantry of religious ceremonies, the lives of saints, the feasts, parades and parties. They hoped a patron saint would protect the town and their harvest.
14: Customs of Southern Italy | Work and religion In Southern Italy the men were called contadini (peasant farmers) they were all Catholics, most men went to church only on major religious holidays, like Christmas, Easter, patron saints, baptisms, marriages and burials. The church represented the wealthy land owners and no comfort to the peasant class. There was Low Church attendance, they preferred to pray to saints and Madonna’s, because they felt these deities were more approachable than God. Family More than a dozen nations has invaded southern Italy. The peasants endured centuries of exploitation from wealthy landowners and foreign nations. The peasants distrusted outsiders, government and church. Only family and villagers were trusted. Most marriages were arranged with peasants of the same village. Ideal ages for marriage were 18 for women and 28 years old for men. Babies were born at home with the help of midwifes. Southern Italian women had a high death rate in pregnancy, because of frequent births, poor diet, medical care and unsanitary conditions. A large family was needed to work the land and produce income. Education To Italians education meant very little, they were raised to have values, attitudes and skills that benefited the whole family. By 1877 education for children age 6 to 9 years old, meant to peasants paying more taxes and destroying the unity of the family. Food This was very important in their daily life and celebrations. Food was bought to the table by the husband and prepared with love by the wife. The sharing of food to friends and family was an act of hospitality; it was an insult to refuse this act of friendship. Wine was considered food and was drank with every meal. The family was expected to eat together. Medical care for the peasant was nonexistent because it was too expensive. All Italian family’s used herbs and home remedies to take care of their ailments. Old age and death In Italy as parents aged their children would take care of them. The father was the head of the house until he died. A funeral mass took place only when the body was on view for 48 hours, in the home. Shades were closed, mirrors covered and clocks were stopped at the hour of death, of course when they were invented. The immediate family stayed with the body around the clock, always with plenty of food and wine. House and religion The house was small, consisting of one room, stone, brick or mud construction 1 story. No running water or drainage, it housed an extended family and sometimes animals and chickens, goats or other animals, with a lack of privacy and very crowded. Because there was no electric lights and total darkness people became very superstitious and religious. They were very fascinated by stories in the bible and the lives of saints.
15: Giuseppe and Anna Teresa had a long history of peasant life. Giuseppe was born in 1859 his wife I do not know. Peasant farmers rented their land from absentee landlords, had a one to three hour walk to get to the land, at day break and then again at night fall. The LaManna's could never rise socially or economically. As government got stronger, the peasants had to pay more taxes and fill military quotas. Peasants clung to old friends and family in their region. Surviving everyday was challenge for peasants like the LaManna's. Natural disasters like floods, droughts, earthquakes and flooding. The area had frequent outbreaks of disease, like smallpox, meningitis, typhoid, chorea and malaria. Because of deforestation when Italy won their independence in the 1860’s in the south. The land was distributed to the peasants and the cut down the tree’s to farm more land. Which caused erosion of the land, which caused flooding and no drainage which caused swamps in which mosquitoes bred. This caused the people to get malaria and other diseases. Malnutrition was another problem, where they did not know where the next meal was coming from. The diet consisted of rice, fava beans, bread, pasta and polenta, black barley bread. Lacking in many vitamins, they got a disease called pellagra. Many families lost children and wives to malnutrition and disease.in 1860’s when Italy became united, the north prospered, but the south sank even further into poverty. In 10 years after unification, peasants began to leave Italy in enormous numbers. By 1927 nine million Italians were living abroad while 35 million remained in Italy a one way ticket to America cost 35 dollars and took two weeks to complete the journey. The sun was the alarm clocks for the peasant to work in the fields, and when it became too dark they went home. Rising from a wooden plank bed covered with a matter stuffed with dried cornstalks, put on wooden shoes, only the wealthy wore leather shoes. First the animals were tended. The chicken eggs were gathered to be sold; they were too valuable for the peasants to eat. All animal droppings and human feces were stored to be used in the fields as fertilizer. The people went to the public well to get water, for drinking, cooking and washing. Also the women went to the well to gather gossip. At midmorning break from work, they would eat a chunk of bread or polenta with some wine. The men who did not have work, usually worked as day laborers for bosses who used them for hauling stone, picking rice or grapes. The wages were .20 cents a day for hard grueling work all day and into the night. The women would work in the fields or factory. Even the children worked as young as 5 years old. At lunch time peasants would eat a boiled potatoes, chunk of bread or weak soup made from onions and water. When it was too dark to work the day was over. The evening meal was cabbage soup, boiled potatoes, and pasta would be the main course. Meat was eaten only on Sunday or feast days. Even than the rice or pasta would have only a few strands of meat floating in it. Wine would also be consumed. In the evening the peasants walked through the streets to go to the center of town where they could socialize with the people in the town. When it was too cold, they would gather in the house or barn warmed by the bodies of animals and a single oil lamp. Wood or coal was used only for cooking. The women would knit, spin and gossip in one corner. The men would tell stories or gamble. Then it was timed to sleep. The next morning the peasant’s day was repeated. They had no goals or accomplishments to meet. They lived a day to day existence, with church on Sundays, when they had the day off and the next feast day. Class divided Italians, the largest were the contadini (peasants) consisting of farmers and laborers. Very little interaction with the property owners or businessmen. The peasants could never improve their position and move higher in life. After unification of Italy education was available to all children. But the peasants needed the children even at the age of 5 or 6 years old to work on the farm to help support the family. Which meant only the oldest son or daughter could marry. The other children remained unmarried, resulting in many unwanted children. | Life in the 18th & 19th Century
16: This is the story of my grandparents. My grandfathers name is Giuseppe LaManna born February 5, 1859 married September 13, 1884 died 1944 my grandmothers name is Anna Teresa Giove. They were born in the city of Bari in the town of Gioia del Colle. They had three boys and one daughter. The names are Francesco, Sergio, Donato and Maria. I will try to write their story in a historical and social manner. I will try to be as accurate as possible, I will presume a lot, because I am working with very little information. I would presume that Giuseppe was muscular, brown hair, brown eyes, straight hair, and about 5ft 2 inches tall. He would be very dark and wrinkled from working in the sun. He would have very callused hands and I would say he had few teeth in his mouth, from lack of medical care. We are talking about peasants, who are constantly trying to grow enough to feed their family. My grandmother Anna Teresa Giove is the daughter of a peasant, whose name is Sergio. He is a farmer who knows the LaManna family very well. The father is arranging to marry off Teresa to Giuseppe. Because the families agree, the wedding will be when both of them are of that age to marry. I will try to describe Anna Teresa she is about 5ft 2inches tall, brown frizzy hair, brown eyes, she is a strong, good-natured girl, who will give Giuseppe many children. This is not a love match, but because both families are happy about the arrangement, the children do not seem to mind. It takes Anna 4 years to give birth to the first son born May 1, 1884 and later more children. The midwife must be very capable, because in them days there was no hot water or light to see what she was doing. The joy it must have given Giuseppe, to see all the sons Teresa gave him so he could tame the land. | Giuseppe LaManna and Anna Teresa Giove | 2.5.1859-2.23.1944 | 1,.22.1856-11.15.1932 | Married September 13, 1884 | Francesco (1888-1972) | Donato (1892-1976) Vita Maria (1886-1918) | Sergio (1890-1943) Francesca Vita (1895-1910) | Children
18: I can also presume that he could read and write and that she could do neither. I would also think that they were very religious and superstitious. It did not help that they were born before unification of Italy. Before that the rich and the priests kept the peasants in their place. They could not afford to go to school or learn how to read. Their sons were born 25 years after unification to be able to start school at 6 or 9 years old so they could learn to read and write. My grandparents had a long history of peasant life. They lived from day to day; there was absolutely no chance for happiness in the future. The males were married at 28 years old, the female at the age of 18, before unification the farmers rented their land from absentee landlords. They had to walk 1 to 3 hours each way to get to the fields each morning, then in the evening walk back home. The house was usually a one room small house, made of stone, brick or mud construction. One story, no running water or electric lighting or clocks to tell time, you walked a distance to get to the well. Outside when it rained it was very muddy and breaded mosquitoes and flies. This small house had extended family such as grandmother and grandfathers. Also housed chickens, goats, sheep dogs or other animals. This caused lack of privacy and overcrowding. The peasants would go to the piazza to socialize and meet with their friends to gossip. The sun was the alarm clock for the peasants to work in the fields, when it got dark they went home. Rising from a wooden plank bed covered with a mattress stuffed with dried cornstalks. Then they would put on wooden shoes (only the wealthy wore leather shoes). First the animals were tended. Chicken eggs were gathered to be sold; they were too valuable for the peasants to eat. All animal and human dropping were stored to be used in the fields for fertilizer. The people went to the public well to get their water, for drinking, cooking and washing. The well also provided the women a place to gossip. In the morning the peasants would only have a chunk of bread. The men who did not have work, usually worked as day laborers for bosses who used them for hauling stone, picking rice or grapes. They worked from morning till night, earning .10 or .20 cents a day for hard grueling work all day into the night. The women would work in the fields or silk factory to bring income into their home. Even the children worked as young as 5 years old. Can you imagine Giuseppe’s face wrinkled and weather worn, from working in the hot sun and in the fields? A very tan and muscular body, that will soon be worn out with many years of grueling work. Francesco and Donato with 2 or 3 years of schooling can read and write. Of 4 children there is only one who has the imagination to dream about going to America. His name is Francesco. He makes it his business to talk to anyone who went to America and to read about this wonderful land. After working in the fields with his father and seeing how hopeless his life would eventually become, it would be many sleepless nights when he plans to go to America. He would eventually bring his brother Donato and Maria to America.
19: Seeing his mother and father working themselves to death, for mere pennies a day to survive with no hope at all. It would take Francesco from his youngest years to age 18 to go to America. It cost $35.00 to go one way, so if the average peasant was paid .20 cent a day or less. Where on earth did my father get the money to go to America? What traumatic thing happened to little Francesco, to leave his beloved family? I can only project what might have happened, his beloved mother dying. And maybe his father took another wife. I think something like that would have forced him to pursue his destiny. Let me continue with more of the story of the LaManna`s. When it was too dark to work, Giuseppe and sons came home to eat what Anna Teresa cooked. The meal was cabbage soup, boiled potatoes and of course pasta would be the main course. Meat was eaten only on Sunday or feast days. The rice or pasta soup would have a few strands of meat floating in it. Wine would also be consumed. In the house the animals and a single oil lamp would provide heat for the entire family. Wood and coal would only be used for cooking. Then it was time to go to sleep. The next morning Giuseppe would wake up his sons to work in the fields. The LaManna’s had no goals or accomplishments to meet. They lived from day to day existence with church on Sunday, when they had a day off. Little Francesco had big dreams; as he was growing up. The family could never imagine what he would do, what centuries of drudgery by the LaManna’s and Gioves could never do. Francesco at the age of 18 years old went to America. He went back to Italy to marry Annantonia who was at a higher social class than my father, educate three sons to realize the American dream was. So we would not go through life in a hopeless haze. Surviving every day was a challenge for the LaManna’s. Natural disasters like drought, floods and earthquakes. Also disease like smallpox, meningitis, typhoid, chorea and malaria. After unification in the 1860`s the land was distributed among the peasants. Because the south had big forests, the peasants cut down the tree`s to grow crops. With no tree`s the good soil was washed away. Than the water had no drainage because of the lack of tree`s. The water would pool up and form swamps. In which mosquitoes breed and caused malaria. Malnutrition was another problem; the diet consisted of rice, fava beans, bread, pasta and polenta. Lacking in many vitamins they got a disease called pellagra. Many families lost children and wives to malnutrition. As far as I know I do not think the LaManna’s lost any children, probably shortened Teresa life span. It’s amazing that 10 years after unification, peasants began to leave Italy in the millions. By 1927 nine million Italians were living abroad. While 35 million stayed in Italy. My father Francesco was one of those emigrants, he left in 1906 at the age of 18 years old. Later bought my Uncle Dan and my Aunt Maria over in 1913.
20: Giacamo Castellano 5/1872 - 2/24/1963 and Maria Caterina Boscia | Married February 6, 1894 | Maria was a widow with 4 children: Filomena, Onofrio, Graziella and Peppino. Together Giacamo and Maria had 6 children: Annantonia, Giovanna, Sabastiano, Antonio, Donato, Francesco
21: Giacomo was 5ft 6 inches tall muscular, grey hair and eyes and wore a very heavy mustache. He was a landowner and business man. The name of his father was Antonio Castellano di Francesco. His mothers name was Anna Boscia di Libortina. Maria was a very thin woman black eyes and hair with dark complexion, and very thin. Giacomo came to America on May 9, 1921 on the Ship Patria at the age of 48 years old his son Donato (Tutucci) came with his father at the age of 16 years old was 5ft 3 inches, grey eyes, brown hair and fair skin. They both had 20 or 30 dollars on them. The address they went to was 321 East 112 Street in Harlem.
22: It all started when I was in Connecticut with my brother Joseph. He wanted to find out about our family history. Well this started me on the journey into Genealogy. It showed me how little I knew about my fathers or mothers family. The journey starts with a single step, knowing only my uncle Dan's name was Donato. Through hard work and investigation I found out the names of all the grandmothers and grandfather names, and all their sons and daughters names. I am trying to piece together their lives, through the use of documentation, such as Birth, Marriage and Death Certificates. I know my father left Italy at the age of eighteen. How he got the money to come here will always be a deep dark secret. What I find out, when his mother died, I will know that there is nothing left for him in Italy, but hard work and much unhappiness. He was also determined to bring to America, his brother and sister Maria. I never knew that Maria existed. When I was checking out the ship manifest for my uncle Dan. low and behold I seen a girl called Maria LaManna, under my uncles name. And she was 20 years old and came from the same town as my uncle. I knew I would never stop until I knew every single detail about Maria. I finally got the ship manifest for Maria. She came to America in February 4, 1914, on ship called the SS Adriatic sailing from Naples. On board ship were two brothers from her town called Cuscito and Paolo. According to the ship manifest, she was a girl of 20 years old. She had $23 dollars, good mental health and physical health. Maria was 5 ft 3 inches, brown frizzy hair. I talked to my Aunt Enza she told me Maria is buried in Italy. She probably died from the Spanish influenza, which killed millions of people in 1918. The search for Maria will be a rewarding adventure. | In Search of Maria | SS Adriatic
23: There is little that we know about my mother's father. I will tell his story with the help of my mother's letters from her sisters and brothers, and of course her father wrote to her. He wrote to her from the day she reached America to the day he died. The letters of Gianna Mola from 1943 to 1968 has given me a lot of information about the Castellano's. I can hardly wait to translate grandpa's letters. The pictures of grandpa and grandma will give me more information on how they looked. I will try to make an accurate story of the family. Giacomo was the patriarch of the Castellano family. We know he was married to a fine Italian woman called Maria Boscia. They had 10 children 4 girls 6 boys. He was born 1872 died January 24, 1963 at the age of 92 years old. There is no information about Maria Boscia. From her photograph she was a strong thin woman, with black hair parted in the middle. With black hair and eyes, strong nose, thin lips, dark complexion, strong chin. Who seemed to me to be very serious and sad. She was completely devoted to her husband and children. If you compare my mother's picture and her mothers, they bore many of the same facial characteristics. It seems most of the children looked like the mother and not like Giacomo. Let us try to describe Giacomo, 5ft 6 inches tall 150 lbs dark eyes, grayish hair muscular man, strong nose and large mustache. He owned land and was in some kind of business. In the class system of Italy, he was one of the elite in his town, which put him far above the peasant class. We know in 1921 he fled Italy with his son Donato on the Ship Patria to go to America. His son was 16 years old; he was 5ft 3inches tall fair skin, brown hair grey eyes. They had $20 or $30 dollars each. The address they went to was 321 East 112 St in Harlem. My father Francesco helped get a place to work, place to stay and generally helped him to know his way around New York. They stayed in America for a couple of years, my father advised his friend Giacomo to go back to Italy, we will not discuss the reason why. In 1929 my father went to see his friend Giacomo, to ask for the hand of his daughter Annatonia in marriage. Because my father was marrying above his class, my mother who married my father in 1929 did not hear from her brothers and sisters until 1943, because they all opposed the marriage. My mother was the one who wrote first because she was worried about her family because of the war. Giacomo gave his approval for the marriage. From this Annatonia had three sons, and for 50 years they were happy together in spite of everything. | The Search for Giacomo Castellano
24: Grandfather Giacomo
25: Pop and Uncle Dan
26: Francesco LaManna and Annatonia Castellano | 5-.1..1988 - 10.19.1972 | 11.1.1894 - 6.5.1968 | Married 1929 | Joseph (1930), Jack (1931) and Mario (1936) | Children
28: Why They Left the Old Country | For Francesco and Annantonia it gave their children the opportunity, none of them would have in the old country. Their lives would have remained unchanged. Italy is divided into 20 regions, as the United States is divided into states. Each region is divided into provinces they are made up of cities and towns. My parents came from the region of (Apulia) Pulia Province of Bari Town of Gioia Del Colle. This is the way children are named in Italy: First Male Named after Paternal Grandfather | Second Male Named after Maternal Grandfather | First Female Named after Paternal Grandmother | Second Female is named after Maternal Grandmother Subsequent children named after parents, favorite aunt, uncle or saint. You will find many of the family with the same first name. Italy during the nineteenth century was divided by class. The Aristocrats, the smallest class consisted of land Barons. Titled families they lived in the big cities. A emerging middle class of educated ( Lawyers, Notaries and Merchants) referred by title of respect Don (Sir Maestro (Master or Teacher)The largest class Peasants ( Laborers, Farmers) A member of the lower class go never go any higher in life. That is one of the reasons many Italians left Italy. Now let us discus a little more deeply, why they really left their country. Serfdom was the life of the peasant for hundreds of years. It was impossible for a peasant or their children or their children's children. Many peasants rented land from absentee landlords. To get to the fields it was one to three hours to walk to the fields each morning and back each evening from their homes. Every day was a challenge, along with flooding, earthquakes, droughts and disease such as smallpox, meningitis, typhoid, chlorea and malaria. Malnutrition was the worse problem for peasants. They rarely ate meat, or eggs, diet consisted of rice, fava beans, bread, pasta and of course polenta ( corn meal). In the region of Bari they ate black barley bread. An unbalanced diet lacking in vitamins, high in complex carbohydrates and low in protein. This caused a disease called Pellagra. The symptoms are scarlet lips, tongue, skin lesions, stomach dissention and discomfort. Malnutrition caused women to lose their children and they lost their lives in childbirth. Death and disease was a frequent part of a peasants life. The death of a child caused parents extreme grief. Perpetuation of La Familia was of great importance, even when a child died, the next baby would get the same name. Because of Napoleon by 1806 most European peasants were freed from feudal control. But still few opportunities’ to rise socially or economically. The question was not contentment but survival, not self fulfillment but family obligations, nor advancement but stability. Italy was undergoing great political changes, which forced people this emigrate. Before 1860 Italy was divided into eighth separate states. With all but one ruled by foreign governments. With the unification of Italy in the 1860"s the central and northern parts prospered. The southern parts of Italy sunk further into poverty. After unification peasants began this leave Italy in great numbers. | Mercato coperto - Mon. ai Caduti | Corso Vittorio Emanuele
29: The trip to America took 15 days, what a horrible experience it must have been for newlywed Francesco and Annatonia LaManna. The experience on ship offended every sense of the body. Only the wind from the sea, swept away the sickening odors. The vile language of men, the sceams of women defending themselves, the crying of children. Everything was dirty, sticky and ugly to the touch. Worse was the air of immortality. There was a mingling of men and women who were total strangers. These people were all Italians, but with different accents and customs which separated them. When the seas were rough, the decks would reek of vomit and revolting smells. The immigrants spent day and night in their berths. The hatches were closed at night, they listened to the moans and groans of the people sick with sea sickness. The stink of unwashed bodies and vomit. They also endured rats, roaches and lice. When anyone died on board ship, the result was burial at sea. When the weather was good, they were allowed to walk along the deck. These poor immigrants provided their own entertainment, playing their own instruments, singing and dancing., to relieve the monotony. . The voyage ended in two weeks of poor conditions. The ship headed for the port of New York. Can you imagine how the immigrant’s hearts filled with joy and awe when they saw the Statue of Liberty? It was given to us by the French on Oct. 28, 1886. It was designed by Federic Auguste Bartholdi (1834-1904) It weighed 450,000 pounds. Its height from base to torch is 151 feet. Heel to top of head is 111 feet. A doctor boarded and checked everyone for contagious diseases and illnesses. If there was none the ship was allowed to come into port. The 3rd class passengers were loaded into barges, and taken to Ellis Island. The barges were over crowed, contained few toilets, and had to wait hours to disembark. I wonder what Francesco and his refined wife were thinking. He was a hardworking man, who married above his class. They were both strong people who survived the voyage. And who would soon make a family and a new life in America. My father and mother would never go back to Italy. That to me was a terrible misfortune, especially for my mother who missed her family in Italy very much. Because of my parents many sacrifices their children had a much better chance of success in America. | Ship of Misery | Hope for Ellis Island | Ellis Island opened December 31, 1890 and closed its doors on 1995. The hope of Ellis Island was you would stay in America and not be deported back to Italy. I will try to explain the Ellis Island procedure step by step. As they landed from the barge, they were tagged with a number that matched the passenger list. They were led to the main building where the baggage was inspected. Led up a stairway, where inspectors were placed to watch for obvious signs of disease, heart, lung, mental problems, dark clothing on them was marked by chalk. The letter x was mental, h for heart l for lungs etc. The doctor checked the health records from the ship records, hand it back to the immigrant, who would look to see what was written on it, which told the doctor if they had eye problems. The eye exam was a painful ordeal. There was a chalk mark for every disease. The marked persons were taken out of line and given a more thorough exam. The clerks were dressed in military clothes. It frightened many of the immigrants, because some had left to avoid military service in Italy. Clerks armed with the ship manifest would ask the same questions and compare the answers, if the immigrant answered wrong, they could be detained and deported. Two of the most troubling questions were, do you have a job waiting and who paid for your passage. One way Italians had their fare paid, was by a Patrone, who expected immigrants to work off their debts, and pay it off with high interest. If there was no job, the immigrant had to convince the clerk that he would not become a public charge. For the women who were single or married, it was a difficult thing to go to the Naples Port because many of the women have never been beyond their villages. Arrivals were never told about the results of their exams, to discourage white slavery or prostitution. When a single man was claiming to be the fiancé of a single woman, a wedding would take place on Ellis Island, before she would be allowed to leave with him. That ensured that he was really her husband to be. Inspectors were also told to detain idiots, epileptics, feeble minded, senile or insane. They looked for overly talkative, smart alecks, niftiness, boisterousness, intoxication, confusion, aimlessness, excessive friendliness. About one thousand a month were deported as being diseased or to be a public charge was immediate cause to be deported. Going home meant disgrace, they had sold all their possessions to pay for the fare. We could only wonder how hard it was for our parents to come to this great country.
31: Certificates of Naturalization
32: My mother was born November 1, 1894; she died June 5, 1968 at the age of 71 years old. Her father's name was Giacomo Castellano and her mother's name was Marie Caterina Boscia. Her father was a well to do gentleman farmer. Her mother was a widow with four children named Graziella, Peppino, Filomena, and Onofrio. When she married Giacomo she had a additional six children called Annantonia, Giovanna, Antonio, Sebastiano, Donato and Francesco. My mother Annantonia was educated in a convent for a couple of years, where she learned to read and write. Her sister wrote in a letter to her sister, to remind her of the time when she was in the convent and played the lead role of Joan of Arch. Since she was the oldest sister she kept the younger children disciplined. My mother was going to marry a soldier, but he died during the First World War. My Mother and her brothers and sisters lived in a big house in Gioia Del Colle. They had servants; my mother never learned to cook because the servants did the housework. My mother's father Giacomo and his son Donato came to America in 1921, because of social upheavals in southern Italy. When Giacomo and his son Donato came to America, my father helped them to get a place to live and to work. So in 1929 when my father went to Italy, his friend Giacomo had many daughters. He asked his friend Giacomo for the hand of his oldest daughter who was 36 years old and he was 42 years old. Her brothers and sisters became very angry with their sister for marrying a peasant, none of her sisters and brothers wrote to her until 1943, during the Second World War. My mother sent her siblings care packages, which she could not afford, so they could survive the war. For their honeymoon they traveled all over Italy on their bicycles. My father bought my mother to east Harlem on 112 St. My mother rebelled and threatened to go back to Italy. My father relented and they moved to a private house on 509 East 185 St close to the Third Avenue E. Annantonia had made a hard decision to leave Italy and never see any of her family for the rest of her life.
33: A great event happened in 1930 a son whom they called Guiseppe was born. Soon my mother gave her husband 2 other sons called Giacomo named after her father and Mario named after my father's sister Maria. We will never know how my father and mother barely managed to support themselves and 3 sons during the worst depression this country ever had. They lived in a wooden 2 family house with a wood burning stove and no bathtub. To help out during the depression, they took in a woman probably with a small pension to help with expenses. Even with all these problems my parents were very happy with each other till the day they died.
36: It is amazing that we know nothing about my fathers, mother or father. He talked very little about them. There are no descriptions or pictures of them. It seemed his parents had never existed. We do not know if my father’s childhood was happy. If my father’s mother was ill treated by her husband, so she died an early death. We do know my father worked in the fields for barely any money. As the eldest son he would have inherited the land, and struggle to grow food just to live. Something traumatic happened to force my father to immigrate to America. When he came to America in 1906 at the age of 18 he was determined to bring his younger brother Donato and his sister Maria to America. It took him more than seven years to save up the money to bring them here; they came here in 1913 and 1914. When his father and brother Sergio died in the 1940's, we know he gave one of his cousins the land he owned to cultivate. And 30 years later my mother’s brother Tutucci sold that land for 320 dollars. Which we needed badly at the time. I can imagine how disgruntled his cousins were at us taking away this land from them, after thirty years of free use of it. My father tried his best to teach his sons, how to survive in America. But it was hard for him, because he had very little education. He knew the city very well, knew how to bargain with the merchants. He thought he was giving me the correct information to survive. He told me just to make enough money to buy a little food and bread to live. This was very bad advice to give anyone in this country. You have to have a good education and drive to make a lot more money than to survive. It was not until I was thirty years old to realize that my father’s loving advice was completely wrong. I remember when my father would come home from work. My mother would take out the needle and sterilize it. So she could take out large splinters of wood out of his hands. They had a tremendous love for one another, that they expressed to one another with certain looks and words that amaze me to this very day. My father worked 6 days a week for Schloss Brothers, never making more than 50 dollars a week for his labor. He thought he was doing very well. Can you imagine a foreman, craftsman in his field making 50 dollars or less a week? Can you imagine how much his boss was making from the sweat of my father? He fought in the First World War, under Pershing. The battles were Aisne-Marne, Aise-Aisne, Meuse-Argonne, and the Defensive Sector. | My Father
37: Sadness for my Mother | When I was about 10 years old, my mother received a letter from Italy. Suddenly my mother cried with such sorrow it broke my heart; I have never seen her cry. Being a child of 5 years old, I did not know how to give her comfort. It must have been a terrible shock to her to find out that her elder brother Antonio had died at sea. He was a naval officer in the Second World War. I have pictures of him in his navel uniform. He had dark eyes, black hair with a part down the middle, he was very handsome. During the Korean War, my brothers Joe and Jack were drafted into the army. Joe was the lucky one to be stationed in Japan. Jack wanted to be with his friends, so he went to Korea. My mother sent her sons care packages with spaghetti, cheeses and other Italian specialties. She prayed for Jack, worried that he would die in the Korean War like her brother Antonio died in the Second World War. She constantly worried about Jack. He used to send her allotment checks. My mother was so grateful to get her son back alive. That she saved those checks, so she could give them to Jack when he left the army. Jack used those checks to get a car. She never wanted money from her precious sons, only that they would be safe and happy and married to good women. It was a sorrow for my mother that her two sons made bad marriages. My mother asked me to watch the two wives, and try to help her with the situation. The result was two divorces. But out of this she got grandchildren AnnMarie, Lynda and Joann. My mother worried about her youngest son, who might have given her the greatest sorrow of all. He had no ambitions or purpose in life. So she had no idea if he would end up in a very sorry condition. My mother also wanted to adopt a little girl from the church. But because of my parents age, and because they had 3 sons the church turned her down. That was another disappointment in her life. I hope where ever her spirit is, that she now has peace.
38: Donato (Tutucci) Castellano and his wife Maria Martinelli | They had two children, Anna Marie and Pier Giorgio
39: Peppino Castellano, married Isabella in Argentina | 1968 with Tutucci and his son Pier
40: My Mother The Competent Physician | My mother took care of three sons and a husband. She was better than any doctor I have ever known. Our family couldn't afford to throw away money on doctors. She had knowledge of herbs to take care of an upset stomach, fevers, constipation and earaches. For instance my brother, Jack had a severe pain in his ear, it was infected. My mother knew what to do for it. She warmed up olive oil, dipped in cotton and put it into his ear. It was an instant cure, the pain went away. My friend, Jim next door had an infected ear. A doctor performed minor surgery, drained his ear plus gave him six stitches. He should have gone to mom. The only mistake I’ve known my mother to make was when I was little. I had dislocated a bone in my left wrist. It was protruding. She bought me to a doctor who turned out to be a quack. He had lots of books in his library. He took a quick look at my wrist and then went to his bookcase. He selected a thick book, gave me a sadistic smile. This quack then raised the book in the air and gave me two quick whacks. For this he charged her ten dollars. No cure just pain. My mother still had to take me to the hospital to have my wrist properly attained to. I need an operation to fix it. I ended up with three stitches that I still can see today. My father working as a furniture refinisher would come home from his job with splinters in his hand. My mother, the healer would sterilize a needle and then proceed to lovingly take the splinters out of his hands. For medical care my mother was the best. She was a better doctor than any I’ve known. My mother had many, many talents. Healing was just one of those.
41: My mother was a hardworking housewife, she had many skills. She came from a well to do family. My mother went to a convent for 5 or 6 years. They had servants to do all the cleaning and cooking. My mother had no knowledge of how to cook and clean house when she came to America. She would go to Arthur Avenue, an Italian area in the Bronx which was known as Little Italy. Mom would talk to the Jewish and Italian merchants. They would tell her how to cook good Italian meals. Eventually with all this great advice and guidance she became a fantastic cook. This also led her to learning how to making food preserves and the making of her own sauce and tomatoes. Mom would grind up the whole tomatoes into sauce and put them into jars. The jars had to be wrapped into newspapers, placed into a huge vat and boiled. After they were taken out and cooled off. The jars were then put into a hall closet. Enough tomato sauce was made to last a whole year. During the holidays my mother and Aunt Angelina would make all kinds of cookies and cakes. My mother also made the most fantastic pizzas and calzones. I can still remember and taste it to this day. We ate and drank like kings. Mom also knew how to make anisette and some other hard liquor. Her love for family was shown by serving us the most extraordinary meals. My brother Joe, a very thin guy had an appetite you wouldn't believe. Like a hungry wolf he would devourer everything in sight. Hasn't changed very much in all these years. My father insisted everyone came to the table on time. Silence was observed at the dinner table as my mom lovingly served us. My mother treated her husband like a king. She protected him and her sons to the best of her ability. My father worked very hard at his job. My mother worked hard cooking, embroidering, sewing and keeping up with all the other necessary chores. With all this she still managed to write to her father, her brothers and sisters in Italy. | The Feast
42: Harlem 318 East 112 Street | My father came to this country in July 14, 1906 at 18 years of age. The name of the ship was called the Prinz Oscar. My father loved this country so much. He was naturalized in August 30, 1917. He was inducted in the army on July 5, 1918, discharged December 23, 1918 in this short time he fought in France on the Eastern Front. The battle engagements were Aisne-Marne, Oise-Aisne, Meuse Argonne in the Defensive Sector. This sector was one of the bloodiest battles of the war. My father went to live in Harlem on 318 East 112th Street. At the time Harlem was overcrowded, dirty and poor. The Italians of Bari, who came to this country, lived in rooming houses on 112th Street. These places provided room and meals when they came home from their jobs. The occupations of Barese men were in delivery of ice and coal, refinishers, laborers, barbers and any low paying job they could get. They built their own churches, because the Irish would not let them worship in them. My father went to Mount Carmel Church in Harlem. The Italians in those days helped each other to get job, shelter, and other things new immigrants may need. My father worked 6 days a week at low wages. He brought my uncle Dan and his sister Maria to this country. My father also got my uncle a vendor’s license to sell ice and coal. Because my father was a veteran he was able to get his brother a license. In 1929 my father went to Italy to get a bride. He bought my mother to Harlem to live, but she rebelled and threatened to go back to Italy. So my father bought my mother to the Bronx where it was less crowded. | Where My Father Lived | Church my Father attended | Home that Joe, Jack & Mario were born
43: Prinz Oscar | Italian Harlem | Mount Carmel Church
44: The 3rd Ave El | We lived on 509 East 185th Street on the first floor of a two family house. We had this gigantic structure called the 3rd Avenue El it ran from 241 St. to Whitehall St. in Manhattan. It cost five cents to ride this train. When I was very young I decided I would see where this train would bring me. To me was like seeing a brand new universe, it was an exciting ride. When we played stick ball on our street, we not only wanted to hit a home run but to hit the ball over the El. The El was a grimy, noisy structure that blocked the sun from going into peoples apartments. It was a very noisy when the trains were running. It was 20 or 30 feet high from the streets. My greatest ambition in life was to live as far away from any type of train. And this is the way it was.
45: Being on the Dole | That's an English expression, meaning the English government would give welfare to the poor. During the depression, my mother and father had pride; they would not go on welfare even if they were starving. My father always found a way to work during those terrible times. He had two sons and another on the way. My mother was always able to stretch the little money my father bought home. Our next door neighbors the Kearns, were a large family of twelve, can you imagine being in that four-room apartment? They were always on welfare, when the father was not working. Both Frank and Hazel were also heavy drinkers. When I would go into their house, you could smell poverty. I remember when my mother showed me a newspaper clipping, on how our next door neighbor cheated the government on welfare. My mother had strong ethics on right and wrong. Of course being young, how could I frown on my neighbors misfortune?
46: Joe had a son and daughter with Lee Fiorente Jason and Joann | Joe
47: Jack | Jack had 2 daughters with Gloria Greene AnnMarie and Lynda Gail
48: with my parents and brother | with Mom and Pop while I was in boot camp | with my brother Jack | Mario | Mario had two daughters with Linda Copella Diane and Doreen
49: Everybody knows the story by Shakespeare, where the merchant wants a pound of flesh from the hero in that story. That is the way I feel about the people who employed my father. He came to this country in 1906, got a job in a piano refinishing plant called Schlossman Piano Refinisher. The plant was located on the East River on 149 St. My father was a foreman to refinish pianos and furniture. He worked 6 days a week; his wages were fifty dollars a week or less. He was paid substandard wages for his working life in this country. He knew 4 or 5 languages. My brother Joe tells the story of my father bargaining his boss for an old suit of clothing and getting it for a lower price. My father never got the better of the deal. His boss was screwing him royally on his wages for most of his working career. So his family was deprived of the better things of life by a boss who I consider to be as bad as the Merchant of Venice was. I found out how much my father made when he retired. It was enough to make me very bitter. My father told me to make enough money only to buy some bread. I believed this misinformation until the age of 30 years old. Maybe it is better that I did not know the family finances, at the time I might of taken measures to eventually end up in jail. My mother wanted to work to help with the expenses in the family, but my father prevented her from working. She knew what the situation was; my father did not have a clue how badly off we were. He went by Old Italian Customs that the wife should not work. She went to the Salvation Army to buy clothes for her and the children. She stretched the little bit of money that my father bought home. Mom was always afraid of figura or in English being embarrassed to not be able to pay the bills. In my dumb mind I thought everything was all right. I have no idea what were in my older brothers minds to see that their mother was in dire straits. My mothers marriage ring was not even gold, in the nick there was a green mark. It took the writing of this family history to really see the truth of the way things were. | The Merchant of Venice
50: Cicillo Castellano moved to Argentina | Antonio brother of Anna LaManna
51: The Iceman Cometh | During the early part of the twentieth century. There were no refrigerators or gas ovens. People had to use iceboxes to help keep their food from being spoiled. And people used coal stoves to cook their food. To supply this need for ice for iceboxes and coal for coal stoves. The immigrants from Bari filled these needs. My father got my Uncle Dan a job as a refinisher on his job. Uncle Dan did not like this job. So when my father finished his tour of duty in the army, veterans were permitted to have vendor licenses to sell whatever they wanted to sell. So one way or another my father got his vendors license in his brother’s name. Uncle Dan ran his business from a cellar on 509 East 185 Street the rent was five dollars a month. I do not know if my uncle had a horse and wagon or a truck in 1931. He would go early in the morning to get ice from the ice plant near Arthur Avenue. Than he would go to the customers to sell his ice. He would sell the ice for ten cent, fifteen cent and twenty cents blocks of ice. They would go to the customer to find out how much ice they needed, then proceed to carry it up the stairs. A lot of his customers lived in buildings 4 0r 6 stories high. Can you imagine putting a burlap bag on top of a shoulder and a block of heavy ice on top of that? And carrying the ice up 5 or 6 flights of stairs. The ice would last his customers 3 or 4 days. So my Uncle Dan a pretty good business going once he was established. My brother Joe was the first to help my Uncle Dan. He carried ice up 5 flights of stairs, and the lady complained that she did not order such a big block of ice. So Joe had to carry the ice down 5 flights of stairs than my uncle yelled up at the lady this is what she ordered. So she agreed and my brother had to carry the ice up 5 flights of stairs again. He complained to my father about that, and my brother soon did not work for my uncle after that. My brother Jack was next to help his uncle on the ice truck. Jack was the most muscular and hardest worker of the brothers. He liked delivering ice because it gave him spending money. At lunchtime Uncle Dan made fantastic heroes they were so delicious. | Arthur Avenue
52: The Wine Cellar | The cellar was located underneath 509 east 185 street close to the 3rd. Avenue El. In this cellar was located my Uncle Dan’s ice and coal business. During the winter, my father ordered a truck with boxes of grapes. We would unload the truckload into the cellar. Then the real work would begin. First we would crush the grapes with a huge grinder, which we would turn by hand. We would squeeze the grapes with an auto jack, to get every drop of juice out of the grapes. The wine would be poured into huge 50 gallon barrels. It would be allowed to ferment, for a couple of weeks. There would be a process of pouring the wine from one barrel to the other barrel. Because at the bottom of each barrel would be an inch or two of sediment. After this is done the barrels would have to be cleaned thoroughly. The bad wine was used for vinegar. The good wine was in 6 or more barrels. It was enough wine for tree families, to last a whole year. It was the tastiest wine that to this day I cannot find in any liquor store. We made blue, white, and wine that tasted better than any champagne made today. When I grew older, I never could find any champagne that equaled my fathers. To me it will be the tastiest wine in the world. My father and family drank the wine at dinner every night. My father always said the wine was the blood of life. We had a wine cellar that a rich man would envy.
53: When emigrants from Bari came to America, they went to live in East Harlem on 112th and First Avenue. They were very poorly paid. They did not want the disgrace of being buried in Potters Field. They thought ways to bury family members with dignity. One way was to put the body in their bedroom all dressed up for the family to view, and to take pictures of the corpse to send pictures of the body to Italy so they could have a picture for remembrance. First they would have the funeral director lay out the body on a board the first night; this was called stretching the body. The men would wear black shirts, ties and a black armband. The women wore all black, usually they would wear black for the rest of their lives. Also a black cloth would be put on the door to show the neighbors that there was a death in the family. The family would mourn for many days that was the Italian way. Because there were no cars in those days they would use a horse and buggy to get to the cemetery. In Italian families the dead were always visited at the cemetery. When people from Bari came to America, they formed a burial society to bury their dead with honor, because many people could not afford a funeral. These people paid a small monthly fee so they would have a death benefit for all members. This would help pay for the expense of the funeral.at the burial society they met once a month to socialize and talk about the town they came from. In the bylaws of this organization all members must go to the funerals or pay a 5.00 dollar fine. That was quite a lot of money, considering that people earned, 25 cents an hour than. All members would have to walk in the funeral procession. They usually had a band play very sad music as they walked. Can you imagine the comfort this gave to the family? It was a focal point to socialize with Barese people, and to relieve some of the suffering of their loss. I thought it was very ingenious to think up this idea. When most of the members died, the treasurer came to our house, to give my father a share of what was left of the funds. | The Burial Society
54: My mother's brother, Nino was a Marshall in the Air Force and married Maria
56: A Football Wedding | The emigrants that came to this country were overworked and underpaid. When a member of the family got married everyone chipped in. It was to cover the cost of food; entertainment and making the wedding feast a huge success. An example of this was when my cousin Teresa married Lou Ventura. They had a wedding reception at my uncle’s house in the basement. The night before the women of the family made up the Italian heros, spaghetti, sauces, and all sorts of delicious cakes for the reception. The men bought over kegs of beer, homemade wine and all sorts of liquor. Family members and friends that played musical instruments provided the entertainment. Singing and dancing was part of the feast. All the food was placed on a huge table much like todays buffet dinners. The guest would select what they wanted, then find a place to sit. Everyone ate, danced and sang the night away. This was truly a family affair. The family and friends were able to mingle, go from table to table and truly have a good time. The bride and groom went from table to table to personally greet and talk to all of their guests. It was an Old Italian custom called La Bousta to let the guest give money to the bride and groom. Each guest placed money in an envelope and gave it to the bride. She then would shove it into a white bag called La Bousta. This was a good way of starting the new couple to a good beginning. Life was so much better then. Weddings were informal and people could really talk, let their hair down and really have a good time. In todays world people spend over $20,000 dollars for a reception. Usually the bride and groom are from different nationalities and everything is so prim and proper, so very formal. There is no chance of getting to know one another, a real socializing of the different customs. Everyone stays at his or her assigned tables and goes by the same prearranged agenda throughout the reception. Todays receptions are a duplication of one another except maybe each trying to outdo one another. The Old Italian spontaneity is lost forever in these modern times. The family spirit, the old unity is forever lost. The laughter and joy of yesterday is gone forever.
57: In the neighborhood we formed a football team called the Bronx Royals. In this team we had Italians and Irish who tried out to make the team, you had to be tough to make the team, some guys broke their arms or legs. After the team was formed, we practice on French Field that was behind the police station on Webster Avenue. We had most of our injuries were during our practice sessions. I was one team member who had only shoulder guards to wear. When I was on the team I put on 20 pounds and I played guard on the team. Our coach was a short thin guy with a mustache and wore leather gloves. He trained us to hurt any team that we played. Our team never sustained injuries during the games, only during practice. We were a team that could not be beaten by any team. We played against the Baldies and we beat them badly. One of our team was called Fanny he weighed 350lbs, if he landed on the opposing team they were out of the game. Our team started to disband when some of our teammates got their girlfriend pregnant and they had to get married. That was the end of an unbeatable team. That was one of the important landmarks in my life. I guess all good things had to come to an end. | The Bronx Royals
58: Gianna, sister of my mother with her son Guido
59: with Gianna and her granddaugher Donatella | Frank LaManna | Enza LaManna, wife of cousin Joe LaManna
60: My father worked as a foreman in the refinishing trade, it very hard and dirty occupation. My father swore his sons would never do his type of work. He wanted his sons to work in cleaner professions. The eldest son Joseph went to vocational school to learn to be a shoemaker. My brother Joe was not too happy to become a shoemaker and he told my father. My father thought that his son should become a barber, because it was respectable and clean profession. So my brother went to a barber school in the Bovary in Manhattan. The customers were poverty bums, who were dirty, smelly and full of lice. My brother would come home from the school, sick to his stomach. He finally finished school ready to start his profession. He has been happily been in his profession for over 50 years. My father was happy to see his eldest son in a clean profession. To him it was like being a doctor or lawyer. My brother Jack was the next son my father wanted to have a good profession. They finally settled on him going to school to be a beautician. Jack finished school, but was very unhappy being a beautician. Finally after going from job to job, he settled on being a government worker, and then he worked for sanitation for the rest of his life. Now my father wanted the youngest son into a profession. He mentioned to his son Mario all the different professions that he would be happy with. I told my father I would like to be a refinisher like him. He became very angry and told me I would never go into his trade. So I told my father thank you, and I went my own way. | Occupations for Dad's Sons | Joe | Jack | Mario
61: The Refinisher Man | He went to work for a rich Jew who owned a piano refinishing plant located by the Harlem River. It was called the Scloss Piano Refinishers Company. My father was proficient in German, Spanish, French, English and of course Italian. He had to work 6 days a week, ten hours a day. He went to work by bus, and carried his own lunch. Dad was a foreman on the job. Soon after he retired the company closed down. These people really exploited my father. He thought when they gave him a piece of furniture or old suit that he was being treated fairly. I hope I can get my children educated so they would not be treated unfairly, because he came from a country where the rich treated the poor as garbage. My father taught me to make only enough money just to buy some bread to survive. It was very bad advice to give any one, because it has limited those persons ambitions. I could of helped the family a lot more if i was taught how to make a good living. My father in a life time of working never owned a car, bicycle or any other luxuries. My mother tried her best to stretch the little money my father bought home. When he retired i looked at his pay stubs, i could not believe he would be able to support a family on that. He was able to have a wine cellar of a rich man. And my mother was able to feed us, so we felt that we were eating like rich people. My father liked to go to a small park on Arthur Avenue. He would talk with them about politics and reminisce about the old days. In a lifetime of working and watching every penny, he had very little savings for retirement. My father read the Il Progresso every day so he was not uneducated; to this day I do not know what went wrong. I probably know now what could have been done, but it is of no use to think of what might have been? | Jack and Joe
62: When I was 4 or 5 years old, the family went to see a friend in Brooklyn. A dark thin woman with a black dress greeted them at the door. She bought us into her bedroom. On the bed was a man dressed in a tuxedo; he looked like he was sleeping. But in reality he was dead. He was a tall thin man with a mustache and slicked black hair. We went into the kitchen, where she served us spaghetti with a sauce that tasted like ketchup. To this day I can still taste the ketchup in my mouth. In the old days Italians did not have money to bury their dead. So they would belong to a burial society. The widows would cry and wear black dresses for the rest of their lives. | The Funeral | Religion | My mother and father were very religious. They went to church every Sunday. They bought up their sons to be religious. We were taught to pray and to believe. I could never curse in the house, because my mother would wash my mouth with brown soap, which was a terrible experience. In my neighborhood you had to be tough to survive, no way could you be a goody two shoes. In the beginning I was constantly with my mother shopping on Arthur Avenue, to help her. Eventually the excitement of the streets was like music to my ears. My father taught me racial tolerance, by pointing to a black man. And he said to me Mario, he is a good person. That more or less shaped my thinking on racial issues.
63: I lost many of my friends, because they were forced to join the army. For one reason or another I was not with them. This happened in the 1950’s. One night a group of my friends decided to raise hell that night. So a group of my friends caused a ruckus in the subways. They went before the judge, he said either join the army or go to jail. Many of my friends served their time in Germany, and one of them bought home a German wife. When they came back we all seemed to drift in different directions. This is all the process of growing up. | Disapora | The Greatest Love | My brother Joe had a very short marriage to a girl of Greek descent. I think the marriage was annulled. I have no idea why my brother married this woman; she was in love with some other Italian on Arthur Avenue. We had a meeting in our apartment with her parents. Nothing of substance was being said at this meeting, so being a little hot tempered I accused his wife of being unfaithful, so than my brother told her family that it would be better that they divorced. My mother, who had a great love for her eldest son, was very unhappy that Joe was alone and not married to a good wife. So my mother arranged with her friend, to have Joe meet with his future wife Lee. At last my mother would not have to worry about her son. It gave my mother such joy and happiness to have a daughter in law like Lee. There could never be a greater love than the feelings that my mother and her daughter in law felt for each other. The results speak for themselves; they had two wonderful children, Joann and Jason. Lee wanted to take care of mom but tragically she died in Connecticut.
64: I went to elementary school PS 85 on 187 Street and Webster Avenue. The year I started school, was around 1941. My mother used to take us to school in the morning. I enjoyed kindergarten when I was six years old, shy and small. I also enjoyed part of the 1st grade; my teacher was Ms. O’Connor, young and pretty. Then my whole world caved in on me. My brothers and I climbed over a fence to play on the grounds of St. Barnabas Hospital on 183 St. and 3rd Avenue. We were caught by the guards, and reported to our school for the minor infraction of trespassing on hospital grounds. The principal of P.S. 85 denounced us in the school auditorium as being bad kids. Retaliation came hard and fast. I was put in a class for bad kids and children of dysfunctional families. I do not think myself and other kids belonged in that class. The teacher was thin, black hair, eyes, sickly, and bad tempered. She ruled the class with an iron hand. The first thing she told us was her husband was a captain in the police force. She told us if we did not toe the line, she would make sure we would be put into a reform school. We were considered the shit of the school, nothing but thugs and disruptive students. We were quickly put into line. I guess my salvation was going to the movies, reading many types of books at an early age. We were just children of 7 years old to 10 years old maybe a little mischievous. The class was divided evenly into boys and girls. Mary Zeman was not a teacher; she was a sadistic person who enjoyed beating helpless children. I do not think we deserved the beatings she gave us. If she believed there was too much noise in the class, she would get up and go up each row of desks. Pull backs the hair of each child and slaps them in the face. For some reason the girls were given the worst beatings. The children in the class did not deserve to be in the hands of someone who was evil. She did not teach us anything, only fear for authority. She was one very sick person. Our job in the morning was to deliver milk to every class, I do not remember if we were deserving of any milk. There was a particular child who got a very severe beating all the time. The mother was called to school, a short, thin on how bad her son was. The kids in school were afraid of us. | Mary Zemen
65: Outside of class we fought with each other and other kids in the school who dared to bother us. Because I liked to read, since our teacher did not teach us anything. Since I was the best speller in class, I was picked to compete for the best speller in school. I did all right but not good enough to be the school champion speller. Of course my teacher took the credit for helping me be a good speller, which was not the case. Being a shy child I did not tell my parents how ill-treated I was in school. I believe the early years of school form our character, to contribute to society. It’s a wonder that I did not become a criminal. For many years I could not do the work in Junior High and High School. It was all because of having a bad teacher in elementary school. | Arthur Avenue
66: The Bad Son | Being from an emigrant family and having brothers whom were 5 and 6 years older than me. There was no understanding between the family, and me and I felt that I was ostracized and alone. So it was no wonder that my second family was the streets and my friends were guys that my family did not approve of. I used to have a pocketknife, and it disappeared. Not knowing that my loving mother would go through my pockets at night when I was sleeping. I always managed to get another pocketknife. That also disappeared. One time my father called me a bad son, that hurt me very much because he seemed like a God to me. My friends had nicknames that started out with fat something or other. And we had to be in very good shape to survive in that neighborhood. | At the corner of 185 Street and Bassford was a large carpet cleaning plant called Cornell Carpet Cleaning after I graduated high school that’s where I went to work. Mr. Di Paolo also known as Cornell was a very strong and violent man. He ran his business in a hard way. First thing in the morning we would load the trucks. After that we would use big electric scrubbers with soap to wash and clean rugs. We would then use high pressure hoses to take the soap out. The rugs would be put through heavy rollers to squeeze the water out. We then carried the wet heavy rugs and placed them on big wooden rollers. There they were left to dry. After the rugs were dry, we would wrap it in heavy paper, ready for delivery. To work for Cornell you had to be strong enough to lift these rugs. We called them China Rugs, and they weighed more than a hundred pounds especially when wet. My father felt the work was too heavy and dangerous. He told Cornell he would not permit his son to work there any longer. How right my father was, my friend Jimmy Kearns got his fingers caught in the rollers. His fingers were disfigured for life. I guess that job prepared me for other things in life. | Cornell Carpet Cleaners | Across the street from us, on the other side of the EL was a store that sold live chickens and rabbits. Mother and I would go to this store. She would examine the chickens, pick a nice plump one. Than the man would slit the chickens throat, than he would throw it into a barrel to die. Than when it was dead. He would put it into a barrel full of scalding water. Than the poor chicken would be put in a defeathering machine. The man would cut the chicken down the middle, to take out the livers and organs. Than my mother would take the chicken home, fry, roast or make delicious soups out of it. We were a poor family, who ate and drank like kings. My father picked a loving wife, who knew how to stretch his meager earnings. My regret is that I did not know how to take care of my mother like she took care of the family. | The Chicken Store
67: The Movies | The movies were the place where the kids in my neighborhood went to enjoy themselves. It cost about .14 cents a person. The years are the 40's and 50's. You could stay in the movies from afternoon to night time. They played westerns, serials, comedies like the Three Stooges, gangster and mysteries. Everything that would satisfy the fantasies of young kids. The name of the theatres were the Metro and Tremont on Webster Avenue. The Fairmont on Tremont Avenue. The Paradise and Ascot on the Grand Concourse. The Winsor, Valentine and the R.K.O. on Fordham Road. The Savoy on Arthur Avenue which we called the dumps. They gave us prizes of dinner plates, glasses or free tickets to the theater. If we could guess who would win the bicycle or horse races. I had no allowance because money was scarce in my family. I got my money from deposit on soda bottle or what fell in the sofa. After the movies we would go to the soda parlor and ice-cream parlor where we would talk and socialize. And this was the way it was.
68: Our most treasured family heirlooms are our sweet family memories. | My brother Joe came up with a good idea. That I should join the boy scouts. When we went on field trips, my father would bring me to a cold cuts place, so I could have sandwiches on the trip. It was a way to learn about the outdoors and how to survive. Sometimes a group of us scouts, after a meeting would go to an ice-cream parlor to socialize. I became friends with a Jewish kid, who got my protection from other kids. I went to his house; I do not think his parents approved of his son Melvin Bass hanging out with someone like me. Melvin wanted to go partners with me on a pyramid scheme. At the time I did not understand what that was. I wonder where Melvin Bass is today, probably a tycoon with millions. | The Boy Scouts | The Stoop | The time period for this would be the 1950’s. At night we would hang out in front of the building. We were a group of boys and girls with no money. So we would find ways to entertain ourselves. We would sit on the stoop in front of the building. We would play the portable radio and dance. The tenants in the building were very unhappy listening to our music, which was rock and roll. We would talk and dance and fool around with the girls. Wednesday nights in the summer, we would go to Poe Park to dance. They had a band, and of course it would be free. Many times I would stay out very late, then my mother would lock me out. I would bang on the door till she let me in. Oh boy would she give me a whack on the head.
69: Poe Park | The Black Panthers | Many of my friends wore a tattoo of a beautiful black panther on the right forearm. One night we went drinking, they thought if I got drunk enough, I would get tattooed with a black panther. Their mistake was, I was not drunk enough. So I never got a tattoo to this day. This way before there was a group called the Black Panthers. I guess the blacks got the idea from us Italian boys. The time period was in the 1950’s.
70: My first year at Sears, when I would come home at night tired. I would see some of the guys and girls hanging around the stoop, and being very bored. So I suggested to my friend Sal (Toto) that I could organize dances and parties. If the guys would contribute 3 or 4 dollars each. The girls would get in free. We needed an apartment and Sal readily conned his parents into using their apartment for our parties. I would purchase the booze, soda and snacks. I would have to be the bouncer if there were troubles. Which sometimes there was, or someone had to be escorted home if they were drunk. One time I had to stop a large group of kids led by their leader Ann Galvin to crash our party. I offered to let her in free and one member of her group. So I averted a problem. Then of course me and Sal had private party with girls that we liked. Mom and Nonno came to our party and almost stopped us from enjoying ourselves, until they left. One of our private parties was disrupted because Sal's mother and grandmother came in while we were fooling around with the girls. The grandmother lifted up her umbrella and started whacking the girls with it, and calling the girls botona. We ran down the stairs laughing so hard that was one private party that had a funny ending. | The Parties | The Dances | When I was young I would go to the Catholic Church dances. I went to the Holy Spirit on University Heights, to Our Lady of Mercy on Marion Avenue, to St. Brenan’s on Yonkers Avenue, and many more in the Bronx. When I got older I went dancing in German town on 86th Street, in the Trish Tuxedo Room, and the various German clubs in the area. I went to places in the Village, Spanish Harlem and Chamberlains in Black Harlem, and South Bronx in Hunts Point. I loved going to places that were very different. Nobody bothered us, because we were a tough group. I was the one who suggested places to go. And since I did not how to drive, the guys provided the car. And of course we went to many places in the Bronx. Such as George’s Nut House on 184 Street Near 3rd Ave El. And the Jokers Wild on Pelham Parkway. The Wee Small Hours, The Cozy Nook, the West Bridge on Williamsbridge Road places on Morris Park and Throggs Neck and many other places that I cannot remember all their names.
71: When graduated from high school, I needed to find a job. A friend of mine knew someone who was connected. We were going to try to get a job in the post office without taking any tests. Myself and a friend of mine went with an older man to the Political Club on Tremont Avenue in the Bronx. I think one of the Democratic Clubs was run by a politician called Flyn. The man I was with thoroughly intimidated the political boss. But what could the political boss do, they had lost the election, so there would be no political spoils to be given out. Thank god I did not get the job. Who knows if I would have been obligated to the mob. The way I was thinking at the time, I probably would have fit into that way of life. | The Gangster | The Gangs | The area where I lived was Italian and Irish. The dividing line was the 3rd Avenue El. The Italians were located to the East of the El on Arthur Avenue. The Irish on the west side of the El. In the neighborhoods we had gangs. There were the Fordham Baldies, the Young Sinners, The Hoods, and of course our group The Paches. There were jackets that stated which group each belonged to, of course I could not afford a jacket. The leaders of our group were Big Mike and Little Mike. If I was to survive I had to get in top shape, which I did. Plenty of chin-ups, running and playing sports. I also went to Cafuzzi Hall to box. I developed strong arms, legs and stomach muscles. When there was trouble in the neighborhood, the guys would call me from the streets and I would run down 3 flights of stairs, to join my street buddies in what may be happening. In Cafuzzi Hall I was challenged to fight one of The Baldies I beat him badly. Than his bigger friend wanted to fight and that was a draw. | Tremont Avenue
72: The Wise Mother | When my mother married my father she wanted to pass onto her children all of the good values that she was taught. In the course of the coming years all three sons would disappoint her in one way or other. My mother came from a family who had servants and a strong father and mother. Cooking and cleaning never was taught to her, it simply wasn't important for someone in her class to know. When my mother came to America all of the resources, maid, servants and parents were left behind in Italy. She only had a wonderful husband who worked very hard to support his family. But my mother was determined to work very hard to feed her family in the best way she knew how. Having no experience at all she had to learn to do most things by trial and error. I remember my mother washing clothes by hand on a scrub-board. After that she would hang them on a line and iron them after they were dry. Those were the days of no washing machines and dryers. Mom became an excellent cook by talking to the merchants and learning how to prepare certain foods. She became very adept at preserving foods, such as tomatoes, paste, grape jelly and fruits. She would spend many hours in the kitchen preparing meals. Her cooking would send an aroma through the house that was so wonderful to me. She enjoyed seeing the family eating all the food that was so lovely prepared. Mom took all of us to church every Sunday and said our prayers. She was a wise, tough, sensitive and protective mother. To her, the most important thing was to protect our family name. We should never do anything to disgrace our family. She also had very strong moral standards. I could never curse in front of her, because she would wash out my mouth with brown soap. It would have been terrible if she had found out that I had trespassed on hospital grounds with some of the rough kids in the neighborhood. I'll never forget how devastated I felt when I saw my mother completely melt away in tears after she learned that her brother Antonio had died at sea, near the island of Sicily. I have pictures of him in his naval uniform. He was an officer, with dark eyes, black hair parted down the middle. He was very handsome. This was an event that I wasn't experienced or had knowledge enough to help her with. Another such event was the Korean War when both of my brothers were drafted. Joe went to Japan, and Jack went to Korea because he wanted to be with his friends. My Mother sent them care packages with spaghetti, cheeses and other Italian specialties. Having lost her brother in the Second World War had made my mother live in a state of anxiety and she couldn't bear to lose her son Jack to war. She prayed constantly for her sons' safe return and her tears often fell very freely for them. As usual I could not do anything to help her at the age of thirteen. My mother received an allotment check from Jack each month. But she would not touch a penny of that money because she wanted to save it all for him when he returned from the war. Her prayers were answered when Jack finally came home from the war after two years. I will never forget how happy she was when she saw that he was safe. Naturally he went out and bought a car with the money she had saved from the allotment checks. My mother only wanted her precious sons to be safe, happy and be married to good women. So it was a sorrow for my mother that her two sons both had bad marriages. Jack got married to a woman named Gloria a year after he came back from the war. And Joe had married a Greek woman two years later. They all lived in the same neighborhood. My mother became suspicious of the two wives because they did not seem to have high moral standards and she asked me to keep an eye on them. Unfortunately it turned out that she was right - both Joe and Jack's marriages resulted in divorces. These events had caused Mom a lot of heartbreak and anguish, and I would not go into a lot of details about them. Jack had two daughters from his marriage; they were named Lynda and Ann Marie. These girls gave her much joy, love and satisfaction to the end of her days. My mother had always wanted a daughter after having three sons. She tried to adopt a little girl from the church, but they turned her down because she had 3 sons. Since her sons had picked terrible wives so mom decided to find a good daughter-in-law for herself. Her name was Lee Fiorenti and she was the daughter of one of her friends. My brother Joe and Lee got married in Bristol Connecticut in 1962 when I was in the army. My mother loved Lee till the day she died.
73: For reasons I can't recall my mother had become seriously ill in 1968. She ended up in a hospital in Connecticut and she was dying. My brother Joe and his wife from Bristol were already there. But she refused to die until Jack and I got there from New York. To this day I remember how much I hated that hospital. There was no privacy; we watched my mother take her last breath while surrounded by sick patients and nurses. I had never felt so sad before but at that horrible moment in my life. Her body was taken to the Botti Funeral home in New York. My brother's in-laws, his wife Lee and some of my co-workers from Sears came to pay respect to my mother. I was surprised at how many people knew her and took the time to come. This was the most traumatic moment of my life. I had been to many funerals before but never got close to the casket. This was the first time for me and it took a lot of strength. I took a deep breath, went up there and said goodbye to my mother for the last time. Looking at my mother's body inside the casket it struck me that it wasn't my mother. It was someone that looked like her. I felt her spirit had already left to reside with the true Father in heaven. What was left there was just a lifeless body. All of a sudden a great sense of sadness descended on me. For years I had begged my mother to go back to Italy to see her family, and I even offered to pay for the trip even though I had very little money. I thought she would have liked to go but she refused because she didn't want to leave my father who was sick at the time. I hated myself for being always too slow and too stupid to help her. Now I felt that I would never be able to repay her for the sacrifices that she had made for us. After my mother's death, somehow I developed this feeling that it was now my responsibility to visit my uncles and aunt in Italy. I thought it would give meaning to my grieving heart, and allow me to develop a stronger bond with my mother's family. I went to Italy two months later by myself, and I met my mother's family as I had hoped I would. But instead of enjoying the trip, I was very depressed and sad most of the time. It wasn't that I was not being treated well there; in fact, mom's family had tried to make my stay in Gioia del Colle and Gorizia as pleasant as possible. My trip to Italy had opened my eyes and it also turned out to be a changing point in my life. The richness of my mother's family made me see that my job as a clerk at Sears was a dead end. I came home determined to find a better job. When I went to Metropolitan Life to make a claim for my mother's life insurance of $250, which my mother paid for with $.25 a week, I met an old friend there from my junior high school. He was a manager at Metropolitan and he offered me a job if I could pass a test. Luckily I passed. I was about to quit Sears, but somehow they found out before I even told them. And to my surprise, they offered me a job in sales which I knew I was totally unqualified for. But I took the job anyway because it offered better benefits. At Sears I was selling washers and dryers, and I was competing against seasoned, ruthless salesmen. You can imagine what a distressing life I had there, especially in the beginning. Still I made enough money from the job at Sears to finally get married and have two wonderful daughters. I felt my mother was the spiritual force directing my destiny all along. | Losing My Mother | But the son my mother worried about the most is me, who might have given her the greatest sorrow of all. I had no ambition or purpose in life so she had no idea if I would end up in a very sorry position in life. In my neighborhood you had to be tough to survive. I liked to run with a rough crowd in the streets of the Bronx. I did not marry until two years after her death. It bothers me to this day that Mom couldn't live to see me married and have two wonderful girls. The ultimate pain and sorrow for me came when my mother became very sick one day. Lee, her favorite daughter-in-law brought her to her home in Connecticut to care for her and tried everything to bring her back to good health. Unfortunately there was nothing that she could do for her. It turned out that my mother had been sick with some kind of liver disease for a long time. She ended up in a hospital and eventually died there. I was not the only one who was completely devastated by my mother's death, I knew it was also very sad for Lee because Mom was like a real mother to her. This saddest event of my life also changed my way of thinking about doctors forever. I started to study alternative medicine for I cannot and will not permit my loved ones to die in pain the way my mother did.
76: The Awakening | When I was eighteen I went with my brother Joe to a party with college guys and girls. It was like being in a different world. They would be talking about different topics, such as philosophy, psychology and sociology. It was like I was listening to a foreign language. When I went home I thought about many things. It was like a light went on, in a mind that had been in darkness for most of my life. It dawned on me that I was very dumb and stupid. Than I said to myself, now what are you going to do about it? It suddenly dawned on me, that I would not get the knowledge from family and friends. I would have to do this on my own. The road to knowledge and wisdom is a difficult path to take with no one to show you the way. So I decided to read very difficult subjects that I had totally no idea of what I was reading. The subjects were philosophy, psychology, the social sciences and other subjects. In fact everything that I could get my hands on. The schooling I received in elementary school was totally useless because of the wasted time that I have spent for five years in a class for bad children. The elementary school did not prepare me for junior or high school.to get ahead in this country, you should be able to read, write and have a good vocabulary. The misfortune of most immigrant parents is that they cannot prepare you by speaking in half English and whatever language they speak, so you can be proficient in English. My brother and I are not good at school work. Of the three of us jack was the best at school. I thought he would be the success of the family. I was to make a great change in my life, when my mother died. This traumatic event changed me. I got a better job; I got married and had two lovely daughters. I than went through another traumatic event I got divorced. These events propelled me on a journey to find knowledge and wisdom. I found out this is not one path but a hundred. In life no pain no gain. I could never have learned so much, if I did not go through a lot of pain and agony.
77: No pain no gain that is the way of life. The death of my mother led me to see her brothers and sisters in Italy, and to see how successful they were. Before I went to Italy I worked at very hard labor on the platform lifting heavy merchandise for a minimum of one dollar an hour. After I came back from Italy, I became a salesman who enabled me to get married, have 2 daughters that I love very much. When I got divorced from my wife Linda after seven years, that emotional pain prepared me for the journey to wisdom. I found out that there were so many roads, and I was going to try every one of them. Some the paths led me to the road to wisdom. Other roads led me to the paths of misery. I could not have gone on these journeys without the help of God. I found out my using my knowledge I always screwed up. When I used my intuition, which comes from God, everything always went smoothly. There are always two doors good or evil. Every one of us has gone through those doors. So we have only ourselves to blame for good or bad fortune. It depends on our decisions in life. | The Journey to Wisdom
78: Joanne and Ron Chasse | Joanne with her children. Christopher, Amanda, Garrett, Aimee-Lee, Allison | Jason and Shelby LaManna | Olivia and Jacob | The Venezia Family Doreen, Damian, Damian and Vada-lynn | Damian & Vada-lynn
79: Lynda | Alaina | Lynda & Bobby O'Connor | Veronica & Bryan Lawson | The Hernandez Family Diane, Ralph, Brandon and Skylar | AnnMarie and Veronica | Skylar & Brandon