My great grandfather (my father's mother's father) came here from Italy in the early part of the last century with his two brothers. They settled in Newark, New Jersey.
Legend has it that, one night, one of his brother's beat someone up. (How classy) Really bad, actually. So bad, in fact, he thought he killed him.
He had to get the hell out of dodge/Newark. He had to go far away. He got on a train. To Chicago.
The other brother followed soon after. They met lovely ladies and had children and grandchildren and many greats. And, I'm assuming/hoping they didn't beat anyone else up.
At the time of the great escape, my great grandfather was already married with children and so he stayed in Newark.
Over the years, my grandmother and Aunt Jo Ann kept in touch with "the cousins from Chicago." They wrote letters and visited them and always talked fondly about all of them and especially Cousin Ang.
When H was transferred here in 2008 and we moved from NYC, I finally met the cousins! And, they're awesome! Naturally, stories were exchanged and pictures were shown. For me, the most incredible of them all was this one ~
This is my great great grandmother - Angela Maria (of course. What's an Italian family without a few Angela's, my grandmother and Cousin Ang among them?). The back of the picture read: Angela Maria, 1900, Italy.
I think of this picture every Fourth of July now. And I send a little note into the past ~
Dear Great Great Grandma,
Hi. It’s your great great granddaughter here. My name is Jennifer but my friends call me Fern or Ferny. I think you might be happy to know that I’m American and I went to college and to law school and have lived in Boston and NYC and Chicago. A lot can happen for a family in a 110 years!
p.s. Nice earrings.
Today, I am grateful ~
1/ For 'the cousins from Chicago' - my family away from home.
2/ That my great grandfather - who I remember my grandmother telling me that he never learned to read or write. He could only sign his name ‘Joe' - and all of my great grandparents came from Italy to this country.
3/ That I’ve had more opportunities than Angela Maria or my great grandfather or any of my ancestors could have ever dreamed. Happy Birthday, America!
And, Happy 99th Birthday to Cousin Ang!