Josephine LaMarca Lungari

August, 1955 at age 12.
August, 1955 at age 12.

My grandmother, before coming to America, lived in the small town of Alimena, Sicily with her only her mother and a large number of relatives. At age 6, her mother placed her in an orphanage for 6 years prior to leaving for America because they had little money in general, let alone enough for the journey to New York. Finally, at 12 years old, my grandma's mother retrieved her from the orphanage took her to her uncle's house before going to the ship. She traveled with her mother, Maria Grazia DiGiovanni, and uncle to Palermo where they docked the cruise ship, the Saturnia. For the majority of the time, she was sick, especially when they crossed the Gibraltar straight. The only time they got off the boat was in Canada to see where the overthrown Italian prince lived. Then, after 15 long days, the Saturnia docked in New York and everyone on the boat got up early to see the Statue of Liberty. My grandmother, her mother and uncle met their family to pick them up from the dock where they drove under the Lincoln tunnel, my grandma remembers being shocked by the fact that they were surrounded by water in the tunnel. The hardest thing in America was the language barrier and since my grandma had very little belongings, her cousins took her to Broad and Market Street to buy some clothes but, "sale" in Italian means "salt" so she thought every store was selling salt. When they put her in school, the nuns put her in kindergarten to watch the kids, 5 Italians in the class and the rest were little American children that used to make fun of her when she could not understand English.

Place(s): Alimena, Sicily to Newark, New Jersey
Year: 1955

– MS

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