Monday, February 03, 2014

Immigrant's Success: Nazarreno Melocarro

Melocarro's Naturalization Card from Ancestry.com

Mr. Melocarro's Story
Many stories are told of the successful lives of those who came to America. Nazarreno Melocarro is our neighborhood hero. He didn't just plan and build each house in the neighborhood, he also created all of the houses in nearby Garden City. When he was done, he gave part of the land for a school. He was a "larger than life" family man whose son took over his business when Melocarro passed away in 1955 at the young age of 52.  

I am sure I remember Mr. Melocarro in his big black car stopped at the end of our driveway to chat with my dad since he was known to drive around the neighborhood looking at the houses and stopping to talk to the people who lived there. 

The Providence Journal has no photo of him in their file. How can this be? He was a local legend. Every person knew who he was, talked about him at every party and in every driveway with great respect and admiration. A person like this is never gone if someone remembers him. 

I spent a whole, well worthwhile afternoon researching him. It reminded me so much of home. From the census records and the Cranston city directories, I feel I knew this man as if he was still alive today. This month, the Garden City neighborhood was featured online. [Article Providence Journal Online January 2014

Melocarro and his family came to America from the port at Napoli, Italy on 27 Feb 1920 when he was a teenager. He came with his mother and sister to New York on 27 Mar 1920.  He had an 8th grade education and could read and write. At 17, he was already a laborer and used to hard work. They moved to the Auburn section of Cranston and ultimately he lived in a house in Garden City. He had at least three children. 

He is buried in St. Ann's Cemetery in Cranston. He was a proud Roman Catholic and supported his church. But, best of all, he forgave a man who stole from him. A newspaper article from the Boston Daily Record in 1951, tells how one of his own contractors stole "thousands of dollars worth of building supplies, much of which he built into his own home". He was caught and arrested.

"Saying he was moved by the spirit of Christmas", Melocarro told the judge he forgave him (the man in question is named and was 30 years old) and that he would give him another chance. I guess he continued to work under Mr. Melacarro's now watchful eye.

The story doesn't end here. Stay tuned.

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