This painting always hung somewhere in the Torchia home
|I can remember so much about my grandfather's house. The
smell of delicious food from their bright little kitchen, the old chair that used to sit in my great grandfather's barber shop, the photos on the walls, including an ancient portrait which showed my grandfather's family circa 1925. Even the bathroom was memorable, because
my grandmother used to crochet colorful strings into shapes of baskets, then dip them in sugar or starch solutions to make them stiff. Their home was decorated with the crafts
that she enjoyed.
I always asked my grandfather questions about his youth, and how he got to America. My grandfather was a man of few words unfortunately, so the sum of all that he told me wasn't much.
He left Sersale as a boy with his father. His mother was about to have a baby. But such things were not spoken of then, so he was told that they were waiting for "kittens" to be born. I heard this story from his sister, My great aunt Angelina, who was still alive when I visited Sersale myself in 1986. Well, those kittens were his little brother, Antonio, who was born in October of 1910. So this is when my grandfather and his father left Sersale for their grand adventure.
|My relatives in Sersale told me that Tom and his father Francesco didn't have enough money to take a train to the coast where they could board a ship, so they stowed away on a freight train for the first leg of their voyage.
Apparently, the quotas for America were full, so instead of going to Ellis Island, they went to Buenos Aries, Argentina. They lived there "for a time" I have no idea how long. It was wild there "like the west." One of the family decided to stay in Argentina. His name was Armando Talarico.(click on small photo to the right)|
|He was a first cousin to my grandfather Tom. He stayed in Argentina, and raised a family.
Eventually, My grandfather, and his father, Francesco (click on small photo at right), made their way to Ellis Island. From there they moved to Newark, NJ, where my grandfather lived for about 70 years.
|My grandfather was about 17 when he arrived on Ellis Island. He got a job in a doll clothes factory. This is where he met my grandmother. Now she tells the story. He told her he thought
she was cute. So he kissed her. She slapped him. They were married when they were 18, so
I guess she changed her mind about him quickly enough. I guess he was so jealous of her that
he put a hole in the factory floor so he could spy on her from above.
Sersale is a very small town situated in the toe of the Italian "boot" My grandfather says they left there to get work. He could remember collecting wood that was to be made into charcoal. This was how they made their living.
Evidently, he learned some woods lore, in my childhood, I could remember him collecting greens from the wild places near my home, including cardoon and asparagus.
There are Torchia's all over the world. In the town where my grandfather was born, there are dozens of Torchias.
Most Torchias originated in Calabria, where Sersale is. Torchia is a name that has the same origin as the word "torque" which refers to the method used to press olives. So Torchia was probably the name for someone who grew olives and made them into oil. Please tell me about your Torchias!