First Television

In Fun

Both of my father’s parents grew-up in a small Italian village without money. My grandmother can recall several times that she passed out in the fields of her family’s farm from hunger and malnutrition. Her journey to America was one of necessity – as her family could no longer make a living farming in Italy. Her voyage to America in steerage on a boat proved traumatic, leaving my grandmother reluctant to discuss her immigration story. 

My grandfather and grandmother found strenuous work – with my grandfather serving as a factory employee and construction worker while my grandmother worked at a Farberware factory and moonlighted as a seamstress while raising three sons. My grandparents worked these demanding jobs while raising a family in hopes that their children would have an easier life than they did. They achieved this dream and purchased their own home to raise my father and uncles. Not only this, but they could finally afford "luxury" items. 

My grandparents viewed their television as a symbol that they had finally “made it” in America. For this photo, they gathered their children to be photographed in front of their prized possession. In discussing her immigration voyage with my grandmother, she was hesitant to assign sentimental value to items she brought with her from Italy, as they reminded her of the hardest times in her life. However, the television pictured here helped her feel as though she was truly a successful American, providing for her family.

Place(s): Italy
Year: 1958

– Thomas Palumbo

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant