The Criterion

Journey to America

Alexa Boyle '20, Staff Writer

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On February 6, 2017 around four o’clock I interviewed Rose Gallo, better known as “My
Grandma.” This interview took place at my kitchen table as my grandma and I drank some
coffee and laughed about the memories she had when she was a kid. The goal of my interview
essay is to inform and amuse readers about my grandma’s trip from Italy to America in 1955.
Rose was born on November 23, 1947 she grew up in a village right outside of Naples, Italy.
Her mother, Raffaela Gallo, and most of her family came to America when she was around four
years old. Finally, when she was almost eight years old, her dad, Antimo Gallo, decided to bring
her and her sister, Francesca Gallo, to America.
In the fall of 1955 my grandma and her family prepared themselves for a trip to America.
During the interview, my grandma explained to me how much it hurt her to leave her grandma in
Italy. When the day came for them to get on the boat, my grandma cried because she did not
want to relinquish her grandma. When my grandma, her dad, and older sister got on the boat,
they went straight to their rooms to unpack. My grandma described the room as “a four by four
square that you could barely move around in.” For the next fourteen days that boat was her
home. She did not remember much from the trip except being “sick as a dog every single day.”
Her favorite part of being on the boat was when she and her sister would abscond to the top deck
to watch the waves and look at the sky. She said the sunsets were breathtaking, “orange and pink
skies over the water on a chilly, fall night.” After the fourteen days were over, they docked in
America (she did not go through Ellis island because it closed in 1954). She was then greeted by
her mother, Raffaela, and the rest of her family.

Raffaela ran up to give her a big hug, but because they had been separated for such a long
time, my grandmother did not remember her own mother. My grandma then made an erratic
decision to kick her mother in the leg when she bent down to hug her.
She lived at her aunt’s house in Southington when she came here. Her parents enrolled
her into second grade right away, although she still did not know English. She started at
Holcomb School in Southington, Connecticut, and she began to learn English right away. She
did not fit in well at first. Kids began to tantalize her because she would wear real gold earrings,
rings, and always had the gold Italian hand and horn representing “The Maloik.” She began to
throw her jewelry into the garbage without her mom knowing so she could fit in better.
Eventually she adjusted a lot better and moved to New Haven, Connecticut a few years later.
My grandmother loved Italy, but she never missed it. She said the only thing she missed
was her grandma. Besides that, America was perfect. She only went back once in 1981 for her
father, Antimo’s, funeral. She does not even know what family she has over there because they
did not stay in contact, but she does not really mind. The last few words she said in the interview
where “America was built from immigrants like me and many other, we brought them culture,
workers, and people.”
My grandma, Rose Gallo, is an amazing woman who has supported her family through a
lot. I love her so much, and I am so happy that I got the chance to hear her story of coming to
America. She was so young and intrepid I do not think i could ever achieve all she has in her life.
It was honestly a bonding moment between her and I. Her goal of telling me this story for my
interview was to allow me to know more about her and the journey she had taken to come to
America from Naples, Italy.

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Journey to America