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Here is a collection of family immigrant stories from across our human experience.
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There is so much to say to you
A child born with little
Your love for her in view
Until she had come up tall
From your vine she grew
She would have never known
Theres not much she could not do
I owe everything to my grandmother, Pierina Rosa. She was born in the region of Ligure in the North of Italy. Her father, Nonno, grew up with very little. He once recalled that as a child, he was given one precious orange for Christmas. He carried that orange around and admired it, smelling its oil, savoring it until it began to go bad. He ate it slowly, and swore he’d grow up and have all the oranges he wanted, and his children would, too.
In 1920 he came to the United States and a year later called for his family, including my grandmother. He started out with $9 in his pocket and ended up purchasing slaughter houses, garbage collection companies, gravel pits and a trucking company in the San Joaquin Valley.
For a man who was used to working hard without much in return, this was an opportunity he utilized well.
Having connections in the slaughterhouse/beef industry, Alfredo got a commission with the War Department. He picked up and delivered several loads of meat daily, transporting the beef short distances from suppliers to the nearby armed forces facilities. Charging by the pound, Alfredo made over a thousand dollars a day for the last two years of WWII.
These people who raised me taught me much about the value of hard work and also of love, food, and of music.
But that is another story for another time.
With contributions by Anne Whitehurst