Colongeli, Donald, 2017


Colongeli, Donald, 2017

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Mr. Donald Colongeli has lived in Cortland for all of his life. He is the child of two Italian immigrants. His father arrived in the United States when we was 17 and his mother came when she was 16. Mr. Colongeli also has 3 brothers, two of the have unfortunately passed on, but all of them, including Donald, served in combat. Mr. Colongeli was scheduled to go to both Korea and Vietnam during their respective conflicts, but never saw combat, for which he is thankful. Mr. Colongeli is married and has three children, Jim, Susan and Don. He has owned several businesses in the Cortland area during the time of the Wickwire factory, but he is mostly proud of his food supply service which shipped foods and ingredients both across the country and internationally. Mr. Colongeli also ran for public office in Cortland at one time. His wife’s father worked at the Wickwire factory and his wife recalls hearing stories of the factory and some of the incidents that happened there, including a time when a man was pressed in-between one of the cranes. Mr. Colongeli had an interaction with Chester Wickwire at one point in his life when he sold him a pair of shoes. He recalls how large the Wickwire factory was and how it employed many people in the Cortland area. He also recalls all of the various nationalities that were in the area during his childhood, including families from Italy, Russia and Poland. Mr. Colongeli also recalls stories that his wife told him about how her father would bring home fellow coworkers from the Wickwire factory for dinner and homemade wine. The city of Cortland remains a very important element to Mr. Colongeli and he remains optimistic that the city will one day return to the way it was before.

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Alex Gerstle, Kortnee Gilmore, and Matt Henry are all students at SUNY Cortland participating in an Introduction to Public History Class, History 280. They are all are part of the History Education major, and are at varying years in their degrees. This interview is part of the 1890 House exhibit expansion project for the fall of 2017. This class taught by Evan Faulkenbury.


Interview conducted Kortnee Gilmore and Alex Gerstle, and Matt Henry on September 25, 2017.


Donald Colongeli, Oral Histories, Cortland Community

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.


These oral histories express the personal views, memories, and opinions of the interviewee. They do not represent the policy, views, or official history of SUNY Cortland.

Colongeli, Donald, 2017