Chapter 2: My Brother, A Brief Family History

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This passage is from Chapter 2:

“My mother’s parents emigrated from the same town in Sicily to Albany, New York and raised six children on the meager wages her father earned as a laborer with the railroad, but not without some difficulty. They lost their small home to foreclosure during the Great Depression and had to move into an even smaller apartment. They were poor, but never lost their dignity or values.

My mother was born in 1921 and was the baby of the family with two older brothers and three older sisters. Her oldest brother was twelve years old when he and my grandmother came to America in 1912. They came to be reunited with my grandfather who emigrated a year earlier to find work before sending for his family. Her oldest brother was twenty-one years older than my mother and was more like another parental figure than a sibling to her.

My father’s family was less fortunate than my mother’s family even though his father also worked for the railroad. My father’s parents did not live together for very long as a family. When my grandfather moved out of the home while my father was still a very young child, my father and his brother stayed with their mother and their four half siblings. Even after the two oldest half siblings moved out to get married, my father continued to live with his mother, brother and his two remaining half siblings until he was twelve years old.

When his mother decided to remarry, my father and his brother went to live with their father in a single parent paternal household which was very unusual for the time. Due to a lack of supervision or parental guidance, my father dropped out of school after the eighth grade and received his real education on the streets in the ‘school of hard knocks’. Having to fend for himself as a child growing up under these circumstances served to instill in my father a combative and suspicious nature, making him a bit of a loner. My father’s difficult past and lack of prospects led him to join the Army near the end of World War II where he served as an MP in occupied Germany.”

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