Aunt Anna’s Memories, Part Three

“Domenico left Castel di Sangro at the age of 14 to work with a crew of men, stone splitters, making roads in various regions of Italy. Times were difficult for him. As he grew older, his chief concern was earning a better living. Thus, he emigrated to America arriving in New York in 1893. By train he rode to Pittsburgh, PA where many of his paesani [countrymen] had settled. There he worked at various outdoor jobs.

Coal mining was a prosperous industry. It paid better wages so he applied at a mine and was hired. He worked there only one day and quit. He disliked the surroundings and working conditions. He decided that he would be underground for years and years after his death – why be underground while alive? He was accustomed to fresh air and wanted to enjoy the beauty of nature – sun, rain, snow, flowers and trees – above ground. His next employment was with Shullo Brothers Construction Company building sewers and paving stone and brick streets in Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. He lived in Washington with an Italian family for a while. They regarded him highly were sorry to lose him when the job was completed and he returned to Pittsburgh.

Having earned and saved enough money in 3 years to return to Castel di Sangro to find a wife, he sailed back and did just that. He met a girl, became engaged to be married, the banns [publication in church of the names of the betrothed, so everyone can speak now or forever hold their peace] were announced, and then there was a change of hearts! The wedding was called off! What was he going to do? He wanted to return to the US but he also wanted a wife. He desired to raise a family in America.

Destiny led him to Baldassare and Maria DiMenna, who had a 21-year old daughter, Chiara. He asked Baldassare for his daughter’s hand in marriage and Baldassare rebuffed him with a retort, “What do you want to do? Leave my daughter at the altar stranded and you go to America?” Domenico had no such intention and assured him and Chiara his request and proposal were honorable. Domenico and Chiara were married in the Chiesa San Nicola in Castel di Sangro on April 23, 1897. Chiara had an older brother (Zio Vincenzo, later arriving and living in Malvern) who was most happy and relieved to see his sister married because, as was the custom there in those days, the oldest brother could not, should not, get married until the oldest sister was married. Chiara was the oldest sister followed by Antonio, Concetta, and Carmela. Carmela was only three years old when Chiara married and she cried and clung to Mama when Mama was leaving with Papa.

My parents started their life together with meager worldly goods but with a fortress of commitment, love, and perseverance. Her hope chest was a crude wooden box that contained limited dowry. It served as their table, workspace, storage, etc. He could afford to buy only one chair, so one or the other had to sit on a tree trunk stool. Their honeymoon was brief. His aim was to sail together to the United States.”

End page two. Should I break up into half-pages or something? Is this too boring to read? I love it, but it is my family. I’m enjoying how she or her scribe wrote this down, not finding too many necessary corrections. Awesome, Aunt Anna.

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2 thoughts on “

  1. suntzusays says:

    It’s not boring. Its just harder to comment with a touch of sarcasm or diatribe on the ways of the world. I love the Italian sprinkled in. And the old world traditions that seem so out of place to think of nowadays, but here seem almost natural.

  2. Undecided says:

    haha! I just can’t bring myself to be sarcastic about much in it yet…we might get there. I honestly don’t know if I remember where she ends the story! Maybe I’ll pick it up from there if I can.

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