07/23/07 - posted by Paul Rosenberg
An important book is Una storia segreta: the secret history of Italian American evacuation and internment during World War II by Lawrence DiStasi published about five years ago. Few know that, in addition to the Japanese, many Italians and Italian-American citizens were rounded up and put in camps. The chapter on Carmelo Ilaqua is particularly chilling. One week after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, two San Francisco Policemen and an FBI agent came to the door of Mr. Ilaqua and gave him ten minutes to pack. Four days later, he was able to call his family from Tanforan. After eighteen months in camps in Tennessee, Oklahoma, Montana, and Texas, he was released and a few days later was teaching Italian to our troops in Monterey. His daughter, Connie Foran, wife of former Senator John Francis Foran, who was six years old when her father was taken from her relates the story in a chapter of this book.

Every serious student of San Francisco History should be aware of this sad time. The San Francisco Public Library has five copies for loan and another two for reference. The book is available for purchase through the California Historical Society.

Footnote: Sylvester Andriano, a former member of the board of supervisors, police commissioner, president of a local draft board, and community leader was banished from the West Coast for a year and a half when he resumed his good civic works. At the same time of his 'hearing' before Senator Tenney of Los Angeles and his state senate committee on Un-American activities, Mayor Rossi had to explain a 'fascistic' salute he was said to have given. (It had to be explained that foreign policy to Mayor Rossi dealt with anything outside San Francisco.)
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