Our Ancestors

A New Beginning

Our ancestors came from Italy with limited education. They came with little more than the clothes on their backs. From a life as tenant farmers on land that belonged to the Padrone to the awesome metropolis of New York City, they came filled with hope and wonder, to start a new life in a strange culture with an incomprehensible language. Almost all passed through Ellis Island. Some without incident, others with difficulty as you will read in these pages.

( Meet the young ladies on the right, the sisters Cacchioli, Gina Costella, Delina Fenaroli, Clementina Vignali, sitting, my mom, Antonietta Fenaroli.)

They were gifted with an over abundance of common sense, integrity, Courage and a fierce determination to work hard and realize the promise of America. America was not just a place, it was hope, promise, opportunity for those willing to work and lead honest productive lives. Their values were in the way they lived their lives. Their hopes were for the future, especially their children.

I cannot think of a better example than what my Mom did to me or rather for me.

There I was seventeen, finally working and actually getting cash every week. So what if it was minimum wage, it seemed a fortune to me. It was Saturday. My Boss tells me you're fired. What ! Why ! Never mind, your Mom wants you home and now. You are going to college. I really didn't want to do that. That was 2 PM in the afternoon, by 6PM I was on an old DC3 at LaGuardia Airport on my way to Albuquerque New Mexico. My thoughts were, Albuquerque what, where in the world was that? How well I remember, looking out the window and seeing the family waving goodbye as Johnny and I headed down the runway. That's right my cousin Johnny, 6 months younger than I, was with me. My Mom got together with Uncle Pete and Aunt Clementina to make that happen. Johnny was an only child. I guess I was supposed to look out for him. It took a ton of courage for my aunt and uncle to follow Mom's lead. There we were flying more than 2000 miles from home. I had been as far away as New Jersey up till then. It was literally a Galaxy away. Folks didn't fly in those days unless it was a matter of life and death. Never mind, it was a chance to go to college and Mama wasn't going to pass that up regardless of the risks involved. what I thought wasn't relevant. What a difference that made in the lives of Johnny and me. Mom knew how to make a difference and when it mattered there were no negotiations.

Let's remember our past and our roots. Let's remember their lives with pride and gratitude. Learn from them. It's not what we achieve during our lives that is important, but what we leave for those who follow.

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Buon Viaggio...........