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March 21, 2014     Post-Gazette
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March 21, 2014

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POST-GAZETTE, MARCH 21,2014 Page 7 THOUGHTS BY ABOUT THIS & THAT with Daniel A. DiCenso Italians in America: The forgotten Struggle Among favorite topics of revisionist historians are the skeletons in America's closet, but even among them there is little mention of what the early Italian immigrants faced not long after stepping foot on shore• Like many other immigrant groups, Italians faced their share of scorn and abuse during the last years of the 19a century and the first half of the 20th. Especially after 'mafia' became part of the American vocabulary, Italians became a specific target, even among other immigrant groups. The hatred grew so thick in certain parts of the country, in fact, that anti- Italianism became a branch of anti-immigrant. From the years 1880 to 1921 over 4 million Italians came to the States, most settling in the East. Small numbers tried bringing their agricultural skills to the Deep South, but the hostile sentiment toward them caused many to migrate, leaving significant populations only in Florida and New Orleans. But hostility toward Italians was far from limited to the South. In the East Coast they were particu- larly resented by the new generation of working-class Irish- Americans who saw them as competitors for the sort of jobs formerly allotted to them. But animosity ran much higher, all the way up to politicians like infamous senator Henry Cabot Lodge. Lynchings, persecution, and mockery became common, but within a generation, much of this early intimidation had largely passed and has since been largely forgotten. In part this is because of how well we've assimilated into America and contributed to its culture• Hey, after all, we gave this country Frank Sinatra, AI Pacino, Robert De Niro, Joe DiMaggio, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Annette Funicello, and Frank Capra, to name just a few. Italians and Italianisms (pizzerias, music, and even the stereotypes) have become so common in the American way of life it's easy to forget that we were once treated as an "other•" We fought and largely succeeded for our embracement by America. Still, what the first Italian immigrants suffered through should never be forgotten• History reinforces some things while burying others• Therefore, the shock from many upon learning that Italians were the second most commonly lynched group after African-Americans is understandable• The largest lynch- ing in United States history, in fact, involved 11 Sicilians in New Orleans ... and seldom receives a mention in history books. The facts of the case are well enough documented for those interested• In October of 1890, Police Chief David Hennessey was gunned down in front of his house while returning home from a meeting. He died the following day but not before uttering the words "Dagos did it." Hennessey, however, had no shortage of enemies. In 1882 he was tried for and found not guilty for the murder of a police rival and toward the end of the 1880s began cracking down on Black Hand activity in the New Orleans docks, where many Sicilian immigrants made a living selling imported fruits. This livelihood gave way to tension among families who competed for control of the docks. Eventually, the monopoly was down to two families, the Provenzanos and the Matrangas. In his last years, Hennessey turned his atten- tion to the feuding families, a focus which cost him his life in October of 1890. The city acted quick, rounding up 250 Italian citizens, ultimately taking 19 of them to trial. By March of the following year, six of the accused were declared either not guilty or acquitted due to mistrial• This proved too much for the people of New Orleans to take and on March 14 a mob of 150 men raided Parish Prison. Chanting "Kill the Dagos", they dragged the Sicil- ians out of their cells and into the courtyard, ultimately lynching 11 of them, some of which had never been tried nor had any known criminal connections. National reac- tions? Then police commissioner Teddy Roosevelt thought the lynching "rather a good thing" while The New York Times cheered on "Chief Hennessey avenged." Not surprisingly, none of those involved in the lynching were tried. The New Orleans lynching of 1891 is seldom spoken of today and yet it is perfectly exemplifies the discrimination and violence many Italian immigrants faced while build- ing a better life in the new country. Despite the odds, how- ever, they built a legacy to be proud of, built on honor, hard work, and love for America, not only in New Orleans but all over; Brooklyn, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Boston's North End. The best thing about the legacy of Italians in America is that it's here to stay for future generations to appreciate and admire. Open Easter Sunday 8 am - 2 vm The Post-Gazette is now on the Web! Check us out at You'll find the history of the Post-Gazette, information about our columnists, as well as advertising, submission and subscription information. oston Due to his increasing popularity and several suggestions from readers (and after much negotiating on our part with his huge salary demands), our friend Freeway has consented to try to answer readers' questions concerning him or any of our little four-legged friends. You can email your questions to to the attention of Freeway. Don't forget folks, Freeway is not a vet, so please keep the questions light-hearted! Thanks. Woof Taxi! A primer on pet transportation services. I think this story would interest my readers. Pet transportation services make it easier to get-around when you don't have a car. When Louisa first moved to Brooklyn from Los Angeles six years ago, she had four cats and two dogs. What she didn't have was a car. Laura worried about what she might do in an emer- gency, but happier circum- stances prompted her to research pet taxi services in New York City. A friend wanted to adopt one of her dogs, a Wheaton Terrier named Elliot. The problem? Her friend lived in Manhat- tan and didn't have access to transportation either. They wondered how they would move Elliot (along with his bed, crate and toys) from point A to point B. "Car services are not crazy about transporting dogs and the subway was a no go, so I needed to find another way," remembers Laura. Eventually, after some online searching, she chose Pet Chauffer. Pet transportation services are a growing segment of the pet industry and are now available in many cit- ies (New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and many more) across the coun- try. These companies offer your pooch trips to and from any given location, including the airport, dog trainer, dog groomer, doggie daycare, veterinary office, as well as emergency transport. (Com- panies such as Manhattan- based Pet Taxi advertise bringing stretchers, ramps, muzzles, and cages as well as experienced staff to your doorstep in case of emer- gency. Some pet transporta- tion companies also offer relocation packages. Often you'll find the one-stop-shop pet services offered too, such as dog-walking, grooming, training, or doggie camp, along with the benefits of transport• This is especially useful for working profes- sionals struggling to coordi- nate their schedule with the sometimes unpredictable needs of their dog. On top of peace of mind, there are other benefits to pet transportation services. In fact, your golden retriever might be more comfortable in a pet transport taxi than in the cab you hail on a rainy day. Some pet trans- port companies equip their insulated vans with stuffed toys and even Astroturf. Not to mention that the driver doesn't bat an eyelid when a customer throws up or whines uncontrollably in the backseat. The bad newsl Well, pric- ing can be steep• A one-way ride uptown (or downtown) thirty blocks in New York City will run at least $30 plus gratuity. If you allow for waiting time, which many services recommend (given the unpredictable nature of veterinary schedules and/or medical emergencies), you'll need to factor in another $40 per hour of waiting time. On the other hand, a trip to local airports seem doyen- right reasonable, when you consider other car services. In any case, for many pet owners without reliable transportation,• the extra security and convenience offered by pet taxis is often well worth the cost. TIPS FOR USING PET TAXI SERVICES: • Do your homework, and plan carefully: The same traffic jam that made you late for work will delay your pet's trip to the veterinarian. • Plan around busy morn- ing and late afternoon rush hours. • If you are in a rush to get to work after a vet appoint- ment, you might want to pay for the transportation ser- vice to wait for you and your dog. • Consider holiday travel congestion when making plans and travel arrange- ments. Call way ahead of time! • Don't forget to take weather conditions into account. After writing this article all I can say is "thank god" 'for my boss and her car service to take me to my vet visits. That's all for now!!! IN WALTHAM WANTED: VENDORS (Food and others) and CRAFTERS for Italian Festa on the Waltham Common on 5/31. OSIA Lodges can also participate.. Contact Carol @ 508-655-2099 or momsswans @ Bakery and Function Facilities Visit our Shops for your Traditional Easter Specialties Pizza Grana (Wheat Pie), Pizza Ghiena, Strufoli, Taralles, St. Joseph Zeppole Italian Pastry and more 282 Bennington Street, East Boston 617-567-1992 Route One South, t ynnfield 781-592-5552