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Rose Masciello's Autobiography - Chapter Four

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                                                  The Wedding  


Giovanni returned home without a bride, but his parents, knowing that their son had a
restless and adventuresome spirit, braced themselves as the boy excitedly told them
every detail of his visit to the Palmeri house. At first they were stunned that Giovanni
had definitely decided on going to America, but slowly they realized what a great
opportunity it was for him to have a better life than he could ever have in Catania.
Giovanni quickly wrote a short letter to Stefano Palmeri, telling him that he would be
happy to be his son-n-law and, if his daughter Giovanna consented to be his wife, he
would be a proud and devoted husband to her forever. Upon receiving the letter, the
Palmeri family was overjoyed, especially Giovanna. Stefano quickly answered Giovanni’s
letter and told him he would take care of the necessary documents for his voyage to
America, and that they were eagerly awaiting his arrival.

After receiving his parents’ blessings and warm wishes from his sisters and brothers Giovanni
made them promise to come to his wedding. He would write to them of the date. The young
man left Catania with his head full of dreams. He was soon to be twenty two years old and
would not return to his home town until thirty years later.

When Giovanni was once again surrounded by the Palmeri family, he found his future
father-in-law busy filling out forms that included him on their voyage to the New World.
An immigrant arriving at ElliIs Island in America needed proof that a sponsor would be
responsible for supporting him with food and lodging until he could find a job and
become self-supporting. Stefano had uncles and cousins in New York and Illinois who
would welcome him and his family into their homes.

While Stefano was busy with paper work, Mamma Lucia was making preparations for
her daughter’s wedding. The young couple was now engaged, with a constant chaperone
at their heels! Until the day of the wedding, Giovanni was welcome to sleep at Stefano’s
brother’s home—across the street. Giovanni smiled at the suggestion. He would always think
of Uncle Alfredo as “the arranger”.

After a very short engagement, the wedding bells tolled loud and clear from the belfry
Santo Domenico’s church as Giovanna, adorned in the beautiful white wedding gown sewn
by her mother, was led down the aisle by her father, Signor Stefano. At the altar Giovanni in
his freshly pressed best suit, took his place next to his petit blushing bride. As they stood before
Monsignor Silvestri declaring their marriage vows, they resembled two tiny dolls that had just
stepped down from the top of a wedding cake.

The young bride and groom rode back home amidst the joyous congratulations of relatives and
friends. As was the custom, the townspeople had followed the wedding party to the church
on foot, and were now strolling home while wedding bells still chimed in the distance.

Giovanni’s parents Rosa and Antonio, and his two brothers had managed to attend the
wedding and rode in a horse and carriage to the Palmeri house. His sisters were unable to
make the journey to Roccamena, one had recently given birth to her first baby and the
other sister was very pregnant with her third child.

The festivities began. For many hours family and friends enjoyed Mamma Lucia’s
delicious food prepared for her first daughter’s wedding. The guests ate, drank, and then
serenaded the bride and groom with beautiful Neapolitan love songs, accompanied by a
mandolin. All the romantic words of the songs were dedicated to the young couple.
Giovanna chimed in with her beautiful voice, singing the songs she loved so well.

The evening came to an end. The guests were gone and a peaceful quiet filled the house.
The young bride and groom were given their own little bedroom in a far corner of the house.
They were alone at last, young, inexperienced, and shy. Holding hands, they walked over
to the one small window in the room and opened the squeaky shutters to let in the
cool night air. The peaks of the surrounding mountains made a lovely silhouette against a
dark blue sky filled with a million stars. Giovanni and his bride stood at the window for a
long time, sending their wishes up to the mysterious tiny lights burning in the heavens—then
slowly they closed the shutters.