The young woman was not particularly impressed with what she saw on Avenue 14 in 1922. She had been a nanny in Marseilles, France, so she was used to a life that was considerably more cosmopolitan than one could hope to find in Madera at that time. Still, here she was, sitting beside Nello Barsotti in his auto as it bumped over the dirt road toward the Howard District.
Virginia Golvi Manfredi had landed at Ellis Island a few days before, and without knowing a word of English (she spoke French in addition to her native Italian) had somehow managed to reach Grand Central Station. There she boarded a train for Madera to join her husband, Cirillo Manfredi, who had immigrated here a year and a half earlier.
The newly arrived immigrant had been fortunate enough in New York to acquire the assistance of a woman who spoke French and showed her where to catch her California bound train. With the word “Madera” pinned to her dress, Virginia began her journey from New York City to Madera. With each stop, she pointed to the card to inquire if this was her destination. Sometimes the conductor shook his head no, and at other times he helped her change trains.
With no knowledge of English, she never visited the dining car because she couldn’t read the menu. Instead she waited until a vendor came through the car with candy and fruit, which was all she had to eat on the long trip. She could hardly believe her ears when the conductor finally indicated that she had reached the end of her journey...