Under the Same Sky: The Excelsior District: The Italian American community


(KTSF by Lynne Ku)

In the early days, the Excelsior district was predominantly populated by Italians, Irish and Swiss. Most of the European immigrants who came to the United States had similar goals – to pursue a better life. 84-year-old Italian American Lonny Bennzzo moved to the Excelsior in 1963. When he bought his house with $20,000 on Munich Street in the Excelsior, he paid less than $60 per month for the mortgage, property tax and insurance. At that time, it was even cheaper than renting a house. Lonny’s story is a typical example of the American dream coming true. He was born in Italy in 1927. He never had to work until graduating from college. He couldn’t find a job in his country so he moved to the United States seeking more job opportunities. With a college degree, he couldn’t believe that his first job was a day laborer working at a farm in Stockton, California. There he met an American girl who later became his wife. After working in the produce business for over 30 years, Lonny was able to have a comfortable home and loving family. In concluding his story, Lonny says, ” I chose to come to the United States for a better life, and I’m glad I did.”

(Copyright 2011 KTSF. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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