Journal entry May 15, 1898 After much debate and many arguments between the family members, we had decided to forget the woeful life we lived here in Italy and move to America.
Our wages were low here in this country. We are mainly farmers, and our grape and other crops had been damaged by disease. Most of us live here in poverty, barely making enough money to feed our families and ourselves. When we heard about the opportunity in the Americas, I ran home immediately to tell my family. They were skeptical, of course. This was a huge decision.We have lived in Italy our whole lives nd raised a family here, but things were simply not good. Among the poor living conditions there were talks of anarchy and socialism surfacing, and it was beginning to scare us.
We were not sure what the government was going to do, but I know I did not want to stay and find out. I had to protect my family. My idea was to go to America and work until we raise enough money to come back to Italy and buy more land to grow crops on. Since the wages there were much higher than they were here, it would not take very long to get the amount of money we need.Additionally, it would give our home country time to fgure out what it was going to do about these rumors that were surfacing. When things calmed down and we had money, we would be ready to go home. We fought about it for weeks, but we finally decided that it is best for us to go.
Our boat left that weekend. When we got on the boat, it was cramped. There were hundreds of us on this boat. The trip took weeks, and the conditions were terrible.
Little water, even smaller amounts of food. All we were allowed to take were the shirts on our backs.But we finally made it, and things started to look bright. One thing was for certain, there was plenty of work to be done in America. The local people had Just introduced new machines into their work force and the current workers were afraid to use them, so they were on strike.
I had a couple of my brothers go in and work for them. The strikers treated them terribly. They were threatened when they came in to work, called derogatory names, spit upon, the works. On top of all that they were paid less than the strikers were making.But it was still more than we were making back in Italy, so there was not a whole lot of room for complaining.
My mother and sisters went to work on the farms. They were mainly laborers, and Just went about harvesting and planting. My father went to work as a carpenter and ended up making the most money. He was paid $18 a week for working around 56 hours. Back in Italy he would do that very same thing and make barely over $6 a week.
We were thankful. l, on the other hand, wanted to be something more.I tried to get higher paying ositions in industry, some sort of supervisory position since I had run the wine shop back home. But I had no such luck. Even though I was a skilled businessman, because I could not speak English I would not be considered for a Job. There was no need to learn English; I would not be in America for long, and did not see a point in learning an entire language that I would most likely never use again. So as a result, I was to be a simple day laborer, since I could not waste time trying to find an employer willing to hire an immigrant with skills.
It took quite some time, but we finally made the money we needed and began to ready ourselves for the Journey home. Apparently several other Italian immigrants had the same idea as we did: raise money to buy land then return to Italy and buy it. It was comforting to see so many of us together. After dealing with the hatred and mistreatment at the hands of some of the Americans, the welcoming words of people who understood our struggle were very endearing. But that time was over. Now we could go back to our own country, as many Italians did, and start life anew.