BY ANGELA MATUA
A Glendale woman is paying tribute to her two uncles who worked on the Titanic by releasing a short story about their lives on the 103rd anniversary of the sinking.
“Titanic—The Brothers Peracchio—Two Boys and a Dream,” by Angelica Harris, will be released on Wednesday, April 15, and a book signing will take place at 80-17 78th Ave. from 7 to 9 p.m. Harris will also present artifacts and memorabilia she owns, including plates used to serve meals to passengers.
Harris, who is a historian and author, was prompted by her late uncle Modesto to research the lives of his brothers, Alberto and Sebastiano Peracchio.
Her research led her to befriend William Browers, a Titanic historian who was working on an exhibition titled “Titanic: The Legacy Continues” for the Plantation Historical Museum in Plantation, Florida.
Harris was commissioned in 2012 by the museum to write a short historical piece for the exhibition and she used her research to guide the short story. She decided to release the book on the 103rd anniversary to honor the men and women who lost their lives on the ship.
“It’s a chance for me to tell the story [and] not only to commemorate uncle Alberto but to commemorate all the passengers and crew who died on the ship that day,” she said.
Through her research, Harris found that Alberto and Sebastiano Peracchio were born in Alessandria, Italy. Their father, Carlo, worked in the shipyards and Alberto and Sebastiano followed in his footsteps.
Alberto Peracchio aspired to do more than “work on the cargo and lift the heavy boxes,” according to Harris, so he taught himself how to speak four languages by the time he was 15. He not only spoke Italian but also learned how to speak Spanish, German and French.
After working, Alberto Peracchio moved to England to pursue other opportunities and was eventually hired by a man named Luigi Gatti to work in the restaurant industry in 1911. One year later, Alberto Peracchio was hired as an assistant waiter at the A la Carte restaurant. A la Carte was exclusively open to first class passengers on the Titanic.
Sebastiano Peracchio also began working at the restaurant after Gatti mentioned to Alberto that the restaurant needed to bolster its staff. Both men began working on April 10, 1912.
But according to Harris’ research, Alberto Peracchio was looking to take on a bigger role.
“Alberto always wanted more,” Harris said. “He didn’t just want to be a crew member; he wanted to be an officer.”
Gatti recognized his personable character, according to Harris, and fought for him to become an officer. Though Alberto Peracchio had dual citizenship, he was not born in England, which was a requirement to become an officer.
“When [the officers] would come and have dinner at A la Carte and watch how he worked, especially with the ladies…he would talk to the ladies and he was able to speak to them in their language,” Harris said. “He was very suave and debonair.”
Harris said Sebastiano was very eager to learn from his brother and eventually wanted to go back home and work with his family in Italy.
On April 14, 1912, the Titanic hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean and sank soon thereafter. Both men died that day but no one knows if their bodies were recovered.
“Unfortunately, history will never know if [Alberto] took the [officer] test, if he fought the good fight and he passed it,” Harris said. “They are heroes in my life. They give me inspiration when I look at them because I know they were young and they worked hard.”
“Titanic—The Brothers Peracchio—Two Boys and a Dream” will be on sale for $15 at the book signing and all proceeds will benefit Harris’ nonprofit organization, the Excalibur Reading Program. The organization offers tutoring to students in all subjects in addition to SAT, ACT and GED prep courses and professional art classes.
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