My grandmother was born in Biano, Italy and when she was 16 my grandfather came into the town and she was the most beautiful woman in the town. And he met her, he fell in love with her, and he came to the United States.
Two of her older brothers were already in New York and they called for her to come and stay with them, and that’s when she met up with my grandfather again and got married. She got married at 17, had four daughters and ended up working in a sweatshop in Manhattan making dresses.
She taught all of her daughters how to sew and only learned English as she went around the city. At home they would speak Italian and my mother would answer her in English to try and help her understand more of of the English language.
She was a very kind person and she used to talk about how she would spend hours and hours on the sewing machine making beautiful lace dresses for Saks 5th Avenue. She taught all of her daughters how to sew and as I was growing up my mother would make dresses for us. And it was a skill that I probably should have learned, I wish I did learn it. But it was definitely a trait that helped her survive living in New York.