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Chapter V - Hard Times, Irma, Elena

At the beginning of 1921 times were hard. Nicola was out of work and we had bills to pay. A friend suggested that he go to Pennsylvania where there was foundry work at which he was skilled. He decided to give it a try. He found a job, but with his coming home on weekends and the expenses of traveling he decided it was too hard on him. He also did not like being separated from his family, so he decided to give up the new job. I wanted him to work there a little longer but he was too homesick to do so. A friend helped him get a new job. A few months later he developed a hernia, and the doctor recommended an operation. After the operation he developed pneumonia so his stay at the hospital was prolonged. When he came home his recuperation was slow due to a pain in his side and he could not resume work for three months. We needed money to live so I decided to go to work. It was a job at a baby rubber panty factory and was only one block away from our home. During my lunch hour I would go home to nurse the baby. Nicola took over the role of wife and mother. He would take the children to the park, clean the house and even wash clothes. This latter chore I did not want him to do. He would boil the clothes to get them clean but would always wait for me to hang them on the clothesline. His manly pride was very strong in this area and he believed this job was part of woman's work. Besides if the neighbors saw him do it he would have been embarrassed.

Three months after his operation he had completely recuperated and started to look for work. Again, I was with child. I did not quit until one month before the baby was due, because that was when he finally found a job.

The baby arrived on the 20th of January, on the birthday of my dead son Orazio. Orazio would have been four years old. The baby was a very beautiful baby. We named her Irma. At the time I was reading a Russian novel and the heroine's name was Irma.

Two years later another daughter increased our household. We named the new baby Elena. Elena had beautiful black curly hair and dimples.

We loved our children. We had five living and Nicola had a steady job and was making good money. We had even saved some.

About that time we saw an advertisement in the newspaper concerning land for sale. It required a very small down payment and ten dollars a month on the balance. The whole price was $1,600 for almost four acres of land. The price was reasonable and we decided to look at it. The agent took us to see the property in his car. This was the first time I had ridden in a car. I felt exhilarated and like a great lady. The land was located in Florham Park. We liked it because it was flat and near a main road. We decided to buy it. On the front part of the land there were two beautiful trees. I could envision a house, a green lawn, and the trees. It all seemed like a beautiful dream. It was what we were looking for - a nice big garden with lots of fresh vegetables, chickens for eggs, and fruit trees, plus a healthy environment in which to raise our children.

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