Sam (Santo) Di Francesca and his family in America
Today we will learn the story of the family of Santo (Sam) Di Francesca, who emigrated to America in 1960.
1) Where are you from?
I’m from Gratteri, Palermo.
2)What do you remember about your country? Although Gratteri was a poor town, it was rich in many natural beauties. We villagers almost all knew each other, the majority were relatives and friends.
People were honest, criminal acts “almost” never existed. I remember the main recurrences: San Giacomo, the Sante Thorns, the Old one, ect. Everything developed around the Holy Church and almost everyone participated.
3) When were you born?
February 9, 1944.
4) Who were your parents and your siblings?
My father was Salvatore Di Francesca born in 1911 son of Giuseppe (Antonino and Chichi Maria Stella) and Marianna D’Agostaro (Rosario and Civello Rosaria).
My mother Sebastiana Giovanna Di Francesca daughter of Giuseppe (Santo and Bianca Mariangela) and Giuseppa Civello (Antonino and Civello Angela).
My sister is Maria Anna (known in America as ‘Ieni’) and my brothers Giuseppe (Joe), Rosario (Roy), and Angelo.
5) When did you go to America for the first time?
May 23, 1960.
6) Who did you leave with and from where?
I left with my parents and brothers, on the Saturnia ship from Palermo to New York
7) How long was the trip?
8) Where did you go as soon as you landed in New York? From my uncle in Brooklyn N.Y. we lived with them for a couple of weeks.
9) What job did you do for a living?
When I arrived in America, for about five months, I worked in the pizza restaurant with my uncle, my father’s brother. After I started working as a carpenter, we made office furniture, more or less for eight months, finally I started working as a carpenter on my own.
10) Were there other fellow villagers you knew? There was someone but there really was no opportunity to communicate, we lived far away.
11) Were you lucky in America?
I have always worked, my Faith and my family have always been my greatest fortune. Then in 1967 I met the love of my life and we got married in 1968.
12) Do you have children? We have two children, a boy and a girl, four grandchildren and two great grandchildren (with more to come).
13) Were your name and surname translated into English?
No, sometimes I used an English nickname (Sam).
14) Could you tell me your story in America?
I have always had so much faith in God, and in our Holy Catholic Church. I have always worked as a carpenter, but instead of making furniture I started to work in the construction of buildings, offices, schools, hotels ect. My work has always been appreciated by my superiors so they soon gave me more responsibility until I became the project leader (superintendent).
Now, I have enjoyed retirement for 20 years. For 47 years I have been a member of the Knghts of Columbus Society and have held many roles, so I know many people today and have many friends in America. Today I live in Linthicum Heights, Maryland.
15) Have you maintained a bond with your country?
Yes a little, I talked to a couple of relatives, but especially thanks to “facebook”, I got to know and met many cousins, relatives, villagers, schoolmates, etc .. Now finally, I want to thank you, Marco Fragale, to keep us informed about what is happening in the village and for having found the birth certificates of my grandparents. Greetings to all Gratteresi. Hello, Vivat Isus.
In the picture Santo Di Francesca, his father Salvatore, his brothers and his big family today in America.