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The last born child of Luigi Mattera and Marianna Calise

After the disastrous 1883 earthquake, the family moved to Fillipperill (presently an unknown town) Marseille, Bouches-du-Rhone, France, where on February 11, 1884, Giovanni was born.  In 1896, after living in France about five years, the family then emigrated to Philadelphia, PA.  When the decision to return to Italy was made by their parents, John returned with them leaving Clement and Joe behind.  It is believed that this return trip occurred about 1902.  On December 4, 1906, John returned to Philadelphia, on the SS Cretie to rejoin his brothers; leaving his new bride Rosa behind till he established himself.  While employed as an interpreter on the Cunard Line, John had met Rosamaria Mariosa who was traveling with her parents.  The only child of the Mayor of Castel Ruggero, Salerno, educated in the convent, she left a relatively good life to be the wife of a struggling immigrant in their new country.  "John My John" was how Rosa referred to her husband and from my limited memory of him as an out going charming person, I am sure he eased the difficulties they faced together.


John's life as an Immigrant in Philadelphia, PA

It is said that the uneducated Italian immigrant needed to be satisfied with whatever employment he found; but the educated Italian immigrant also needed to be satisfied with whatever employment he found. John unable to obtain employment utilizing his background of four languages was fortunately blessed with a muscular physique enabling him to obtain employment as a laborer building the Market Street subway; the pay rate was seventy-five cents an hour and one was required to be available ten hours a day.

In the larger cities at that time, cheap labor was needed by the "financiers" they therefore encouraged importation of European immigrants. In the 1894 NY Times Index for July 23: "Labor Bureaus at Barge office and in Greenwich Street protest against Employment of Immigrants at reduced wages." For May 13, 1900 under Emigrants: Rome letter to Times on how travel is promoted and proposed government restrictions." A worker disabled on the job was easily replaced, how he existed thereafter was his concern, his employer releases himself of all responsibly. Over the years, the worker’s basic human conditions were improved only because of the struggles of early organized strikers demanding pay rises, lower hours and workmen’s compensation for the injured; presently known as Union workers.

In the time of the roaring twenties when the economy was super and the flappers were swinging, the immigrant females running their households were baking bread in an oven heated by wood and in good times heated by coal which held the dual purpose of heating the kitchen on cold winter mornings. Although, electricity was lighting New York in 1900, oil lamps and gas lamps lit most homes. My children ran hot water into the tub without a thought, I had to go to the basement and light the pilot, the children of the immigrants used terms such as "sponge bath" and galvanized tubs filled with water heated on the wood heated stove. Included in yesterday’s vocabulary is the "outhouse" where the bodily function was completed rapidly because of the freeze in winter and the flies in summer.  The neighbors boasted thriving flower gardens from gathering daily deposits of waste dropped by the horses used by vendors such as the fish man, milkman, iceman, produce man, trash collector and ash collector.

Vacation was an unheard word by the materially deprived children of our Philadelphia immigrants. The fortunate children looked forward to summer visits to large city parks such as Fairmount Park and League Island Park providing spacious grounds to play or visits in the country to relative’s farm. The less fortunate, reluctantly looked forward to travels to the Hammonton, NJ area to help Italian farmers needing pickers for harvesting their fruits and vegetables. Either way, these experiences became happy memories; the children of the third generation enjoyed hearing the second generations repetitious telling of them.   The materially deprived second generation also were emotionally deprived of a comforting doting grandparent relationship and they felt bad about this loss. Their only contact being the envelope with a black border received  when a grandparent passed on and sometimes a picture.

John focused on providing for his family and when he finally progressed to a fine house, the depression destroyed the economy. Suddenly his vocation was swept away; however, this outgoing, well spoken, businessman downsized his living expenses and started a successful family business.

When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade! 


Descendants  of Giovanni Paola Mattera and Rosamaria Mariosa

Children of Giovanni Paola and Rosamaria Mariosa







Luigi 06-05-1908       1918


06-16-1909       1918
Valentini 02-14-1911       unknown
Joseph 05-1019-1912 Mafalda Baratucci   Two 01-09-1962
Giulielmo 01-01-1914       1918
Harry Vincent 05-09-1915 "Tina" Pocoroba   Two 03-11-1992
Margaret 09-11-1917 Frank Muzzalupo 1936 One 01-30-1992
    Dan Davis 1954    
Teresa 1919       unknown
William 03-18-1920 Julia Bocknack 02-22-1941 Two  
Virginia Frances 11-01-1921 Walter Gasior 01-25-1969 None  
Yolanda 05-16-1926 Joseph Coury 1958 None 10-07-1986
George 02-22-1929 Rose Petrecca 1951 Two 12-25-1995
Anthony 01-29-1932 Carmen Marie Nunez 12-15-1951 Five  
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