Transcript of interview with Nunzio Di Marino from “In Their Own Words” Post.
“Nunzio DiMarino owned a successful tomato business on Commercial Street on the Waterfront, but lost it when the Boston Redevelopment Authority took his property during redevelopment.”
— Anthony V. Riccio
“Laying Bricks, Paying off Mayor Curley”
“I came to Boston by myself in 1919 on the Madonna, the French line, when I was seventeen, it took twenty-eight days to get here and I went right to work. I was bricklayer and you had to work ten hours a day. You had to! What are you gonna do? You take it or leave it and they send you home, it ain’t like today you can go to collect the money. At that time you couldn’t go collect. There was nothing, if you were a loafer, you had nothing, that was it. I worked in Boston for six, seven months, then I went to work in construction for five years with the Ferullo Company. At that time in the 1920s there was all hourly prices, thirty-five, forty, fifty cents an hour, sixty cents was the top man, but you had to be really good to get sixty cents. You had to be a good man to get forty, fifty cents.
They (Ferullo Company) had an office on North Square, they did a lot of pipe laying, sewer work. We never used to stay in one spot all the time, we used to go to Vermont, New Bedford, Providence, to Connecticut, Vermont, Maine, we used to go all around. We used to hire a house and we used to cook ourselves. You could get the job easy. Then I got married in 1925 and I didn’t want to go out of town. Then I started working here in construction in Boston and my first job was building the dormitories at Harvard College. Then I went to work for Caputo and we worked in Quincy, built all the concrete strips for Wollaston beach. It was a lot of work. Then we went to work at Hyde Park High School for eighteen months in 1927, and I became the foreman for nine years—I had seventy-five, eighty guys working for me—and I was young too. Then we worked on Wellesley College for a couple of years, the Woodland Hospital, we done the high school in Roslindale.
See the contractor came from the same town I come from in Italy, Mirabella, see? And he blew it, he blew all the money he made over there. Because he was stupid. You see sometimes a guy gets rich and you can’t talk to him no more, see? That’s what happened to him. He went broke after that, alright? See when he got the job, Nichols was the mayor, he was a republican. When we were building the high school and we were almost all through, we had the election and Curley came in. So when Curley came in he wanted (whistles) the money, he says, “Hey you done the job, you have to give me some.” He (my boss) says, “You didn’t give me the job.” I told the contractor, I says, Look, he wants twenty-five thousand, give it to him. What are you gonna do, that’s what was going on. So I says, give it him. He didn’t want to give it him, so he got a lawyer, it cost him sixty thousand dollars for a lawyer—Mansfield—he lost the case, and he went broke. And he couldn’t even get jobs anymore.”