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The economic boom did not last that long. Another crisis was approaching quickly. Work was getting slower and slower and income was decreasing along with it, but the expenses were always the same. At home we started to talk about emigration. My father always ignored any discussions about emigration that we had within the family. He often said that the work would come back. He loved the village, the family, his friends and did not desire anything else. But the work never came back. My mother started to push my father to get information on going to America, for if nothing else, but to “open the way for Delia”. So I became a point of contention between my father and my mother. My mother wanted to emigrate; she had heard a lot about America and everything she heard about it was good. Conversely, my father hated the idea. My mother pressed the issue, and her reasoning was based on very sound logic. She would say to my father that I was old enough now and that he needed to start thinking about my dowry. She stressed the fact that I was not a farmer and I did not hope that the son of a rich family would show up to ask for my hand in marriage. Therefore neither a farmer nor a rich man would have ever married me. “You have to go” she insisted “Delia has no future here”. No one could refute my mother’s logic. With a heavy heart, my father finally gave in and started to prepare the papers for emigration.
However, he imposed a condition: he said that he come back as soon as he had brought me to America and got me settled in with one of his sisters. My mother agreed to this, but she had no intention of keeping her promise. The day to get the visa arrived and so we had to go to Naples to the American Embassy. Dad had been nervous on the days leading up to our trip to Naples. He would go out for a few minutes and then would come back rubbing his forehead looking as if there was a problem he was thinking about but could not solve, and then a few minutes later, he would go out again.
When I saw him he looked very worried; he smiled very little in those days. I, instead, could not wait to go to the so coveted America. My friends had gone before me; they had written me and had told me everything about America. At the end of each letter they would always write “Try to come, we are waiting for you”. Of course I will come.
After they gave the visa to my father, he became even more serious, talked very little and was very pensive. It seemed like a jail sentence was hanging over his head. In the meantime my uncle Paolo had already left for America.
He had married a peasant girl from the village who lived in America. They had known each other since they were kids; they had started to write to each other and then fell in love. She came back and they got married. They lived in Settefrati for a short time and then aunt Netta, his wife, had to go back to work and went back to America; he would follow her later.
Uncle Paolo wrote to my father to tell him that he was doing fine and that if he came , they could open an auto repair shop and would work as mechanics. They were both mechanics. My uncle explained that with the quantity of cars in America there would always be work. “If you come and then you want to come back home” he continued “Delia can stay with us”. Dad read the letter and frowned, but he did not tell me much about it.
Delia Socci Skidmore