Devils Lake Journal - Devils Lake, ND
The Hunt for John Verruchi -- conclusion, part 4
email print
About this blog
Recent Posts
March 23, 2013 5:30 p.m.

(Please scroll down to begin the Installment story in four parts. Posted previously below)
It seemed to be a long time since John had been to New York. As he was on the
tractor one spring day he realized how lucky he was to have found a family he had
known nothing about. He was amazed at the sequence of events that led him to his
great grandfather's twin brother. Since he left New York in October he had talked
to Elizabeth two or three times. He was also keeping in touch with Charlie's family
considering they lived less than two hours away from him. He and Mark developed a
close friendship even though their backgrounds were entirely opposite. John was so
proud of the fact that the trip was so successful and yet he was constantly bothered by
the unanswered question. Why did Delmo and Dominic part ways never to be in touch
John knew he wanted the answer to this nagging question, but he had no idea where
to start or how to start. Sara was sympathetic but did not have ideas to help, so she
simply remained supportive. The twins, James and Veronica were growing so fast and
were involved in every extracurricular activity at school. With the twins activities and the
farm work John saw years fly by and nothing surfaced to help with the mystery. He had
tried to look up on the computer ancestry websites a few times. Unfortunately, always
reached a stumbling block because of money. He could not afford the prices expected,
so he stopped in frustration.
Many years later when John and Sara's twins graduated from high school and
college, Sara came home with a letter from Elizabeth. Throughout the years Elizabeth
had written off and on, but she had eventually remarried and corresponded less and
less as the years had gone by. Surprised to receive a letter from her concerned John
and Sara a little. John opened the letter with reservation, but was pleasantly surprised
to find out they, Elizabeth, Carl, her husband, and the kids were coming for a visit.
Throughout the years the Verruchi's from Peabody had made it to New York two times
in order to visit and keep connections alive, but the New York relatives had never
ventured to Missouri. Elizabeth had explained that Gina was playing in a jazz band in
the city and was questioned about the history of her saxophone. This had brought up
the unanswered question of Delmo and Dominic so they decided to visit the home of
Dominic Verruchi.
John and Sara were so excited with the news they immediately started planning.
They discussed the food preparations and the site seeing opportunities. John wanted
to make sure their visit was comparable to their hospitality when he and his family
were in New York. Weeks of planning was exciting for the farm couple who rarely had
visitors. Most of their families lived close by. Two days before the New York family
were to arrive, John and Sara were rearranging the guest room to accommodate the
sleeping arrangements. As John and Sara moved the bed they noticed a rip in the area
rug. Naturally it needed to be replaced, So John rolled it up. As John was rolling the
rug, it caught on the corner of the base board and dislodged it a little. As John went
to pull the rug off, a piece of the base board broke off. John was not concerned. He
had kept leftover materials in the basement after they had added on many years back.
After measuring and cutting the exact size needed, he returned to the bedroom and
knelt down to start nailing it on. Suddenly Sara told John to stop and got down to take a
closer look. She and John noticed a cut in the wall making a perfect rectangle in the dry
wall. This was the first time they had ever seen this wall bare. They had not remodeled
this room and never removed the base board. John gave the rectangle a little tap on
one side and the wall piece moved ever so slightly. Getting a screw driver to pry it
open took a little effort and time. When the rectangular piece of wall was removed John
placed his hand in the opening. He felt around and pulled out a tin box the size of a
cigar box. So excited and intrigued he and Sara sat down in the middle of the room to
examine the box.
The box contained about ten envelopes with nothing written on the outside. They
had not been mailed or even addressed. Slowly, as to be assured of not damaging
them, John opened the top envelope. The date was December 25, 1923, Dear Delmo
written at the top! John gasped and started reading the letter to sara.
Dear Brother Delmo,
Each day has been hard for me in this country and especially hard because you are
not with me. Where did you go? I miss you often and hope that you are safe. When
we entered this country on that day three years ago, I was so grateful to have you with
me to share in the excitement. I knew you felt it also. We left the boat and stood in
the long line to enter the United States of America. We signed the book together with
such pride. After Mama and Papa had died we both knew America was our destiny.
But, what happened? As I walked out of the building, the crowd was so enormous and
everyone was fighting to get on the ferry. Rushing to be one of the firsts to get on, I ran
and ran. As the ferry departed for the mainland, I realized you were not there. I waited
and waited for days at the place where they unloaded the ferry, but you never came.
Sadly, I had to move on but it has been the hardest thing I have ever done.
Stunned, John and Sara sat in silence to let this incredible news sink in. The
remaining letters were written all to Delmo with such agony in the words written on
each page. John assumed Dominic thought his brother dead or else he would have
mentioned him to someone. Or perhaps through the years, the story stopped being
told. At any rate, now John knew Dominic's story but not Delmo's. To John this was
enough and so he placed the letters back in the box, repaired the hole and placed the
tin box in Sara's cedar chest.
The day arrived when Elizabeth and her family drove up the long lane to the Verruchi
Farm. John and Sara waited with nervous anxiety, but was truly happy and comfortable
with them just a few short minutes after they arrived. John and Sara offered everyone
a drink and after the car was unloaded and suitcases in their respective rooms, all sat
on the porch to enjoy the day. John noticed Gina had brought her saxophone and
assumed she wanted to play. But, after John requested a song, Gina looking a little
hesitant reached for the case. She opened the case but did not get out the instrument.
Instead she carefully pulled back a piece of the felt and retrieved what looked like a
tattered envelope. Gina explained she was in the city with her jazz band playing great,
great grandfather's saxophone when a gentlemen stopped to talk to her at the close
of the evening. His name was Jack Smith and he was a jazz fanatic. Jack had spent
most of his life researching old jazz musicians. Jack told Gina the saxophone she was
playing was exactly like the one a very famous jazz musician in the 30's used to play.
During the conversation Gina discovered the name of the musician was Don Vicks.
Gina told Jack the saxophone she was playing belonged to her great, great grandfather,
Delmo Verruchi. Overcome with excitement, Jack Smith told Gina that Don Vicks was
Delmo Verruchi. Delmo had americanized his name in order to get playing jobs in the
city during a time when Italians were not excepted. However Jack had found out that
Delmo only used the name Don Vicks when playing music. He kept his name legally as
Delmo Verruchi and married and had children under that name.
John and Sara were glued to Gina's every word finding it extremely fascinating. The
thought that Delmo remained in the city and made a living with music was interesting
but also not satisfying. John still wanted to know what happened with Delmo on June 4,
1919; the day he was separated from Dominic. At this point, obviously, John and Sara
shared the letter from Dominic. Suddenly, Gina still holding the tattered envelope in her
hands, told John within this letter she found in the saxophone case, was the answer to
Dominic's question. Gina opened the letter and read slowly.
My dearest brother Dominic,
I have made the worst decision of my life and now with regret cannot change the course
that decision has taken. The day June 4, 1919 was excruciatingly hard for me. I had
always knew you wanted to live in the west and acquire land in order to farm. Yes, I
told you that it was what I wanted as well. However, I was lying to you to keep peace.
I wanted so badly to remain in the city and play my beloved saxophone. I knew if I
had told you my plans you would have sacrificed your own dream to be with me. I
could not bear to force you to do that. So in order for both of us to live our dreams, I
left you running for the ferry. Watching you run hurt so badly knowing I might never
see you again. I knew you would be waiting at the dock, so I hitched a ride with a local
fisherman on his boat. I am so sorry, but I acted with desperation and thought I was
doing the right thing. I have prayed every day that we may be reunited, but sadly I know
that could never be. We each have no idea where to look. I hope you are happy and
are living out your dream on a peaceful farm in the west. I know that I am happy also
playing music with a group of talented people.
In writing this letter, I am hoping to feel closer to you and hoping you will forgive me.
I have no way of sending it to you, but with prayer maybe someday we will see each
other again. If not together physically, know that we are always together in spirit.
In silence, John took the letter from Delmo Verruchi and placed in the tin box with the
letter from Dominic Verruchi and closed the lid. After over 100 years of separation, the
Verruchi brothers were together again!

Recent Posts

    latest blogs

    • Community
    • National

    Events Calendar