Letters from the Old Country by Ben Lariccia

Lucia Bisceglia Lariccia Collection, 1917-1999. RG 77/12/1/1, Archives & Special Collections, William F. Maag, Jr Library, Youngstown State University, Youngstown, Ohio. Lucia Bisceglia Lariccia Collection, 1917-1999. RG 77/12/1/1, Archives & Special Collections, William F. Maag, Jr Library, Youngstown State University, Youngstown, Ohio.

Many immigrants were in regular contact with their families back home. Separated by the Atlantic Ocean, engaged couples arranged plans for their wedding to take place either in the United States or in the paese. But none of the planning was possible without written correspondence between the parties.

In Europe, WWI is being fought. The German Navy, believing that enemy ships are carrying arms for the Allies, is sinking steamers including passenger liners. The Lusitania was torpedoed just two years ago. The newspapers are full of horror stories about the murderous U-boat attacks. On the other side of the Atlantic, in Ohio, Gioso is waiting for his bride to be, but she hasn’t arrived as planned. You can imagine the letter that he must have written to her. “Why didn’t you telegram me from Naples as we had decided? I haven’t heard from you in so long. Where are you? When are you leaving for the U.S.?” 

Lucia, his fiancée, responds in a defensive and nervous tone about the delays in her departure for the USA. Yet she is confident that she will get there soon. Just be patient. 

Montelongo, Campobasso
August 15, 1917
Dearest Gioso,

I am answering your beloved letter dated the 18th of the past month that I received on the 15th of the present month. You cannot imagine the relief I rightly felt today when I got news from you. We are all well and I hope to hear the same thing from all of you. Reading your letter, I’m consoled with what you tell me, only I am sorry that the Lord has given you this other deep pain about your beloved niece, but there is nothing to do. Those are things that God does. Let his divine will be done.
You are telling me that when I leave for Naples I need to send the telegram so that, as you tell me, I will try there, too. In this way you will know, God willing, when I can arrive. Now we are again decided to leave, and they have assured us that they are going to return our passports. I do not think it will be much longer, my departure with your niece. Then the decision that we had made was for August 5. At that time they told us that they were sinking [ships]. We didn’t care anymore to leave. Now we have planned our trip for the month of September.
Perhaps you were thinking that I did not want to make the trip. No, it’s not true. It’s not my fault because you already know how things are at sea – so much danger. Meanwhile it doesn’t matter that time passes if I can travel safely.
Dear Gioso, I wrote you another letter eight days ago and immediately I answer this second letter of yours to find out more news from you. Hearing from you as often as I can makes my heart very happy. I have nothing to think about except you and God.
I have understood very well your good character, and I have trusted in you a lot. Perhaps you are displeased that I blamed you for not writing, but imagine how I must have been, mortified with no news from you for about two months. You tell me that you have written to me and I thank you the same. I do not have anything more to say.
Be strong for your brother and sister. My brother-in-law Francesco and all the rest of my family wish you the same. Regards from my mother and sisters. Send my regards to your dear mother, to your sister and brothers and brothers-in-law. Kisses to their children. I send you a thousand best wishes forever from [me], your dear one, so that you do not forget me.

Lucia Bisceglia

Answer soon and good night and farewell!