When the Great Depression struck in 1929, the Dell’Armo family was hit particularly hard. Angelo worked for the Works Progress Administration’s maintenance division in Manhattan during that time. The WPA was one of many federal agencies instituted by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933 to counter all of the forces that had come together to create the Depression.
Angelo swept floors in a factory, and Anna remembers feeling too ashamed to tell people what he did for a living. Money was so tight for the family that they couldn’t afford a Christmas tree. What they had, said Anna, was a four-legged stove. “One day, [Angelo] brought home a big box full of toys, but a lot of them were broken. He put them under the stove, and that was our Christmas tree.”