Legacy Created on: September 2008
Legacy on until: January 2012
Legacy availiable via archive until: January 2016
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Where were you born?

I was born in Naples, Italy on the 18th of September, 1919.  That makes me a young fellow doesn’t it?

Tell me about how your family migrated to the United States?

I was eight years old. At that time there was a law that said that one had to stay five years in the States before they could get their citizenship.  So my father Angelo went ahead to the United States and was there for five years on his own. When I was eight, he sent for my mother, my brother, and I.  I remember that the trip over was 13 to 14 days. Everyone was seasick, except for me. My mother couldn’t get out of bed at all. My brother, Benny, was throwing up all over the place, as were most of the other passengers on board because we hit rough seas. I was able to run all over the ship. I would go down to the galley to get them food and running around on deck didn’t bother me a bit.  At that point I knew I was made for the water.  

We landed at Ellis Island.  Back then all the immigrants came through Ellis Island and we were there for six or seven days.  I remember arriving in the waters just off Ellis Island and everyone was crowded around on deck. A lot of us were excited to see the United States. It was a big highlight of my life, seeing the harbor, the island, and all of the boats.  When we got to the States we lived in Brooklyn in a tenement building

What was it like being a boy growing up in Brooklyn?

I remember starving and being poor. My father worked on the subway that they were building at that time.  It didn’t pay much. If they made a dollar a day it was a lot. To raise a family on that was rough.  I was about eight and my brother was about eleven, so there was not much we could do.  I got a job helping my brother sell newspapers at first, and then later began working for a man that lived right across the street from where I lived. In the summertime the man sold ice and I got a job with him for a quarter a day. In the wintertime he kept me on because he also sold coal.  I was around eight or nine years old at the time and I had to carry coal up three flights of stairs.  If the customer wanted 100 pounds of coal there was no way I could carry all of that at once, so I would go about 50 pounds at a time. I think that is why even at this age I am still here. 

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