Dominic Rizzuti: Transcript

Italian ironworker
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During the time when I was in Italy, as a young boy after school, in a small town, there was nothing to do. So I used to hang around in a blacksmith shop. And I kind of picked up some of the ironwork in this blacksmith shop. Then when I came over here, I looked for the same thing, and I found another company that is doing the same thing that I am doing now.

At the shop in Italy, we used to do work for farmers. We used to shoe horses, we used to shoe the donkeys, and sharpen tools for the farmers and things like that. Over here it is totally different; over here it is ornamental iron for homes, for building, for making fences for swimming pools. Our best customer has been the state of Iowa. Restoring the historical building—we have done a lot of work in the historical building, railings and everything.

I came to this country in 1937, and—we came here, and we met with my father. My father was in this country years before that. In those days, believe me, things were hard. And if you didn’t have anybody to guide you, anybody to help you in someway, believe me, you wanted to go back to the native land again! As I started learning the language, and getting around a little bit, and finding a little work here and there, then I changed my mind.

In 1950, I decided to start my own shop. There was another competitor, but he, he was an Italian, but he was American born. And he was a big talker, a great big talker; he would give you a line that you would never believe it. And I used to go and bid the same job that he did. Well, the customer give me the job because I had an accent. She trusted me more than she trusted the other guy. So I think the accent helped me quite a bit.

As my boys grew, they actually grew in the business. Ever since they were going to grade school, I made, as an old timer I would make them come to work in the shop. I would give them a quarter an hour or something like that just to keep the interest.

We’ve hired some of these Loatian boys. They don’t know the language, but when they were looking for job, we knew they were going to be good workers, so we hired them. Because I was just like them! I was just like them at one time with no language and no formal education.

If you want to get a piece of iron, and you want to make something out of it, you have to get it hot in the forge. You have to beat it, and you have to shape it. You’ve got to do everything like that. You see, the work that is done been done by hand is in the forge, and it’s been tempered, and it has been spread. And it’s made with the hammer and the anvil, see? And you can tell. Now if it is a cold rolled, there is no forging there at all. There is some size of iron that you can do it in the machine cold, but not all of it.

You just don’t know how good I feel, how proud I am having three of my sons following the same work that I have done all of my life. And believe it or not, financially, I don’t need to go to work. But, in order to be with my kids in the shop, I just love to get up at 6 o’clock and go over there. My heart is there, three of my boys are there, my brother is there, five Laotian boys that were just like I was. I mean they are just like I was sixty years ago! That is why I go down there. I don’t need no money! What else do I want? Another ten years of life--that is what I want.