DiMarco, Bernard (and Mrs.)

born Italian
Brought to America at age 2 by immigrant parents; deafened by spinal meningitis caught on the ship coming over. Attended the Illinois School for the Deaf. When his father was killed in a 1910 mining accident, Bernard began working part-time in a shoe shop while still attending school until leaving at age 17. Worked a variety of odd jobs for several years until going to work at the Stevensons radio and phonograph company in Dubuque, IA, as a disc sander. After almost 10 years there, was laid off when the factory went broke in 1929, during the Great Depression. Spent at least the next 6 years working a variety of odd jobs to try to support his family. He faced worse-than-usual discrimination against deaf persons since so many hearing persons were also unemployed and seeking jobs. Married a deaf woman (name not recorded) about 1923. Mrs. DiMarco was deafened beginning age 8 from complications of tetanus, which also caused persistent left-leg problems for years afterward. Attended an unidentified school for the deaf in Chicago, but left after 8th grade since her poor family could not afford any more than that. Met Bernard at an NFSD picnic; he persuaded her to come to Dubuque, where she also went to work for Stevensons and then married Bernard. They eventually had a hearing daughter, Shirley. When the Depression hit, Mrs. DiMarco also tried, unsuccessfuly, to find work, and they were forced to apply for WPA relief. The WPA worker recorded their life story in an interview.
The Great Depression, p.163-171.