(Grandparents - John & Dora)
*I have a lot more photos and know more history about my mom's side of the family than my dads. This is kind of a brief intro about how my grandparents first met and ended up becoming Witnesses. In the next entry I'm gonna write a few experiences about my great-grandma, and about when my grandmother first came over from Italy "on the boat" as she used to say. (I have her original immigration card & passport photo from when she first arrived at Staten Island ...which I'll post too).
Well first off, its ironic that both my grandparents were from the same Province in Italy, -Abruzzi, (the place I posted about earlier where the earthquake was) yet they ended up meeting here in America. And not only that, their families just happened to move into the very same neighborhood in Philadelphia. But my grandfather arrived here ahead of my grandma. He was the first person to initially come in contact with Jehovah's Witnesses and started reading their literature. (He kept alot of the old books which are out of print now.) Both of my grandparents were originally devout Roman Catholics, so keep that in mind while you're reading this next part. -My grandfather and his brother started studying the Bible and realized from what they were learning that idolatry and the worship of images & icons was wrong. Well their mother (my great-grandma) had a statue of Mary that she prayed to and kept sitting under glass on a table in their house. (Also, I guess they thought they heard weird noises coming from it and were creeped out about it)... so the two of them pulled the same kind of stunt that Gideon did at Judges 6:25-30 (on a much smaller scale) -So since they knew they would never be able to convince their mother to get rid of it, they waited till she went to bed one night, and then broke the statue and got rid of it themselves. Can you imagine what a fit she must have had the next morning when she woke up and found out what her sons had done? It must have been difficult living in a religiously divided house, especially since the majority of my grandfather's family and extended family remained Catholic. So anyway, my grandparents finally met after being introduced to one another by their mothers (who were playing the typical 'Italian-neighborhood matchmakers') lol. They got married and later after my grandmother began studying the Bible, they were both baptized together on the same day. How cute =)
Ok so fastforward a few years, after they had kids and here's another story I remember...One night when they were having the congregation bookstudy in this old building downtown (before they had a decent Kingdom Hall I guess) And during the meeting they heard what sounded like people trying to open the door, but they couldn't get it open for some reason. Then there were gunshots fired at the door or over the door aimed inside. Well one of the brothers ducked and my grandma thought he'd been shot, so she starts screaming "they've shot one of our men, they've shot one of our men!" (which is funny in retrospect when they tell the story if you know my grandma's personality) So she called the police while a few of the brothers ran outside to try and chase the gunmen down (since they thought it was some young guys who were put up to it by a church down the street that hated Jehovah's Witnesses and wanted them out of the building) and all the neighbors came out to see what was going on. But everyone who was there that night said it was very strange, because the door had been unlocked with people going in & out prior to the incident. My mom said that if they had been able to open the door, they would have had a clear shot of her cousin who was standing up front conducting the meeting at the time. I wonder why they couldn't get the door open? hmmmm... =)
Anyway, I really appreciate the spiritual stability my grandparents had. They weren't perfect...they had all the normal ups & downs of any marriage, but I always felt this strong sense of security and stability when I was with them. You can't put a price on that these days. I also admire the generosity and hospitality they showed to everyone. My grandma was the type of person who'd give you the shirt off her back if you needed it, and was always cooking meals and giving things to others anytime she saw a need. You never even had to ask because she was always 'on top of it' so to speak. She really cared about people and extended that concern with action. Plus, she was so fun to be around and had the greatest sense of humor...she could outlaugh me sometimes, and that's hard to do! =)