Saturday, October 26, 2013

Those Who Came Before

My grandparents came to America as immigrants, as did my father when he was only two years old. They came, not expecting help from the government, but just a chance to make a life for their families. Pictured are my mother's parents, Pasquale and Caterina Camardi who came in 1912 from a little town called Grassano in Italy. Pasquale opened a store on Rockaway Avenue where he cleaned and blocked men's hats (in the snazzy fedora days) and also had a few shoeshine stalls. Grandpa Camardi ruled over that establishment in his grey cardigan sweater and DiNoboli cigar. He worked hard and after a time was able to purchase a house on Hull Street in Brooklyn where our family spent many happy holidays.

We recently visited Ellis Island, where so many immigrants passed through in the late 1800s and early 1900s. If you have not yet been there, especially if you had ancestors who passed through that gateway, you need to go.
I was able to research the Ellis Island data base and found immigration records of my family's arrival in this country. The records tell on what ship they arrived (my grandparents came on the Brasile out of Naples) and allow you to view the ship's manifest pages to learn when and from where they departed, with whom they travelled , and what they had in their possession.

While on a walking tour of Ellis Island, we wandered into a room that displayed posters of some of the great ships that travelled in and out of that island. One poster stopped me in my was an image of the ship "Brasile", (see photo left) the very same boat that brought my grandparents to America! I felt chills all over, as if Grandpa and Grandma were sending me a little message from beyond.

It was an emotional experience for me walking those corridors and later watching a film on what the immigrant experience was like. I am so proud of my grandparents for having the courage to leave behind all that was familiar to them, and trying to create a better future for their families. I want my children to know of the sacrifices that were made by their immigrant ancestors so that they could have the privilege of living in America. The values that make them who they are were handed down by those who came before.


LOOKING FOR A WORTHY CHARITY? TRY THESE FOLKS: Children's Craniofacial Association

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