From the archives
DiGregorio Family flies from Europe to make a home on the Hill,
An Italian Immigrant’s Story, waiting for years to be allowed into the United States after being the Enemy During WWII. Changing their Italian names to assimilate with American Culture.
The six De Gregorio children were getting their first good look at America today and trying out their new American names, after a long and bewildering airplane trip from Europe.
They arrived at Lambert-St. Louis Field last night with their mother and were met by an uncle, Joseph De Gregorio, 2301 Maklind Ave, with whom they will stay.
The youngsters are fluent in French and Italian, but as yet their English is limited to “okay,” “hello” and “thank you.” Nevertheless they learned the English equivalents of their Italian first names and began practicing them excitedly on each other.
The oldest, Joseph (Guiseppe), is 18 years old. Then come Frances (Fortunanta), 16: Lucy (Lucia), 12; John Givanni), 8: Careline (Carmella), 6, and Rosemary (Rosemaria), 4.
On they way from the airfield, they began counting automobiles on the highway and finally declared to their uncle, “No one’s walking!” At their new home, they made a bee-line for the television set, the first they had even seen.
Twelve years ago their parents, then living near Palermo, Sicily, applied for permission to come to the United States, but the war ruined their hopes. In 1948 the family moved to Liege, Belgium, where the father, Francesco De Gregorio, who died two years ago.
Permission to emigrate was finally granted this year. On Wednesday the family flew from Belgium to New York, continuing to St. Louis yesterday.
Joseph De Gregorio, who left Sicily for the United States 30 years ago, had a joyful reunion with his sister-in-law, whom he remembered as a young girl. She is going to follow the example of her children and change her name from Josephina to Josephine. As Joseph’s son Sam said, “She’ll probably have to get used to being called “mom” now instead of ‘Mama’ or “Maman,’ too.”