Exceptionally big news the past few days involves immigration. Time to share the story of an immigrant I knew well. My Mother.

My Mother was born in Foggia, Italy. She was brought to the U.S. as an infant.

Mom was the eighth child in a family of eight. The last of the line. The 7 siblings preceding her were all boys. Her parents felt lucky they had finally produced a girl. They named her Fortunata. Fortunata is Italian for Fortune. Her nickname was Nettie and we all knew her as Nettie.

The family settled in New York City. Mom made it through the third grade. Then she had to quit school and go to work. Money a major issue. She went to work in a shoe factory 14 hours a day, 6 days a week. Never returned to school.

My Father was born and raised in Utica, N.Y. For some reason, he ended up in New York City when he was around 20. Met Mom when he was working as a soda jerk in a drug store. They fell in love, married and moved to Utica to live.

The photograph is my Mother. She had it taken and gave it to Dad as her engagement gift to him.



My Mother never returned to school.

She initially worked in the knitting mills in Utica. Most of the immigrants did. At some point, she went to work for two Italian-American doctors who had voluminous practices. She was their only employee for 20 plus years. Did everything. Receptionist, drew blood, cleaned ears, bandaged minor wounds, etc. She performed amazingly for a person with no education.

One doctor died and and the other retired. Her next job was working for a dentist. He was a sole practitioner. She worked for him for 20 years. His sole employee. Again, she was receptionist and did everything a dental assistant does today. Worked right at the dentist’s elbow.

Pretty good for a person with only a third grade education! As I got older, I became more and more proud of her accomplishments. She was a good  mother besides.

Needless to say, she was an excellent grandmother.

When she retired, I had reached the point of being a successful lawyer. I came to appreciate her even more at that stage of my life. We had a routine. I stopped by her home on my way home most days. She had a bottle of Beefeaters, ice cubes and a glass sitting on the kitchen table. She never drank. It was for me. I would have a drink or two and we would talk primarily about me and my family. 

She was a wise woman. Always sharing her wisdom with me. If I complained about something, she would tell me not to and explain why. I always left her feeling better than when I arrived.

She died early in her 70’s. A diabetic, she never took care of herself. Refused to diet. Always sneaking foods she should not eat. She was shooting herself with insulin in her stomach twice a day when she passed on.

Her life was a good one for an uneducated immigrant. She never complained. The family was everything. She was always there for us. I think of her often and still miss her after all these years.

Tallahassee is a world away. Too far from Key West and most other parts of Florida to decide local matters. Yet this is exactly what the governor and state legislature continue to do. Matters involving cruise ships allowed to dock, fertilizer, etc. They want to rule the roost.

The Citizens’ Voice today reflected the most recent DeSantis faux pas: “I want to thank the governor and legislature for preempting local control on fertilizer. Now the red tide can flourish, sargassum can completely overwhelm the state, the remaining healthy reef can die, and our waters can become even more polluted.”

The Editorial Board of the Key West Citizen got involved in the issue today in its Cheers and Jeers column: “Jeers: For the state’s continued preemption of local governments’ abilities to set rules and regulations based on conditions in respective counties. The constant overreach by state government has become a nuisance at least, and a possible harbinger of lost freedoms.”

More DeSantis bullshit! He signed a bill into law thursday that keeps his travel records secret. Past and future travel records.

What does he fear? Floridians have a right to know about his travels. Especially if they pay for them. He travels on their tax dollars.

What is wrong with the man?

Included in the new secrecy law are his immediate family, lieutenant governor, cabinet members, House Speaker, Senate President, and Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court.

Do they all wish to be Clarence Thomas’s?

If they wish to be secretive, let them pay for the tickets, hotel expenses, etc. on their own nickel rather than with tax dollars.

Hulk Hogan and Bobby Mongelli became good friends at some point back when.

On this day in 1997, Hulk was making the movie Shadow of Warriors’ Assault on Devils Island. The movie was being filmed in Key West. Then and when he visits Key West, Hulk parks his boat at Bobby’s Hogfish on Stock Island, dines with Bobby, etc. As friends do.

Bess Levin wrote about Trump’s sexual machinations while in the White House in her Vanity Fair 5/10 article: “Surprise: Ex-White House Employees Say Donald Trump Behaved Grossly With Women While President.”

Examples include one staffer who Trump was so inappropriate with that others tried to insure he was “never alone” with her.

Levin wrote, “If you’re wondering whether Trump – now a certified sexual predator – refrained from behaving inappropriately with women while he was serving as President, the answer is: ‘Of course he didn’t!'” The answer rings with the false consistency his own answers do..

One staffer thought the way Trump engaged with women was “dangerous.”

The man has no control. Makes Clinton’s actions look like kid stuff.

Enjoyed a long slow lunch with Steve Thompson yesterday at La Te Da. Love listening to Steve share his recollections of Key West. Key West was home to him from the mid 1970’s.

Enjoy your day!

7 comments on “AN IMMIGRANT

  1. Lou, Sunday 14th is also my mothers’ birthday, and like yours, was born in Foggia (Panni) and was a DeSantis !!! That was 131 years ago, came to RI at 16 yrs old !!!!!

        • Not even close. I originally thought he was of Italian extraction. Found such embarrassing. However I recently was enlightened. I was told he was Latino. You check it out. My day ahead a heavy one.

          • Well, Google says the descendant of Italian Great Grand Parents, from southern Italy. They don’t say what exact town, but do say southern Italy. So, if it’s the same province, your cousins, by your own definition. Both grease balls, according to my mother in laws definition

          • I decided to research the issue myself. No question, he is of Italian extraction. A disgrace to Italo-Americans. One of the responses was from Rob. Email robert My brother in law. Mayor of Utica. We have not talked or met in many many years. Uses the term “grease balls.” I am surprised. I have always thought the term and “wop” to be highly insulting to Italian-Americans. I am surprised he might not.

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