Welcome to your new country

My grandparents on their wedding day in 1916

One hundred years ago today, my grandfather Domenico Mostardi arrived in America. When he stepped off the steamer S.S. Königin Luise at Ellis Island in New York, he was 29 years old, single, and spoke no English.

Domenico was from the sleepy hill town of Amandola in the region of Le Marche. I know nothing about what motivated him to leave; all but one of his eight siblings stayed in Italy. In contrast, my grandmother, whose immigration centennial was last year, left to escape the bleak poverty in Sicily; over a 20-year span almost all of her eight siblings immigrated to America.

My grandfather died before I was born, so I must ask my father for stories about him. Several years ago my brother and I have formally interview my father and asked him all the questions we could think of: it’s all recorded on tape and transcribed. Too many times I have waited until too late to interview an aged relative, and have lived to regret it. Do not take your elders for granted! Use your time.

I have since visited Amandola several times. In fact, I know the very house he was born in, and have visited the woman who now owns the house. Amandola is a beautiful hill town with a stunning view of the Sibillini mountains.

To the memory of my grandfather, Domenico Mostardi, 1882-1954.

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