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Chapter V - Nicola

That fall, life's routine was interrupted by one of my sister-in- law's cousins. One of the fellows I had met and entertained that summer appeared at our house again. This time he not only visited us but also informed us that he had come to stay. He wanted to find work and live in Philadelphia. I had been on the third floor. Hearing voices, I headed for the kitchen. There was Nicola. Instinctively I knew that he had come for me. I realized that this stranger was going to be my husband. It was a premonition that I had. I was only fifteen then. Guiseppe liked Nicola and invited him to live with us. A rolling bed was placed in the kitchen. At night after everyone had retired he would open the bed and sleep there. He liked the arrangement but I was not sure about it. He would go out most of the nights or play cards with my brother. Sometimes my sister-in-law and I would join in. At times, after reading the newspaper, we would discuss politics. He would buy a newspaper written in English and tell us the English version of what we had read in Italian.

My brother became dissatisfied with his current job and decided to look around for another one. This time he located one in Bridgeport, Pennsylvania, an industrial town seventeen miles north of Philadelphia. Bridgeport was quite rural, although industrialized too.

My sister and I found a job in Norristown, a bigger town across the river, in a hosiery factory. Our house was a large one. It had six rooms and a shed attached to the house. There were no utilities except running water. The shed was used as a summer kitchen. The rooms were large. On the first floor there was a living room, kitchen and a nice front porch. There was an outhouse in the back yard. On the second floor there were two large rooms - one for my brother and his wife and the other for their two children. On the third floor there was a room for my sister and myself, and another room, a spare room.

Guiseppe planted a big garden in the back yard. We lived quite comfortably in Bridgeport.

Emilia and I worked at a very tedious job in the hosiery factory. We manned a long machine with a bar across containing nail points. The bar extended across the whole length of the machine. We would pin rejected work to the nail points. The lower part of the machine contained rows of bobbins that looked like bowling pins. We would stretch the rejected stocking threads to the bobbins to reclaim the yarn. The bobbin would roll around filling up with the yarn. Every time the yarn broke we tied a knot. That went on all day long. We walked up and down the length of the machine. Every time there was an empty pin we would hand one more stocking and we would continue that operation all day. The work was neither inspiring nor promising but furnished us a means of living.

One day the floor lady approached me with a proposition. There was a new type of machine in the next room to accelerate a different type of work. Would I give it a try? I said that I would. The new work doubled my income and also offered me the opportunity to learn a better paying job.

I began to enjoy life in Bridgeport. With more money I could afford better clothes. I made friends in the neighborhood and at work.

When Nicola appeared on the scene again I was now certain that he came because of me, but I was still very young and not ready yet to be caught in the net of matrimony. Nicola started to pay open attention and even showed signs of jealousy. I was having too good a time to want to start a serious commitment. He resented the attention any other boys paid me. I began to resent his attitude.

Finally he declared himself. He said he loved me and wanted to marry me. I had begun to live my youth fully at sixteen and I told Nicola I was not ready to marry. He was hurt by my refusal and told Guiseppe that he was going back to Newark, the place where he had originally lived.

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