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"Beginning a New Life I: Pasqualina Bellapianta Zaza" posted June 17, 2005 at 08:20 PM

Imagine starting on a journey to a new land, a three year old daughter in hand, and waiting for you at the end of your journey, a husband you haven't seen for four years. Add to that the fact that you had never been further away from home and family than the town cemetery, which was located at the end of your hometown's border. You have never been on a train, or a boat, you speak only your native tongue, and you are leaving behind mother, father, brothers and sisters and all your friends.

That was my mother's situation when she departed Molfetta, Italy at age 27, with my sister Marta,age three, to join my father in the United States. To make matters worse, she was advised by my Grandmother Zaza (Nonna), Papa's mother, not to go, because Nonna knew her son, who, although a good man, was very difficult, demanding and selfish, might make Mama unhappy. Nonna wanted her to stay in Molfetta, promising that she would take care of Mama and Marta. So Mama wrote to Papa, and said she didn"t want to come America. Papa immediately wrote back, telling Mama that it was okay if she didn't come, but if she chose to stay in Molfetta, he would no longer send money to support her and their daughter (what a guy!). So Mama went to her father to seek advice. Grandfather Bellapianta (Nonno), although he did not want to see his daughter go so far away, told her she was a married woman, and her place was by her husband's side, so she must obey him and go to him.



And so, reluctantly Mama and Marta left Molfetta, Italia, Provincia di Bari, in August 1928, boarded a train for Genoa, where they sailed to the United States of America, aboard the ship Vulcania. It was not a pleasant experience, as Mama was seasick for the entire trip. She often told us how young Marta sat by her bedside and tried to console her, and even acting as her contact to other passengers for assistance. Of course, eventually they arrived to the Port Of New York, where they disembarked at the Brooklyn Navy Yards, and after a three day quarantine to make sure Mama's illness was not something more than seasickness, Mama, Marta and Papa were reunited, and began their trip to Youngstown, Ohio, where they set up housekeeping, had four more children and despite Nonna Zaza's warnings, built a very nice and comfortable life for themselves and their children.


Mama: Pasqualina Bellapianta Zaza / July 15, 1899 - February 28,1968
Marta: Martha (Marta) Zaza Vicarel / December 9, 1925 - December 12, 2002

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