Remembering The Saga Of Ma And Pa Colone
Editor’s Note: Our columnist and Oneonta businessman Al Colone died April 13, without finishing a two-part series about his ancestors. As a tribute, his brother, Frank Colone, wrote this memorial about their parents.
By Frank Colone
In the aftermath of World War I and the pandemic of 1918, Ma and Pa Colone returned to Oneonta and Depew Street. Oldest son Ani and baby Adelia (Ethel), who was born in Italy, came with them. Ma and Pa were determined to provide a better life for their family, both those in Italy and those in America.
After living for a time on Depew Street and West Broadway, Pa bought a home on River Street and the family settled permanently in the Sixth Ward in Oneonta’s “lower deck.” They were proud of their home and the fact that they could call Oneonta “home.”
Pa resumed work for the D & H. He worked briefly at the roundhouse and eventually spent most of his working years in the shop.
An unfortunate accident in the shop cost him an eye, but it did not cause him to stop working. He worked in the shop until he retired.
As a young man, Pa served in the military in Italy and acquired reading and writing skills there.
After returning to America, Pa worked to learn how to read and write in English. He so valued education and he constantly preached the value of learning to his family. Pa became a naturalized American citizen in 1928, a very proud moment in his life. Like many immigrant families, Ma never learned to read and write English and, therefore, could not become a citizen.
The Old World ways and skills learned in Italy helped them survive the Great Depression. Without a lot of money, Ma and Pa worked hard and used all their resources to keep their growing family secure. Despite her lack of a formal education, Ma had the primary role in maintaining the household and in raising the family.