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Travelsnapz Italy

Mauro Marsala

Vicenzo, Guiseppa and Caspari

This photo of Vicenzo, Guiseppa and Caspari was taken in 1908 in New Haven. It was featured in the window of the Edward Malley Department Store in New Haven, Connecticut for many years as an advertisement for their portrait studio.

A city can be seen by looking at its buildings, its streets, its domes and doorways. But behind the doorways are people. Their tales often tell us more about a city than photos.

Mike Mauro told me the following story of his Grandparents, who came and went from Marsala, returned and went again. Each time, maybe they took a little bit of Marsala with them, and that's good, because the more we understand about other places and people, the better chance we have of having a wonderful world.

And with a wonderful world goes the wonderful story of . . .

Vincenzo Mauro
and Guiseppa Civello
were married in Sicily in 1905. They booked passage and went to America, arriving on May 28, 1906. Grandpa Mauro was uneducated. His Dad died when he was 7 years old and he had to work as a mason's helper all of his childhood and teen years before entering the Italian Army, around 1895. When he was discharged from the army he worked as a master Mason.

Fine stone work

There's plenty of fine stone work around Marsala.

Work in Sicily in those days often meant sailing to Tunisia, Corsica, Southern France or the Italian mainland to earn a living. Vincenzo Mauro was a very happy man, always singing and smiling, making the best of life. The captain of a merchant ship that he sailed on really took a liking to Vincenzo. He liked him so much because he was stable, hard working and gentle.

He invited Vincenzo to his home, a large villa in Marsala. Vincenzo hit it off with Captain Civello's only daughter, Guiseppa, a young, beautiful, educated teacher who taught in a secondary school.

After their marriage, they decided to travel to the USA because the country promised the chance for them to build themselves a better life.

Vincenzo decided to sell all the furniture and book a passage back to Sicily

People who knew them said that they were real soulmates. Conversation was a deterent to communication for them. They knew, loved and understood each other very well. A year after their arrival in the USA, Guiseppa gave birth to a robust boy whom they named Caspari. Caspari was the light of their lives. Unfortunately, he caught influenza and died on Christmas Day 1909. Vincenzo and Guiseppa were devastated. Guiseppa became very depressed. Vincenzo decided to sell all the furniture and book a passage for Sicily so that Guiseppa could see her parents. He was so gentle and he loved her so!

Once back in Italy Vincenzo and Guiseppa resumed their life. Within three years they had two girls, Grevanna and Ann. But, again, Sicily was a beautiful home yet it was "the land of poverty" for Vincenzo. He secretly saved money to book passage to New Haven so that he could re-establish roots there and then send for his family.

Finally, he told Guiseppa what his intentions were the night before he was to leave Marsala for Palermo to board the ship. Grandma said little to him that night. She nodded in agreement to all his statements about how and when he'd send for her and the children.

email to a friend Stained glass in the Doumo
Stained glass in the Doumo of Marsala.





Thanks Mike for sharing the story
of Vincenzo and Guiseppa.

The next morning Vincenzo awoke to a fully packed and dressed family. He was stunned to find out that Guiseppa had squirreled away enough money for the whole family to return to Vine Street in New Haven. They sailed from Palermo on August 23, 1912 arriving at Ellis Island on September 6, 1912. It was quite a journey for them in steerage with a two year old and a 10 month old.

Once at Ellis Island, Guiseppa and the children disembarked and were allowed into the country. Vincenzo was delayed because of an eye infection.

Guiseppa and the children went on to New Haven by train while Vincenzo stayed at the Infirmary. Finally, the doctors decided that Vincenzo couldn't enter the country due to the eye infection and he was to be deported. Quite a dilemna for a man of 33 who loved his family.

As the Italia was sailing out of New York harbor Vincenzo jumped ship and swam ashore. He rode a boxcar to New Haven and was reunited with his family. He was an illegal alien until 1937. A New Haven Judge thought that the story was wonderful and endearing. Vincenzo loved America and was so proud to be naturalized.

Vincenzo and Guiseppa never returned to Marsala. They had five more children. One of the children, Mike Mauro's Dad, is 78 years old now. He is the baby of the family. Vincenzo and Guiseppa were wonderful parents - courageous and so much like their wonderful Marsala - so beautiful.

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