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by Antonio Prokup
The Hunt for John Verruchi -- conclusion, part 4
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(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!

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