Clementina was born on September 23, 1898. Or rather, Marianna Clementina De Martin Mazzalon was born that day. Yes, her actual first name was Marianna, but she was always called Clementina. She had two older brothers: Gabriele Arcangelo, born in 1884, and Fortunato, born in 1891; and two older sisters: Orsola, born in 1886, and Maria, born in 1895. In 1903 the last sibling, Daniele Giuseppe, was born, when mamma Elisabetta (Bortola Elisabetta Zannantoni Moline) was already 46 years old. Papa (Giuseppe Antonio De Martin Mazzalon) was 50.
There aren’t many photos of Clementina from Italy. The one here was taken when she was working in Austria cutting trees. Most of the families in Dosoledo were poor. They depended on the land for food and their land was difficult and never yielded enough. Hunger was a part of everyone’s experience and emigration was a natural occurrence.
Clementina recalled that during one particularly harsh winter, her mother brought her and young Daniele to the church to beg parishioners as they left Sunday mass. She felt a humiliation that was still vivid more than half a century later. “Let me work, mamma,” she pleaded. She was strong and would do anything to avoid having to return to the church to beg neighbors for eggs or a handful of grain to make polenta. Despite her misgivings, mamma let her go to Austria that summer with a tree-cutting group. From her gentle smile in the photo, she seems to be all right.