Submitted by: Loredana Badalamenti Randazzo
Ancestor / Family Name: The Randazzo Family
Ancestral Town: Carini, PA, SIC
I am the daughter of Antonino Randazzo and Laura Biundo .They came to America in the 1960s, and actually lived in my cousin Marianna Randazzo’s house and she and her husband sponsored own children’s families.
My story was born as a result of rebelling against a routine that had become boring, tedious, and strenuous. My husband, two young daughters, and I arrived in America on the 25th of June, 2015. In my hometown Carini, in the province of Palermo, a town of approximately 40,000 inhabitants, we lacked for nothing. I had, and I still have, my house, that we owned, owned, an automobile, two dogs, family, friends, and jobs. However, my husband and I always had doubts about the future of our daughters.
Everyone questioned our sanity and motives for wanting to come to America in 2015. Despite modern technology, America was still unknown to us. All we knew of America was from the movies and Facebook, and some accounts from hometown friends who lived there. What made this dream a reality was the fact that my husband and his brother held American birth certificates. Although not much was said about their early years in America, my mother-in-law implied that America was the land of opportunity despite them having decided to return to Italy.
Through Facebook, my husband contacted first cousins, despite having no relationship with them. They were kind enough to assist us with the process of entering the states. Our cousin felt that a stranger helped his father in 1957, and it was a way to pay it forward.
The first year was the roughest; my husband arrived first with his brother. He was offered a job by another relative in a pizzeria in Pennsylvania. After experiencing New York City, it didn’t take long to decide the Pennsylvania route was not for him. He worked long hours to earn enough to send for the children and me. Our New York cousin was able to procure work for him in New York as a tile worker’s apprentice. Again, my husband worked long and hard and accepted any side jobs that were offered. Every night through Facetime, we laughed and cried together.
Five months after their arrival, both families were able to come to America. It was hardest on my parents when we left Italy, although, with communication methods available, it felt good to know they were only a phone call away, a luxury our ancestors did not have.
America was love at first sight for me! It was surreal, vast, stunning, and so diverse from my little town in Sicily. What I didn’t anticipate was how difficult our first years would be. We left all commodities behind in Italy. Our first apartment was a loft above a restaurant, we ate, slept, watched television and did homework in one room. I quickly navigated the Staten Island Railroad to get to the laundromat, stores, and my jobs. I did miss my car in Italy. What we soon found out was that what was normal for New Yorkers, like getting up at 4 am and taking a train to a Manhattan job, was not the norm in Sicily. The pace of life certainly was a lot quicker! Every morning I walked my second grader to school with my toddler in a stroller and home again. The 20 minute round trip in the freezing winter made me yearn for the Mediterranean Sun! Yet, the thrill of seeing our first snowfall was exhilarating.
I think it was most terrifying for my daughter Mirea. I believe as a child; she had to make the most sacrifices. Being left in a school, not speaking English, her biggest fear was communicating. “Mamma, what if I have to go to the bathroom, how do I ask,” she said to me. I refrained from crying, “My love, just use gestures. They will understand,” I answered. In the end, it was the children who assimilated the quickest, learned the language, and became American kids!
We are here for less than five years. My husband and I work every day. We have a car and a washing machine and are shopping for a house. My family comes to visit; our life is peaceful and quiet. Our eyes have been opened enormously, and we like most grateful citizens say God Bless America and special blessings on our cousins who made this life possible for us.