Submitted by: Rosemary Lombardi Stack
Ancestor / Family Name: Generoso Lombardi
Ancestral Town: Montemarano, AV, CAM
My father, Generoso Lombardi was born in Montemarano a small village in the province of Avellino, Italy in 1895. His father died at age 49 from a stroke which left his mother to provide for the family of 3 children. She was a talented midwife and as a small child my father would carry her bag and assist her with the sick, which was the start of his inclination toward medicine. For higher education he had to go to Naples and live away.
He was 19 years old when World War I broke out and was drafted into the Italian Army right out of medical school. They stationed him as a lookout in the Dolomite Mountains when a violent snowstorm caused an avalanche where he was unable to out ski and was buried for two days, surviving only by making an air-hole to breathe. His feet remained frost-bitten for the rest of his life.
Returning to medical school he graduated from the University of Naples, as a licensed doctor. But there was no future for him in Italy so on at the age of 26 he came to America on the President Wilson arriving on November 21, 1921 to live with cousins in Little Italy, NYC. Due to crowded conditions his bed was atop a spinet upright piano!
To pass the NYS Medical Boards he began to study English at night at the local high school where he met my mother who was the teacher. It took a few years before they could marry and set up his practice among Italian immigrants who were mostly afraid of hospitals and very poor as he was paid in food and services.
Every Friday night he would get together with other doctors for an enjoyable card game held in his office on Union Street and 4 Ave in Brooklyn. One late night the bell rang downstairs and 3 gangsters barged in dragging a teenage boy who was bleeding from a gunshot wound in the stomach. They thought it was a robbery at first but when the men pulled out guns and demanded that “the doctor” fix hum up under threats to his life.
About 6 months later a large cardboard box tied with string was left on the entrance to the office Upon opening it he found a note “He Lived” it said and with it were piles and piles of money in all denominations. Taking it home my parents put it in a closet as my mother was afraid to spend it as the bells could have been marked. But this was 1930 and the depression was everywhere so eventually they lived off this windfall for several years!
My father was a gentle man and adored his wife a children. One day our cat caught a bird by its neck. I was outside playing and saw this happen. He heard my screams and took the bird into the examining table and proceeded to stitch the neck together. We made a box for the recovering bird before it could fly away healed!
My father became an American citizen and when WWII broke out they were drafting doctors but the cut off age was 45 and he was 46! It was a blessing he did not have to go because of the shortage of doctors and therefore his practice tripled. He even opened a second office in our house on Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn.
On one of his house calls in a brownstone in Carroll Gardens he was tending an old lady, speaking Italian when her grandson ran in a dropped something in my father’s black medical bag. Two steps behind him were 2 policemen who ransacked the kitchen and bedroom claiming the boy had a gun. Of course, they did not find it as it was safely hidden in the bag that had been snapped shut. He brought the gun home and they locked it in a cabinet where it remained many years. Long after my father died my mother wanted to dispose of the gun so she asked my husband, who was a fisherman, to throw it overboard in the ocean away from the shore.
All during the war years he never forgot his mother and sister who remained in Naples. We would help them by sewing canned ford into the lining of used clothes which reached them safely. Otherwise the theft was rampant by the Italian government. He also educated all four of his sister’s children who were able to escape poverty.
After the war he tried to bring his mother here but she was never happy with us as she missed her daughter and grandchildren and of course we did not speak Italian. As I remember why he did not teach us, he was adamant that he had to perfect his English and we were his teachers. I tried many times to study Italian but I have not feel for it, although, my sister became a language teacher of French, Spanish and Italian at John Adams High School, Queens.
His life was overly adventurous but he died at 61 from the same stroke that killed his own father. He often pined for Italy and made several trips back with his American family be he always blessed America!
The ships manifest says he comes from Monte Forte Itpino came to his father’s house Antonio.
I’ll check this out with her. Obviously it is the uncle.