I am Aurelio Verdone, son of Roberto Verdone born November 1, 1888 at Terracina, Provincia di Latina, Italy, and deceased February 18, 1962 in Montreal,
Maria Carmina Delli Colli born September 27, 1890 at Rocca de Vantre Provincia di Caserta, Italy, and died January 3, 1975 at Montreal. As the Verdone family, we lived in Commune di Galluccio, Provincia di Caserta, (at that time) Italy.
Roberto was the son of Aurelio, on some documents shown as Valerio, and I have no birthday date at this time. His wife was Domenica De Luca. So let's document first the family of Aurelio, my grandfather. He had one son Roberto, one daughter Genoveffa, and a younger daughter Maria Michella. Genoveffa married a Signore Raffaele Patrone, a tailor, and moved to another town named Sessa-Aurunca. The sister Maria Michella married a Signore Patrizio Gentile and eventually moved to Canada.
The documents available to me are not entirely clear as to dates of birth and are therefore not included here, but if the data becomes available I shall include them at a later date. For instance, Roberto always claimed that he was born in 1888, but some documents show the date as 1889. He used the different dates to his advantage in later years. He got his old age pension using the 1888 date but stayed at work until age 66 using the 1889 date.
Another date that is incorrect is that of Maria who always stated that September 27 is the true birth date but some papers show September 26. Roberto and Maria were married on the 15th of August 1914 in the township of Galluccio where the four Italian born children came to life. The living children were born at Galluccio, namely Anna Vitelmina, Litio Nicola, Aurelio, and Demetria. Elsia, of course, was born in Montreal.
Now we can start to record whatever we recall about Italy, or events we heard of that happened even before our births. The only thing I know that happened before my birth is that Dad, Roberto, and his father, Aurelio, were in Montreal around the 1900's up to about 1910. In those days it was very common for people, mostly men, to come to Canada or the United States for short periods of a couple of years to work and save as much money as they could to look after the subsistence of their families.
Anyway, what is definite is that they were in Montreal living in the lower part of Montreal around Minai street and Chaboillez square were there was an Italian community. However, they also worked in other parts of Canada, particularly on the railways, laying down the tracks which eventually extended across the country to link the eastern seaboard to the west up to the Pacific Ocean. They would work in the field and live in boarding cars. That is, railway box cars converted to dormitories, diners, cook, recreation, tool cars, fuel cars, and other convenience cars. I would tell him that now I was involved in design and fabrication of similar cars now used for work crews maintaining the tracks. He would say that the work was hard, the pay was good and the food was available in great quantities and varieties. The work was mostly manual as not much machinery had as yet been developed. The workers were mostly immigrants like themselves and coming from different countries of Europe.
There were no racial problems. When living in the city, Montreal, usually they were boarding with other Italian people they already knew. Couples who came from Italy, husband and wife, would rent houses with many rooms and pack in the boarders, even four to a room using shared beds. The rents were a marginal sum of money so that they could work and use the earnings to pay their rent, save some for eventual return, send some back for the subsistence of the families back home and very little for entertainment. Many would also save to be able to bring their families to Canada, or return with enough money to build bigger houses and buy more land hoping that this would result in a better living condition than before. This is what happened on Maria's side of the family and we will go into this later on. Though the work in Canada filled his wish, when they returned home, I presume around 1910 or 1912, Roberto was so impressed with life in Canada that his first project was to return as soon as he could. But then the First World War came along changed many of his immediate plans.