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Vincenzo “Jimmy” Giagnorio:
Who Dared to Cross a Boundary

Vincenzo Giagnorio Vincenzo Giagnorio was my great grandfather, who was born in 1896 in [San Nicandro,] Foggia , Italy.  Before ten years of age, his father died.  By sixteen years of age, he came to America and traveled around.  By the time he was a teenager, he had a lot of odd jobs. After that, he joined the army at the time of the World War I, because he was forced to, when they needed men.  On the day of April 24, 1922, Vincenzo was married to his wife Jenny who he met in Bridgeport, Conn.  Their first child was named Florence Giagnorio.  Their second child was born in October 1928, and named John Giagnorio.  Their third child was named Lucy Giagnorio.  In the mid 20’s Vincenzo bought a farm and sold it in 1927.  When he was older, he worked in a shoe factory in Rhode Island.  Then, he as a barber, then he bought a farm and sold it.  Vincenzo, as an adult lived in Stamfor[d], Connecticut, with his wife and his older brother and his mother and sister.

For Diversity Day 2007 at GFS [Germantown Friends School], we are talking about people who have dared to cross boundaries in their lives.  Vincenzo Giagnorio dared to cross a boundary when he sailed from Naples, Italy to Ellis Island, New York City, U.S.  He did this because he was poor in Italy and had more opportunity in the United States.  He did this in 1912 (when he was 16).  The obstacles in the way of the crossing were:  he could only speak Italian (but he learned English from newspapers), and he was not old enough to learn a trade.  The results of the crossing were:  he was able to support his mother and sister.

I think he was clever because, when he was processed in Ellis Island (where he landed) and he was 16, he lied about his age to be allowed in[to the U.S.].  I also think he was self-sacrificing when he sent for his mother and sister to come to the U.S. and live with him.

By Zachary Michael Crenshaw (February, 2007 after a phone conversation with Lucy Rachinsky)

Transcribed and edited by E. Bryan Crenshaw III on 13 May 2007
[Editor's Note: Certain information about living relatives has been redacted due to privacy concerns]

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