Dalgo Bregoli, Age 61
Velina Bregoli, Age 70
(Brother and sister)
Interviewed Dalgo's home at 441 Sudbury Rd. on February 8, 1981
Concord Oral History Program
Renee Garrelick, Interviewer.
Click here for audio
Audio file is in .mp3 format.
The first portion of the taping is Dalgo's eye witness account of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.
The second portion is remembrances of growing up on Belknap Street, "in back of the depot" particularly as applied to the Italian community.
Eyewitness To Pearl Harbor,
I was just over 20 when I enlisted in the navy in 1939, believing
that eventually the U.S. would go to war with Europe. I was assigned
to the U.S.S. Perry, a destroyer minesweeper stationed in San Diego.
A year later we arrived at Pearl Harbor and I'remember the night
we entered and the sight of over 100 ships with their search-lights
on. It was something to see. In May of 1940 the fleet received
orders to remain at Pearl Harbor indefinitely and ironically six
months before the attack, the Pacific fleet was required to have
ammunition ready besides all guns.
On December 5, 1941 we received orders to return to the states
on December -8th. The attack on Pearl Harbor changed all that.
After a "luscioust" breakfast of hash and soft boiled eggs,
I went on watch at 7:50 a.m. for the 8-12 watch shift. I happened
to hear some planes overhead. The first two planes I thought had
practice bombs, but when the third plane hit the hangar, I knew
something was wrong. Then I saw the orange- ball designating the
Japanese symbol of the Rising Sun on the plane. Then all hell
Anchored on the Pearl City side of the naval air station,
you could see in every direction. 'Eventually a total of 353 Japanese planes were to come, with 180 arriving in the first wave,
from 7:55 a.m.-8:40 a.m. These consisted of fighters, torpedo planes and high bombers. We had thought it was all over, but at 8:45 a.m.
a second wave of 173 more planes came in.
Since it was a Sunday, many men were off on liberty, and none
of the ships had a full complement. To fight back we used what
we had available, pistols and guns. My job was to be a first loader
on the four inch mounted guns that really could not be used for
aircraft. The final blow was all over at 9:45 a.m. Anyone who says
they weren't scared is lying. It was one hour and 50 minutes of
The U.S.S. Medussa, I say, was the first ship to fire at the
Japanese. She was two ships away from us. Our ship was third
from the last out of the harbor and the first ship back to sweep.
And there was approximately four to five inches of oil on the water
in the harbor to clean.
All the ships were lined up proving ineffective for firing,
but who would think the Japanese would come 6,000 miles to hit us.
In addition to their planes, the Japanese also had five subs which
carried midget subs. The U.S. did not have a carrier at Pearl Harbor
when the attack occurred. Though our carriers.were out, they never
chased the Japanese and I never understood why.
The U.S.S. Nevada, a battleship, started out after the Japanese.
Fortunately the skipper beached her when she became damaged, and the
channel was left open. If the Japanese had waited till the Nevada
got into the channel before striking, she would have blocked the
Extensive total damage occurred to the following ships: The Arizona was sunk when a bomb exploded, and to this day
1177 sailors and marines are entombed. The Oklahoma was overturned, the California sank straight down
and the Utah, a converted battleship, with 54 men aboard was completely
lost. The navy lost 2,008 men, the army 218, and the marines 109,
bringing the total American servicemen killed to 2,335. 1,143 service-
men were wounded, 68 civilians were killed and 35 were wounded.
The army lost 96 aircraft and had 128 damaged, the navy lost 92
aircraft and 41 damaged.
The Japanese in contrast lost 29 planes, 1 large sub and 5 midget
subs. 55 airmen were killed and nine men were killed on the midget
Pearl Harbor reunions have been held since 1966. I attended
one in 1971 and again in 1976. The sad part is when you go over
to the Arizona Memorial to pay respects to the men entombed there.
Early years as an immigrant to the United States and to Concord,
I was born in Italy in a small town near Bologna, and in 1914
I came to this country at the age of 3. I had never seen snow and
when I stepped off the train in Concord, the conductor was taking
me off and I was lifting my feet up because I didn't want to step
in the white stuff. At that time in order for immigrants to come
to this country you had to have a sponsor or someone to come to.
My father, Ruggero Bregoli, had come earlier; he came when I was
only 9 months old. In those days it was really hard. You had to
find a place to live, find work, pay rent, send money to my
mother, Clerice, for my sister, Rina, and I, and at the same time
save passage for the three of us to come. Unfortunately my sister
was sent back with my grandparents to Genoa because the
authorities said she had an eye infection. Later, several times
money was sent to her but the money never reached her. At age 16,
she decided to stay in Italy. The fare for me was $10.
We lived at that time on Belknap Street at the end of what
was called Brennan's Block. My father had everything all set and
my mother said it was just like a queens. We were among many
Italians and Irish, who had settled pretty much in what we called
"back of the depot". We went to St. Bernard's Church. There was
no way of getting anywhere except by walking in those days. I
remember the trolley cars that came through town up Sudbury Road,
Thoreau Street, and up Main Street. That was as far as we went.
This was way back.
November 11 as a holiday was very familiar to me because that
day was St. Joseph's day. It never passed without us having
roasted chestnuts and playing games and cards. One of the games
was tombula, which is now bingo in America.
Christenings were another big event the Italians always had.
Everybody was invited. I can remember my christening because I
was christened for the second time with my sister, Mary, and my
brother, Come. My father said as long as we're christening those
two let's put Velina in because she was christened in Italy. I
can remember walking down to church because I was about 6 or 7
years old. But I remember the party most because my mother had
baked a huge pan of baked apples with the stems still on them, and
all the children, of course, would go and get one of these apples.
The menfolks always had on Sundays and evenings in the summer
bocci games and horseshoes, which were done with the real
horseshoes that they got at the blacksmith's shop.
Then I can remember coming home from school one day from
either the first or second grade on Belknap Street and up at the
end of the street, it was so exciting, the circus had come. We
all had to go up and see that.
Later on they had a swimming hole at the end of Elsinore
Street and Belknap Street where the boys went.
On Cottage Lane I remember animals coming by train being
transported from one place to another and they would put them on a
side track. Mostly cows, and as you know cows had to be milked so
they would ask the neighborhood people to bring kettles and pails
to milk the cows and we got the milk.
The winters were very severe, I don't ever remember snowplows
when I was a little girl, but they had pungs that went over the
snow. The town had them and we used to hop on to go off to school
in those. These were horsedrawn pungs. The snow would be so deep
that I can remember on Cottage Lane the snow on the roof was just
as deep as it was on the ground.
Coming from a poor family we had very little and I wanted a
sled so badly but my father said there just wasn't the money for
it. So one day, he came upstairs having been downstairs for many
nights and he said "Well, here's your sled", which he had made for
me out of beef ribs he had brought home from the butchers. I was
so embarrassed I wouldn't think of taking that sled. He said "all
Sundays we always went down Nashawtuc Road because the river
overflowed and there was always skating there and he goes down
with the sled. I stayed way behind, I wouldn't even let them know
that he was my father. He gets down there and he sits on this
sled with his two poles, he had a ball, and every skater hung on
to him. It was wonderful!
My father was a gardener all his life for the wealthy
families of Concord, and in the early days they took care of the
furnaces because everything was coal furnaces, and they would
stoke them morning and night, real early morning. He worked
I wasn't able to continue school being the oldest of an
immigrant family, we had to stay home to help. I was working
with the Herbert Hosmers at the time. I went 7 or 8 years without missing a single night to Americanization classes. I took an
English course that the state provided. It was a lot of fun.
Many of the people of Concord were awfully good to us. The
Daughters of the American Revolution presented each one of the
women who became an American citizen with an American flag. Mrs.
Hosmer entertained a group at luncheon or tea. She brought us one
year to the Antiquarian House. Mrs. James at that time always had
a party for the Americanization classes. We used to put on skits
about the immigrants, about coming to this country and being the
melting pot. We used to have a real full house for those skits.