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My grandfather was born in a little town outside of Ministretta, Italy on November 21,1880. As a young adult he owned a farmhouse and 10 acres of land where he grew fruits and vegetables. He also had some farm animals; a horse, a goat, and a few chickens. He used his harvest to barter for other goods and services from merchants and other farmers and was also known to help out his neighbors who were not as fortunate as he was by providing them with food. In 1907 he met the love of his life and one year later in November 1908 he married my grandmother.
After marrying the woman of his dreams, as he called her, he decided to sell his property in order to pursue his other dream, that was to go to America. Antonio or Tony as he preferred to be called brought his young bride across the ocean to begin a new life in a new world, the United States of America. He like many other immigrants entered the U.S through Ellis Island. From there he and my grandmother made their way to New Haven, Connecticut. For a short period of time he stayed with relatives till he could find work and a place to live.
Tony worked in a factory in New Haven and weekends he had a side business as a mason building walls, fireplaces, all kinds of structures out of stone that he would gather in the countryside. He worked hard and supported his wife, four daughters and his only son; my father. He bought a two-family home using the second floor apartment as rental and the first floor for his family. Two years later he bought a four family house in the same neighborhood for additional income.
When the Great Depression hit in the 30’s the factory where he worked began laying off people. Tony was fortunate that he had been working at the factory for years and was well liked by management. He was a hard worker and his job was secure but his friend, a coworker was not as fortunate. Tony spoke to his supervisor and asked if he could give his job to his friend knowing that he had the means to support his family. He bought farm land about 25 miles from his home and would drive each day to till the land and again grow fruits and vegetables for his family. Again he helped those in need by giving them fruits and vegetables from his farm.
Tony loved America, he loved the freedom, he loved to vote in elections, he loved every aspect of life in America.. My grandfather lived the American dream. He used say that anybody can achieve anything in this country if they are willing to work for it. He passed away at the age of 96 and left a legacy to his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren of love of country, freedom, and the American Dream.
Celebrate this great country of immigrants who came here to live their dreams. They’ve all worked hard to become citizens, to become part of the American heritage and strength.