Termini Imerese Stories

How My Grandfather came to America because of a Donkey

Submitted by Father Anthony Delisi

I feel it is time to tell the story of how my grandfather, Joseph F. Delisi, came to America because of a donkey.

It was about 1909 that my grandfather on my mother's side was going down the street in Termini with his donkey & wagon. He stopped at a blacksmith shop and forgot to tie up the animal. The donkey took off with the wagon and ran down the street. There was a child playing in the street and the child was killed by the run-away donkey. My grandfather took off for the hills for fear of retaliation from the family of the child that was killed. He took the next ship to America and met my father in Pittsburgh, PA and worked in the produce area. One day a man came from Saltsburg, PA saying he wanted to sell his produce business and return to Italy. My Grandfather and father bought it & settled in Saltsburg. The rest of the family came over in Dec. l911.

Since my grandfather was well known in Termini, he was chosen to be the cappo for the people from Termini who settled around the Blairsville area. If there were any squabbled among the men from Termini, they would come to Saltsburg. All of us kids were ushered out of the dining room and granddad would try the case. Perhaps I'll finish the rest of the story at some other time.

By the way, my dad said that as a young boy in Termini, the family would be awaken in the morning by the he-ha of the donkey notifying the household that it was time to get up and time for the animals to be fed that were kept in the lower room of the house. I was able to visit that house which is in the square near Saint Anthony's church.

How my Grandfather Came to America Because of a Donkey The Mafia in my Life

Back to Main Page of Stories