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Luigi's Story

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0:00-0:06 We were living in a small town, called San Pietro Infine. Actually, we were just a little bit out of the town, on a small farm.
0:07-0:19 We had no electricity, no indoor plumbing, no indoor toilet and I used to go to school in town, which was a fair walk.
0:19-0:26 One of the things that I loved was living in the country. It was nice to have the space and I missed that when we came to Toronto.
0:27-0:39 When my father left, I was… I was not yet four years old, so although it was sad to see him go, I didn’t really understand the full impact, that he was going to be gone for a long time.
0:40-0:49 And when we finally immigrated to Canada, I had forgotten him and when we got off the train, at Union Station, I wouldn’t go to him, because to me, he was a stranger.
0:50-1:14 It really hit me, the morning that we were leaving, my mother’s brother, my uncle Ludovigo came to pick us up, to bring us to Naples to get onto the boat, and when I realized my grandmother wasn’t coming with us, well, my… I just went crazy, I just attached myself to her and I wouldn’t leave her, I told them I didn’t want to go… It was very traumatic for me that morning.
1:15-1:40 Then, when we came here, the reality of not knowing the language, going in a school where nobody… I didn’t understand anybody, nobody understood me, there was no English as second language classes back then. You were thrown into classes with other kids who spoke English and… You were in a city, there were cars all over the place, I can’t tell you how many times I walked out between parked cars and almost got ran over.
1:41-1:57 The snow was quite the thing. We weren’t used to that at all. And I remember seeing piles of snow on the sidewalk in November back then, and… So I was totally unprepared. It was shocking to me.
1:58-2:14 We arrived… I seem to recall it was late afternoon and we got off the boat and they kind of huddled us all off, and I saw that they were taking off all the baggage that was on the boat.
2:15-2:35 My mother had brought just about everything we owned with us. She brought two trunks plus mattresses. I remember that the people there were very good to us. I mean they, you know, they were very considerate, they understood we didn’t know the language, they helped us along the best they could, they told us where we should be going. So they were pretty nice, they made us feel welcome.
2:36-3:03 I bet you there’s a lot of stories like mine, they just haven’t been told. And I think a lot of us experience very much the same. It was hard getting started. I mean I remember some of my parents’ friends ended up going back, but most of them stayed, but those that stayed made a comfortable life and there was a lot more opportunities here than there was back in Italy.