This week’s post was written by my mom, Louise!
Upon my request, my mom documented 7 short stories of her family, including the story of how her parents met. My mom is one of twelve children born to a young couple from Italy who immigrated to America about 100 years ago. I typed up the 7 stories and plan to turn them into a book with photos. Then, the book will be presented to each of our relatives at our family reunion at the end of July. I am sooooo excited about it! Some stories are difficult to get through without tearing up.
Well, as I was typing up the first story, which is the one about how my Grandparents met, I realized that I could share that story here. I realized from this story that the vocation of marriage has never been ‘easy’ and that we don’t always know what would be good for us in that important area of our life. I hope you enjoy it. Thank you, Mom!
Antonio and Maria
Antonio Leonardo Liotti and Maria Giovanna Renzi were born in Amendolara, Italy. It seems their families were acquainted.
Mom said she, along with her mother, worked in the fields. One of the jobs was picking olives. Olive-harvesting season is from the end of October for approximately six weeks – according to Google. I was surprised at the short time frame. I had always pictured in my mind that they spent most of their working hours picking olives. So I suppose they worked for a variety of farms harvesting whatever crop happened to be in season.
Mom said they were 16 years-old and Dad was showing interest but she had no such intentions. She was not interested and said he was short, a little pudgy and blonde. But he, being determined, kept pursuing. Then her mother, her aunt and a relative on his side tried to encourage her by telling her he was a good person and to give him a chance.
But Mom’s interest and desire was to go to school. So at night she went to be taught by a tutor.
Dad, according to Mom, did not live very close to her. She said it was quite a walk and he would often walk to her house to see her. Her Mother would tell him she was at the tutor’s taking classes. He was not very happy about that.
One night she was home reading or crocheting, which she like to do. It was raining. After a little while, she heard music. She looked out her window and there was my dad standing under the eaves serenading her by playing his guitar and singing.
Still not impressed, she continued doing her thing. Quite an independent woman of her time!
However, he, too, was strong and undeterred. So by age 18 he proposed marriage. Between his persistence and her relatives supporting his cause, she agreed to marry him.
After setting a date, for whatever reason I can’t recall or she never explained, she broke off the engagement. Now a friend of his or perhaps a relative was tasked by Antonio to ask Maria whenever he saw her about resetting a date for marriage to take place. Knowing this would continue, she said to tell him two weeks.
So, the wedding took place September (I believe the 20th) 1908.
My niece, Teresa and my Mother were at my house in Arlington, VA the week before my sister Mary Jane’s wedding in the 1950’s. My Mother was relating her wedding story. I’d heard it many times before. When Mom finished, Teresa said, “Grandma, I bet you looked beautiful on your wedding day.” Mom answered, “I don’t know, I didn’t even look in the mirror, I just put the veil on my head and left for the church.” She was not ready for marriage.
August 2, 1909, their first child, Rose Marie Liotti was born. Perhaps a year later, Dad left for the Army to put in his service time for his country of Italy. He was a bugler so his job was to play taps and/or reveille. I’m not sure which or perhaps both.
He was in the Army for about a year. When it was time for him to return, a relative-Uncle, I believe, accompanied Mom to the train station to meet Dad.
As all of these people were descending from the train onto the platform, her Uncle said to her, “Maria, do you recognize that man over there?” She was relating this story to us and told us, “I looked over to where he was pointing and saw this very handsome, tall, dark-haired soldier standing straight as an arrow in his uniform.” She said to her Uncle, “No, I don’t know him.” Her Uncle said, “That’s your husband.”
Whenever she told us this story, we always came back with “That’s when you really fell in love with him, Mom.” She would just smile. 🙂
I’m guessing he was home perhaps a year when he left for America to find work and would then send for mom, Rose and Mom’s sister, Aunt Louise. His Mother, Sister and Brother were already in America as was Mom’s mom.
Dad arrived in America at Ellis Island, N.Y. on February 23, 1912 on the Berlin.
Isn’t it interesting that my Grandmother’s vision of my Grandfather changed? Could that have been the veil covering him and then lifted at the right time? I mean, they had 12 children who were, with a few exceptions, perfectly spaced two years apart!! My Grandmother even had a baby when she was in her 40’s! Love, attraction and affection were all present in their marriage even though she was not too excited about him at first. I think this is a prime example of good old-fashioned Superabundance!
God love and bless you!
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