Maria Carmela Amato is the saddest of all the characters in this story. Sticking to the true documents as much as possible does not give her the depth necessary for the book, but the implications are there.

Carmela went by her middle name. It was traditional to give a girl the first name of Maria, in honor of the Blessed Virgin, Saint Mary. A middle child, according to family dynamics studies, she would have been more outgoing and gregarious than her older sisters and brother. Family stories say that she was looking for adventure and fun.

A good looking young woman, Carmela was short, at 5’1″, and well proportioned. Her auburn hair was curly and worn, typically, on top of her head, as was the style of the day. Her heavy eyebrows made her look serious and her slight squint reinforced that. Like all girls of that time, her ears were pierced before she could walk, and she wore a pair of earrings that dangled an inch below her lobes.

Carmela was not a good housekeeper. It was probably known before she got married. Whether she tried to improve that is up to speculation. The death of her first son, an accident, could have been due to sloppy work. He was scalded to death on laundry day. It was reported in the newspapers, at the time of her death, that the apartment was not only sloppy, but cheaply furnished, indicating a housekeeper’s lack of interest in the day to day running of the household. After 12 years in America, her husband had made a reputation for himself as a barber, and had a very good location, so we can assume that the poverty reflected in the apartment was not exclusively due to no funds.

By the middle of 1912, Carmela was mother to six live children and pregnant again. The oldest two were 8 and 6, just old enough to start learning chores. This gave her a chance to do something she had not been able to do in years. Not only was she able to have other women over for coffee when the oldest ones were at school, but she could now get out to do more than just shop.

Carmela was something of a gossip or a busybody. She befriended a young girl, Raffaela, stuck in a loveless marriage. Raffaela and Giuseppe were distant cousins. Carmela and Raffaela’s husband were distant cousins. After several years, the younger woman was at the end of her rope and Carmela helped her to escape her husband. Of course, she and her husband denied any participation in Raffaela’s escape, but the husband held them accountable, with disastrous results.

To explain some discrepancies in documents, I had to revert to fiction for the explanation. Carmela and her husband, Giuseppe, had much money in a bank account. It was about half a years salary for an average laborer. By that time, Giuseppe had left, taking enough  money with him to start his new life. How much money could they possibly have saved up in just seven years, even assuming that they did not spend much on furnishings. On the will, that Carmela signed within hours of her death, was written an alias, Carmela Matta. This much is true. Why she used an alias and why there was so much money, is an area of speculation. It is possible that the couple managed to add to Giuseppe’s income with a little ponzi scheme of their own invention or someone else’s.

The young girl, who wanted adventure and fun, stepped into a world of intrigue and anger. She did not live though it.