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My name is Feliciano Bucciano. I am an Italian immigrant and I moved here about five years ago. The experience was one I’ll never forget. Moving here was worth it, but it did not live to my expectations of the magical country in the west. However, the economics here are better than Italy, and I can practice my religion however much I like.
I immigrated with my father because I could not find a good job, and many people of my religion were being persecuted. I heard that many Europeans immigrated to America “to escape the poverty and religious intolerance that existed in small towns in countries such as Italy, Poland, and Russia.” I, too, was suffering from lack of money and wanted to practice my religion in peace. My family would have gone together if it weren’t for my mother’s illness. We had to separate without knowing when we’d meet again.
On the ship to America, we rode in the steerage; it was so crowded and dank, I could barely breathe. I spoke to various passengers, and young Morris Schneider told me, “[My brother and I] tried to go, get out of the steerage, ... get out of the heat and the stench and get on the main deck. We…were permitted to stay there for a little while but we were constantly chased.” In spite of the horrible conditions, I kept reminding myself that a better life waited for me in America.
At Ellis Island, the men in uniforms performed checks and lifted up my eye to see if I carried a disease in them. As a young adult, healthy and such, I passed. My father, however…
Was not in his prime. The doctor explained to us that “People with trachoma were often sent back to their home countries.” That was the case for my father, and we parted with much sorrow. I continued on my journey, but with some trepidation.
When I arrived, I met up with my cousins, and they got me a job in a slaughterhouse. A Lithuanian convinced me to join the Cattle Butchers’ Union, claiming that “This union is honest and it has done me a great deal of good. It has raised my wages.” At my job, I made many friends, both immigrants and Americans alike. During the turn of the century, my pay changed, but other than that, my life has been happy and steady.
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