Cairo was born in 1889 in Marano Principato, and died December
20, 1931 in Chicago, IL. She married Frank Ventura (sitting)
April 30, 1905 in Guardian Angel Church, Chicago IL. He was born
November 30, 1882 in Gesuiti, Calabria, Italy., and died October 17,
1939 in Chicago, IL. It is believed that the young man next to them in
this photo is Maria's brother Salvatore Cairo.
In 1949, Rose Cairo Pellicore told the following story to
Raffaella (Ventura) Volino, daughter of Maria and Frank Ventura:
"While in Marano, Italy, Maria Cairo cared for their farm
animals, tended the vineyards, and carried large stones on her head for
building homes. She made silk from cocoons. Sewing and embroidery work
were her hobbies. She loved animals and would rather be outside.
She had no schooling. She came to America with her two brothers
Salvatore and Frank about 1900. Her Uncle Caspar Muto, brother of
her mother Fortuna Muto Cairo, sent for them. There was a measles
epidemic in Italy at the time, and Maria was still very weak when she
sailed to America. On the ship, Maria developed an earache. By the time
Maria, Salvatore, and Frank arrived at Uncle Caspar's house, Maria was
very sick. Uncle Caspar sent for a doctor who prescribed linseed pack on
her ear. After two weeks, Maria's face was so swollen, her eyes were
shut tight. Uncle Caspar called in another doctor who rushed her in an
ambulance to the hospital where she was operated on for double-mastoid.
They had to cut off her hair for the operation. The doctor found pus
close to the brain. It cost Uncle Caspar $100.00.
After moving to Chicago, IL, she loved opera music and attending
concerts. She would play records on the old talking machine which had to
be wound by hand. She'd play these records over and over again until she
had them memorized - and then she would play them on the old upright
Maria's daughter, Raffaella, taught her how to write her name after
she (Raffaella) attended school at Our Lady of Pompeii, Chicago, IL.
As told by Raffaella Volino: "One day, my mother Maria took me
and my brother Joe to visit my Aunt Rose Pellicore. We crossed a bridge
and were on it when it turned around - but we did not turn with it. As a
result, we lost our way. I don't think these bridges are now in
existence. I must have been 6 and Joe 4."