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Above the Noise, Not Part of It

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March 25, 2019

As A Corollary to My Colleague…

As a corollary…
Much of my immediate family came here “onna da boat” from the “olda country”. My father and one of his sisters were born here. The other sister and his nine brothers were born in Italy. ALL of them, (except Nonno, Grandpop), became citizens of the United States. Even Nonna, (Grandmom), studied and studied to learn enough English, as well as everything else, to pass the test and becom a citizen of “AHMEDIGA”.
Allow me to clarify. After the First World War, my Nonno came here via Ellis Island with his two eldest boys. They each had two dolars in their pocket, (to prove they weren’t vagrants), and a letter from a sponsor that promised them employment. Without it, they’d have been turned away. After a year, Nonno went back to Italy, collected up his wife and children and brought them all here. That was 1921. By 1925, ALL the childre were citizens. By 1927, Nonna was a citizen. Nonno was still a registered alien.
In 1942 the Newark police and the county sheriff were going door-to-door seeking out registered alien foreign nationals. My Nonno was, indeed, in that category. The fact that ALL of his children and his wife had become citizens and he held a position important to the war effort, (he got testimony from all of the people above him), he didn’t get sent to a camp or, worse, deported. But he stayed a registered alien.
He was always an “old man”…”u’vecchione”. Oh, the stories he told us kids, “i giovani”…Tales of the old country. Tales of the First War. Tales of relatives long gone!
I aked him, once, “Nonno….Perche? WHY?” did he never become a citizen of our great nation? You see…I was brought up believing that the United States of America WAS, INDEED, that “Shining City On The Hill”.
“Because”, he said, thickly accented but in ENGLISH, “I’m-a no GOOD ENOUGH”.

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