My mother, Margaret D’Arcangelo Capanna, was orphaned in 1939 when she was 12-years-old. Beginning on Boundary documents the unravelling of lifelong mysteries through genealogical research, the Internet, and social media – with an astonishing discovery capping off the search.
Please help me to reach my funding goal so that I can share her story.
We've reached our funding goal -- thank you! Now, we're going to try to stretch it!
Read about it here. Thanks again!
ACHIEVED! Every backer receives a copy of Mom's spaghetti sauce recipe!
If we reach 75% funding by 11:30 am, Monday, September 25th, every backer will receive a copy of Margaret's spaghetti sauce recipe. This keepsake will be decoratively designed and suitable for framing -- a nice piece of kitchen art. Mangia!
We have a special "Super Reward" available (see the "Rewards" column on the right): An antique tablecloth/decorative bed cover, crocheted in the late 1940s by Margaret Capanna. Mom is very excited about the book project and wanted to provide another reward in addition to her biscotti.She told me she knows that if someone pledges it will be because they really want it and will appreciate it.
The stairs to the third floor were steep and dark, but somehow the little girl willed herself up them. At the top was her bedroom, the only refuge she had from the frightening, lonely life she was living. She was hungry, cold, and tired, and now she was sick. Pittsburgh's harsh winter was setting in. The attic apartment was cavernous and chilly. She had little to eat, and no one ever bothered to check on her. In the solitude, she thought about her mother, even though the memories made her sad and cry. She didn't want to forget anything about Mama: Her smile, her voice, the touch of her hand, the many ways she cared for her. She didn’t bother undressing, and crawled under the covers as the tears began to flow.
"Why am I alone, God? Why did my Mama have to die? Why did they take me away from Papa?"
Soon sleep found her. In her feverish dreams, she walked with her mother to church, to the festa, to school. Her hand slipped into Mama’s. They journeyed to the Hill District to visit friends. They made the long trek to her father's grave at Calvary Cemetery. Then somehow, inexplicably, they were home. Mama baked gingerbread men and made homemade root beer while Margherita played with her tea set or skipped rope on the sidewalk on Boundary Street – all under Mama’s watchful eye.
"Gualigona. Gualigiona! Little girl. Little girl! Wake up. Margherita! You wake up now."
Margherita struggled to open her eyes. She was very weak and wanted to sleep but she recognized the voice so she forced herself awake.
"How long you been up here? How long you been sick?"
"I don't know. They don't give me food, Papa. I only have one dress and they make me walk all the way to St. Paul’s to school. I'm scared. Why won't they let me stay with you, Papa?"
Papa was upset. He was a quiet man, never stern, but his face betrayed his concern. For a moment, she wondered if she had done something wrong; then she remembered that he was always kind and never raised his voice to her. She coughed hard and worried that she might be as sick as her real father had been. Mama told her the story many times: He was a foreman at Jones and Laughlin Steel. He worked as many hours as he could. He caught the flu, then pneumonia. He was only thirty-nine-years old when he died.
“I get the doctor. You no move.”
As Papa left the room she burrowed under the thin sheets, and a wave of relief swept over her. Whatever was happening, he would fix it. He was the only father she ever knew and he always treated her as his own.
Elena was supposed to be Margherita’s guardian, but she showed no interest in her. Margherita told Elena that she was ill, that there was a heaviness in her chest and her nose was running – and she was tired, so very tired. Elena promised to make her some tea, then promptly disappeared. She hadn’t seen Elena in days.
Margherita dozed off again but soon was awakened by Papa and the doctor. Papa smiled and held her hand. Dr. Murray opened his bag, took her temperature, and listened to her heart and lungs with his stethoscope.
“How old are you, Margherita?” the kindly doctor asked.
“I’m twelve…almost thirteen.”
“That’s right. I remember when you were born.”
The doctor placed his stethoscope back in his bag, and turned to Papa.
“She needs to be someplace warmer than this. It’s obvious that she hasn’t eaten much of anything for quite a while. She was never in this condition before Rosa passed away…thin…pale…generally uncared for. Bronchitis is setting in. She has a fever. It’s a good thing you called me. Frankly, Tony, she could have died if you hadn’t come.”
Papa patted Margherita on the head.
“I no see her for a few days so I came to check on her. She will be OK?”
“I think so, Tony,” said the doctor. “I have some aspirin for her. It will help with the fever. Feed her hot soup, as hot as she can stand. Give her lots of water, too. Lots of bed rest, OK?”
The doctor looked thoughtfully at Tony for a few moments, then quietly said, “You really need to get her out of here, you know. I can’t emphasize it enough. The neglect –”
“I know,” Tony interrupted. “I told them downstairs she will be leaving. I already called the lawyer. I go to the judge and tell him!”
“You’re a good and decent man, Tony. I’m sorry you’ve had so much bad luck in your life. You haven’t deserved any of it.”
Tony smiled grimly and nodded.
The doctor left, and Tony turned to Margherita. “I get the water and you take the aspirin now. I will not leave you tonight. OK, little girl?”
“Yes, Papa. Yes,” she sleepily answered, as she drifted off once again.
All rewards ship worldwide.
For rewards including genealogy research: This search is restricted to the United States. My success will depend upon how much you know and how long your family has been established in the US. Some resources may require fees (you will have the option of acquiring them or not). I will get your family tree growing with a free account at FamilySearch.org (or at your personal Ancestry.com account, if you prefer). We will explore your genealogy, starting with your parents and working our way back. Let’s go out on a few limbs and see where it takes us!
Risks and challenges
My risks and challenges are simple: Everything raised will go toward completing the book and its professional editing, layout, cover design, and Kindle formatting, as well as the bulk purchase of copies of "Beginning on Boundary" for the rewards. Extra copies will be donated to libraries and schools.
If I fail to raise the funds I won't be able to accomplish any of this.
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