By Richard Valeriote
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Extra info for Alice Street: A Memoir
Mrs Dupuis seldom smiled as she sat on her porch waving her ever-present fan. I imagined that her dourness reﬂected some painful secret. Mr Skoronski liked to sit out in the direct sun, even on hot days. He was always neatly dressed and always wore a fedora. A lone railroad spur in the neighborhood led to the place where the engineer drove the roundhouse locomotive each night, opened a hatch in the belly, and emptied the ﬁrebox onto the ground. It left behind a pile of glowing embers and spent clinkers.
Whenever someone passed, she’d lift herself up on the arms of her chair and crane to see who it was, then sit down again. Mrs Dupuis seldom smiled as she sat on her porch waving her ever-present fan. I imagined that her dourness reﬂected some painful secret. Mr Skoronski liked to sit out in the direct sun, even on hot days. He was always neatly dressed and always wore a fedora. A lone railroad spur in the neighborhood led to the place where the engineer drove the roundhouse locomotive each night, opened a hatch in the belly, and emptied the ﬁrebox onto the ground.
At the turn of the century, when my father was a young man eager to make his mark on the world, there was no charm in the bleak future offered by San Giorgio. One of the ﬁrst members of my family to arrive in North America was Salvatore Valeriote (in some records the name is spelled Valerioti). Salvatore is listed in the records at Ellis Island, New York, as a thirty-seven-year-old married farmer who arrived by ship on 26 April 1903. Several dozen other men from San Giorgio arrived on the same boat, destined for Montreal where they had been promised jobs working on the railroads.