From: DeGregorio to Gregory
My name is Michael Gregory. I am an Italian American and proud of my heritage. One may wonder, how can a man with the name Gregory
A better question might be , why would an Italian have a name like Gregory?
Let's go back in time to the twenties. My father,
Costantino DeGregorio , was a talented machinist and gainfully employed at the Navy Yard in Boston. The economy was starting to slow
to the point where in a few years there would be a large scale depression throughout the country.
One of the first to feel the effect
of this change was my father, who was known as Gus by his peers and relatives. He lost his job and had to find a means to support
a large family. The year was 1927 and in a few months, with my birth , I would be welcomed as the newest member of the group.
the only family feeling the effects of the impending economic collapse. But Gus had a plan to keep us afloat. We were living in the
small town of Avon in a large house with a few acres of land. The previous owners were chicken farmers who left the small sheds and
coops when they moved. Gus decided he could restore the sheds and coops , buy a small flat-bed truck , stock the sheds and coops with
chicks and try the chicken business.
The kind of chickens we raised are not available in today's stores. They were known as broilers.
They weighed a little less than two pounds and when one examined a broiler, it would appear to be two legs , two wings and not much
else. The advantage of raising broilers is obvious ; feed costs were minimal.
Gus, of course, needed a market for his broilers and
Boston, twenty miles away, was the place. Once weekly , Gus and his sons , Sam ,Tony and Angelo would load the broiler filled coops
onto the flat-bed truck and head for Boston to sell the broilers.
I remember many accounts of the journeys they made. Avon to Boston
was at that time, a trip along Route 28 , a choice available today. The broiler-laden coops, would traverse Avon, Randolph, Milton
( the Baker Chocolate Mills) , Dorchester and eventually reach the destination of Haymarket Square , where the broilers could be sold.
was a fortunate day, when the truck didn't have a mishap. Flat tires, broken axles, leaky radiators were common.
At the markets, the
price available for the broilers, was negotiated by the producers, Gus and his sons, and the wholesalers. The competition was so intense
that price became a minor factor.
The wholesalers were in a position to buy from those producers they thought represented their values
and heritage. Which meant, of course , that Italians , were not included.
The buyers were mostly of Irish descent, a group which looked
upon Italians as competition in America. The opportunity was present to scuttle the Italian intrusion by denying trade with them.
for Gus and his sons, the Irish weren't the only buyers. There were Jewish traders in Haymarket Square who were willing to trade with
the Italians. Gus , and many Italian farmers , became strong supporters of anything related to Jews after this .
It became clear to
Gus that his Italian name was making it difficult for him to become an equal opportunity citizen. At the time, there was a considerable
antagonism to anyone with an Italian name. Sacco and Vanzetti were electrocuted for a crime that they may not have committed. Judge
Thayer , the sentencer, referred to them in derogatory ethnic comments.
Gus reasoned that his name, DeGregorio, could easily be changed
to the English translation, Gregory. He could then sell his broilers openly in Haymarket Square and not have to deal with the bigots.
in 1927, a few months before I was born, Gus had his name legally changed to the English version, Gregory. I have always felt that
if he waited a few months , my name would be Michael DeGregorio. I, like my older brothers and sister , would have to petition the
Court to change our name from DeGregorio to Gregory.
In today's world, I cannot imagine a more beautiful name than Michael DeGregorio.