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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A PENNY FOR YOUR STOP

Way back in the 20’s and 30’ there was a huge influx of Italians who came to America to start a new life. Life was hard in Italy, but if you had a family member or friend who would sponsor you here in America, you got on the boat and came.

There is a true story that happened in the ‘30s when there was an influx of Italian immigrants that came to this country. My grandmother Francesca was a sponsor of a few people from her hometown in Naples, and they came to live with her. One day one of them, her name was Italia,  decided to apply for citizenship and needed to know how to get to the government courthouse to apply. This meant going into Manhattan on the subway. Not being able to read English, my grandmother had an idea. She took Italia to the subway station and gave her 14 pennies to hold in her hand. The14 pennies were for going and then the 14 pennies again for coming back. Each penny would represent a station. She was told by grandma to put a penny in her pocket after each stop. When she ran out of pennies, that would be the stop, go upstairs and you will see the courthouse. On the way home, the same process should begin, where the last penny is her home station.

Off goes Italia with 14 pennies in her hand, when suddenly about half way into the ride; she gets shoved by someone and drops the pennies from the excitement of the crowd boarding at that station! The pennies scatter all over the car and she loses some of the pennies. It was very late the evening when she finally showed up with a policeman at my grandmother’s door. To this day, we wonder if she ever got her citizenship papers?

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