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Families

Adolfo Di Mambro
June 1959

My husband Adolfo, or Adolph, Di Mambro was born in Cassino, Lazio, Italy on January 7, 1950. His family decided, in 1959, to immigrate to Canada and join other relatives here. They left Cassino to go to Naples, June 18, 1959. They sailed first to Genoa, Italy then sailed on to Halifax arriving June 29, 1959.

Adolph said he first learnt of the trip when he went into his mother’s bedroom and she was sewing. She hugged him and told him we are going to America.

His story:

I recollect it was like a big trip, a big adventure, and a big holiday, like a family holiday. At the dock in Naples, I remember the carcasses of beef being put on the ship. I remember the ship leaving. There was no family to see us off. I remember the lights on the coast.

Near the straits of Gibraltar, the ship slowed and small boat were trying to sell the passengers stuff and exchanging goods. I made strong friendships with the sailors on board, who were generous and kind. They were mostly Greek but did speak some Italian. I remember being scared at a scowl not a storm. A sailor told me, it was one of the calmest voyages he ever had.

The variety and quantity of food was great. We definitely did not travel steerage, as immigrants did in other times. We did share the trip with a group of people from the same area. I played games: shuffleboard and table tennis - "never a dull moment". I really had fun. It was an adventure. I remembered my first sip of Coke tasted like cough medicine.

We arrived in Halifax on June 29, 1959. The guys on the ship offered us a big basket of fruit but we declined it, as we thought we would get plenty of food where we were going. I do not remember much about landing in Halifax. The next thing I knew we were on the train for Toronto. I wondered where my mother had taken me. The vast, open spaces were so different to Italy, with a shack every few miles and a dozen people waving at the train.

I remember the first time I had Canadian bread. I rolled it up and tried to bounce it. It sure was not the crunchy Italian bread I knew. Basically, the food on the train was terrible. They brought us some spaghetti but it tasted like the stuff from the can. I played cards and looked out the window.

We arrived in Toronto on July 1, 1959 with my Mother’s brothers, my Uncle Joe and my Uncle Tony, greeting us and taking us to Uncle Tony’s house.

--- That’s Adolph’s story.

The Di Mambro family settled in Richmond Hill, Ontario eventually, after a five-year stay in Willow dale, a suburb of Toronto. Actually, many people from the Cassino area located in Willow dale and are still there.

Adolph and I were married May 15, 1971. A [couple comprised] of a Canadian of many generations and a first generation immigrant. We have two children: Natasha Amanda (born November 28, 1976) and Sonya Tamara (born April 4, 1979).