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Port of Naples, Italy May 1965

The big day had arrived. We boarded the S.S. Constitution that day along with a contingent of assorted uncles, aunts, cousins and friends who had come to see us off. In those days they let you do that. A few of those uncles had spent the better part of the last few months trying to talk my parents out of leaving. My Zio Mario was the most vocal. “What’s in America that you don’t have here?” he would ask over and over. “You live well, you have a nice business, I just don’t understand.” But my parents were just as adamant that they wanted to start a new life in the States. Ever since they got the letter from the consulate a few months earlier stating that it was “their turn” they never hesitated for a moment.

They said they wanted a better life for my sister and I and they know that the opportunities we would have in America were just not possible in Italy. My father soon made all the arrangements and booked passage to New York. He had wanted to fly but my mother was a bit apprehensive about it plus we had too much stuff. He chose the Constitution because it was an American ship. He said that if we were going to become Americans then we should start by arriving on what was then a modern American vessel.

Pretty soon the ship sounded a few blasts of it’s’ horn to signal that all visitors needed to go ashore. I remember everyone was crying and hugging even my dad.

I didn’t cry, probably because at the age of not quite five, I couldn’t possibly comprehend how our lives would never be the same, and that I probably wouldn’t see any of these people again for a long, long time. It was just a big exciting adventure to me and I didn’t get what all the tears were about.

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