Ettore LorenziniEttore "Nonno" Lorenzini
By Joanna Marini

Angelo Lorenzini (Ettore's father) was orphaned in early childhood, though there is no record anywhere in Italy of his parents’ deaths. He and his four other brothers and sisters were left in the care of his older brother, who, at the age of 14, had to work to support them.

In 1904, Angelo and Giulia Gerometta were married in Audiuns, Italy. Audiuns was a picturesque resort town, 50 miles from Austria, at the base of the Alps. It was so small, there were only 300 people, and the only 3 last names were Lorenzini, Gerometta, and Peressutti. Angelo and Giulia had nine children. In 1905, their first child, Davide, was born, but died at birth. A year later, a second boy was born, Silvio. In 1908, Egidio was born, and in 1909, Ardunio, but they both died at birth. Giovanna was born in 1911; Ettore (my grandfather) in 1913; Assunta in 1914; Felice in 1916, and Gustina in 1918.Nonno's Mother, Giulia

In 1915, when Giovanna was 4, she caught meningitis. Ettore, being the youngest, at the age of 2, was sent to live at another house, for fear of him, too catching the disease. A few weeks later, Giovanna died.

They lived on a farm until it was destroyed by an earthquake. In 1926 they built a large 20 bedroom home and later rented them out to tourists in the summer months.

Angelo was a stone mason, and spent many years away from home traveling around all of Europe and the Eastern United States. His family may have seen him for 3 months out of 10 years. Because Angelo was always at work, Silvio was like a father to his brothers and sisters.

Ettore attended school until fifth grade, when he then went to trade school to be a stone mason like his father. He was hit by a car and broke his collarbone. After his accident, Silvio thought it would be better for him to try lighter work. He was enrolled in the mosaic school in Splimbergo and became very talented at it.

When Ettore was 17, he decided instead of staying in Italy and joining Mussolini’s army (mandatory at age 18), to emigrate to the United States to meet his father and work. Since Ettore was a minor, he was already included in his father’s citizenship papers. His professor at the mosaic school gave him a list of companies in the United States that needed mosaic workers. He wrote to several and received word from United Marble and Tile that they could use him. To go to America, though, he needed a sponsor to travel with him. A friend of his family, Peter Leonardis, who was an American citizen, was going to America at the same time. He became Ettore’s sponsor and was to meet him on the boat.

On March 17, 1930, he left Anduins for the train station. The whole little town gathered to say good-bye and followed him to the train station. His mother was crying, and his young brothers and sisters were hanging on him. He wasn’t really nervous or sad sitting in the train station even though he knew nothing of the new world he was about to enter. He heard the train whistle blow in the distance and choked up. He couldn’t talk. He wasn’t sure why, but what was about to happen finally hit him. Everyone said their good-byes and Ettore stepped into the train. As the train pulled away from the station, he stepped on to the back platform to wave good-bye. His mother was crying hysterically, clutching on to the back of the train while it was pulling away, reaching for him, and screaming that she loved him, and for him not to leave. She knew she would never see her son again, and as men pulled her off she collapsed, still hysterical and crying, reaching out for her son. These are Ettore’s last memories of his mother.

He left the train station at Genoa on March 21, and boarded the steamship, Conte Biancamano. Peter Leonardis boarded the ship at Naples. He and Peter sailed for 10 days, becoming very seasick after they left the calm Mediterranean. He hated traveling on the boat so much that while he was sick in bed, he wrote on his cabin wall: I will never travel by boat again.

On March 31, he and his sponsor, Peter Leonardis, arrived at Ellis Island. When the ship docked, Peter, a U.S. citizen, left the ship first and was separated from Ettore. Since he was no longer accompanied by an adult, Ettore had to stay at Ellis Island. After being held there for two days, Peter finally found Ettore to sign for him.

The next day he boarded a train to meet his father for the first time in 4 years. On April 2, he arrived at Mauch Chunk (now Jim Thorpe). As the train pulled into the station, Ettore searched out the window for his father’s face. He saw him, standing just a little away. He stepped off the train, and stood right next to his father, but Angelo kept looking around, he didn’t recognize his son. He was shocked when he realized that that was his son.

They worked together for a few months, and then in Sept./Oct. ,Angelo had to return to Italy. Ettore was offered a job at United Marble and Tile Co. (later Anthracite Marble and Tile Co.) and moved to West Pittston to work there.

He met Lena (Salvatrice) Randazzo and they were married on June 19, 1937. They had 4 children, David, Dino, Julie, and Daniel.

Ettore was very good at his trade, and his work was in demand. Ettore was hired to provide the company with mosaic capability, but since mosaic projects were infrequent, he was placed with the terrazzo crew, since many spoke his Friuli dialect. He spent many years installing terrazzo floors in schools, hospitals and commercial buildings in New York State and Pennsylvania. He saw his family on weekends only, and went on his first family vacation in 1958 after 28 years.

Some of his numerous works include a map of the world in the new Post Office Department in Washington D.C., the mosaic on the front altar at Saint Anthony’s Parish, Exeter, the floor in the Basilica of St. Cyril and Methodius in Danville, and even the floors of Wyoming Area High School, as well as the decorative seals in the gym and main entrance.

In 1982, Ettore lost his dear wife, Lena, to a long battle with lung cancer. Although he was about to retire after 52 years of working for the same company who gave him his start in America, he started to work again.

Ettore is now 85 years old, and still helps out at work when they need him. He is still the best around, and everyone in the business knows it.

For a description of Ettore, click here...