Peter Colantuono was born in the U.S. in 1914. Both his mother and father were native Italians who spoke no English. Like any parent, Marie and Vito Colantuono wanted a better life for their children. So, they headed to America.
It was common for immigrants to go back and forth from their home country to America (as they could) to provide money to their loved ones back home. After spending his first 7 years of life in the U.S.A., Peter Colantuono returned to Italy with his family for 7 years. The following excerpt from his memoir describes his re-entry into the U.S. at the age of 14….
July 3, 1928 was like any other morning. We got up early to go to work on the farm (the Parc di Cola). We were harvesting peas and at about noon dad and I left for Grumo. After work, my dad kept talking to me all the way home, concerned about me leaving Grumo and the family.
When we arrived at the docks, I was directed toward the processing area in preparation for the trip to the U.S. Dad and I thought we’d see each other before the boat sailed. I was sent through a delousing process, made to undress and moved to the next section, then another, like cattle. Before I knew it, I was on board ship and ready to sail.
At this point I became frantic realizing the boat was being readied to sail. I ran up and down hoping to get a glimpse of Dad, and then heard my name called, “Colantuono, Colantuono”. It was my Dad in a rowboat by the end of the ship. I ran to the rear and saw him.
We both became hysterical crying as he waved his big handkerchief and said, “My son, take care of yourself, I am sorry it had to end this way. Take care”. The boat pulled away and gradually both of us exhausted from crying. That was the last time we saw each other alive. It was destiny that I was not to hear his voice again.
Peter Colantuono made plenty more sacrifices after re-entering the U.S.A. He ultimately shortened his last name to “Colan”, served in the U.S. Army, earned a living as a commercial artist and encouraged his children to earn four advanced degrees (he had only an 8th grade education).
Most importantly, he left in his children something more than money can buy – values. The values of respect, learning, perseverance, hard work and compassion.
Like my grandfather and my father, we each make sacrifices for our loved ones at home and our team members at work to create better lives for them. The key is to remember that what we leave in them is more important that what we leave with them.
May you leave a positive, living legacy for your home and work teams.
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