Cecilia Agnes DiPietro was born in Bingham Canyon, Utah on March 17, 1913. When she was 19 months, her mother, Angeamaria, committed suicide and she was sent to live with neighbors and then to a foster family in Salt Lake. She was sent to St. Ann's Orphanage in Salt Lake City, Utah, when she was 5. Around 1930, she left St. Anne's and stayed with her dad, Martino, in Bingham Canyon until her sister, Josie, sent for her to lived with her and and her husband in Oakland, California.
"Josie was living on 45th Street when I came to Oakland. Ray lived next door. I lived with Del, Josie & his mom. Then they moved I went with them.
"I was a presser my whole life. I pressed those big overalls. We got about three dollars a week."
"When I first met grandpa, he was real good lookin', suavingly good looking. He never dressed real nice or anything but he was handsome. I didn't fall for his looks; I didn't think much of that. We used to talk through the fence all the time. His mother went to Italy with his niece, Jewell's daughter who was about 8 or 9 years old. He said he had to go iron a shirt for work. I said I'd iron it and he said NO! No No , you don't know these people hiding behind a curtain watching, knowing his mother was away. I went over there and put up the board. He was so nervous and kept saying, "Now go, go, go, You better go. And I had to laugh.
When we moved, we moved into a house here in Oakland. He would come around and start hanging around me. We'd go to the shows; we went to the Paramount when it first opened. We went out for a year before we got married; I was 19. He was kind of backward about meeting girls. That's why I always trusted him because I know he didn't have the nerve to ask another gal out. It would have to be the girl dragging him, believe me. I had a little wedding ring that had 10 diamonds and an engagement ring, which I got at the same time. I think I asked him [to marry]. I said so when are we going to get married. I don't remember how he answered. It wasn't any big deal
I didn't have to get married.
I try to say to you kids, you and Laura and Terri, keep your family going so the kids will know each other.
We first lived in an apartment across from Sacred Heart Church, 355 50th Street for $25.00 a month. We stayed there about 8 or 9 months. Then my husband showed me a bankbook he had saved about $5,000. I guess his mother was afraid someone was going to marry him for all this money, she said wait to see how you get along then you tell her. She was smart, I guess. I was pregnant the first month after I got married. I was crying and I was sitting under our dining room table (we were paying on my ring he charged, and the car and the rent) We were only making about $150.00 a month, he was working in the Post Office. (He used to work at Jetson (?) Iron works when he was 17. He said, "What's the Matter?" I was thinking of the bills. He left the room and came back and put this bankbook in my lap. I don't know if I felt happy or hurt; hurt that he hadn't told me, didn't trust me. But nice that he trusted me now.
He said take this and pay all the bills. I said, "No we got along without it, we'll clear the bills up this way and we'll buy a home. We found a contractor and we built our house at 56th Street. They house was moved when the freeway came to Ivanhoe Drive. Of course there's no basement anymore; that was the beauty of that house. I made the contractor plaster the basement; he was just going to leave it bare. I made little changes here and there.
You dad's something else. They bought the house (Buena Vista) They didn't have escrow, nothing, he had that god damn kitchen torn down. I went up there and there was dust on his head and he was throwing things out, he took a chance.
"We bought our house with the $5,000 and borrowed a little something from my mother-in-law (we were paying her 20 or 25 dollars a month) and I worked in the laundry. We never took out a mortgage. The house cost $6,000 (1500 for the lot). When the freeway came I was working at the school, hot dogs, and the girls were talking about their houses were in danger of the freeway. I wasn't thinking a thing about it. Finally MY house was taken and theirs wasn't. They changed the plans. So then it was hard to find this place. (Sylvan). When we look for this house, we went out to Easy Oakland, oh thank God we didn't get stuck out there. Ray happened to look in the paper, I was at Church, and took a ride with the kids and came home to say he found a place, except it was small. We all went out to see it. What helped sell it was the color pink and it was in good condition. Donna & Kathy were still with us so we had to make room for them, then they left us a year later. They slept downstairs. The house was only three years old. We paid cash again. The state gave us $20,000 and the rest was in the bank. We called your dad [Gene] and asked him what he thought, and he said, "Do you like it?" I think it's nice. He didn't push or pull us any way (He wasn't making money out of it!) The State made us leave our carpets and window coverings there then turned around and sold them back to us for 50 or 60 dollars.
The girls went to St. Augustine's and Holy Names.
Grandpa went to Sacred Heart School.
I went to the orphanage, after staying with my godmother for a year. Whenever we had plays they would always pick me for the lead, I don't know why. So one day I was out there playing and someone told me Sister wanted me to practice. I said, "I don't feel like it," She threw me off the play for about a week but the kids could not learn the lines, so she brought me back. Nobody ever crossed a Nun, you had to be damn gumptous.
They used to whip you if you wet the bed or stuff like that. We had a big building on the back called the outside lavatory that the boys and girls shared, each on one side. I used to go work in the laundry there; we used to fold sheets and towels. I was 13 or 14 when I left. We used to throw balls to the boys and chase them. Well, some smart ass took this board with a nail (a great big rusty nail) in it and threw it over and hit me right on the head. I think that's where part of my brains went. They had to pull out the nail and had their hands in there cleaning out the rust. My brother used to walk me to the doctor every day, 4 or 5 blocks, to check me. I was 7 or 8 then. I never hung out with my sisters. Then when it rained we had a great big hall to play in.
Another time at the orphanage there was another girl and me are the only ones that passed to make our confirmation so they sent us into Salt Lake and stuck us in another confirmation class. Another time, I'm not bragging, I'm just telling you, we had a play and it was so good that they put us on the big stage in the City and we had to sing old Irish Songs. And I was the only one from St. Ann's.
"My father rarely came to see us. My brother would visit us a lot. My father just like abandoned us; put us there so he wouldn't have to bother, because he was the man and we were all women. And he wasn't too bright. He came from Italy. He didn't go to school. He didn't know how to write his name, a cross was his name and he got along. But oh how I think he wished he could read in his life. When I left the school we were living with him in a little house in Bingham.
I never went to school, I was supposed to but no one ever knew I existed so no truant officer came. My dad's name was Mike Depedro. My mom's name was Angelina. I didn't know her at all. She was a nice looking woman. She used to have these heavy linen sheets, and they were heavy, they would scratch you. She had her name written on those sheets.
Tony is the nicest guy. When he came here it was just like us meeting him for the first time, 25 or 30 years ago. Very nice personality. He's my half brother.
The nuns at St. Ann's were training us. They said my mother used to sew, I'm the one who sews. I made all the girl's clothes, curtains and everything. We had a Stella music box at St. Ann's and played the nicest music. I would be the one sitting at that everyone else would be playing. Maybe that is why I like to be alone now, it's what I was used to."
- Interview With Karen (Cashman) Gomez - 1986
Martino & Cecilia DiPietro - 1930 Census, Utah (click to enlarge)
Cecilia, age 18 in Bingham, Utah
|Cecilia and Helen Marks
||18 and working
Ray Cuneo and Cecilia DiPietro