Camille Warzecha and Patricia Quinn

Recorded May 17, 2010 Archived May 17, 2010 35:33 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: DDC000821


Pat Quinn (63) interviews her friend, Camille Warzecha (67) about her family and how she came to live in Little Falls, MN. Camille talks about her ancestry and retells the stories of how her grandparents came to the United States.

Subject Log / Time Code

Pat asks Camille what she would like to talk about. Camille begins the interviews by talking about her genealogy and where her parents and grandparents came from.
Pat asks Camille what life what like in the United States when her grandparents immigrated. Camille talks about her paternal Italian grandparents and the discrimination they faced when they arrived.
Camille tells stories about her mother’s childhood. Camille talks about her mother growing up in an orphanage after her father died.
Pat asks Camille what her parents personalities were like. Camille describes her father as a very quiet man. Camille describes her mother as very adventurous.
Camille remembers that because of her father’s profession, their family moved around a lot. Camille remembers some of her favorite childhood homes.
Camille remembers the culture shock of moving to New Orleans, LA when she was high school. Camille remembers being introduced to segregation in public spaces.
Pat asks Camille about her hobbies. Camille talks about her passion for genealogy.


  • Camille Warzecha
  • Patricia Quinn

Recording Location

Great River Regional Library - Little Falls

Venue / Recording Kit

Partnership Type

Fee for Service


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00:03 Kim Pat Quinn, I'm 63 years old. Today's date is May 17th, 2010 and I'm in Little Falls Morrison County Minnesota at the Carnegie Library and I am a friend of Camille worth eka.

00:25 In my name is Camille Suzanne. Warzecha. I'm 67 years old and the date is May 17th, 2010 and we are in Little Falls Morrison County Minnesota at the Carnegie Library.

00:41 Who do you want to talk about today Camille? I'd like to talk about my parents asshole. Anna Bendell was born 26th of June in 1915 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. And my Father, Joseph pozzi born the 18th of April in 1910 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

01:03 Where was your mom's family from?

01:06 My mother's been dead. All side of the family was from England his her grandfather and great-grandfather came to Philadelphia United States in 1949.

01:22 And her Hamilton side, which was my grandma her mother.

01:30 Grandmother, my grandmother was from Ireland Northern Ireland Belfast area. They were the scots-irish they came in 1869.

01:42 Where was your dad's family from my dad's family was from Jesup Elena Italy and they came as a family or mother a husband and wife in 1901. My grandfather had worked in the United States for 7 years and then returned in 1900 married and then brought his wife back to the United States.

02:11 What was the life like for them in America when they arrived?

02:18 I know because it's probably a little closer that my grandparents from Italy had a much more difficult time when they arrived Italians in 1990 were

02:34 I looked on as the majority population. They were taking jobs away or the claim was they were taking jobs away from the Native Americans and there were they were resented and

02:49 My butt my Bendel.

02:55 And Hamilton side the Hamiltons had a similar situation since they came from Ireland, but my great-grandfather had a professional was a machinist and so he probably had a little easier time and being accepted in the bin Dells were from England and that was also not a difficult country to be accepted in here because a lot of the people that were settled in the United States were from England.

03:28 To begin with so they had different.

03:32 Reception in the country

03:36 What did your parents tell you about their childhood or their young adult life have they shared some stories?

03:45 When my father family the Italian side of

03:51 My dad was the middle child of ten children.

03:57 They lived his father was a janitor.

04:03 In for the railroad in Philadelphia, probably one of the smaller railroads there and that came into Philadelphia. He didn't leave the city at all.

04:15 Had a difficult time.

04:18 Providing for a family of 10 the children all had to find jobs as soon as they were able on my dad between 5 and 6.

04:29 Started working

04:31 With paper route in the city and by the time he was 70 head to routes and so he always did have to work in the family and I had to work that at that way though. Most of his brothers and sisters didn't go as far as graduating from high school is one of his sisters did he did convince her his youngest sister to finish high school and she did get her diploma.

05:05 But Dad had a drive. I don't know where it came from, but he finished high school went to college and then to medical school and on his own.

05:19 Your father was what type of doctor he was a medical doctor to begin with and then later on when later on and decided he wanted to go back to school and become a psychiatrist. So he did do that when we lived in new New Orleans, that's where he had his practice will he didn't have his practice there? He went to school medical school there become a psychiatrist and then we moved after them to, Ohio.

05:56 My mother

05:59 Had a little different life, but still one with quite a bit of problem is her father died of TB when she was seven.

06:11 Her father and mother had been active in.

06:15 How did the Presbyterian religion and a church and Sunday school called Bethany?

06:23 Church and Sunday school that was

06:27 The Rings haldir the favored of John Wanamaker to head department stores in Philadelphia.

06:35 When am I heading to the he had a the sunday-school was it was a men's group at my grandfather belong to so when he was ill and dying he made arrangements with John Wanamaker to have my mother accepted into the Presbyterian orphanage in Philadelphia. My by the time my grandfather died. My grandmother had no money. She would my grandmother was the youngest child and my grandmother without a profession had to go and live.

07:15 With relatives to begin with and then with whoever she worked with cleaning for cleaning houses and taking care of name of the family. So my mom went into the orphanage and was there until she graduated from high school and she was 17 how many other siblings did your mother have?

07:37 There were four others.

07:40 Did they go to orphanages as well know they were older and they they were only messing one of their was not married was 14 years old at that time. He moved in with his older brother who had who is married and had a family the older.

07:58 Everybody else had a place to go but

08:02 Do you think?

08:04 Your parents with their different heritages. Was it a problem in their marriage coming from different?

08:13 Lifestyles, I think it might have been a problem is it could have been a problem to begin with if they would have stayed in Philadelphia my

08:25 Father's family were very unhappy that my dad picked up.

08:32 Scots-irish English girl 10 to go with and they went together for many years. They neither they had no money so they couldn't marry. So all the time that dad was in medical school. They went together. They didn't marry until he finished medical school and and actually join the Navy

08:56 So they knew each other quite well by the time they did get married and Mom had converted to Catholicism. My dad. Was it a Catholic and so she converted from?

09:09 The good Presbyterian. It must have been quite a quite a shock to her mother, but her mother did except that her mother was still living and would come and visit her in a row at the orphanage when he would she had the money for streetcar fare.

09:25 And time to come and see her but I'm always felt it. She was basically deserted which any seven-year-old child would they were placed in an orphanage? The there were good things about this orphanage do then his mom would have remained.

09:44 At with her mother or with the relatives. You probably would have been less latchkey child. Who knows? She would have had to take care of herself during the day this orphanage was.

09:57 Concept that believed in instead of the warehousing children. They had small cottages and the children when they came into the orphanage stayed in those Cottages until they graduated with the same house mother.

10:17 So it was family was in a situation that was so it was probably the most stable kind of a situation you can have without him parents.

10:28 So they also had a summer house that John Wanamaker head given the orphanage at camp Camp Mick Cape May New Jersey during the summer. They would all move down to Cape May to the shore. So wasn't bad situation that all they went to the public school lived at the orphanage their clothing and Care. Everything's taken care of through the orphanage.

11:00 Wonderful. How did your mother after she married stay in touch with the house mother of the orphanage? Yes, you did and not with your friends cuz we moved away from there. But she did with the house mother. In fact, I remember one of our few visits back to Philadelphia. She did take me to visit her and the orphanage

11:27 Itself had a home for the the retired house mothers teachers employees and she was in the nursing home and she had pictures on her bulletin board. I remember her from all of her children and they hit vet kept in touch then and so yeah, and she felt she was really excited and pleased to meet me and his grandmother she would be

11:54 Wonderful

11:57 When your parents married and then began having the family, did they stay in one place?

12:05 No, they didn't I think it was almost immediately the travels began my mother and father were married for nine months before my father's family found out they kept it a secret when I started looking for documentation of their marriage their license. I started in Philadelphia, which was natural and then I started thinking. Oh, I remember they mom told me that they kept it a secret her mother knew but his parents didn't

12:43 And I thought well they have gone far enough out to go get their license that it wouldn't be in the Philadelphia newspaper. So so then I started calling out beyond that ended located.

12:58 And what are the outer counties around Philadelphia County and how did his family react having your father known her for a. Of time before they married with a little more acceptance know they expected. Well, they would have accepted but the expected dad to move with mom into the the big house and take care of everyone. Then that was kind of the traditional way of him since he had the profession that he would become.

13:32 The person that there wasn't anything that my mother would consider her and that wasn't her idea of what she had a vision as a family and what she'll admit invented in her mind is the ideal family. That didn't didn't work the Navy.

13:55 Really came in handy at that point because Mom and Dad then moved his dad was transferred from the different Naval bases when he come in the ship it would be gentle in a different spot and mother would

14:12 Take me and her at that time her mother worth lived with us for a while to help her with is when I was born. My dad was somewhere pasta Adriatic Coast on.

14:29 On a destroyer

14:31 So he wasn't he wasn't there when I was born.

14:35 Don't his whole career in the Navy. He was a psychiatrist. No, he wasn't sick until many years later when he went back to school to become a psychiatrist. He was assigned him as a ship's surgeon on a destroyer the USS Rowan.

14:59 That wasn't his first love but that's what they needed him to be. And so that's what he was and who ever seen pictures of Destroyers, you know, they're not very large.

15:13 Trips, but they're certainly top-heavy with all the guns that are on them and he described trying to do surgery in rough Seas.

15:23 And being seasick and that has been very difficult.

15:34 My dad realized that.

15:38 He was off the coast.

15:41 Of my grandparents home area

15:45 In an In-N-Out in Italy cuz I always got the idea from him that the town that my grandparents from work from was more towards Switzerland or Austria and it turned out not to be the case at all. So I think he had no idea that his Destroyer was probably shooting at the town or could have possibly been that his grandparents were or from and that his relatives still were there the Germans set up occupation in those little towns along the coast and the shelling was really quite severe because

16:27 They need to protect themselves in order to and to be able to make their Landings along that area.

16:34 Dad was transferred from the Rowan.

16:38 Probably from the way he told it a couple of weeks before the Rowan was torpedoed and went down with all but 70 have the

16:52 Sailors and officers surviving Alba 770

16:57 Dying and so he was transferred then to the USS West Point which was a troop ship and hospital ship.

17:08 I knew we served on that. He was in the Navy now for 8 years 7 years 7 years now and 40 1940.

17:21 248 him so he practice as a medical doctor was only eight years and it was after that that he and we moved probably at least six or seven times during that.

17:35 Tommy was Sayre serving.

17:42 Can you tell me more? What were your parents like as young adults when you were growing up? And after you became an adult their personalities their interaction?

17:57 Well with my father was a quiet person who really did not like

18:06 I know my mom would say.

18:08 Just getting mad she wanted to fight to react when she would be unhappy about something and I'm kind of conversation. But I think after living in that large Italian family that did a lot of screaming and fighting he wanted to get as far away from that as he could. So Mom could never provoke them into a real good fight. She couldn't he he thought she was wonderful. He treated her extremely well, and she him mom was much more adventurous than my father and as she was we were moving and we continue to move after the Navy looking for I think that ideal family the house with the picket fence with everybody getting along all everybody successful everybody happy.

19:07 So when things wouldn't go well or dad would have some interactions that to you know, it was just too satisfied with work or mom decided we needed to move of the maps would come out and pick a place. We've never been before and we've moved so that did quite a bit of Adventure and we did spend a lot of time traveling to different parts of the country. I think my favorite time was when we lived out west.

19:41 Lyft in Fort Bayard, New Mexico dad worked with the for the VA after I left the Navy the Millet the military.

19:54 Nick still needed a lot of care after the war a lot of veterans that were named and mentally ill and needed care and so the veterans hospitals were really booming and in use and so he was a I took a job at the Fort Bayard Veterans Hospital in New Mexico and there we had

20:22 All of the things that moms. We should have that was

20:27 Dogs and cats and baby chicks and ducks at all at the same time except for the dog and horse and then as time went on not while I was home, but after I left they even had a monkey in the house my youngest brother absolutely had to have them but my dad being a doctor every time another animal was mentioned things like tularemia from Rabbits would come up all of the things that birds carried because we had my head birds in the house to me just go into a panic all the things that were going to come into the house and dad was worried or so living with Mom. I think was probably stressful as far as trying to figure out what you was going to come up with next. Er, no matter what he said or how much she objected. We still ended up with those pets.

21:28 In my they were route back out and living in Philadelphia are not pencilled in Pennsylvania, Lancaster, Pennsylvania. And I don't know how I'd my youngest brother convinced him to get him a monkey. It was a spider monkey and it was about to visit with my oldest daughter and she was born at the time and this was the idiot. It was really a wild monkey. It was the only person that could comment down was my brother and it was 30. How long did they have? I don't think very long and I was the oldest and their names.

22:19 I was Carmen who was known as Joe Carmen wasn't a real accepted common.

22:27 Name and when he was growing up at especially if it was might have been living in Philadelphia. Yeah probably would have but other parts of country. It wasn't so it was Joe and then my sister Rita.

22:43 And then David who had the monkey and my younger sister Ruth and you were second what are some other things you've learned or learned from moving and living in different places across the country. Did you like it all the time or was it just New Mexico that you like the best lived in Arizona after New Mexico? And that was another good place I think up and that was through that graduated from eighth grade, Willcox, Arizona.

23:22 And really enjoyed it was a small town.

23:26 Couples only two streets that were paved. I might be three.

23:31 Not any larger than 2,000 population dad was the only doctor in town and it was a heavy ranching community and it was the beginning of truck farming there that just started with a truck farming so dad was gone a lot because that's the only doctor he would have to travel but nothing 50 miles to a ranch in on house calls and our back and we did eat well lots of being Paden.

24:09 Steak or sides of beef chickens, whatever we did get quite a bit of interesting. How was it for you when you went to schools the different schools did

24:27 There wasn't a lot of difference. I wondered about that because I I didn't notice a lot of gaps in what was being taught and just a few years ago a soup. I was mentioning that and I hadn't want you know, why did it why is it so different today? And we talked about kids moving from school to school and missing so much and and losing up to a year. Sometimes only if they moved the teacher is there teaching different things and in the school even across town and the superintendent said there were only made two textbook manufacturers. Everybody had the same text books. So you were learning using the same.

25:12 Series of textbooks and in the screws all the way across the country. So it was and they were teaching things pretty much the same in each grade. You could have made me miss a little something with the Wiz Todd in a different order in particular year like math or something cuz I didn't really notice a lot of difference. I did find when we moved to New Orleans and my parents put me in the Catholic school there.

25:49 That my education was lacking there their they're Catholic school at the NIT that I went to was quite a bit more advanced than what I was prepared for. So

26:04 I left there and went to the public school, but living in New Orleans.

26:12 Was a shock and it was like going into a different world and then we had grown up in.

26:23 Because they said your gation.

26:27 Got off. Had to ride the streetcar home. Dad would drop me off when he went to school at Tulane.

26:36 And the and night at but I ride the streetcar to the end of the line and then take the bus and one of the first things I noticed is the signs that fit into little holes on the back of the seat that said blacks on one side whites on the other and that was moved up and down in the street car.

27:00 Depending on the number of whites or blacks that were on the streetcar blacks had to sit behind that sign.

27:12 And then signs in the windows that said only white served here or in those are it was like it was like a different different world wasn't something that we grown up in and it was I wasn't brave enough to do anything or say anything, but it was definitely a shot. And how long did you live in New Orleans tonight?

27:39 Where did you graduate from high school? Then I moved to Chillicothe, Ohio, and I graduated.

27:46 And that was a that was a fun year. It was probably the best year of my high school year was a co-ed Catholic School.

27:53 I was the New Girl In Town.

27:57 Got the Russian had a great time. How did you meet your husband to see from Ohio? And how did you know that was another one of the booze for the map came out and

28:15 My parents decided we go somewhere. We've never been before and I was the Great Northwest.

28:25 And that's how we came to Minnesota.

28:29 It wasn't exactly what we thought the Great Northwest was going to look like. That's what part of Minnesota did you come fall you did and we kept waiting for these big Forest as we drove North.

28:46 And they weren't there resolve just like, you know flat Farm Fields as we came up through the center part of the state. And is that my husband here through friends? Okay, but we had on both sides Down by the Riverside. They said and did your father's profession bring him then to the VA hospital. He know he did he start he started at Northern Pines.

29:17 And he was here for two years.

29:21 But I know we want to get into this quite a bit, but there was a doctor Wars going on here in town. I don't know if you were aware of the doctor Wars. We know the clinics. Yes between doctor for ritchies clinic and the medical center.

29:36 Doctor for two was the one that recruited my dad because he had recruited my dad and he was on the other side in the doctor Wars the doctors at the medical center wouldn't send refer patients that needed psychiatric help until they had gone over the edge and they really needs to be committed. And so there was no way for him to stay here. So it was just a couple of years that even if they were here and then they moved to like back to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. That's a big step.

30:14 Can you share with us you and your husband have how many children three children all born in Morrison County or did you look like in Fresno and we would not move it we moved across town moved from apartment to a little houses on 6th Avenue and then to the present house we're in now and will be coming up on 40 years Roof Inn in the same house on the westside. Well, I know in the early in the first few years, I would get this real anxious feeling especially in the fall and I finally realized those geese were flying south ain't but I was going to have you because of your experiences a child then one who likes to travel all of it. I go and visit my oldest daughter.

31:11 Fly by myself to Italy before she ended up living there. We would meet she lives in San Francisco or she works in San Francisco. And so we can meet in Rome art meet in Pisa or wherever it. Is there somewhere else. But yeah, because you've been back to Italy have you visited the homeland of your grandparents. Yes, right.

31:39 My oldest daughter and I the first time we went to Italy together decided to find the little town of my grandparents were from and we did and we were lucky enough. I had brought a letter along with an Italian. I didn't know what it said, but it identified basically who the family was otherwise, no one would have known.

32:03 Who we were or what which family were connected to but they did.

32:10 Find someone who could speak English horse this little town the people didn't speak English Harbour if you did and they went out and found someone who did with interpret for us, then they went and found the family after they read the letter and they identified the it was it was fun day was really great. We may end up staying a couple of days and met more of the family that remained there.

32:36 Since then by doing the genealogy of I wondered why there were few so few.

32:43 Family members still there

32:47 I found out that the most of the family.

32:53 And extended family around I from that little town had moved to Philadelphia. I mean around the time that my grandparents moved there was a large group of young men and women in that town. Then why were they leaving Italy? Will they were for this area that they were from they were peasants. They were farmers. There was no real hope of them ever becoming more the cast's you know, it was really pretty much of a caste system in Italy at the time moving up and being something different than you were what you were born to be really wasn't there the opportunity of course as everyone.

33:35 Nose is in the United States. And do you come to United States in you? You can be what you want to be and it's still happening now and when I watch the stuff on the news about people complaining about immigrants and I, my gosh, you know, when it doesn't change there's always the the bad guy you can blame on things going wrong in your life or your not having jobs or whatever it is. And now it's it's listening to the the Mexican immigrants there who know the situation in Arizona. I certainly wouldn't want to be living there now, but they still look at America is an Avenue of freedom and opportunity and it's always been that way.

34:21 Okay. Do you want to share a little more about yourself phone? What's your hobbies are?

34:30 What you're into I know we're friends, right Luther genealogy S as of passion and how long have you been doing that? You know, I've kind of lost track. I have never counted that it just seems like it's gone so fast it probably has less than 10 years.

34:47 That you've discovered all this is right and indefinite and the sad part was it was after my father had died and after my mother became ill with Alzheimer's and couldn't ask the questions and get the answers I wanted.

35:08 So yeah, that's the passion gardening which we Pine for and look forward to every winter through. The long Winters is what's underneath. That's no changing of the seasons anything else. You'd like to share pretty much it.