Grapevine by Rosalyn Queen
My dad was born in San Giovanni in Fiore, Calabria, Italy, in 1905. His parents were Giovanni Oliverio and Giovanna Iaquinta Oliverio. He was born in the Oliverio home located at Via Cuina. His father left Italy about 1907 and came to America and got a job working in the Monongha mine and was killed in the explosion.He left behind his wife and son who were still n Italy. Documents show that the owners of the mine sent a survivors check of about $260.00 to my grandmother and a check for about $140.00 for my father.
My grandmother later married Louigi Burnett, they had a daughter, Rose, and Louigi left them to seek a job in America. He sent for them to join him in about 1913. My grandmother left with her two children to join her husband in America. When coming through customs in Ellis Island she Listed my fathers name as Will Am Burnet, being afraid if his last name was different than hers they might not let him in. So he went through lfe as a Burnett instead of an Oliverio. My brother and sisters learned of this after dad passed and we were able to locate his grave and place a stone on it.
Upon coming to America they settled in West Virginia and dad joined his father working in the mines throughout the state. They travelled throughout the state and dad often told us the stories of trying to unionize the mines and being put out of the company houses and living in tents.
About 1923 he joined the Marine Corp which was one of the proudest times in his life. Records indicate that he even said he was older than he was to get into the Marines. He served in Nicquaraga for several years before coming back home. Upon returning home he had different jobs and at one time worked for the CCC.
In 1932 he moved to East View which would remain his home until he passed. Records indicate that his father bought the home in 1932 which still remains with the family. In 1935 he married my mother. And the lived in a home in East View owned by his sister. This is where my sister, Joan and I were born. In the early 1940s my grandfather died and dad and his family moved in the home place to take care of his mother.
Dad got a job at Rolland Glass and we were told when he retired that he was one of longest employed employees at
Rolland. He learned to plumb, to work cemen and all the trades to remodel our home. He could work n any car and we often referred to him as “a Jack of all Trades.”
He also always had a garden and raised the best tomatoes and peppers. He had a hot house and he and grandma sold plants to all the neighbors.
As he got older he liked to watch the news. He continued to tinker with his cars and was so proud of his 1957 Ford convertible, which is still in the family.
Dad provided well for us and perhaps we were poor but never knew it. He always attributed Mom with .being the force behind a well maintained home and four successful kids.
He took us on vacations and most Sundays he took us on picnics or to visit our relatives in Morgantown. He looks fed good basic Italian food and he loved to dance especially with me. I remember the polkas he taught me and waltzing me around the floor to Mack the Knife.
He was a faithful man and always took us to mass every Sunday.
He was a great father and one of the most happy and proud moments for me was when we had taken him to Charleston for Black Lung tests and the nurse said to home. “You are from Clarksburg, do you attend the Italian Festival?” And he looked at me and pointed his finger at me and said .”She is the Festival.” Thanks dad, I wish you were here.
Happy Fathers Day. To my sons, Mike and Marty, my sons in law, Andy and Dixon, my grandson, Marty and the father of my great granddaughter, Payton, Ryan.Happy Fathers Day to all you fathers.
Stay happy, stay healthy and until next week “Now You Have Heard It Through The Gapevine.”