My name is Joanna Isabella Conte. My father left the port of Naples on
November 18, 1923. He arrived in the port of New York City on December
1, 1923, a voyage of 14 difficult days. He often told me about all the
poor people who were sick and suffering during the voyage. Fortunately,
he was not ill.
When he arrived in the "Stati Uniti" he lived with an uncle and
his family in New Castle, PA. There he worked as a laborer and even worked
a short stint in the coal mines. He missed his family in Alife, region
of Campagnia, but he never lost his dream of a better life in America.
He recounted how he remembered his two youngest sisters hiding in their
mother's arms and crying for the older brother that they felt they would
never see again after he arrived in l'America.
In 1925 or thereabouts, Antonio decided to visit some paesani in Southington,
CT. One of those paesani, Massimino Palmieri, who had emmigrated to America
in 1905, had an 18 year old daughter, Giovannina, who Antonio fell in love
with. Antonio now became "Tony". After all Giovannina, better
known as "Jennie" was born in l'America. So Antonio became Tony
to be more American. Jennie and Tony were married on November 25, 1926
in Southington, but they left shortly afterward to make a home in New York
City where there would be better job prospects.
After helping to build various beautiful buildings such as several building
housed on the campus of Lehman College in the Bronx, Tony decided to go
into the private carting buisiness with his cousin, also named Antonio
Isabella. The first garbage trucks were basically carts pulled by horses!
It was not easy work. Over the years my father started his own carting
business, Isabella City Carting Corporation, which my brother and nephew
run until this present day in New York City and the Bronx.
My parents lived in "Little Italy" in the Bronx until 1941. They
had four children while living there. Rosemarie, born in 1927, Constantino,
born in 1929 and Maria and Gloria, twins born i! n 1931. In 1941, the Isabella
family realized the American Dream by purchasing their own home in the
North-East Bronx. That's the house where I was born in 1952 and still live
in today. Needless to say, I was a surprise. My dad lived until the ripe
old age of 90. He died in 1995, but I still carry on his legacy through
my children who are all proud Italian-Americans. My son, Jon has studied
Italian in college, and has travelled to Italy twice. My other children,
Jamie and Thomas hope to visit Italy in the future. Due to my father's
love of his adopted country and abiding love of his first country and culture,
we all remain proud Italian-Americans.
If you would like to write to Joanna Isabella Conte, use the form below.