Written by Lucille Ritchey. One in a collection by Allen Bachoroski, Local Historical Writer and author of “Tales Along the Highway of Legends”
Angelo and Mary Caporale (Born in Naples, Italy in 1869 and 1868) and their six year old son, Joseph’s, dream of coming to America became a reality in late 1895 when Angelo’s uncle, Frank Caporale, advised immigration that he would sponsor them. The fact that Mary was almost eight months pregnant did not keep them from making the arduous boat trip from Italy. Their opportunity had arrived!
Their daughter, Rose, was born in New York on February 15, 1896. They moved west and Angelo worked at the Coke Ovens until he saved enough money to settle on a farm in El Moro. He worked as a share-cropper for several years then bought the land he was farming. His first task was to build a very comfortable frame and stucco 3-bedroom house with large front and back porches.
Angelo and Mary had five other children, Jeanette (1899-1945) married Charles Fixek. They had two daughters, Marcella and Marybelle. Daniel (1900-1966 3 married Marie Dutton they had a son, Danny, Jr., and two daughters, Dixie and Polly. Clara ( 1903 – 1983 ) Married Rocco DiPaolo – they had a daughter, Mary Rose, and a son, Dominic. Elizabeth ( 1907 – 1931) and Florence 1910 – 1943 were unmarried.
One of Angelo’s proudest moments was on January 12, 1904 when he, Mary, and Joseph became American citizens. We must admire the stamina of this pioneer couple. They came to this country not knowing one word of English – (They learned it later from their children). All they asked was an opportunity to live and work in America. They never asked for welfare or help from anyone. They worked hard, lived long and happy lives, raised a wonderful family, and lived on a strictly cash basis; Never charged a nickel.
They lived almost entirely off the land. They raised rabbits, chickens, hogs, and cattle. Made their own cheese and butter. Angelo’s fantastic orchard boasted six varieties of apples, three of plums, also peaches, pears, currents, and blueberries. He grew lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, rhubarb, strawberries, peanuts, asparagus, cabbage, celery, cucumbers, beets, carrots, peas, beans, radishes, corn, water melon, honeydew, cantaloupe, squash, pumpkins, pop corn, parsley, onions, garlic, fennel, and dill. They had about a dozen bee hives and made their own honey. They had a cellar where they kept apples, carrots, melons, etc., far into winter. They canned, pickled, and dried fruit and vegetables to last until the next year’s crop.
They cured bacon and ham and made sausage which they cured then cut into 4″ pieces and layered in 5-gallon crocks. They poured melted lard, (which they rendered) over this. The lard congealed and preserved the sausage until weather was cold enough to butcher again. None of the hog was wasted. They pickled pigfeet, dried pig skin and cooked it with beans, and made liver sausage.
Approximately once in three or four months they drove horse and wagon to Trinidad for supplies. These consisted of 1/2 ton of flour, 100 pounds of sugar, 20 pound boxes of pasta, 100 pound sacks of potatoes, salt, and kerosene for lamps.
Angelo always grew more produce than he could use. They would load up their wagon, and in later years their car, and drive to the coal camps to sell fruit, vegetables, cheese, and eggs. They had regular Customers eager to buy fresh produce at reasonable prices. Angelo built an outside oven for Mary to bake bread once a week. Angelo would fill the oven with wood and burn it until the brick was hot. The ash was then cleaned out and bread put in to bake.
Their farm crops were alfalfa, wheat, oats, corn, beans, and sugar beets. In those days, (before combines) grain was harvested with a binder. Bundles were stacked until the threshing crew came. During the coal miners strike in Ludlow, the Militia suspected the farmers in the area would be sympathetic toward the miners and word got out that they were searching the farm houses for arms and ammunition. Angelo was neutral, but he did not want his guns confiscated. He hid them in one of the wheat stacks.
In those days farmers worked hard and did not have much time for play, however, approximately once a month one of the families in the area would have a party. Everyone came. They danced, drank dandelion wine and home brew, laughed, and told stories. In the spring of 1917 a friend of the family brought a handsome young man to the farm to meet the young Caporale ladies. This was when Efisio (Tony) Simola fell in love with Rose Caporale. They were married on July 21, 1917.
Angelo and Mary retired and moved to Trinidad in 1941. They left the farm to their sons, Joe and Dan. Mary died of a stroke in 1946 and Angelo of a heart attack in 1951. Joe died of cancer in 1962.
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