Well I have always wanted to document growing up and introduce my family. Allow me to give some stats that some in the family might not know. When I started to reminisce I was in awe of what I had found with the help of my dearest Aunt Rose. I am recounting what she has told me and including it here in the opening of my fascinating family. Depicting their hardships and the tenacity they had to show growing up. They had many hurdles to climb over, along with my grandparents having to start a new life in a new world. I hope that this glimpse of a past era will show what is lacking in today’s world and how the times have eroded family ties and loyalty.
It all began with the following account which is on my maternal grandparent’s side of the family, as given to me by my Aunt Rose. After they traveled across an ocean spending a month or more at sea they arrived at Ellis Island the place all emigrants came to. They, as all new citizens, were in awe of a great city and the organized turmoil of arriving here. Unfortunately from the beginning there was a level of discrimination against Italians as they were tagged with an acronym for not having papers. The term was without papers hence they became known as “WOPS” a word that later on became slanderous, and insulting. Now not only did my maternal grandparents go through this but so did my paternal grandparents and all who immigrated to this country. I often remember my grandmother telling how when she was younger and living in Pottsville Pa. how she would sometimes be made fun of and threatened when she was walking back from or to the store. Times were tough for most everyone, but especially so for immigrants not speaking the language well and having to cope in a foreign land; my grandparents on both sides had to go to school to learn how to sign their names and study hard to be a citizen. They persevered and struggled to achieve never losing site of the responsibility to family. They struggled to become Americans and brought with them a culture and work ethic that stood them in good standing throughout their struggles to acclimate themselves to the freedom they left their country for.
They had to first of all have a home and a job before they were let in and it is at this point that I incorporate the information my Aunt Rose gave to me. Relatives who were living in New Jersey in all probability stood behind them for employment and shelter until they could establish themselves in the states. Thus they then moved to Pottsville in Penna., since we do not have family records of this I make the assumption that this is what took place I have not been able to recover information from the Ellis Island archives but continue to search.
almost hurt Carmella my wife and the kids it was then she told me either stop drinking or see a lawyer. Well I stopped and have never started drinking heavy again, one maybe two martini's at dinner in a restaurant but nothing in between. You don't mess with a Sicilian Calabrese if you know what is good for you. I was married 48 years and it was great I would do it again, but only with Carmella.
Ralph was born two years later and we lived in South West Philly, Jacqui was born on October 6th, 1967 her birth was traumatic from the outset; she was conceived in December of 1966. We had one hell of a snow storm and it was Christmas and as usual on Christmas Eve we would have a Christmas party for family and friends. However that year no one could get out since everyone we knew and family lived in South Philly and we were in west Phila. I remember it clearly because we Carmella and I made some martini's our favorite drink lol, and sat on the steps going upstairs listening to neighbors fight, we were going to ask them in when we heard the commotion and decided to listen and not invite the argument into our home, I know it wasn't a nice thing to do but what the hell it was a cold snowy night in a warm home drinking martini's.
At any rate Carmella became pregnant with Jacqui. Jacqui was born on October 6th, 1967 her birth was traumatic from the outset; she was conceived in December of 1966. Her pregnancy was hard one; Jacqui kept flip flopping around and by the ninth month had still not positioned herself for delivery. However Carm had all the signs she was ready you know water bag breaking and all that stuff. My sister-in-law Flossie took her to the Methodist Hospital in So. Philly and called me at work advising me that Carm was in the hospital. When I arrived my wife was in the delivery room and just after Flossie left the doctor came out into the side room and sat next to me. He looked at me and said" there is a problem with the delivery the baby hasn't turned into the birth canal, and I need an answer from you" I replied nervously "ok what is it you want" "with respect to the babies position if there is a choice between the mother and the child who should I save if needed? At this point it is question as to who will survive, but we will do all we can to save them both" I became saddened my head hung down and my face went pale I couldn't speak for a moment then looked up at the doctor and sort of gasped "my wife doc, my wife do your best to save my daughter also". The next hour was spent with my head in my hands praying for them both. Shortly thereafter the doctor came out smiling he had delivered a healthy baby girl and both the mother and baby were fine and doing well. My face lit up like a neon sign I was thrilled that both had survived and that I had a daughter.
Jacqui growing up was quite a youngster always asking questions and sitting and talking to me on the couch she followed me everywhere and I truly have to say I spoiled her. In the eighth grade she was class president and valedictorian of her class a smart young woman. We had moved down town and were living temporarily with my mother-in-law on 6th street. We now had to decide where she would go to middle and high school and were concerned about the schools in the area we lived. We decided to move to the northeast section of Phila. It had relatively good neighborhoods and the schools seemed ok, boy did this come to be a bad decision, as I will explain.
We lived in south west Phila when she was born and it was an ok neighborhood but we also faced some discrimination and name calling behind our backs such as dago's and wops but we ignored it as hard as it was. The kids went to a catholic school 12 blocks away in an Italian parish. Jacqui was too young then and only an infant but a joy, my son Dominick 3rd went to St Joe Prep and Ralph was attending West Catholic High School. Shortly after I had an altercation with the next door neighbor to be exact a fist fight over a parking space in front of the house he came out screaming at me and threw a punch I retaliated hit him so hard he went down and lost his shoe his wife jumped on my back and I flung her off to the hood of the car we were between. We continued to fight and I decked him twice more when some guys from across the street broke it up. We moved back to New Jersey where Jacqui went to school in Washington Township and the boys transferred to the high school. Dom graduated in 1971 and ralph went to vocational school to learn auto mechanics. They graduated and subsequently both married and had children Ralph stood in the northeast with his wife and Dom was in New Jersey near us. Any way back to Jacqui after we went to the north east thinking it was better Jacqui mixed in with the wrong crowd her grades dropped and to make it short she went to a party we thought was being chaperoned only to receive a call later that she was high and had been raped. I was incensed a police report was made and charges filed the next day at the school. That night a friend of mine and I went to visit the house where she had been we knocked no one answered we went in looking for the father of my Daughters friend the dad had raped her after feeding the kids drugs. I guess I am fortunate that he wasn't there because I would have beat him to death but as the saying goes God watches over fools and drunks and what I was going to do was extremely foolish. To make the story short the district attorney's
About the Author
Grew up in south Philadelphia went to St. Monica’s elementary school then on to South East Catholic High School graduating in 1951. Did a semester at Peirce Business School in accounting but didn’t have a taste for accounting and volunteered for active duty in the US NAVY.
Went to hospital corps school and then discharged in 1954 after two years active duty. Met my wife Carmella had three children and worked as a dyer and finisher in a textile factory. When hired at GE I went back to college at St Joseph’s university but only did one semester and had to leave when I was laid off at GE. I worked as shipping, and receiving supervisor, rotating shifts at USG Gypsum in Berlin NJ. Also drove a school bus for Washington Twps. schools and formed a union local with NJEA cafeteria workers maintenance teacher’s aides custodial and bus drivers all under one umbrella group. I wrote the bylaws and constitution for this group and negotiated their first contract as president of the group.
When I left I was hired full time at NJ transit as a bus operator eventually becoming safety committee chairmen at our garage and vice president of the union local 880 and chairman of the board of the people’s federal credit union.
After retiring I moved to Florida and as stated earlier returned to school after my wife passed away and became a paralegal and court mediator. I returned to South Jersey after her death and graduating from PHCC and attended Rutgers University in Camden NJ, graduating in 2009 at age 76 with a BA in Liberal Studies and a minor in theater.
While in Florida I was appointed to a committee to develop policy for a magnet school, also was instrumental in forcing a sex predator out of our area in Springhill, thereby drawing attention in the media that effected changes in the way Sexual Predator reporting was done by the state police.
Down to earth, easy reading and most enjoyable. It gives a thorough description of what life was like coming to a new Country and how well they managed that life with persistance and hard work.
Good job Dad!
Dom....My cojean (sic) That was a great read. Good luck with the acting. Look out DiNero.