''You live as long as you are remembered.''
It was the summer of 1912. The city streets were bustling with trolley cars. Dozens of factory chimneys filled the sky with gray smoke. Grocery stores dotted the friendly neighborhood streets, and the sound of children's laughter rippled across the parks and schoolyards.
There was a soft, graceful rhythm to the hilly town, up, down, up, down. Large trees in varying shades of green, thick foliage and brightly colored flowers filled the yards. It didn't resemble the rocky hills of Baselice, Italy; it was pretty but strange.
Pictured are Mary Grace Marucci and her husband, Michele, with their firstborn son, Fidele. The Maruccis immigrated to Jamestown from Baselice, Italy, in June of 1912.
Pictured are Rachel Marucci Olsen and Albert Marucci. Rachel and Albert are the only living children of Michele and Mary Grace Marucci.
The eastern humidity was stifling to the newcomers, Michele and Maria Grazia Ferrara Marucci. They had surmounted the Ellis Island immigration difficulties and it was with immense relief that they made their way to 311 Crescent St. to begin their American life.
The Jamestown streets were not ''paved with gold'' promised by Lady Liberty. Fortunately, the young couple were blessed with determination and quickly realized that with hard work everything was possible in America.
Michele was 31 years old. Mary was only 17 and expecting their first child.
Immigrant jobs were plentiful but wages meager. Michele took whatever work was available to him. Eventually, he moved the family to North Carolina and worked as a water line foreman at Fort Cowell. Next, he took a job in Fort Monroe, Va., building Langley Field from 1918 until April 1920. In May of 1920, the family moved back to Jamestown with their three young children, Antonio, Josephine and Leonard.
The city had a thriving Italian population, and many of the families were from Southern Italy, as were the Maruccis.
Despite their differences in dialects and customs, they drew strength from each other and created a community that was culturally comfortable for them. Enterprising laborers, brick masons, barbers, factory workers, tradesmen and merchants sacrificed their time and skills to help their fellow ''paesano.''
Michele and friends devoted many hours to the building of St. John Catholic Church. Mary founded the St. Joseph's Feast Day and the Society of Madonna Delle Grazia at St. John. It was here the remainder of the children, Floyd, Pascal, Raffaella, Lawrence and Albert were born.
It was Marvin Street for many years, but had recently been renamed Washington Street. It began at Second Street and ended at Fluvanna Avenue.
It was an ethically mixed area of Irish, Swedish, Italian and Eastern European immigrants and had a certain vitality reminiscent of their homelands.
It was a mix or residential houses and small businesses that provided goods and services to the neighborhood families.
There was Scarpino's Bar where working men gathered to swap stories of the day's events, and young men had their first legal drink.
There was Langley's Bakery with its wonderful smell of freshly baked bread and fancy creampuffs, and Ferndale-Nelson (Dairy-Lee) where they bottled and delivered fresh milk, cream and every child's treat, chocolate milk.
The Diner was a landmark simply because it was an old trolley car and served 10-cent burgers.
Reliable Garage was where males of all ages gathered for hours to talk ''autorepair,'' a language only they understood.
But the best part of the neighborhood was Roseland Park on Fluvanna Avenue. Everyone played there, and sports were the great ethnic equalizer. There were pick-up games, summer softball tournaments, winter ice-skating and it was the place to find a friend on a lonely afternoon.
Michele and Mary Grace like the neighborhood and, in 1921, purchased a comfortable, two-story, wood-frame house and land at 2245 Washington St. Those few city blocks and their sounds and smells became the background of the Maruccis' lives and would remain with them forever.
The house had five bedrooms, a large front porch and garage. (Michele raised his pigeons on the roof of the garage). There was a greenhouse used for starter plants and a pot bellied stove heated it. Much of the yard was taken up by a generous vegetable garden that fed the family and provided a bit of extra money.
There were a few grapevines for winemaking, but Michele preferred to use California grapes from Carlo's Market on Foote Avenue Extension for his wine. Mary, like most women of her day, had children and chores from sun up to sun down, but she always found time for the garden. She was so proud of what they grew and harvested. It was a means of providing for her family and a personal labor of love.
Michele added a wine cellar, well and second bathroom to the house. A few years later, he built a commercial building on the side of the property and rented it to the Bacot Dry Cleaning plant for many years. In the early 1950s, a part of the house was renovated and ''Pat's Bar'' was added to the existing property.
Eventually, each of the Marucci children married and left the old house on Washington Street. It was sold in 1987, and the house that had nurtured and sustained the family for half a century was now a memory.
A FLOURISHING FAMILY
In 1922, Michele became a naturalized citizen in the Supreme Court of New York and was promoted to foreman with Callahan Construction Co. He was earning enough to return to Italy and bring his parents, Fedele and Maria, to his home in Jamestown. His sister, Theresa, married John Luciano, and they had a large family and a farm on West Oak Hill Road. Pat Luciano Deppas is the only living Marucci first cousin in Jamestown. Mary's parents, Fiorangelo and Rafaella Ferrara, remained in Italy, and she was never to see them again. Her brother, Antonio, had immigrated with her in 1912 and lived with the family until his death in 1970.
Their eldest brother, Pasquale, died a young man. His wife, Antonia, chose to return to Italy with the four children.
Their son, Anthony Ferrara, returned to Jamestown and lived on Fairmount Avenue with his wife, Mary. His brother, Joe, spent many years in Jamestown and died there in 2004. The other two Ferrara cousins, Leonard and Antonia, remained in Italy. The Maruccis welcomed their newly arriving families with open arms. They didn't have to experience the crowded city ghettos and tenement living so often described in Italian immigrant histories. Jamestown was a fine city with lovely neighborhoods, a robust economy and a contributing immigrant population. The family could now call it ''home.''
Michele left Callahan's employ in 1924 to work for the city of Jamestown Public Works Department and remained with the city until his death on March 25, 1943, in Cassadaga. Mary bought a vault in Holy Sepulcher Cemetery with a beautiful headstone for Michele and her children. She lived another 20 years in the family home and died on July 25, 1963, working in the garden she so loved. ''Che Dio vi benedica.'' The family flourished ... grandchildren and great-grandchildren were born.
Sadly, they would only know the Michele and Mary Grace found in faded photographs, family stories and the stone cross in the cemetery.
All but two of the children remained in Jamestown.
Fidele, their firstborn son, died in 1916 at the age of 3. the oldest three children, Tony, Josephine and Leonard attended Jamestown Public Schools.
The five younger children attended Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic School on Fifth and Washington streets. Four of the sons served their country - Leonard with the Army in the Pacific; Pat with the Army in the European Theatre; Dee Dee with the Army in the Panama Canal Zone; and Albert with the Marines aboard the USS Boston in the Mediterranean.
The eldest son, Tony, worked at Steel Partition in Jamestown and was given a deferment because his job was essential to the war effort.
Their brother Floyd wasn't eligible for military service during World War II.
All the sons married and between them had 16 children.
Josephine, the eldest daughter, became a beautician and owned a shop on Thayer and Second streets in Jamestown. Later she married, had three children and lived in Youngstown, Ohio.
Rachel, the younger daughter, was the first in her family to graduate from Jamestown High School, in 1944. Following graduation she was offered a promising job with the United States government in Washington, D.C., but her parents felt she was too young to leave home. She remained in Jamestown, married and had one son. Rachel and her younger brother Albert are the only living children of Michele and Mary. Rachel resides in Tanglewood Manor, Jamestown, and Albert lives in Aptos, Calif.
Michele and Mary's simple story spans 100 years and captures the heart of the immigrant experience ... ''a shared passion for freedom and opportunity.''
Within eight years of their humble arrival in 1912, they secured employment, had a family and bought a house ... such is the power of dreams.
Their extraordinary courage and sacrifice had forged a new life in a new land. And in doing so, an enduring legacy of wisdom, love and faith was created and passed on to their 116 descendants. We are blessed with the profound knowledge that some part of them lives within each of us.
Shirley Marucci, her husband Albert Marucci, and Rachel Marucci Olsen worked together to complete this story.