The great “American Dream” for countless Italian-born immigrants who desired a better life and emigrated from their country, leaving behind, home and families of origin and risking everything was realized by three of my grandparents; Pietro and Libera (Vitale) Palmisano and Michele Ferrante. They arrived in 1930 to the United States from Rodi Garganico, Provincia di Foggia in the Puglia region of Italy. They arrived with next to nothing and had to begin anew. This they accomplished beyond measure, never having the opportunity to return to their beloved homeland in Rodi Garganico, Italy. They never saw their remaining family again in this life.
Pietro and Libera arrived with one son, Antonio. Once settled, they had three more children, Frank, Anna and Peter Palmisano. Michele Ferrante subsequently married Philomena Bencivenga who was born in the United States. They had three children: Antoinette, Marie and Bartholomew. Providentially they settled within a one city block radius of each other in Hoboken, New Jersey. My father Frank met and married my mother Antoinette Ferrante. Together my grandparents became the grandparents to fifteen grandchildren who continue to benefit from their innumerous labors of love beginning with their emigration; for making the conscious heartfelt desire to risk everything for future generations.
All their strength, fortitude, will-power, determination and great unconditional love was for their children and future generations to come
I recall stories of their struggles arriving with next to nothing except for several family members who preceded them on the journey.
Pietro and Libera labored in a button factory working long hours in unhealthy conditions for pennies per hour by today’s standard. Pietro was a “carabinieri” in Rodi when he departed to the States. Michele and Philomena together established a fruit and vegetable peddling business in addition to opening a small store front of the same nature. Michele left the house in the very early, dark hours of the morning to begin his route accompanied by his brother Nicola who emigrated with him. I can still hear his voice calling out in a loud voice in Italian what was available that day. Philomena would tend to the store front. They, too, worked very long hours for six days a week. Once again, all their strength, fortitude, will-power, determination and great unconditional love was for their children and future generations to come.
We are their American Dream Come True!
Both sets of grandparents went on to own their own apartment buildings that remain in the family to this day. Despite it was a different time in history, how they accomplished all they did is beyond my comprehension, but they did. Their Catholic faith, work-ethic, strength, fine character and above all love of family continues to live in their children, great grandchildren and great-great children. Their children and grandchildren are the recipients who benefit immensely because of their decision to make that move ninety-one years ago. We are living proof of the “American Dream” realized.
I write these words on behalf of my siblings, cousins and one remaining Aunt Anna (Cappiello) Palmisano. We, the Palmisano and Ferrante children continue to remember them always as we gather at table that was so important to them. Especially as we come together at the family restaurant, IL TAVOLO di PALMISANO in Hoboken, New Jersey. We are their American Dream Come True! Vi Benedica Dio Nonni e Graziemille. Ti vogliamo bene!