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Contributed by: Karen Mitchell Interviewed by Sandra Cason Erma Menghini, born 11-14-1912, married Ferdinand Menghini Parents - Mike Nizzi and Jenifer Lenzini Paternal grandparents - John Nizzi and Maria Carrari Maternal grandparents - Jospeh Lenzini and Rose Lenzini Ethnic group - Italian Family origin - Father, Peva, Italy; Mother, St. Michael, Italy Date of family arrival in County - Mother - 1890's, Father - 1900's Location of first family settlement - Walsenburg, Father in Missouri first
SC: Well, what we are doing is just talking to people in the County about
their families, and the history of the County, and whatever else people
have to contribute, so we had your name and that's how we came to be here.
This is Mrs. Fred Menghini's house in Walsenburg.
When did your family first come to the County?
IM: Well, I think my dad came in 1900.
SC: Is that right? And where did he come from?
IM: From Pevi, Tallejo, Italy.
SC: What part of Italy is that?
IM: That's the Northern part. That's near Bologna, Pizza.
SC: What kind of work was he in there?
IM: When he came he was a coal miner. Then he met my mother, which was a
Linzini. They owned the Lenzini Dry Goods there, and my father-in-law and
my dad both went into saloon business, there on the end of 7th Street where
the garage is, they tore down those buildings and made a garage in later
years. Then they went on to Tioga, Colorado, that was a mining camp and,
they had a saloon there. Then he moved back in town, went into the coal
mines for awhile and built his own little grocery store. I was taken out
of school at 12. I was through with eighth grade, and I drove a grocery
truck. Do you want to know any of that part?
SC: Oh, sure.
IM: I drove a model T, and went to all the camps, up as far as Alamo, took
orders one day, delivered them the second day, the third day. The second
day I would go south to those mining camps and take orders and deliver them.
I did that until the IWW strike. I can't remember what year it was. My
dad fed these coal miners, they were all coal miners in these camps. And
when they went back to work they didn't pay him, so he went broke.
SC: You mean through the strike he continued to extend credit to them...
IM: To his customers. And so then I went out on to work and I worked at
the Huerfano Drug at that time and I worked 10 years and then I went to the
courthouse and worked there 34 years.
SC: You've been a working woman all your life.
IM: Yes .
SC: So what was your father's name?
IM: Nizzi, Mike.
SC: And then you married Fred Menghini.
SC: And what year did you marry?
SC: Were you working then?
IM: Oh, yes .
SC: And where were you working then?
IM: At the Huerfano Drug, then.
SC: Did you have children?
IM: I had one son. He's the dentist here.
SC: That's Fred A.
IM: Yes. My husband's name was Ferdinand and he had a brother named Fred-
erick. We named my son after Frederick, but my husband's name was Ferdinand.
We just called him Freddie. When I met him it was Freddie and that was it.
He lost his brother.
SC: Where was he born?
IM: He was born in Italy? Up in Tento, a little village. He came here at
the age of five months.
SC: He came also to Walsenburg.
IM: Yes, he came with his mother. And he has a sister living in that village
which we visited 6 years ago. And I got to see, he got to see his birth-
place, and the little village they had was founded by them, by the Menghins.
It's really Menghin. instead of Menghini. I'll tell you why. There's a
pinksblood someplace. We didn't understand all this till we went to Italy.
In between there they married one that wasn't, you know. One was a duchess,
one was a baroness, I don't know. It's all Greek to me, but anyway, so when
they married out from this whatever you call it, then they add an "i" to
the name, so then it's Menghini, but it's really Menghin, M-e-n-g-h-i-n.
And they founded this little village. And everything in this little village
had their name on it. I got to go. They were way up North, up by Austria.
My husband's dad was Austrian. His father did not want to be called Italian,
because you know Austria at one time belonged to Austria and then Italy took
some and Germany took some and then they had no country. They didn't want
to be called German and they didn't want to be called Italian so they came
to this country. So we visited all those places. I got to see my mother
and my dad's birthplace and I went to the little church that they attended.
And my brother was born there, after we went over, and he was baptized in
the St. Peter's Basicalla in Rome with Vatican. I was just blessed I'd al-
ready been baptized. And so we got to see all those places and I was very
fortunate to see all those places. And where they came from and all those
SC: That's wonderful, who went?
IM: My husband and I went.
SC: I see. The Lenzini family, that was your mother's family.
IM: Yes .
SC: And when did they come to this country.
IM: Oh, my dad came before 1900 and I think they came in the 1890's. I
think the Lenzini'd did, too, because my mother and one of her brothers were
born in Italy, and a sister which she lost, but the other two were born here.
SC: And where were you born.
IM: I was born in Walsenburg, in Tioga, where they had the saloon. I was
married in Walsenburg, and everything else, all Walsenburg.
SC: Do you remember... Let's see now, the saloon was before the grocery
store. Do you remember any stories that were told about the saloon keeping
in those days?
IM: Well, they had a really tough time. A lot of Greeks were in this camp.
And they were a sort of mean group of men. They fought a lot. And my dad
kept two bulldogs. I don't know what kind,' English, they were huge dogs,
but they were his protection and one night they had a fight and he fought off
16 Greeks. Then the uncle, they nephew was jealous of the uncle, and he
shot and killed this uncle. Of course the saloon had the barber chair there
and everything. I've just seen pictures of it. I don't recall, I was too
young. But they jailed my dad and then they found the bullet in the barber
chair and that proved my dad ...my dad kept a gun, but he always hit the
men with the butt, he never fired it. So that bullet proved that he was
innocent. And then it got to be pretty rough, you know what I mean, saloons...
and these people coming in... so they closed the saloon he and my grandpa,
and of course my grandpa retired and my dad came and we moved up here, first
he went down to where Corsentino's was. They ran the dairy, they made cheese.
Then the man that owned it cut off their lease so they had to get out. So
he went back in the coal mines and he worked enough that he built up a store
which is where my son lives. There used to be a store there, and it was
called Loma Park Grocery and we ran that for quite a few years until, as I
said, the IWW strike.
SC: And that was when he went out of business.
IM: Yes, right after that strike and I went to work. And I can tell you a
cute little incident that happened in Alamosa. I drove a Model T truck and
went out, and you know where the Hogback is, well, we never did make it in
low, we always had to back down half way and come up fast in reverse, a
stronger gear, and it's really funny, you know. You don't hear that stuff,
but... and our old model T, no matter what went wrong with it all you did
was tie it up with a piece of wire and it would get going again.
SC: Did you go to school when you had the saloon? Or was that before..
IM: Oh, yes, that was way before. I was born in 1912.
SC: So your schooling, then, was in Walsenburg.
IM: Oh, yes, I went to this high school, as I say to eighth grade, junior
high. I didn't get to go to high school. My mother was sick, we had the store.
SC: Did you have brothers or sisters?
IM: I have three brothers.
SC: Were they older or younger?
SC: Did they stay in this area, in the county?
IM: No, none of 'em are here. One in Cypress Gardens, that's near Long
Beach. One's in Albuquerque and one's in Amarillo. The one in Amarillo
has a music store and he's a professional recorder player. He played with
Magani. But he didn't like exhibition, he taught until the time he got his
own music store.
IM: So how long did you work at the court house. When did you stop wprlomg
at tje courthouse?
IM: I stopped working about 3 years ago.
SC: And what did you do there?
IM: Every office in the courthouse except the county superintendent of
schools. I was made acting assessor during the war, cause the one that was
elected in January, he volunteered for the Marines, to go to the service, you
know the war just broke out. They were four year terms at that time, I
worked those four years. Then they had another election. My husband didn't
want me to run for assessor and I worked there four more years for the second
assessor that went in. Then I went into the treasurer's office and then at
the clerk's office, we sold license plates and we gave out driver's licenses.
If I had to take the examination today for a driver's license I'd probably
SC: What was your hunband's work?
IM: My husband went into the mine at the age of 13. He lost his mother very
SC: What was his job at that age?
IM: In the mine? To dig coal. He worked with his dad. You know, they let
the younger fellows go in if they worked with their dad. And he worked 6
years in the mine. Then he had to get out. He got pnemonia, broke an arm
or something and developed a sort a... not asthmatic... he couldn't breathe
as well. So then he quit working in the mines. Then he went on building
and became his own building company and built many, many homes here, remodelled
twice as many.
SC: Do you think his lung condition was from his work in the mine?
IM: Oh, yes .
SC: I guess there wasn't any compensation then?
IM: No. I got social security after that. He quit at the age of 65 and we
went to Italy and had 45 days there which I was very happy because 2 years
ago, the 23rd he had a heart attack and died. You know, what I mean, just
one of those things.
SC: Do you remember any events or stories of things that happened during
the strikes here?
IM: Yes. You know how Seventh Street is, they have that Well, where
the Apartments are, Lenzini's, there used to be a grocery store. They had
a grocery store. Well, I had an uncle that was 19 years old which was shot
by the militia.
SC: Really? At the grocery store? Shot dead?
IM: No, mother took him with a wagon, dragged him through the grove, there
weren't all those homes there, to the depot and put him on a train and he
died three days later at Corwin Hospital.
SC: Where is that?
IM: Corwin is in Pueblo.
SC: What were the circumstances?
IM: Well, the strike was going on, the 1913 strike. And he had dug a tunnel
from the house to the stove in order to get from the house to the store with-
out being shot at. You know what I mean? The militia were on the hill. They
were fighting, the men that didn't go to work, you understand? So he went
into the store and as he went into the store they saw him and they shot at
him and they hit a vinegar barrel. So he sat there whittling a piece of
wood to stop the vinegar and they shot him. My mother put him on a buggy
an a horse.. she also delivered groceries with a horse and buggy.
SC: Had he been working in the mines before that, your uncle?
IM: He was a Lenzini, yes. He never did work in the mines. No he just
worked in the store.
SC: Do you think they were just taking pot shots at anyone that they saw?
IM: Yes, because the neighbor next door was a miner that didn't go to work
and they shot him the same day. In fact, I think a few minutes difference.
SC: Do you remember the date?
SC: And that happened right at the grocery store? What's across the street
IM: Well, there's apartments there now. And across the street there's a
little store. Used to be a store.
SC: Do you know where the old 7th Street school is?
IM: Oh, up above. This is on the ninth block.
SC: So it was close to the camp?
IM: Yes, you know where the garage is. Behind it was this hill... The
store was on the second block.
SC: This wasn't during the Wobblie Strike, which was when the family
extended credit to the strikers. But do you think it was that kind of thing
that led to the shooting out there?
IM: No, this incident with my dad when I ran the store, I was 14, and this
was in 1913.
SC: I know, but I was just trying to figure out why they were just shooting
at people then.
IM': Well, I'll tell you they say that the miners that didn't go to work
was shooting at the militia, so the milita just shot at anybody.
SC: So what was your uncle's name?
IM: Michael Lenzini.
SC: And that was your mother's brother?
IM: Yes .
SC: Were any of the Lenzini family miners?
IM: No, they all worked in the grocery store and in the garage.
SC: So it was your father's side of the family that was miners?
IM: His dad... no, my dad's side was him, just he, and my husband's, it was
his father and my husband. My husband worked 6 years in the mine.
SC: Was your father in the strikes? Was he a striker?
IM: No, he was in the grocery store by that time.
SC: What about your husband?
IM: No, no. He had quit way before that. See, he was born in 1907 so at
But I'll tell you about the strike I went on, when we were in the store.
I did go on these picket lines. See, I was allowed to go in the camps and
deliver groceries to the miners that worked. And I had a pass with the
militia and they were on horseback, that's gow they guarded it. I was allowed
to go in. Well, I disguised myself and went on a picket to see what it was.
And we walked to Rouse. I don't know if you know where that is, one of the
mine camps. And I'll never forget that as long as I live. They took shots
but they didn't kill anybody. But every miner carried pick handles and ax
handles. No guns. And they had a girl dressed in red and whit. That was
the IWW colors, red and white. And they run her down and broke both legs
and both arms, the militia did. Well, I don't know if it was the militia in
those days, or just the police or whatever they were. They were for the
miners that were working and these were the strikers. In fact, they had
demonstrations down town and we delivered groceries to them and the fed the
miners. They had a kitchen and they fed beans and stuff like that. We
delivered all this stuff to them from the wholesale house. My brother and I,
my brother then was helping, he was out of school. And they were coming
down the street and they shot a man, oh, within twelve feet of us, and it
was so funny because, you're young, you know, you don'g know. 13, you don't
realize what death is, really, and I remember walking over to him and the
whole skull had blown off. Did you ever see a doll with the eyes pushed in?
That's what we saw. And about that time another grocerman, Salebah, the
woman that owns that variety store, her dad, he picked us up and took us
down the basement of his place. He had a store, a couple doors away. Then
a young boy was shot off a tree that was watching him. When they buried
this man I think every store in town had miners on top... the non-strikers,
if they'd started anything it would have been a disaster, when this man was
SC: Very violent.
IM: Very. They had these pickets all the time. No deaths, but a lot of
injuries. The only death was when they marched down Main Street until this
richoched or what, it hit this man, that was it, and this boy on the tree.
But that was the only killing. But at the mines they had pickets every night.
Lot of injuries.
SC: How long did that strike last?
IM: Not too long.
See, during the IWW, they had the bigger men come in and of course, they
were supposed to pay us grocerymen, which were the Sporleders that had the
store here that gave us the things wholesale, you know what I mean, quite a
few of the merchants stuck together, got meat at one place and another, and
they started picking up and arresting these men, see. And so they weren't
able to pay anyone. And so the strike ended. I don't think it lasted too long.
SC: Do you recall whether there were any bad feelings toward your family
store for extending credit, from mine owners?
IM: No. You see, they had the food line. We had miners that volunteered
and came and helped sack beans and potatoes, soft side of bologna. There
wasn't anything fancy. Milk for the children. But no, there was no ill
feelings as far as the groceries feeding 'em. They lined up and came in the
store and they were given, depended on the size of the family, the amount of
the package of beans..
SC: Were there other stores that extended credit to striking workers?
IM: Yes. But they got together this way. My dad's store was the main
source where they came to pick up the food. But the wholesalers and whenever
we delivered beans to the kitchen there would be 500 or 600 pounds of beans
delivered and flour. That's all we delivered to the kitchen, beans and flour.
SC: And this was the kitchen that fed the strikers.
IM: Yes. They'd stand in line and the union...
SC: Did you also deal with individual miners?
IM: No, the only individual miners that my dad kept was those that wouldn't
go to the kitchen. You know, that were proud. And my dad extended their credit.
SC: Did the union pay for all this stuff?
IM: The union paid only for what was given to the miners that came to the
food line. But they didn't pay for the food that my dad... but the IWW left
owing my dad $30,000 and in those days that's like 30 million. And he had
several good salesmen and more that were behind him and they took him where
there were other strikes... I know my dad made a trip to Wyoming, got $10,000
and made a trip to Salt Lake City and got $10,000. But what broke him was
him extending credit to the miners that were his customers. You know what I
mean? He didn't take on any new ones. Just those that were his customers.
I guess it went on long enough that it broke my dad, that's all.
SC: Well, he was a principle man, then.
IM: Oh, yes. My dad then went into politics, when he closed the store and
he worked at the court house. He was very respected. He was a Democrat but
he voted also for the man. But...
SC: There weren't very many Democrats here for awhile, were there?
IM: Oh, yes, there was always ..well, when I was younger, when my dad ran
the saloon, then it was Jim Farr Days, they called it. I remember my dad
talking about him. Then it was Rupublican. But since I've been in politics.
I've been committee-woman since I was 21 and I'm 67 today. Just for 2 years
I wasn't the committee-woman. I gave it up. Then they made me come back.
SC: Was this Democratic State Committee-woman?
IM: No, this was local. I was representing the Southern part of Colorado
as President of the Jane Jefferson Club for the Democratic Party.
SC: Oh, and what was that?
IM: Well, that was a club that backed the Democratics. Like locally we had
our Judge Thompson that was running for representative that he gave up and
became judge, but we sent him back East, so we'd have bingo parties and we'd
have fund raising things. You know, everything is raising money and that's
what the Jane Jefferson's were for. We gave bingo parties and we gave dinners
SC: And what were your responsibilities as committee-woman?
IM: I had to take care of the caucus.
I belonged to the Democrat Central Committe which also has a vote in the
I worked for the Sheriff's Office. I worked for the Welfare Department.
SC: Well, you've had a real full life. What are some of the changes you've
seen here, like in the way the town looks..
IM: We've always been a very poor county and you know it's really supported
by your ADC and Welfare. There are a few miners that go out and other than
that and other than the jobs here in town there isn't much industry in the
area so it isn't you know. But I've seen a great big, change in politics.
They always said politics was dirty and I'll agree to a point, but nothing
like today, no. There if a man told you he would vote for you he would.
Today you can pay this man and he'll say he'll vote for you he won't. That
is the difference.
Mr. Stimack who resigned this time and didn't run, I worked for him. In
fact, like I said, 34 years in the courthouse. Course I ended up with a
part time job in the Sheriff's office. They didn't need a full time book-
keeper so I was bookkeeper-secretary, just part time. Until 2 years ago. I
stayed on till I got my medicare.
SC: Very independent lady.
So what are some other aspects of this political change you talk about.
You just feel politics are just less honest than they used to be?
IM: Oh, yes. I don't even like any of this what's going on TV now with our
Democrat and Republican Party and so many running and one throwing mud at
the other. I went out with the commissioners and with everyone that ran in
the whole courthouse and those that couldn't speak, well, we sang. We weren't
as bashful to sing. We had rallies. Ida Boscia that works at the Chamber
of Commerce, who is now committee-woman... chairperson... And we went out
and cleaned dirty halls, gave rallies, and I danced with more cowboys, I'll
tell you, till I finally realized one night, I said to one of the commissioners,
Clyde Johnson, "I don't know why I have to dance with all these cowboys. I'm
not running for anything.” But you know, I had a job, so we all worked to-
gether. It's a little bit different now. You think it's going to go one
way.. Now we had this Precinct 4, my dad when he was committeman, we had
three Republicans in this District and they were all very good friends. We
worked together and they voted at my mother's house 3/4 of the time. She
practically moved out three rooms so they could have them to vote in. We
never had a decent place to vote for. Now we do, we vote up to the High
School. But they were all good friends. Three Republicans. We, for years,
were the first precinct in with our votes, counting our votes. And I have
been counting judge as long as committee-woman. They knew when our precinct
came in more or less how the election would go. We could gauge by that for
many, many years, but the last few years it's changed.
SC: That's this part of town where we are now?
IM: Yes, although now Precinct or Ward 4, it extends way out to Toltec and
Yellowstone, all back there, where before it was just from the Hogback down
to the Triangle there.
SC: Were there parts of the city that were more Democratic than others?
IM: No, I think the biggest majority always was Democratic. Up until the
later years. But I won't say. You know, we vote Republican if we vote for
the man. His affiliation was Democrat but we also vote for the man. My
dad taught me this policy. He was a great politician, well liked politician.
SC: What did he do when he went to work at the courthouse?
IM: See, he was sort of retired so he did custodial work and maintainence
work, like that.
SC: Did there used to be small grocery stores, a different kind of merchant
IM: Oh, yes. Mwre small groceries. Over the years they killed the little
guy and now they are killing the middleman, let's face it.
SC: What were some of the other small businesses they used to have here?
IM: I can't think of any others?
IM: Oh, yes, we had a JC Penney, we had a Krier's store, we had 4 or 5,
department stores that handled clothing. Now we just have one.
SC: How about beauty shops or barber shops.
IM: There were more barber shops. Beauty shops, I don't think more than 2 or 3.
SC: Movie theatres?
IM: We had two.
SC: Do you think it was the ..do you think the change in the merchant
situation here has to do with the mines closing here?
IM: I think it does. No, I think your chain stores, your supermarkets have
hurt us. I don't think the change in people, or the miners, ..we still
have miners, we still have families that have their family working here, but
I think the big stores have hurt us. I know like Safeway coming in, that has
closed many of our local merchants, because they can't compete. Let's face
it, you can't buy at the same price. Like Black and White, he can't compete
with Safeway. And of course, having more cars, people do go out of town to
buy. I feel this way, if you have to make a special trip to go up and buy
groceries, you're not coming out too much ahead. But if you have to go to
the doctor or if you make a trip every 6 or 8 weeks it does pay because there
is a great deal of savings. I don't, I live alone and I don't have to buy
that much, you know.
SC: Thinking back about your work in county politics, who were some of the
political figures over the years?
IM: Well, when I went in Clyde Johnson, Sabeno Archuletta, Joe Copene, J.J.
Stimack, Demasio Vigil, Jr. and Demasio Vigil, Sr., Tom Soloman, which is
still our county treasurer, and the Swifts, they were the County Sheriffs
and I went to work for Tony Velardi, he was the sheriff who has since then
passed on, and I worked for Jerry Condor, who was just defeated this last
time. And the County Superintendent of Schools, Francis Nelson, I didn't
work in her office, but you know we worked together. And Judge Furphy,
Judge Baron and his father.
SC: Well, you knew a lot of people. Do you remember any stories you might
have heard about the beginnings of the Democratic Party here or what it was
like under Jeff Farr?
IM: Well, the stories that we heard as children. My Dad got out of the
saloon business because of the Jeff Farr Days. Because they wanted to run
everything. There were two probibition officers that came in and they were
supposed to pick up the bootleggers, let's face it. Well, they sided in
with them. They picked two or three big ones and made money with them. Them
they turned one fellow in, one of their so-called partners in and this
fellow shot them both.
SC: Pretty rough in the liquor business.
IM: Yes, bootlegging, you know. I just remember the story. I remember the
man ran away and I remember them saying he went up to my uncle's garage and
wanted a car and my uncle said he couldn't because he'd be an accessory..
but he went to a farm way up in Greenhorn and the police were looking. They
had no clues that he was there. But the farmer that was hiding him was
frightened and told. This fellow shot himself before the law got to him.
I guess he lived a few days in the hospital here and then died.
SC: Must have been a pretty big business, bootlegging, during that period.
IM: I imagine it was yes. Well, you know, you go to work in the mines for
a dollar a day, you have to do something to feed a family. I remember my
mother and dad talk, and my uncles, they'd reminesce about this stuff and I
guess it was pretty tough.
SC: Do you remember anything about the depression here?
IM: Yes, I was working at the drug store and I was getting $190 a month
plus commission and my wages were cut down to $60 a month in one whack. And
that was good wages, $60 a month. I couldn't carry $5 worth of groceries
home. But I had papers. We took someone that was married that sponsored in
the newspaper and on the back it says 4¢ a loaf. Well, we might have had
4¢ to buy a loaf, but we didn't have 8¢ to buy two loaves. Other than that
I don't think anyone in small towns like this felt the depression. We had
no soup kitchens here. And I think there was very little relief given.
Well, what would you call relief? The NRA? Who came in and built highways,
put these men to work, built highway 10, buildings where the community center
is. Built bridges where always there was flooding over. Paid by the county
and the government, I guess. But I don't think we felt the depression too
much here ..
SC: Do you recall any fraternal orders or clubs that members of your family
IM: Dad belonged to an Italian Lodge. Dante Allegueri, which is still, they
have it, but there are very few younger fellows that belong any more.
SC: What was the function of the fraternal orders or lodges? What did they
do? Social Clubs, insurance?
IM: Yes, insurance. And other than that they didn't mix in with politics
or mix in with strikes or anything like that. It was more like the Eagles
or the Elks.
SC: Mutual aid?
IM: Yes .
SC: Was your, did your family attend a church?
IM: Oh, we were Catholics, always Catholics, in fact the priest that married
my mother married me. Father Machoti.
SC: Do you recall things the church did, was there a stronger role for the
church? Dinners or activities?
IM: Oh, yes, my son went to high school in Catholic School. For four years.
I was President, vice-president, secretary and treasurer and I still maintained
the job at the courthouse. And we gave the bazaars, we gave away cars, sold
chances for it, and they had a booster club. One of the boys that worked at
the courthouse and I, I was president of the PTA then. And we solicited
everything, we didn't have one penney bill and we had this big ravioli and
we had breaded steak and all the trimmings and we made money for the booster
club. They bought uniforms, things for the football, basketball.
SC: Do they turn out like that now.
IM: They had a little bazaar the other night but it's not near likt that.
You don't get volunteers anymore. You know the volunteers that went down
and worked every day for days and days making that many ravioli and stuff.
They were the old timers. You don't get this younger generation doing that.
SC: Did your parents speak English at home?
IM: Always, although my mother, this is why I went to Italy when I was a
child. My dad sent my mother over to Italy to pick up his mother when she
had lost her father and we came back and she, my mother took her mother
and the youngest uncle, A.S. Lenzini Sr., which died a few years ago, and
we went to Italy and we were there fourteen months. Course, I was only 13
months old and I don't remember.
SC: So she went to pick up...
IM: My father's mother. So my one grandmother, my father's mother, lived
with us always and then she died at the age of 89. She came over at 70.
This my other grandmother lived with us for a year before her death. My
uncle and aunt travelled quite a bit. He retired so we were taught the true
Italian, not the dialect. I picked up my own reading and writing. I got
a dictionary and picked it up. Then when we went to Italy 6 years ago, we
went with Mrs. Rufinni, which her husband was also a merchant here and she
said, "Now when we get there, you let me do the talking, because they'll
know you're Americans.” Well, we went into customs and I could just see them
throwing this suitcase open and throwing everything on the ground, and it
took me about three months to pack. You know it was the first trip we'd ever
taken and first time I'd flew. Well, you just don't know what to take and
it had to weigh so much. My husband has a sister and an aunt still living
and we wanted to take them things, and so I said to this fellow a red cap you
might say, in Italian mind you, I didn't dream I could. We hadn't spoken.
My mother'd been dead for 12 years, I didn't dream I could speak it, but I
guess when you get there and my grandma teaching us the true Italian. I
asked this fellow, "My goodness, do we have to get in this line and get our
clothes? It would take me till the next day to get it packed." And he looked
and said "What do you have?" And I said, "Clothes, that's all I have." And
I gave him four packages of Pall Mall and I tell you I think he'd have carried
me back to the United States. So I got out of that custom pretty easy. But
getting back into customs in New York was another story. A few people didn't
put down what they had bought. So we were in there four hours. I was sur-
prised the difference in customs. Of course, they're going into Italy, you're
checked here, checked with machines, and I thought that was so bad, my gosh
they emptied your purse and everything but when you get on that plane you are
very happy that they did it.
SC: Well, that's about all the questions I have to ask.
IM: Well, that's about an autobiography of my life.
SC: Are there any other stories you'd like to tell, things you think of
about the area? Changes that have taken place?
IM: Well, I think the war has changed. Like my generation, our friendship,
in this respect: we still call. At one time there was only one telephone in
this part. During the war there was just one. Of course, now there is the
telephone and the change is, at one time, not having money, durint the depres-
sion, during the war, we walked to our friends, whether they lived on the
opposite side of town or not, we walked, we visited. Where as now, we don't
think of going across the street in a car, much less go across the street to
bisit. During the war there was gas rationing and everything and it just
stopped all the... Well, I had a car, but with the gas rationing, it cut
down. And I think TV has changed an awfully lot. We sit in front of the
tube and watch it where we really should be visiting each other. I mean,
those were the good old days when we visited.