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  • Joe’s brother Walter, questioned his decision to marry Josefina. He reminded him that it would be hard to communicate with Josefina because she still had not learned to speak fluent English. Joe told Walt that she would learn.

    Josefina and Joe married the 30th of May 1952 in a small town outside of Mexico City. Joe’s brother Walt and Josefina’s godfather Dr. Medina stood as witnesses. There may have been one other person (a stranger) paid to witness the wedding. Joe went home and prepared for his wife and stepdaughters’ arrival. He planned on moving from Willowbrook, California to Sun Valley, California and rent a place until he could purchase property and build a home.

    One month after their wedding, my mother and Josefina arrived in the United States by bus in June of 1952. Their new home would be at the Kavalolski residence on Arminta Street in Sun Valley, California. Josefina arrived dramatically with her luggage full of her own custom made designs. Joe had rented an apartment from his father Peter. Josefina took one look at her new home and thought “Madre Mia!” It looks like a witch’s house! Joe’s father Peter who had emigrated from Poland had built this 2-story home with a basement for his family. Peter also built 6 apartments on the property in the back of the main home. A 2-story storage unit was also erected to hold antiques collected by Joe’s parents.

    It was a lot to take in; Josefina’s new home was old and dark. Joe proudly led her to their new apartment in the home. His apartment was separated from the kitchen by a sliding door. Joe’s sister Helen also lived in the home with her husband and children. Joe led Josefina to their bedroom, the bed was unmade and the sheets were dirty. The reality of her overblown dream hit her very hard in the face.

    She left Mexico City with her chest all puffed up; “I’m going to America to become a famous dress designer”. Her friends had sent her off beaming. She left her dress design business, country, family, chauffer and servants for this? She was so proud and her reality came crashing down.

    To my grandmother’s horror, her sister-in-law Helen would barge into their residence without knocking. She would bring her friends into my grandmother’s quarters to open her closet, pull out her dresses and show her friend’s all of my grandmother’s clothing. Her sister in law would laugh and say, look at all of these dresses! Where is she ever going to wear them! Josefina could not speak the language well and Helen took advantage of the language barrier. Insisting she could not understand her English. It didn’t take long for her to consider moving back to Mexico. Joe had promised to put my mother into a private school for a good education. She was already enjoying her new life and school. My mother saw my grandmother’s unhappiness and persuaded her to move forward. Mama, we came this far. Don’t give up!

    Photo of Josefina, Joe and Annunciata June of 1952 in Sun Valley, California from our family archives.
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