MY SICILIAN RELATIVES,
When my grandfather Liborio arrived at Ellis Island with his brother Jimmy on
November 8, 1912, he left behind one brother. His brother Rosario stayed behind in his hometown of Giuliana, Sicily. On my first trip
to Europe in the summer of 1980 I planned on visiting him and his family. My journey to Sicily was a difficult one.
I lost my translation book in Naples and was having trouble communicating without it. The train car from
Naples to Sicily was supposed to go onto a ferry boat and then hook up with the train tracks in Sicily. I fell asleep
on the train overnight and when I awoke in the morning I was on my way back to Naples. A twelve hour train ride from Naples to
Palermo was taking me almost 24 hours.
When I arrived in Palermo I started asking about my relative's hometown of Giuliana.
The innkeeper where I was staying said he would find out for me where it was and how to get there.
He told me it was a small mountain village in the south central part of Sicily past Corleone.
Two days later I left the inn and made an early morning bus to Giuliana. I couldn't speak any Italian and
didn't know how I would find my relatives when I got there. I had an envelope with their return address on it.
It was from a letter the Sicilian relatives had sent to my Aunt Virgina in
Brooklyn. I met a man on the bus from Giulana who spoke English. I showed him the envelope and asked him if he knew
where their street was.
When the bus stopped in Giulana the man walked me down some narrow streets and he came upon an
old lady in black. He spoke to her for a few moments and then said to me, "this old woman is your great aunt."
I couldn't believe it. I was thinking is this what Alex Haley felt like when he first met his relatives in "Roots?"
Then another woman came out of the house and he said this is your cousin, her daughter. They all started hugging me and
crying. Then my cousin's daughter Rosemaria came running toward me from down the
street. They were all so happy to see me. I was the first American relative to ever come and visit them.
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