Carroll Antonini, interviewed by Rebecca Leah Petrosino

Carroll Antonini, interviewed

by Rebecca Leah Petrosino

Antonini Wedding

Rebecca: Okay so I have to read you the purpose of the study.

The purpose of our study is to engage in community outreach with female Italian Canadian immigrants and to document the stories and experiences of immigration from Italy to Canada.

We encourage individuals and families, communities and organizations to share historical items — documents, letters and photos — that capture the experiences of female Italians in Canada. Our main focus is to create connections with Italian Canadian immigrant participants who immigrated to South Western Ontario, to record the personal and in-depth narratives of individuals who are willing to share their reflections and invaluable lived experiences.

We will be creating an informative and visual report using the artefacts you have shared with the interviewer to illustrate your personal story. This is a means of preserving your experience specifically and the Italian Canadian immigration experience in general.

By documenting these historical items we hope to connect the events of the past with the lived experiences of actual people. We thank you for your participation and your willingness to contribute to our collection.

 (I explained it to her before the recording)

Question 1 – What first brought you to Canada?

Carroll: Better life for my family.

Rebecca: Were you already acquainted with anyone in Canada before you arrived? So your mom came here first, did she have anyone here?

Carroll: No.

Rebecca: Did your dad have anyone?

Carroll: No.

Rebecca: No, just them?

Carroll: Yes.

Rebecca: Where did you live when you were younger?

Carroll: Northern Ontario, Sudbury.

Rebecca: Who did your mom come with and your dad when they came?

Carroll: My grandparents.

Rebecca: Do you have any items of importance from Italy when you came to Canada? Your mom or dad bring anything? No?

Carroll: Two rotten suit cases. Nothing important.

Rebecca: Did you write any letters to relatives in Italy?

Carroll: Yes, I did.

Rebecca: Do you have any of them still?

Carroll: No, I don’t.

Rebecca: What else should I ask? Those are all the questions.

Carroll: That’s all?

Rebecca: Yeah. Do you want to tell a story about?

Carroll: How difficult it was at first when you come over, you find a job, and the language.

Rebecca: Did your mom have a job?

Carroll: No, never worked. Five children. Five children, she never worked.

Rebecca: What was your job title?

Carroll: Book keeper.

Rebecca: Did you ever go back to Italy? For vacations or to live there?

Carroll: Yes, I went back to my mother’s town.

Rebecca: Where was her town?

Carroll: Tivoli near Rome. And also my father was in a town nearby. It’s a beautiful country, but only on vacation.

Rebecca: (before recording) You could tell the story about how you got your name?

Carroll: I was born in Northern Ontario. Sudbury, Ontario. And as an infant it came to the time that I was to be baptised. When we lived in the country there were not too many people in the area. And my mother had to find someone to baptise me and in those days husband and wife, the parents, were not allowed to go to church with the babies. There was a young 16-year-old teenager, a friend of the family. My mother asked her and Teresa said yes, I would be glad to. So she was accompanied by her father, Aldo Gentlemen. So we drove to the church, I mean they drove me to the church and when it was time to be baptised the priest asked the young girl “what’s the baby’s name?” And being of Canadian-French origin, her Italian those days was not like today, they could hardly understand it let alone pronounce some names. And my mother had told her my name was to be Incoronata. The girl got there and she didn’t know how to say it and being 16 years old would give the priest the name. So he asked to give her another name. So they decided to give me the name of Carroll, but that was not discovered until I was 13 years old. When we went to holidays in the United States, and in those days they were very very fussy about your baptismal certificates. So my mother called the priest and told Father Sellini, “I need a certificate for my daughter Corona.” Being as, in those days, the Catholic church was not funded into the school system and you had to pay to go to a Catholic school. And there were people in that area that were very hard up. So some of the women took it on themselves, they formed a group to raise money to help support these other children. So as they raised funds, my mother was very well known to the priest. And in those days, spaghetti and meatballs was a great thing and, being up there mostly French-Canadian and Anglo-Saxons, they didn’t know very much about it, but they were crazy about it. And that’s how my mother and some of her friends raised money for the school. And the priest knew my mom and said “Lil I cannot find your certificate”. They kept looking for it and he kept looking in his files. So finally, he spoke to my mom and said “we don’t know how we’re going to get you a certificate”. So then my mother said “well she was born on December 25. Oh, could she be under another name?” So they finally looked into the files and they found a baby born on December 25, 1934 called, or named, Carroll Antonini. And this is why they were never able to find it until they looked under the date of birth. So that was the only way I could get a certificate to get into the United States. And then we discovered Carroll, C-A-double R- O-Double L. Which is the old English pronunciation of Carol. And on my birth certificate to this day it’s Carroll.