December 30, 1908
Local Little Italy, which might more specifically be called Lesser Sicily, since most of its residents come from that stricken island, received the news of the earthquake that killed scores of thousands with an expectant stoicism that utterly belies what books say about the volatile Italian nature. It was expectant, in that the Sicilians and Calabrians of Kansas City are bravely awaiting the horrible details which only days can bring forth. Accounts at best are but meager and the fate of the members of their families cannot be known for a fortnight.They are not wringing their hands in anguish. Instead, they are occupied with a demonstration much more to the purpose.
"We must get together and raise some money for them," said Dr. L. Laurenzana of 522 East Fifth street, last night. With that he stepped to the telephone and called up the Italian consul, Pietro Isnardi. A business-like conversation in Italian ensued.
"A mass meeting of all Italians in Kansas City will be held at the hall adjoining the Church of the Holy Rosary at Missouri avenue and Campbell street, Sunday afternoon at 1 o'clock," said the doctor as he turned away from the telephone. "We raised nearly $400 for the earthquake sufferers in Calabria, three years ago, and we ought to do better than that this time."
Dr. Laurenzana has a cousin, Anello Alfano by name, who is a railroad contractor at Pizzo on the Calabrian toe of the Italian boot, only four miles and a half from Reggio, where so many thousands were killed Monday.
Walter Randazzo of 104 East Fifth street, too, has a cousin, Cologero Randazzo, who held a government position at Messina, where 12,000 people are said to have lost their lives.
"I came from Palermo," said Mr.Randazzo, "and, as I understand it, the western part of the island, where the city is located, was not badly affected by the quake. Palermo is a long way from Messina. You leave there on the train at night and don't reach Messina until the next morning."
S. J. Tremonte, proprietor of the Italian Castle cafe at Fifth and Oak streets, comes from Gibbellins, a town of about 15,000 inhabitants, lying forty-four miles from Palermo. His parents and brothers still live there, but he is not apprehensive, as they are not in the affected district.
Pietro Berbiglia, who operates the Milano restaurant at 7 East Eighth street, has been in this country for ten years, and comes from Piggioreallia in Trapani province, not far from Palermo. He served in the Italian army and in 1898 was stationed at Catania, which is almost at the very foot of Mount Aetna, and which with Messina and Reggio suffered perhaps more heavily thatn any of the other cities.
"Catania is a beautiful place," he said last night, "and carries on a large shipping trade with Malta and other points on the Mediterranean. It has about 150,000 inhabitants and the Universita di Catania, with many students, is located there. It has a long and beautiful street which I think is more magnificent than anything even in Rome, called the Corso Garibaldi, running for about four miles along the seashore from Catania proper to Porto Garibaldi. There is also a large garden or park called the Villa Stema d'Italia, that is one of the prettiest in Italy."