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The Immigration story of Germano Di-Giannanantonio (Italian Immigrant)

The Museum reviews and accepts donated personal or family memories and histories into its collection. As a learning institution, the accounts help us understand how individuals recollect, interpret, or construct meaning from lived experiences. The stories are not modified by Museum staff. The point of view expressed is that of the author and not that of the Museum.

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I was five years old when I landed on Pier 21, along with my two sisters, mom and dad. The ship ride aboard the Vulcania was more than pleasant. I remember being awakened in the middle of the night by my mom, telling me that we were leaving, I had no idea where. The next thing I remember I was staring at the big ship, I had slept most of the way to Naples. I remember boarding the ship and seeing hundreds of people and little children huddling close to their parents. Next thing I remember we were assigned a cabin, below sea level. I remember that first night the sound of adults and children being sick, including my family. For my Dad and I sea sickness lasted only a few days, but my mom and sisters were not that lucky. They were sick for the whole journey. After a few days I kind of learned my way around that ship. I actually started having fun and started to make friends with other children my age. I remember watching men fishing and seeing flying fish along the ship.
The food was great. Everything you could imagine was available to us. To me that was a big change coming from a little mountain village who grew up on goat’s milk and cheese. The one thing I will never forget is when I almost fell off the back of the ship. I never did tell my parents because I knew I was going to get a good spanking. Along the way I remember men with boats getting close enough to the ship to sell their goods. People would lower their money in baskets and the men would send up the souvenirs. After many days at sea I remember the ship coming to a stop, we had arrived in Halifax. Then I remember getting off the ship and lining up to be processed. After that I remember getting two needles, one in each arm. I didn’t know why but I didn’t like it! Then I remember being put on a train and we were off to Montreal to meet relatives I had never met. Through it all I don’t know how my dad managed through it all without being able to speak one word of English. We left Italy in search of a better life but life was not very good to us shortly after my dad died and the remaining family did the best we could.