Strangers among us — Little Italy during wartime

Jul 13, 2018 466

BY: Tom Cesarini

The war was getting really heavy, and a man in an officer’s uniform came to our door. He said, “I have some papers here, and I want you to read these. You have to leave your home and go to Oklahoma, and you’re going to go into a concentration camp. We’re going to take all the people who live near the waterfront because you’re too dangerous.” I said, “I don’t understand why we’re dangerous. My brother is in the Navy. I worked in an aircraft plant. And you’re telling me that you’re gonna put me in a camp with a bunch of people? I’m not a foreigner.” He said, “Well, your father doesn’t have second papers.”

I said, “I’ll fix that, but don’t tell me you’re gonna take me out of my house. And who do you think you are, coming here and telling me … this is my country.” I just tore into him, that poor soul. And he just looked at me. He said, “All right, all right, don’t get excited.” And I said, “Excited? I’m furious to think that my government would come and tell me that they’re gonna put my family in a concentration camp. Shame on them.” He said, “Well, I’ll give you a month. If your father can write his name and go get his second papers, we’ll forgive you for that.”

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