Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Happy Birthday Grandma - Erminia Polito Salvati

Erminia Polito - Malito, Cosenza
Erminia Polito was born on 30 of March 1912 in Las Animas, Colorado, U.S.A.   She was the daughter of Giovanni Politi and Vincenza Macchione
of Malito, Cosenza, Italy.  She was the second child to be born to Giovanni and Vincenza and only lived in Colorado for a few years until her mother decided life in the US was not right for her so she, pregnant with her third child, took Erminia and her brother Antonio and moved back to Malito.  My great Grandfather, Giovanni decided to remain in Colorado so I don't believe he ever saw his wife or children again.

Baptismal Registration
On the 16 February 1930, a 17 year old Erminia married Ernesto Salvati (b.1906) in a double wedding ceremony with her brother, Antonio and Ernesto's sister, Giustina.  Because Erminia  married an Italian citizen, and later voted in Italy she forfeited her US Citizenship and was forced to re apply for Naturalization a few decades later when she and Ernesto moved to Yonkers, Westchester County, New York, USA.  

Salvati Headstone

They had 3 children together, all of who were also born in Malito and all who moved to North American in the late 50s and early 60s. 
 Erminia died on a Saturday morning on 12 Oct 1974 in Yonkers of Leukemia at the age of  63.  She is buried in Saint Joseph Cemetery Yonkers, Westchester County, New York, USA next to her husband who died only 3 months after she did.

Happy Birthday Grandma - I miss you!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Celebrating San Giuseppe in Italy- 2011

Locri, Reggio Calabria - P. Serafino
Well number one son has been gone for just over two weeks now and I think I have talked to him more in the last 16 days than I have in the last year. As much as he's enjoying his visit he's missing home right now and informed me he's in count down mode. One month is a long time to be away from home - especially when you're in a foreign country and on your own. He did however love Locri (as I knew he would) and is now back in Guardavalle, Catanzaro for a few days. Hopefully he will be in Rome next week for a few days, then back to Savona until he leaves for home at the end of the month.

The biggest challenge for him I think when he arrived was the language barrier. Being a first generation Canadian myself, I never really learned *proper* Italian (but I do a mean dialect) and so I never taught my children to speak it. In hindsight I think it's one of the single biggest mistakes I have ever made in my life and had I to do it over I would have at least taught them the basics. I did almost fall off my chair last week when during one of our daily SKYPE conversations he slipped up and told me to hang on a minute in a somewhat attempt to speak Italian.

The second biggest challenge for him was trying to figure out who all the 'family' is. I have always considered my kids fortunate because not only do they have their cousins but they have a wonderful group of neighbour's who have taken care of them since I can remember. We have always considered them family and probably always will. But I never stopped and thought about how he would feel with all this new family thrown at him or what he would think about always having them around. Family plays such a huge part in Italian families. They do so much together which is something that has been lost during the generations here so I wonder how this will affect, or even if it will affect how he feels about family when he arrives home.

Zippuli/Zeppoli Calabrese
Since today is also San Giuseppe (St. Joseph) my son will have the opportunity to enjoy this special day and eat 'zippuli'. While many people think of pastries when they think of Zeppoli (cream puffs) ours look more like the ones posted on the right, which I prefer, and which are stuffed with anchovies or covered in sugar.

Meanwhile I want to wish all the Giuseppe's and Giuseppina's out there a special Auguri!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Giovanni Polito

 My Maternal Great Grandfather

Giovanni Polito circa 1908

John Polito was my great grandfather and the first person I began my research with.  He was born Giovanni Politi on 5 Nov 1883 in Belsito, Cosenza, Italy to Domenicantonio Politi and Rachele DeMarco.
On 30 January 1904 he was, like other 21 year old males, registered for the draft but I'm not sure he actually served since on  24 Sept of that year he married Vincenza Macchione, daughter of Lorenzo Macchione and Rosa Nucci and in June of 1905 he left with two friends heading for Glasco New york and then onto work in the Mines in Segundo, Colorado.
John's Ship Manifest - Click for Larger View
Giovanni changed his name to John Polito - not sure if this was done on purpose to become more accepted as an American or if like many immigrants he just somehow 'inherited' the name - but in any event the name stuck with him until his death.
In 1908, Vincenza joined her husband in Colorado and in August 1910 their first child, Antonio was born. In March 1912, my grandmother, Erminia was born.  Shortly afterward Vincenza became pregnant again with her third child, Eugenia but she didn't enjoy living in the United States and so she made her way back to Malito, Cosenza, Italy with her children.  John on the hand hand loved being an American and chose to stay in Colorado.  Unfortunately he never saw his wife and children again, nor did he ever meet his youngest daughter although they did correspond through letters. 

Faces of America

Faces of America
Earlier in the week I checked out the 4-part PBS mini series, Faces of America with Louis Gates Jr. and I have to admit I couldn't leave my computer until I had finished watching all the episodes.
While the show focus is also about celebrities, the format is very different from NBC's Who Do You Think You Are?.  In many ways it is far more superior and definitely much more interesting. The shows move quickly as it  shifts the focus back and forth between the 10 featured celebrities and yet it manages to work.  Louis Gates Jr. is an enjoyable narrator and interacts with his guests throughout the whole series while presenting them with information about their ancestors. He even discusses some of his own personal research and brick walls. The fact that he solicits feedback and initiates dialogue during his interviews is interesting in it's own right. The show manages to combine a healthy balance of research and history and a bit of travel is thrown in just for fun. I also noticed he presents each of his guests with their own scrapbook with all the details of his research which include copies of ship manifests, vital records certificates and color coded family tree charts.  The final episode was all about DNA testing and what it can tell  you about your roots.
Hopefully they will consider doing another series in the near future.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Savona, Genoa
After weeks of of anticipation, Number One son finally arrived in  Italy yesterday. After a few hiccups(  plane was late arriving in Rome so he missed his connecting flight) he finally made to Genoa where Simy picked him up. I spoke to him several times yesterday and although he sounded tired he was doing well.
He has very ambitious plans for his visit; he is planning to tour several cities in both Northern and Southern Italy and hopes to take in an Italian soccer game, which by the way is his main reasoning for visiting!
I asked him to keep a journal of his trip but of course since he is young, I doubt that's going to happen.  I'm looking forward to seeing Italy through his eyes and hearing about all the places he visits. 

Meanwhile, Number 2 and 3 children have pretty much moved into his room(s) where they have spent the last couple of days doing -well I'm not sure what they're doing but all I know is that they have been quiet for a change and home all the time which is rare for my kids.

On another note: don't forget to watch the 5th episode of Who Do You Think You Are tonight featuring 80's pop musician Lionel Richie as he unravels the ancestral mystery of his beloved grandmother, a music teacher.