Tags: ancestors, Carnival of Genealogy, economy, famiglia, family, gardening, love of family, memories, Peace, politics, ramblings, September 11
This date is a horrid one for most Americans. Where September used to stand for end of summer, back to school, first whiffs of Autumn leaves and bonfires, it has now become a remembrance of the shock for baby boomers to taste a war-like scenario on US soil. Our sense of security, of world power via being loved and ‘right’ has been shaken. For many it has meant a long drawn out process of rethinking who we as a nation and as individuals are. This time has also seen a change in the country’s economic status affecting al of us. It has also meant reassessing what is important to each of us going forward. For me, it has meant a reassessment of our countries politics and policies as well as a reassessment of our place in global issues. It has brought about a deeper commitment to spiritual values and what they should mean on an everyday basis in addition to my own personal internalizing. More importantly it has brought about a deeper appreciation for what family means to me personally as well as a deeper appreciation for what our ancestors went through in their lives.
As a child I grew up hearing stories about my parents growing up during the depression years. My mother talked of her father traveling out of town for work returning home on the weekends. She also told of their wonderful gardens where they grew much of their vegetable and herb needs. My dad told about not being in school yet but following the bigger kids as they collected lumps of coal dropped by trains to take home for family furnaces. He also told how at the same age he followed the bigger kids to bread lines and to get potatoes. His parents hadn’t sent him, but he caught on quickly from other kids and knew it meant more heat or more food if he participated too! Valentino grew up in post war Italy. His family had struggled before, during, and after the war. His mom’s family were farmers so they grew plenty of food whenever and wherever possible. They would work the bits of soil between rocks to plant one plant per spot if necessary. They owned several small pieces of land meaning they would work one area for one crop and go to another for another crop. It meant a several mile walk daily to tend their food supply. Recently the Publics grocery store near our home was torn apart to undergo remodeling. All of us in the neighborhood have complained that it means a drive of an extra two or three miles to the next store. Only one other neighbor and I attempt to grow any vegetables at all – and we are struggling at it! Our herbs are wonderful but we seem not to be too successful at vegetables other than tomatoes or peppers. I suspect my tomatoes grew at some sort of bargain price under ten dollars each but I might be wrong! On the other hand my rosemary is a bumper crop and I have enough to supply most third world nations with rosemary and basil! I think my ancestors would all be mortified – especially my in-law ancestors!
So as I reflect back on the 9/11 tragedies and the lives of my ancestors, I am grateful for what our family passed on to us. I am blessed we lost no one in 9/11 or the subsequent war. I am blessed that our family passed on a spiritual foundation for Valentino and I to pass on to our sons and now to our grandchildren. And as I contemplate the US and her place in the global view, I am grateful that I was raised in a nation that in spite of her faults is still a wonderful place to raise a family without fear of a knock on the door at night or worse.
Tags: ancestors, faith, famiglia, family, God's Love, love of family, memories, Prayer, ramblings, spiritual walk
When life seems the bleakest or we are at our lowest points, we have only to be quiet long enough to hear God gently speaking to us. I have not been a regular at posting the last couple of months as we have gone through some family issues that needed our full attention. The Lord was there as I felt this pain and feared at times I was alone. He always let me know in small ways that I was not alone. Each time a small prayer was answered, I counted it as a tiny step forward closer to Him.
Indeed He quickened my heart to a simple lesson. We had traveled to Venezia and toured the glass factories. The artisans took a lump of sand onto a long pipe and then put it into the ovens. They would turn the pipes as they blew the wonderful glass sculptures into amazing creations of fragile glass. Every so often they would take the molten glass out of the fire to twist a piece here or there with special tongs and pliers. Finally the beautiful piece would be finished but then surprisingly they would return what seemed a perfect piece back to the fire one last time. And there was the secret of the firey furnace – the glory hole. For it is in this last fire that the glass is perfected, purified so to speak – strengthened so it would not shatter on its own.
So it is with us. We too go through a fire of tribulation at times in our life. How many times do we cry out, “Enough!” At times it seems as if we should not have to bear one more trial, one more bit of pain. It feels as though this fire will never end when once again we feel thrust back into the furnace. But it is there that we are cleansed, purified, yes, even strengthened. If we listen, if we hear, if we learn… there God is sustaining us, prodding and tweaking this lump of sand and clay to a perfect form, a wondrous creation to behold. It is there we find that we have an inner strength to face anything knowing that we know God is there with us and we are not alone.
For our family it has been a long time going through this trial but we have held to each other. Rather than being torn apart and shattered by this experience, we have been strengthened as a family. We have been purified and cleansed in the sense that no matter what the world has thrown at us, no matter how bad things appeared to be, we drew closer together. We found that all the little issues, the dumb things we disagree over, were unimportant in the bigger things. We found a strength as a family that astonished us at times as we found we are better together against the world if need be! Our trials are not over but we have had enough small victories to know that we will survive and be better for all of this. That is the true meaning of family for me. And that is why I share this on a genealogy blog. As I researched back in our family and marveled at this family that made it through wars and worse, I often considered if we could manage to stay together as they did. Now I know that the same courageous genes flow through all of us and that we are truly bound by our love for one another and for family. Tomorrow as we all sit together at the dining room table to share a meal, I will be able to gaze on all the faces of family and know – we will always be bound by this love of family – and I will give thanks to Our Father for gathering us together and holding us there. I pray this for each of you!
Tags: famiglia, family, family history, Italy, love of family, ramblings
Here in this part of Florida our little ones (and some not so little ones) start school next week! It used to be those many years ago when I was young (no I am NOT going to count them out loud for you) that we dreaded Labor Day Weekend. That bittersweet holiday was one parents enjoyed and children dreaded as it meant the end to summer fun and time to get ready for school. How I loved though the school shopping with Mom! We would go to the Five and Dime to pick out new notebooks, pencils, a pencil case, crayons, and lots of paper! Best of all I enjoyed agonizing over which lunchbox I wanted. My all time favorite was a shiny red plaid metal one – it made me feel a connection with my Scottish family. Although my mom was born here, most of my aunts and uncles were born in Scotland and obviously my name of Bonnie Jean (I know! I know! A real name because I’m not just Valentinoswife!) was a reminder of my wonderful heritage! Then began the quest for new clothes and of course new shoes.
My aunt told me of how she was ashamed when she did not have enough dresses for school so would turn a collar inside to hide it if soiled. She admitted later that she had more than enough clothes but in her mind she wanted more special things! I suspect she was trying to gently teach me not to be too prideful! My husband and most of the family in Italy recall wearing smocks in school. Their purpose was to protect children from taunts and embarrassment over clothes also. It was post-war Italy and money was tight for most villagers so parents were struggling to feed families. They had little money to send their children to school so extra clothes were a luxury!
How different from the lives of most of our children now. Today we face children like my grandchildren having so many clothes to choose from each morning that they want to change outfits again and again until they achieve “The Look”! One big change for us in all this was new clothes. All of the grand daughters are attending a charter school. This is a public school that is geared to helping the children excel in all areas. They are required to wear uniforms so although we shopped for clothes, we had very specific items to purchase. One positive note – although uniforms are intended to put all children on equal footing instead of competition over name brands, it is also a real help to parents. No more squabbles over what to wear in the mornings when dressing for school. The biggest choice will be skirts or pants but the shirt is standard as are the colors of skirts and pants. This will be plenty of individuality for her as she can choose between scooter skirt, shorts, capris, or long pants! Even the little jackets and cardigans are uniform issue with school logo embroidered on them.
Now as I help a little granddaughter get ready for her first day of kindergarten I am astonished at how things have changed and yet remained the same. My daughter in love and I have share shopping tips helping one another in the search for supplies. The list has expanded since my sons went to school. Now it included the usual notebooks, crayons, pencils, glue sticks, and pencil cases but also a lot more. School budgets have changed and so have teacher needs. Now the list includes plastic sandwich bags and in two sizes, Band-Aids (where did school nurses disappear to?), a change of clothes safely labeled, hand sanitizer, a roll of paper towels, dry erase markers, a box of tissues, and disinfectant wipes! Some of this pleased my granddaughter no end. She loves to clean???? Wonder whose genes those are??? So she is absolutely positive this means she gets to help clean the classroom every day! We did have fun over her choice of backpack and lunchbox. She and her cousins chose Hello Kitty themes so Auntie bought a backpack for each of the girls and we found the insulated lunchbag! Somehow I suspect we will not have escaped all squabbles though. There’s still homework to face!
Tags: ancestors, Carnival of Genealogy, conservator, contingency plan, famiglia, family, family history, family research, filing, genealogy, Italy, Itri, love of family, memories, organizing, photographs, research
I took off a bit of time from writing to concentrate on family and some changes we are experiencing along with some test of family loyalties through some trying times. Thankfully love for each other has triumphed in every situation we faced. During this time we have each in our own way found what matters most to us. We have each come to the realization that even as we face anger and or disappointment in one another, we can still know overwhelming love and loyalty and even respect for each other. My treasure chest is full of love for all my family and memories of all the special moments we have shared, the tears, laughter, hurts, and joys. This time has made us grow closer and more committed than ever to each other. As a parent I have been touched by the depth of feeling my sons have shown one another as they have grown. Valentino and I are proud parents as we watch each son make the decisions for where their place is to be in life. We can rest assured our sons will never lose their bonds to one another whether we are here to guide them or not. Rather now we can see that even as they may or may not agree with all decisions the others make, they support one another through good and bad ready to offer a lending hand when needed or just an ear to listen.
In the midst of this we also have been enjoying the visit of a family member from overseas. I personally had not seen this person since he was a young boy of about four or five years old. My sons had never met him. When we first met, there was instant love. I was enthralled with his precious smile and his sparkling dark eyes. I just knew our own children (not yet born) would share those same wonderful handsome good looks! Sure enough – they did! And still do! We met our nephew at the airport and immediately we recognized him in the crowd at the same instant he connected with us. The years melted away and once again the smile and dark sparkling eyes dazzled us. Now however that sweet boy is a handsome charming 6 foot plus professor. His personality fit right in to our family mix easily. His quiet strength has been a plus to us as well as his humor. He is an outsider willing to listen and not judge but he is also a beloved family member who is respected and treasured! We are his chance to practice and polish his English as my sons and I practice our broken Italian. For our granddaughters he is the charming gentleman who has captured all of their hearts. I have warned his mother I am going to find it very difficult to return him back home to her! I suspect his uncle is going to find it even more difficult than I will!
One enticing fact is that he shares a deep love of family history. His long term plans include writing about a particular part of the family history. He began to talk about the trials and dead-ends of attempting to find information on the distant relatives. He knew I had already written of more recent family and he also knew I had worked on the family genealogy. What he didn’t know was how much more information I had accumulated in the last few years. As I began bringing out workbook after workbook and file after file, he was in amazement over all the information laid out. It covered the entire pool table – and filled many folders on my laptop! But the best part was that suddenly I was being forced to do what should have been done already. And if he wasn’t enough encouragement a phone call from another relative in Rhode Island was the final prodding I needed. It was time to actually name and label and date as many of the digital images as possible and fit them to their “proper owners” on the family tree. Every trip to far flung relatives meant I gained more scanned copies of old photos or digital images I made of them with my camera. Needless to say there is not a photo for all of the twelve hundred plus people but it felt like double that number as I have been working on them diligently for over a month using every spare moment. For some family members it meant cropping their face out of a group photo. For still others it meant dating them through many photos showing them as they changed over the years of their lives. It also meant labeling all the digital images of the villages and towns and churches and schools and even the old family homes when possible. There are even photos of the streets where family members lived over 200 years ago. I may not be able to prove which house belonged to them but thanks to information on birth certificates I was able to ascertain streets!
So this brings me to today’s treasure chest moment. My treasure chest has become my laptop. Everywhere I go it comes along for the trip. Blessed with a 6 hour battery life, I can steal many moments no matter where I am to work on the photo project. My laptop wallpaper is a replica of an antique print of the family village in Italy. Somehow I find that relaxing as I flip through files and folders saved across my desktop. As I have worked I also made certain to save frequent updates to my portable hard drive. At this point although I am not finished I have also burned CDs to send home to Italy with our nephew and to mail to Rhode Island to another cousin! Let me use this opportunity to once again admonish you all to make backups of all your work. If my laptop crashes, I would be one unhappy woman to have lost all of my hard work! It is not enough to save work only for myself. If a hurricane or other natural disaster were to destroy our home, I would risk losing all of my research. Knowing that copies have been sent to reside with other family members is double insurance against such a loss!
Sometimes one has to consider cooking for the heart – for health purposes — but then again, sometimes it’s all about for the heart emotionally. Today’s treasure chest memory is the old yellow plaid cookbook my mother was given as a child in elementary school. She still had that cookbook when she married and it was a staple in our kitchen. I used to love to read the recipes over and over. Most were accompanied by black and white photos and of course there were plenty of hints and tips for successful baking and cooking. Years later my mother would buy big fancy cookbooks such as Time Life and they would showcase beautiful full-page color photographs. Yet something drew my interest back to the old yellow plaid book. In it my mother would make notations in pencil about changes or adaptations she preferred. And the front and back cover pages boasted a few of her own recipes. One was for her amazing Yum Yum Cake – a flavorful fruitcake that I still love.
Now as a married woman myself, I often clip recipes from magazines or handwrite copies from friends and family. When I find a cookbook at a garage sale, it is hard to resist buying it. I love to sit in Barnes and Noble and spend a rainy afternoon reading through the newest cookbook offerings. I love the glossy photographs of favorite Italian recipes and have indulged myself with extravagant purchases every now and then. A few Christmases ago I made cookbooks for each of our sons printing out old favorite family recipes of the family from Italy. This past year I drove my mother to distraction as I made another cookbook for everyone with her family recipes. But it is the old yellow plaid cookbook that evokes the fondest memories of my childhood at my mother’s side learning to cook as she taught me to read the recipes and follow the directions.
Tags: ancestors, genealogy, Itri, Italy, family history, Peace, WWII, famiglia, love of family, memories, Carnival of Genealogy
Liberation Day is celebrated in Italy on April 25th. This is a day to remember being liberated at the end of WWII. There are wonderful parades in all the small towns as well as the major ones all throughout Italy. We enjoyed watching the parades in Cavezzo, a small town not far from Carpi and Modena in the Emilia-Romagna Region.
Sadly this year saw demonstrations turned nasty even in Rome – people the world over are frustrated with their governments, but let’s not forget that Liberation Day is to commemorate the sacrifices made on behalf of freedom-loving people suffering through WWII. Don’t toss that off lightly because we are unhappy now. Rather let us all remember and appreciate the awful prices our ancestors paid to give us life and for the hope of future generations. I have written before about Valentino’s family and the horrors they went through. I often wonder how they managed. I too often suspect we of this generation would not have the strength of spirit or heart to face those challenges now. How would those who live in 40 and 50 floor apartment buildings manage without electricity to run elevators? How would all those city dwellers manage to grow food without yards? It was a different time, granted. Yet we need to consider how very brave and daring they were – how self-sustaining and independent they were, willing to meet all challenges to bring about the end of the war. They often prayed it would be the war to end all wars. Sadly there are those who are only too willing to forget that. I don’t claim to know the answers to end war or to broker peace. But I do want to say thank you for those ancestors who did play a part to bring about Liberation for Europe (and Asia later) and pray we never become insensitive to their sacrifices on all our behalves!
This memorial stands outside the Church of the Annunziata in the center of Itri. The inscription reads:
To her heroes of all the wars all who come of the cross without waiting for the resurrection.
So too we offer prayers for all those of all the towns of Europe and everywhere!
Tags: family, famiglia, pets, memories, Carnival of Genealogy
Life has been hectic and filled with sad endings as well as happy new beginnings.
One of the sad occasions was the farewell we had to give our beloved English Bulldog Contessa Bue (Countess Bull for the non-Italian speakers) – or as we called her, Baby. She was with us for ten joyful and love filled years. One of my sons bought her as a new pup and she immediately became the dowager of the family! She controlled and trained us well! Horribly she was the product of a disreputable breeder and pet store – so disreputable, the animal control and licensing folks shut the store down. In spite of her disabilities, she was playful almost to the end and positively gentle and loving. Where I went, she followed. My son claimed I spoiled her rotten and I have to admit I did. What Baby wanted, she got always! What she wanted was tons of affection and her back to be scratched – both easy chores for us! When it was obvious she was suffering too much, we made our final goodbyes. My heart broke watching her suffer and I wanted to spare her any additional pain. Letting her pass quietly at home was no longer an option. She is at peace now but she will always be part of our family and memories!
My dear sons realized I was aching so they took it upon themselves to research a dog breed that would live a long life if properly cared for. We had also lost an English Springer about 3 years previously so I was afraid to lose another pampered pet Sir Bramble Patch also had a long life (ten years) and was a member of the family so we knew we would not want another loss too soon. We love the concepts behind Rescue Pets so that was our first choice to find a new little one. Soon enough my sons found a beautiful 10 week old Rat Terrier pup through one of the local organizations. She is spayed and micro-chipped already and is housebroken. Within moments she was ours as she snuggled with first me and then Valentino. By the first morning she decided it is her job to wake everyone so she makes the rounds from room to room to gently lick faces good morning!
If you have never considered a Rescue Pet, please do so. Some are abused, some were given up because owners could no longer care for them, and some are puppies or kittens that need a good home. Often Rescue Organizations will rescue abandoned animals from kill shelters when they are in danger of being euthanized. Please consider this instead of encouraging puppy mills that subject their “breeder moms” to horrendous conditions. Those pups will often suffer as a result of congenital problems. Most Rescue Organizations try to care for the animals in home settings so they are aware of not only health conditions but also any personality quirks.
Our new little one was one of those special ones as her mama was found in a dumpster with her pups. We are grateful someone took the time to rescue them because we cannot imagine life without her already!
Meet Sophia – named for a famous Italian Sophia, of course!
Tags: ancestors, genealogy, family research, family, famiglia, love of family, memories, Carnival of Genealogy, Awards
I might be considered too old for a visit from the Easter Bunny but this morning I did indeed find a pleasant surprise: an Ancestor Approved Award thanks to Roots’n'Leaves!
There are a few things, obligations so to speak, that go hand in hand with this award. The first part is to “list ten things you have learned about any of your ancestors that has surprised, humbled, or enlightened you” and then to “pass the award along to ten other bloggers who you feel are doing their ancestors proud.”
Humbled: My mother in law Concetta did not learn to read and write until well into her seventies. She wanted to be able to
read the bible for herself!
- Surprised: My father in law Francesco was the cook for the railroad crew he worked with because he cooked better than anyone else in the group! He was quite proud of his cooking skills.
- Enlightened: The official in the anagrafe – the office of vital statistics in Campodimele, Italy is a relative of my husband.
- Surprised: Facebook is a wonderful social medium to find family members. We have now made contact with several relatives overseas who have also now made additional contacts with extended family. It surprises and humbles me to witness the joy of family reconnecting over such long distances and time.
- Enlightened: When I started my family genealogy journey in 1996, I had no idea how passionately I would feel about this quest. What started as a chance to introduce my sons to their dad’s family has become a bigger blessing to me in some respects! I was not sure how my sons would look at all the information. In the beginning they questioned what purpose it would serve. Now they simply enjoy learning about family and meeting them either in person or via the computer and emails.
- Surprised: Valentino Pannozzo, my husband’s grandfather wore regular shoes instead of Roman sandals for the first time in a photograph taken two weeks before he died.
- Humbled: This same man Valentino Pannozzo in his eighties was still in love with his wife and referred to her as his “little doll” to everyone! How unusual for his era!
- Humbled: The love and mutual respect for each other in this family has survived in spite of the separation by distance and has even grown stronger over the years. They are fiercely loyal to one another in all aspects of their lives.
- Surprised that once I discovered the name of a grandparent (long forgotten by most in the family) there were suddenly many people (unrelated) I met who knew her and have begun to share stories!
- Humbled: I met an elderly gentleman who knew a grandfather well. The day I found his death certificate via the help of an official in Campodimele, I met this elderly man in another town. It was a chance meeting and yet I know there was nothing just luck about it. He regaled us with stories about both the son (a great uncle to us) and father ( the grandfather) that we had never known. And he touched my heart as he cried about the death of his best friend (the son) sixty years earlier. His memories of the incident and how it affected the father touched me profoundly. I understood then how Grandfather Valentino still wore a black armband two years after the death of his son!
Ten Blogs That Also Do Their Ancestors Proud:
- Digging in.. To My Past
- Elyse’s Genealogy Blog
- Family Tree Writer
- Keeper Of The Records
- Kick-Ass Genealogy
- La Mia Famiglia
- Our Family Tree Bears Fruit
- Sharing Our Family’s Memories
I think you will enjoy these blogs, each nominated for their unique styles. I find something of worth in all their posts each time! I hope you all do too!
Tags: ancestors, family history, family, famiglia, love of family, memories, Carnival of Genealogy
When her son brought his bride home, she gave the newlyweds her bedroom. Every morning she would insist on bringing them the first coffee in bed. She planned a huge party for the couple as a wedding reception. All of the family came from all around Italy for the party. Furniture was cleared out of the main room and huge tables were set around the walls of the room in a big square so no one would feel left out. Neighbors and friends came all day to bring gifts for the couple and take photos of them together. The big table in the front room displayed all of the presents for everyone to view.
It was Concetta’s gift to Bonnie that was the most special of all.
The women all went to the bedroom to help Bonnie prepare. They fingered the beautiful wedding gown and touched the little seed pearls. Laid out on the dresser was a pair of obviously gold antique earrings. The daughters and granddaughters were all talking about them. Each remembered watching Concetta
polish these beautiful earrings and replace them in her dresser. Everyone gathered close as Concetta picked them up one at a time to place in Bonnie’s ears. It was then she embraced Bonnie and told her, “Valentino, my tesoro, is my baby son. But now you are my daughter. When the two of you disagree, I will stand beside you so that you will not be divided by me. These earrings are yours now because you are my daughter. You come before nieces and granddaughters.”
And this was the love she gave to the American girl who loved her son. Unquestioning, unwavering, steadfast love for all of her life. Bonnie vowed she would follow the path this woman taught her when it became her turn to be a mother in law too.
Tags: Italy, Itri, memories, photographs, ramblings
It’s almost spring here in Florida and this is the time of year we normally visit overseas with family. Due to too many commitments here, we won’t be making a trip this year so I am missing Italy. For those of us who love Itri and the surrounding area, I thought a few March photographs might fill the heart for now.