by Joseph Depaolo


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781449033859
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 11/04/2009
Pages: 140
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.33(d)

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By Joseph DePaolo


Copyright © 2009 Joseph DePaolo
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4490-3385-9

Chapter One

It all starts on the docks of Naples. It was a cold rainy day in December, 1989. There on the docks of Naples stood a young boy of sixteen, with his Aunt Maria, waving goodbye to his father, mother, brothers and sisters. They were boarding the ship that was to take them to America. There was not enough money to take Dominico with them, so they left him behind in Italy.

Here it was a few weeks before Christmas, usually a joyous time of the year. But for Dominico, with tears rolling down his cheeks, it would be sad this year. He held Aunt Maria's hand tightly as his family boarded the ship. His mother didn't even turn around to say goodbye, nor did his brothers and sister. Only his father stayed on deck to wave goodbye to him. He could see that his father was crying as the ship pulled away from the dock. Dominico didn't really expect any goodbyes from his mother. There was a special bond between Dominico and his father that his mother resented.

His father was the ladies man of the village. There would be many a night that Dominico would have to go out looking for his father. It was not hard to find him. Just follow the sound of the mandolin and there he would be, serenading a young senorina or senora. His father was caught more than once in compromising situations. Dominico would find a way to get him home out ofharm's way.

So here it is a few weeks before Christmas and his family was sailing away to America without him. Dominico swore to himself, that he would work and save enough money to go to America on his own. This would not be an easy task for a young boy of sixteen. But then again, Dominico was no ordinary boy.

He was the biggest boy in the village of Angri. If there was a job that called for strength, Dominico was the one they called. He would work long hours, for little money. But his determination to save enough money for the journey to America was strong.

His aunt Maria gave him all the help and encouragement that he needed to succeed. She was to become a strong influence in his life. And so it begins for him, as he starts a life on his own, with virtually only his will to succeed, and of course his aunt Maria who gives him the love he lacked from his mother. She kept him on the right path in his life. There were bad elements in the village, and she made sure he would not associate with them. It seemed that she was constantly watching him. She scolded him a few times when she thought he was going in the wrong direction. He would never argue with her, for he knew she was right. He had great respect and love for her. Without her, he never would have made it. His father left him in the care of his sister Maria, knowing she would give him the love and support he needed. She was a strong minded woman, who always knew how to talk to Dominico. He would always heed her advice.

It didn't take long for Dominico to start looking for work in the village. It seems that there was plenty of work for him, as he was the biggest and strongest boy in the village. He was a handsome boy with red hair, and green eyes. Every girl in the village would flirt with him. But he had only one thing on his mind. To save every penny he earned, so that one day he would be able to go to America. He would come home exhausted and barely be able to eat, before he would fall asleep. Aunt Maria had mixed feelings about him saving his money and leaving her. He was the one bright star in her life. Dominico was like a son to her.

But, four years later, the day finally arrived when he had enough money for the voyage to America. He came home one night and told his Aunt Maria he had purchased a ticket for the journey to America. And then told her, he would be leaving in a month. Aunt Maria couldn't control her emotions and started to cry. He told her that he would never forget her, and as soon as he had enough money, he would send for her. He promised her, that they would be together again in the new country. She knew he would not forget her, but she cried uncontrollably. He almost decided not to go. But Aunt Maria realized that this was the best thing for Dominico. She told him that she would be fine and not to worry about her, and she would wait for him to send for her.

The day finally arrived for him to leave. It was a long walk to the docks of Napoli. This is where the ship that would be taking him to America would be leaving from. The name of the ship was "CITTA DI NAPOLI". When they arrived at the dock, he turned to his beloved Aunt Maria, kissed and hugged her and slipped a packet into her satchel, without her knowing. Finally he boarded the ship with his few belongings. He moved to the ship's railing and looked down to see his Aunt Maria crying and throwing him kisses. With tears in his eyes, he yelled down to her that he would see her soon.

So on November 18, 1903, Dominico was finally on his way to America. The ship was slowly pulling away from the dock. Dominico looked at his beloved Italy for the last time, for he was never to return to Italy again.

Aunt Maria walked slowly away from the docks and a feeling of loneliness swept over her. As she was walking home, she felt something in her small satchel. She opened it and found a hastily wrapped packet. As she opened the packet, much to her surprise, she found the money that Dominico had slipped into her satchel. Also a note from Dominico telling her not to worry and that he would soon be sending for her, as soon as he found work and saved enough money. He also said that before she knew it, they would be together again in the new country. She turned and ran back to the dock and screamed to Dominico that she loved him. But the ship was too far away for him to hear her. She sat down and cried hysterically for a few moments, and then started the long walk back to her village. There was no more sorrow in her heart, just joy that she had such a loving nephew.

As soon as she arrived at the village of Angri, she went to the village church of Saint Giovanni. She lit a candle for Dominico. She prayed for his safety and faith in the belief that it wouldn't be long before they would be together again. It would not be easy for Maria, without her nephew's help. It wouldn't be easy, but she knew Dominico would not forget her.

It would be a long and lonely wait before there would be any news from Dominico. News that she knew would surely come as soon as he was settled in the new country. She arrived at her home and as she entered she realized, she would be alone for a long time. She had dreaded this day, but she knew it was coming. It would be lonely days ahead for her. The pictures in her head of Dominico, would keep her dream of them being together again alive. She found work cleaning houses for the wealthy of the village. With what little money she earned and what Dominico would send her, she would manage.

Italy at that time was not the best country to find work. That's why, so many Italians were leaving and going to America, with the hope of finding work at a decent wage. The rumors that the streets were paved with gold in America would be found to be nothing but a dream.

There would be hard times for Italians in America. Prejudice against Italians was rampant in America. But Italians would overcome all obstacles and become successful and prominent citizens. Determination, pride and closeness of Italian families would help them to succeed.

The ship was finally on its way to America. Dominico found a place to settle in for the journey. The voyage itself was a horror. One storm after another, made many of the passengers sick. The food was just about edible, and along with the overcrowded conditions, made the voyage a horror. He kept his thoughts focused on seeing his Father again, and hoping for a better life in America. The stories he heard about this new country, were of great opportunities that were there for the taking.

Fifteen days later the ship finally arrived in New York. As they passed the beautiful Statue of Liberty, everyone on board the ship looked in amazement and awe at the sight. There were tears in many eyes that day. The first stop was Ellis Island for processing. The lines were long, and the waiting felt like it would never end. The document that Dominico signed will be inserted into this story after the last page. They spelled his name wrong, as they did with many of the immigrants. For example, on the official ship's documents, his name is spelled Rominico instead of Dominico. He didn't understand much English, so he didn't correct it. At that time he just wanted to see his family again.

During the processing, something happened that he would never forget. It seemed that anyone without any identification papers with them, would have stamped on their admission form, "W.O.P." Which meant "With Out Papers." But this would soon become a slang word for Italians. That and other slang words for Italians, would be despised by all Italians. People still use these words along with other degrading names to insult the Italians to this day.

After a long and tiring day waiting to finish the processing paper work, he was finally on a ferry to New York City. As the ferry pulled alongside the dock of New York City, Dominico could see his Father waiting for him. His Mother, Brothers and sister were nowhere in sight. He quickly walked off the ferry and greeted his Father with a big hug and kiss. Michelangelo was happy to see his favorite son again. He noticed that Dominico had grown taller and looked like he could take on the world. Michelangelo took him by the arm, helped him with his baggage, and then started the long walk back to Brooklyn.

After a forty five minute walk, they arrived at the house that Michelangelo and family were renting on North Portland Avenue in Brooklyn. He was greeted very coldly by his Mother, which he expected. He exchanged greetings with his Brothers and Sister. Kisses and hugs from all, and then he sat down to talk to with his Father.

He learned that they were making wine. They were doing quite well, as there was nowhere for Italians to go to, for a good bottle of wine. He also learned that they would soon have enough money to buy the house they were now renting. It was a big house with plenty of rooms and a big cellar, for the making of the wine. The neighborhood was the toughest in Brooklyn. Michelangelo was having some problems with some of the local tough kids. With Dominico here with him, that problem would soon be solved.

The next day, he showed Dominico how they were making the wine. Just then a horse and wagon pulled up with a wagon full of grapes for delivery. Dominico was eager to help with the unloading of the many cases of grapes. While his brothers were carrying one case at a time, Dominico was carrying three. With his help the grapes were unloaded in a very short time. Michelangelo smiled and knew things would be easier for the family, with Dominico here with them.

I should explain that Dominico had three brothers and one sister. The names of his brothers were Alberto, Edward, Ralph and sister Christina. Alberto, who was to lose one arm in a trolley car accident. Would go on to become a very famous semi-pro baseball player. He became known as "Buck Wingo". He was well known throughout Brooklyn. They still have baseball leagues named after him to this day. Edward was mute. He would go on to marry a girl who also was a mute. They had a beautiful healthy baby girl, who was normal in every way. I know very little about Ralph. He was a cab driver, and I didn't meet him till later in my life. As a matter of fact, didn't meet him until Dominico had passed away. His sister Christina didn't get along too well with Dominico and didn't even attend Dominico's funeral, at the time of his death. I never acknowledged her after that. When she finally showed up at a family funeral, I ignored her. At one such funeral, my Mother asked me to go say hello to her, but I refused. She showed no respect to my Grandfather, so why would I bother with her. My Mother agreed with me and pursued it no further. I don't think Dominico was very close to his brothers or sister or Mother. The only relationship he had, was with his father. I never heard my Grandfather speak about them that much, if at all. As a matter of fact, I never seen them at my Grandfather's house. Not for holidays, or at any other time. I don't think they were ever present at any family funerals either. There is much more to the story than I know. I have heard they were not in attendance at Dominico's father's Michelangelo's funeral, so that could have contributed to an already volatile situation between Dominico and family.

But to the beginnings of Dominico's life in America. It would only be a few weeks later that Dominico would find out about the problems his family was having, delivering the wine to people on some of the local streets. Dominico loaded up the cart with bottles of wine and started off to make the deliveries. His Father already went through each street with him, and showed him where each bottle was to be delivered. The first deliveries were to be made on Navy street, the toughest street in Brooklyn. {as anyone from Brooklyn would know.}

As he was walking up Navy street with his cart full of bottles of wine, a few of the young tough guys on the street approached him. They were all about Dominico's age or, older. They asked him what he was doing on "their" block. Not knowing much English, he smiled and kept walking. Then one of them grabbed a bottle of wine from the cart and asked him for his money. Dominico reacted very quickly and grabbed the bottle back and put it back into the cart. They asked him again for his money, only this time in Italian. Dominico smiled again and did not say a word. He knew these were the guys his father warned him about.

Just then one of them [namely Joe Bono] grabbed him by the arm and spun him around. He repeated in Italian, he wanted his money. Dominico did not like anyone grabbing him or telling him what to do. He brushed Bono's hand away and pushed him back a few feet. Bono was slightly embarrassed, as no one ever pushed him and got away with it. Suddenly Joe grabbed the cart and tipped it over. There were broken bottles all over the street. Calmly, Dominico asked Joe in Italian, if he was going to pay for the broken bottles of wine.

Joe was becoming annoyed with this greenhorn, just off the boat from Italy. He grabbed Dominico by the shoulder and hit him with a hard punch to the mouth. For a moment, Dominico was stunned. He now knew what he had to do. He asked Joe if he was to do his own fighting or would he have to fight his friends also? Joe was even more outraged and told everyone not to interfere. He would give this greenhorn a beating he would not forget. Just then, Michelangelo turned the corner and noticed the commotion and knew it involved Dominico.

He knew his son was more than a match for Bono. He took a seat on the sidewalk and smiled at Dominico. This would be an interesting day. As they squared off to fight, Joe again caught Dominico with a hard punch to the face. Dominico's rage was starting to show. Michelangelo knew what would happen now. Dominico let go of a punch that caught Joe in the face, that sent him reeling backwards. There were hard blows from both of them, with no one giving an inch.

A big crowd started to gather around the two fighters. Bets were being made on who would come out the winner. Michelangelo rushed to make some wagers. It seemed he was the only one betting on Dominico, and received some good odds. The fight went on for ten minutes, with blood evident on both their faces. Finally Dominico landed a crushing blow to Joe's jaw that sent him down in a heap. He did not move for a few seconds, and then opened his eyes to see Dominico holding out his hand to help him up. Right then a friendship was born that would last a life time.

After that day, Joe put out the word that no one was to bother Dominico or any member of his family. If they did they would have to answer to him. Whenever they passed each other on the street they would joke about the fight.

One night Joe asked Dominico to join his gang. But Dominico declined as he knew Bono was heading for trouble with the law. He would go on to become one of the biggest crime bosses in New York.


Excerpted from Dominico by Joseph DePaolo Copyright © 2009 by Joseph DePaolo. Excerpted by permission.
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