Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ur tóŕa ed Natòl a Giusvalla

The holiday feast in Giusvalla includes many culinary delights that are familiar to those of us who grew up “vijìn ài nóshtri ráìje giusvallìni.”

Following are a few items that are typical of the holiday table in Giusvalla (and in some of our homes as well!):

Stuffed eggs (similar to our “deviled eggs”)
Insalata russo “Russian salad” (includes peas, potatoes, carrots, etc. and a dressing of homemade mayonnaise with tuna “tonnata”)
Smoked Salmon
Slices of boiled veal (served with the above mentioned cream colored tonnata)
Patè of homemade butter with local prosciutto and lemon

Primi Piatti
Homemade tortellini in broth
Ur raviùre (meat ravioli alla ragù bolognese)

Secondi Piatti
Faraona (guinea hen) with Ligurian olives
Pork and roasted potatoes
Flan of spinach and chard
Various preparations of fish

Dates, walnuts, hazelnuts
Dried figs and candied fruit
Bignè alla crema (cream puffs)
Pears cooked in red wine and cloves

All enjoyed with a variety of delicious local red and white wines … Barbera, Nebbiolo, Barbaresco, Cinque Terre, Pigato, Vermentino … just to name a few. Also dessert wines such as Recioto di Soave, Moscato and Freisa are served.

au tóŕa giusvallìn ù’s mangia bèn ….

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all the descendants and friends of Giusvalla.

Bun Natòl a tùcci vuici!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Ra shtoria d’ur straninome ed Giusvalla

The tradition of “ur straninome” (soprannome) goes back centuries in Giusvalla. Historical research among the ecclesiastical records of the parish church of Giusvalla reveals that the use of “ur straninome” was widespread at least as far back as the late 17th century. My ancestor Pietro Perrone, for example, is recorded with his straninome “detto Pallardino” (Palardèn in the Giusvalla dialect) among the baptismal records of his children in the first decade of the 19th century.

Many of the straninomi were derived from the individual’s given name (Gaspare/Gashpèn, Caterina/Catarinìn, etc.), but they could also be descriptive of some individual character trait (Erchetto, Volpèn, etc.) or allude to the geographical origin of the individual (Brucìn, Mutèn, etc.). The nicknames could also be mulit-generational, for example "Fortunato, son of Santino" could be known as “Furtinìn ed Tzentòn.”

The tradition was still very common in the era during which our immigrant ancestors came from Giusvalla to the United States, so many of us remember (or at least recall hearing about) our older family members who were referred to by these nicknames. As I wrote in an earlier post, my great-grandfather Francesco Rosaio was known to his fellow Giusvallèn as “Franceschèn.” This nickname came down another three generations in my family; my grandfather Frank, my uncle Frank and then I - we were all called “Franceschèn” by our family while we were growing up.

We have carried the tradition down to the next generation in my family, my dear cousin Enzo came all the way from Giusvalla recently to be the godfather (ur parrèn) of my new son - and bestowed upon him an appropriate Giusvalla straninome - “Tunèn ed Barbiella” - in honor of our paternal ancestor “Tunòn ed Barbiella,” who sired my great-grandfather - the first in my family to come from Giusvalla to the United States.

A’summa tanci cuntenti, me cör cuggèn Enzo, at ringraz per tuccì quesht’shmana …. am men‘nan vag a deshmentiemie mai ciü .... a presht!

In the picture: Our patriarch, Tunòn ed Barbiella

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Advice from a Giusvalla mother-in-law

My cousin Susan once told me a story that was handed down from her grandmother, Secondina (Brondo) Camoirano …. real advice from a “séùjia giusvallìna.”

Known in my family as “Lalla Secondina,” Secondina Brondo was born in Giusvalla in 1889, the eldest child of Andrea Vincenzo Brondo and Maria Serafina Perrone. She married at the age of 19 to Giovanni Camoirano, known by his family and friends as "Beciancìn." After their marriage, Secondina moved into her husband's family home "Cà 'd Becìancia," just northwest of the center of Giusvalla.

As a young wife, Secondina had many responsibilities, she had to help her mother-in-law with all the cooking, cleaning and other household chores, there was always a lot to be done. Secondina's mother-in-law gave her the following advice:

"Cook for your husband and before you serve him his dinner, eat a little. If your husband is in a good mood, then sit with him and eat a little more. If your husband is in a bad mood you have already had something to eat and you don't have to eat with your grumpy husband!"

Lalla Secondina followed her husband to America and arrived with her oldest child, Alfredo, in 1913. Two additional children were born here in the U.S. - Pauline and Anne. Both daughters were born at Squirrel Run. The family later moved to Toughkenamon and went into the mushroom business.

Lalla Secondina was an expert in the kitchen, she was known for the wonderful meals she could whip up at the drop of a hat. She was a sweet, gentle soul and is remembered with great fondness by my family and all those who knew her.

In the picture: Giovanni "John" & Secondina (Brondo) Camoirano (courtesy of my cousin Susan)

Monday, November 16, 2009

The 12 Days of Citrus...

As a little boy, I can remember that when my Grandpop Salvo was still alive, every year around this time a big white box would appear (sometimes more than 1) out of nowhere, containing the biggest grapefruits I’d ever seen. If there were multiple boxes present, the additional ones would contain oranges or possibly even the “Clementines”. This same event would happen at the home of my Angelone and Ghione relatives as well.

The arrival of these large quantities of citrus fruits are always more of a Holiday kickoff symbol for me than any Black Friday ad, TV commercial, or anything else you can think of.

This past weekend, we had a family gathering at my house, and among the offerings on the table pre- and post-dinner were: 2 crates of clementines.. The Italian Holiday season has officially begun!

From Frank R.: The boxes of oranges and grapefruits and crates of clementines were a holiday time tradition in my family as well. My grandmother would get her boxes of fruit every year, and the family would take their share as they would stop by to visit. When they were kids, my father and his six siblings could also expect to find a big orange or grapefruit in the "toes" of their Christmas stockings every year!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Squirrel Run’s Rehoboth: White Crystal Beach

In my time doing research on the Squirrel Run history, the topic of White Crystal Beach has come up many times, with many different people. I personally have not been there [yet], but many of my family members have, specifically on the Salvo side.

My Grandpop Salvo really enjoyed going to the beach in general, and even in his later years in life, I can remember going with him to “Lum’s Pond” on route 896 in DE (while it was still safe to swim there).

As mentioned, many folks of the Squirrel Run lineage have memories of visiting this beach. I am not certain if it is because of its locale, its prices, or simply because it was a nice beach that maybe wasn’t as crowded as Rehoboth or even the Jersey beaches. But I have seen pictures, and even heard tales, about the trips to that beach. The best one I have heard yet was while my mother, Marianne (Salvo) Brady, was headed to White Crystal Beach with my Aunt Alma (Tambourelli) MacCallum. Mom was behind the wheel, driving in my Uncle Ernie Salvo’s 1960 Impala. The trip was going to be a highlight of the girls’ summer, until an unforeseen event happened: while cruising down route 40 in MD, a large rock came up from behind a truck, and smashed into the windshield of my uncle’s car…. It came right up in front of the driver’s side, where my mother was behind the wheel. Mom said it hit the windshield so hard that not only did it crack the glass all of the way across, a section of the glass actually came inward, breaking away and falling onto the dashboard!

Knowing my mother, she was probably wishing the rock had taken her life, rather than having to turn back home and tell her brother what just happened to his car! Nevertheless, that particular trip to White Crystal Beach was suddenly postponed..

If your family has any memories of White Crystal Beach that you would like to share, please email Frank or myself, or you can add it right to the comments section below this post.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Hideaway

My great-grandparents, Francesco and Josephine Rosaio, were the original proprietors of “The Hideaway Lounge,” a local pub in Brandywine Hundred that was, remarkably, an offshoot of my great-grandfather’s mushroom business. The history of the Hideaway begins in the early 1930s, when a fire destroyed the majority of my great-grandfather’s mushroom houses. By this time, he was already in his 50s and ready for something a little less labor intensive. So, during the waning years of Prohibition, my great-grandparents converted their one remaining mushroom house (which was attached to their home) and opened the “Pointe Breeze Bocce Club,” so-named to disguise its true identity as a local watering hole.

After Prohibition ended, there was no reason to maintain the façade, so the name was changed to “The Hideaway Lounge,” known to locals simply as “the Hideaway.” It became a popular gathering place for the neighborhood folk, as popular in fact for my great-grandmother Lalla Pina’s sandwiches and snacks as it was for its libations. Cousin Dave Baccino helped tend bar and as my great-grandfather Rosaio grew older, he became a fixture at the same small table near the bar.

After my great-grandfather’s death in 1954, my great-grandmother continued to run the Hideaway for almost 30 years. In 1981, when she was nearly 90 years old, she finally sold the Hideaway, which continues to operate as a neighborhood bar to this very day.

The old-time locals still talk about “Lalla Pina” and the Hideaway. I spent many happy childhood days in the parking lot of the Hideaway, riding bikes on the vast stretch of asphalt with my sister and friends, stopping into Grandmom’s house for “cakies” and a chat with Aunt Anne or Aunt Elsie, a run around Grandmom’s yard with her collie Teddy, or searching for wild kittens that seemed in abundant supply every spring underneath the wooden steps that led into the kitchen around the back of the Hideaway.

If you sit on the back porch of my father’s home, and look through the thicket of the row of pine trees that now separate the neighbor’s property, you can still barely see Lalla Pina’s house and the Hideaway, looking just as they did for as long as I can remember. Maybe you’ll take the walk “across the field” and stop in for a drink. If you do, have one in memory of Lalla Pina.

In the picture: View of Lalla Pina's house and the adjoining Hideaway (June 2008)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

ur cuggène ‘merican

In our parents and grandparents generation, it was a common event for the extended family to get together to visit or celebrate. The cousins all knew one another and were always willing to lend a hand when a family member was in need. The Giusvalla group that came to the U.S. was large, but everyone was “family.”

The first generation of Giusvalla immigrants would send packages back home, containing simple essentials they knew their families needed. My father always thought it was funny that his grandmother would send boxes of store bought dry pasta to the family …. in Italy!

Grandmom Rosaio returned to Giusvalla to visit several times over the years. During the years around the World Wars, things were particularly difficult in Giusvalla. The families that had remained there were very poor, at times it was difficult to get the bare essentials. Things got a little better in the 1950s, but Grandmom continued to send her packages. Her last trip to Giusvalla was in 1963, and in the weeks before her arrival, the cousins in Giusvalla received a package from Grandmom with a note that said “set this box aside for me.” The cousins were surprised and a little confused when they saw that the box was full of toilet paper.

When Grandmom arrived in Giusvalla, they gave her the box and asked her why she had sent a box of toilet paper over for herself. She told them, “Well, last time I was here, you didn’t have any!” Grandmom had gotten used to certain comforts during her years in the U.S., and she didn’t want to take any chances!

The number of Giusvalla descendants that have traveled to visit our ancestral village over the years is impressive and undoubtedly an indication of the pride that has been passed down through the generations. The Giusvalla folk have become accustomed the comings and goings of “ur cuggène ‘merican.”

Though we are Americans and proud of our native country, by remembering the origins of our immigrant grandparents, we honor not only the sacrifices they made for us, but also their unwavering commitment to family and friends, those here and the ones they left behind. In a generation that has perhaps become accustomed to disregarding what is not of immediate use, we can certainly learn from their example.

In the picture – the American cousins visit Giusvalla, summer 1937

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ra Lalla Carlotta

Lalla Carlotta Bazzano was the youngest sister of our “Mumà Granda,” Francesca (Becco) Pesce. She was also the matriarch of the Bazzano family of Squirrel Run. Her two sons, Pietro “Pietrìn” and Amedeo “Medevo,” came to Delaware as young men, settling in the Squirrel Run community at the DuPont powder mills.

Lalla Carlotta was born June 12, 1861 and she married Giovanni Callisto Bazzano in Giusvalla on September 8, 1882. She enjoyed a relatively comfortable life in Giusvalla. Her husband held the important position of town postmaster for many years, and they raised their family in a large and comfortable home on the “strada provinciale.” Their granddaughter Anna still lives in and beautifully maintains the family home.

Lalla Carlotta traveled to the United States in 1931 to visit her sons and their families. The picture above was taken during her visit in front of the Kennett Square home of her son, Peter Bazzano. Lalla Carlotta returned to Giusvalla, where she died in 1943.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Giuseppe e Wanda Pavese: Quaranta Anni!

Please join me in congratulating my cousin Wanda(Reggio)Pavese and her husband, Giuseppe Pavese of Canelli, Italy, for their 40th Wedding Anniversary! They celebrated the event this past weekend, and my cousin Roberta (Pavese) Schellino just advised me of it last night.

The picture shows Wanda and Giuseppe today, with 2 of their grandchildren.

In today's society, simply hitting the 10-year marker seems to be an accomplishment in itself, so we are very happy to honor them at this special time. Anniversario Felice!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

"I'm From Squirrel Run!!!"

When my grandparents, Ernest and Marian (Ghione) Salvo, were married in June of 1939, their Honeymoon took them on the open road to New York. I was already aware that one of their stops during the trip was the World’s Fair, which in 1939, took place in NY. But at a family gathering this past weekend, a story that I’d heard in my youth was recounted (and expanded) over dinner, making the tale of my grandparents’ Honeymoon even more memorable.

Apparently, the Honeymoon trip appears to have included much of my grandparents’ wedding party, as well as family, in addition to the newlyweds. Some included on the trip were my godmother, Theresa (Tortarolo) Angelone, and my great uncle, Paul Ghione (one of the brothers of the bride). But another interesting piece to this event is that the agenda included another notable stop along the way: Niagra Falls.

The group, while visiting Niagra Falls, not only saw the New York side, but also ventured over the border into Canada to view the natural wonder from that location as well. It is presumed that since my grandfather was of the gardening profession, that they may also have gone to the Canadian side of the Falls to see some of the different horticultural parks and sights there, which are apparently found there as well as on the U.S. side. It is here that the story gets interesting..

After spending time on the Canadian side of the Falls, the family was required to stop at the border checkpoint and validate their citizenship to return into the U.S. The Customs agent did their regular check of the vehicle and the passengers, followed by asking each of them where in the States they were from. All of the members in the group provided replies which indicated their places of origin. For my grandparents, they indicated without hesitation that they were from Wilmington, DE. However, my godmother Theresa, for whatever reason, apparently replied “I’m from Squirrel Run!” The routine, uneventful check that the Customs agents were performing had now been escalated to the next level, since they had never heard of any Squirrel Run in the United States!

So the story goes, a few more questions, and the display of a valid birth certificate, allowed my godmother the opportunity to continue on with her life as an American.. However, none of the others present for the event ever forgot it. Remember that some of the folks on this trip had already had enough “fun” with Customs for one lifetime, when first coming to the U.S. from Italy. My Grandpop Salvo was one of them!

The impact of that Niagra event was so significant, that here it was, still being discussed at a family dinner some 70 years later. We still love and miss you, Aunt Theresa…

(thanks goes out to Rich Ghione, Paul Ghione, Marianne (Salvo) Brady, and Jim Brady Jr. for preserving this wonderful story)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Flashback: The Kennett Bowling Team

This is a little off-topic from our regular postings, but I thought our readers would appreciate this picture simply because of its nostalgia. My (Great) Uncle Paul Ghione is in the far upper right corner of the photo.

We'd love to hear who all of you might recognize in this image! I also currently do not know the year, but would love to know that as well.

Thanks goes out to my cousin Rich Ghione for providing this treasure!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Del-Penn Gardeners Association

About 2 weeks ago, my father gave me a pin that belonged to my Grandpop Salvo. As shown in the attached image, the pin reads "DEL-PENN GARDENERS". As has been mentioned in past postings on this site, my Grandpop Salvo worked virtually his entire adult career at Granogue.

I wanted to post a picture of this pin, not only to share with our reader community, but to actually gather some more information on this organization as well. It is the first time I ever recall hearing of this association, so I am curious to see how many other members still exist today.

The pin is almost the exact diameter of a penny, and is painted green on its face.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Happy Birthday Fran Rizzo, ‘90’!

In August of this year, cousin Frank and I started receiving emails from a gentleman by the name of Fran Rizzo of Wilmington, Delaware. I had posted an article here on the blog regarding my Grandpop Salvo’s employment at Granogue at that time. Fran came across the site while doing some searches on Granogue history and VOILA! He found us. We are also especially lucky to have Fran as a part of our online community, as he just got his first PC only 6 years ago!

Fran’s grandparents came to the States in 1893 from Sorianello, Calabria. His grandfather worked at Granogue his entire career, just like my Grandpop Salvo. My cousin Frank helped Fran trace his family roots even further with his superhuman genealogy skills that many of our readers know he excels at, so I will let him speak in more detail on his finds regarding Fran’s family.

One of Fran’s current goals is to get back to visit Italy with one of his sons. It seems like all of us carrying Italian blood share this desire to get back to our native soil at least once.

Fran is celebrating his 90th birthday today, and we hope all of our readers can take a moment to post a comment in response to this blog entry, wishing Fran well. Fran has 3 children and 7 grandchildren, all of whom I am sure are helping him to celebrate on this special day! Fran has had some recent doctor visits that made him question whether or not he would be here today to celebrate with us, but I am very happy to say he made it! BUON COMPLEANNO, FRAN!!!!

From Frank R: Happy Birthday Fran! What a pleasure it has been getting to know you through email these past few months. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to join you on your journey into your family history. It was exciting for me to be able to help you determine your grandfather's origins in Italy.

As you mark this milestone birthday, I wish you good health and much happiness .... and hope that you are able to visit Italy again in the near future!

Tanti auguri per un buonissimo compleanno!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Ra feshta ed cashtagne

On Sunday, October 11, Giusvalla celebrated its 62nd annual “Festa delle Castagne.” The event was marked by the typical gastronomical merriment, with the beloved chestnut as the main attraction (and ingredient!) of course.

The day included games for the children, and the local Scacciapensieri Folk orchestra provided the music and dance inspiration. The event also offered the perfect platform for my cousin Dialma to debut her new memoir, “Il profumo delle caldarroste/Racconti di Giusvalla di ieri e di oggi,” a collection of Dialma’s personal recollection of growing up in Giusvalla, and her reckoning of the various stories she heard along the way.

For those of us who grew up close to ra cashtagne, we share in our cousins’ fondness for this funny fruit!

In the picture: I caldarroste ed Giusvalla - In Giusvalla, they still roast their chestnuts the same way they have for generations; in a cast iron kettle over an open fire.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Packet.

For the past 20 years or so, a packet of paperwork has been circulating around in our family; paperwork from when my great uncle, Paul Ghione, took a trip to Italy in search of our family’s roots.

In 1982, Paul Ghione was given a special gift for his 63rd birthday: a trip to Italy paid for in full by his 4 children. With that rare opportunity, Paul got on a plane, and in no time at all was on his way back to the land where his parents had departed from 70 years prior. Their destination was: the United Sates.

Paul was advised by another older relative at the time that the Ghione family originated from the town of Canelli, near Asti. The relative also had some brief contact details for remaining family in Canelli, so Paul got started right away in reaching out to them upon arrival. In no time at all he found our family’s descendants of the Reggio family (his mother’s family). Once he met them in person, they told him to check out of his hotel; they told him he was staying with them for the remainder of the trip!

While with his newfound cousins, Paul was quickly brought up to speed on many stories regarding the family history. He was also taken around to many locations to see not only where the family had lived during their time in Canelli, but also to where some of the family had emigrated (ie Nice, France).

Paul returned home to the States with a certain feeling of accomplishment from this trip, and shortly after, received yet another surprise: a wedding invitation from the family with whom he’d stayed. Their son was to be married in 1984. So, in 1984, Paul had a special opportunity to return back to Italy a second time, and continue to strengthen the international bond between Canelli and America.

Sadly, much of the link between the families in the US and Canelli came to an abrupt halt when Paul died in 1991. 2 of his children attempted to continue contact with the family back in Canelli, but with obstacles like language barriers and slow international mail, the line of communication eventually closed down.

In July of this year, I was enlightened to the existence of this packet of documentation that had been left behind by my Great Uncle Paul. It was revealed to me by my cousin, Vince Ghione. We’d been meeting up regularly to discuss family genealogy through the Summer, and on this particular meeting he brought these documents with him. The packet contained pages of names and addresses, photocopies of the letters that Paul had received from Canelli relatives, even maps showing the layouts of where all of the relatives where as of 1984. Vince was happy to share the information, but unfortunately only had one copy of the packet at the time. So, for the time being I would have to wait to obtain my own personal copy of this packet.

I mentioned to my father not long after, that I had seen this packet of information that Vince possessed from Great Uncle Paul. Upon mentioning it, my father dug out a large bag that he keeps all of his genealogy paperwork in. He began removing the contents from the bag and started sorting them. He eventually took out 2 packets of paperwork, matching exactly to the packet that Vince had shown to me. He handed me one of the 2 packets that he had and said “There you go. Now you have your own copy”. I could not wait to start dissecting the contents of this packet.

In the midst of working with this old cluster of documents, I was also able to reconnect with another cousin of mine here in the States, Rich Ghione (son of Paul Ghione). Rich was invaluable in helping to fill in a lot of the holes that I had concerning the packet of data. Following in Paul’s footsteps, Rich was one of the 2 children who had tried to continue keeping the line of communication open between the families. However, as mentioned earlier, time, language barriers, and slow mail contributed to the slowing of contact.

Determined to find a way to reconnect with these people in Canelli, I started assessing different ways as to how I could make it happen. I speak some Italian, but not quite enough to start cold-calling houses in Italy and telling strangers I was the great-nephew of a man who came to visit 20 years earlier! Therefore, I needed to use a more strategic approach: I knew that one of the relatives did speak some English, and I had proof right in this packet of papers. There was a copy of a letter to my Great Uncle Paul from her, and it was in English. Her name was Rita. Her family was also the family that Paul had stayed with during at least one of his two visits. Using the internet, I did a search of the address we had for this woman’s family, and looked to see if there were any neighboring businesses in the community that might have internet and email access. Sure enough, I came across information for a bed and breakfast called the Hotel Asti.

The B and B is approximately 2 blocks away from the last address we had for Rita and her family, so I took a gamble and emailed the address listed for the Hotel Asti. It is well-known that the Italian community is very eager to help one another out with various tasks, so I was hoping that this tradition would continue to be upheld by the staff at Hotel Asti.. Sure enough, within 2 days, I received an email back from the staff at the Hotel Asti. Not only had they received my email, but they also knew our Reggio family very well, and were already responding back to me with a phone number that would put me in direct contact with Rita! The beauty of this connection was, Rita now knew that I would be calling, so a rough introduction had already been made. It was wonderful to know that the staff at the Hotel Asti had gone out of their way to perform a small miracle for me. I was honored to know that I would soon be able to re-launch communication between family members that had gone dormant for almost 20 years.

On September 20th at 11:30AM EST, I dialed the phone number that had been provided to me by Andrea at the Hotel Asti. After a few rings, my cousin Rita, who I’d never met before in my life, answered the phone. It was a truly exciting moment for me. I learned very quickly during the initial part of the conversation that Rita had excellent English-speaking skills, but she warned me very early on to “speak slowly please”. After speaking some in English, I began to use the Italian that I knew, and that seemed to ease the speed of the communication a bit. While speaking to her in Italian, I also mentioned “io parlo italiano e io parlo francese anche”, as I am fluent in French. As soon as I spoke these words, Rita switched immediately to French, and from there, the language barrier disappeared completely.

We spoke for about 15 minutes, at which time we exchanged email addresses and said our goodbyes. I made sure that she knew that this was only the beginning of her hearing from me and the rest of the family here in the States. She was very happy to know that, once again, her family was in contact with relatives of Paul Ghione: the man who served as Ambassador of the Ghione family in Italy from 1982 to 1991.

This article has been posted in honor of Paul Ghione, Vince Ghione, Rich Ghione, Jim Brady Jr., and Andrea Scarsi of the Hotel Asti in Canelli. Without the invaluable input from all of these individuals, this event could not have taken place.

More exciting chapters in regard to this story will be coming in future updates.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

When Squirrel Runners Collide

So what do you get when you combine members from 3 or 4 separate Squirrel Run families under one roof? A boatload of classic photographs, overlapping conversations, and most of all, great company..

In a gathering that's been on the books for almost 2 months, Jim Brady (descendant of Cirio's, Ghione's, Reggio's, Salvo's), met today with cousin Vince Ghione and Jane (Perrone) Bazzano to talk an ever-popular topic: Squirrel Run family history.

It was a great event, and after a few hours of "my mother's brother was your cousin's grandfather", we closed out the night at "Attilio's" on Lancaster Pike in Wilmington. The meal was excellent.

Jim went home with yet another stack of documents to scan and archive, Jane went home with a small container full of "Doro's" famous whiskey cherries, and Vince went home with a smile on his face and a whole new helping of Squirrel Run data to process! We're bringing him up to speed very fast!

In closing, a question for our readers: would YOU like to be a part of a future Squirrel Run gathering like this one? If so, please drop Frank Rosaio (fjrosaio@msn.com) or myself an email (jmbiii@yahoo.com), and we'll see what we can do about putting a gathering together that includes you!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

L'öxé giòn 'd Sann’a (L’uccello giallo di Savona)

Dedicated with love to my cousin, Franca Perrone of Giusvalla

My cousin Franca was a young girl when her family moved from Giusvalla to Savona, where her father Lorenzo “Picciòn” had taken a job on the shipyard. Franca and her mother Anna “Palèn” went to work cleaning for families in the city.

Though Savona is just a few short miles from Giusvalla, Franca missed her friends from school and cousins back home. Her father didn’t like seeing his daughter so sad, so one day he arrived home with a surprise for Franca. It was a small yellow bird in a wire cage, and it sang sweetly as Franca removed the cloth covering the cage.

Franca talked to her little bird every day when she arrived home from work. The bird became accustomed to Franca’s voice and would sing gleefully when she would come into the room.

The morning of August 12, 1944 started like any other for Franca and her family. Franca and her parents departed early in the morning for work. As was her custom, Franca bid her little bird goodbye before heading out the door. Later that same morning, World War II greeted the Italian Riviera swiftly and violently when the city of Savona was bombed by the Germans. Franca’s home by the port was hit directly.

Franca and her family arrived home after the attack to a pile of rubble. Poor Franca cried out for her little bird, her fear and grief overwhelming her. At that very moment, from beneath a section of the rubble, Franca and her family heard the little bird begin to sing sweetly. When her father lifted some broken pieces of wood, Franca was astonished to see her bird in its cage sitting there amid the devastation, completely unharmed.

So began the story of “l'öxé giòn 'd Sann’a ,” that miraculous little yellow bird that showed my cousin Franca that she too could survive life's most difficult trials. And she has.

At mand un bashén con tant piashi, Franca, at vöj ben!

In the picture: View of the port of Savona (April 2009), near the location of Franca’s home in 1944.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ra feshta ed San Matè

September 21st is a day of great celebration in Giusvalla, it marks the feast day of the town’s patron, “St. Matthew the Apostle.” The event is marked exuberantly each year with a special Mass followed by a procession from the parish church, where the statue of St. Matthew is carried through the center of town.

Other merriment includes military displays by the town’s veteran “Alpini,” and indulgence in all the traditional foods of the area …. roasted chestnuts (er cashtagne), local mushrooms, polenta and wild boar are just a few local specialties that make the menu.

The year also marks the second annual “Bonifacio d’Oro” award, where two Giusvalla residents (one man and one woman) are honored for their service and contributions to the town over the years. Last year’s award recipients were Sergio Salvo and Ivonne Bonifacino.

Me cor Giusvalla …. ti tel só at vöj ben e at vöj ben sempre ciü!

In the picture: Procession celebrating the feast of St. Matthew in Giusvalla (photo courtesy of my cousin Enzo)

The 14th Annual Hagley Car Show

Today was a picture perfect day for the 14th Annual Hagley Car Show. The turnout was great, and the weather was spectacular- you couldn't ask for much better. For those who have never attended this event, the cars are lined up in proximity of the library.

In the past, attendees would park at Barley Mill Plaza on rt. 141, and a school bus would bring them up to the Hagley grounds. To help in reducing expenses this year, the bus routing was eliminated, and those attending the event parked right on the Hagley grounds. Making room for parking seems to have eliminated some of the area where cars were registered for display, however the turnout was still more than worthwhile.

Hopefully some of our readers were able to make it to today's event.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Mushroom Festival 2009

It rained off and on today, but it takes more than rain to stop the Kennett Mushroom Festival! As seen in the pics, locals were still out in full support of the event, regardless of weather! The picture of the woman with the baby in the stroller is of Marianne (Salvo) Brady, and Jim Brady IV, one of the newest Squirrel Run descendants.

If you didn't make it to the Festival today, the event runs through tomorrow.. So brave that weather and get on out there! It will be Winter before you know it!!

Squirrel Run Hunter Safety Course?

This picture is of my grandfather, Ernest Salvo (left), learning some hunting tips from another Squirrel Runner in Wagoner's Row. They must have been checking the gun sight alignment in this image. Either that or somebody's wine bottles were missing..

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Old WWII Scrapbook Reveals Squirrel Runner Article

At the beginning of the month of August, I noticed an ad online from a person who was offering up an old WWII scrapbook, free to a good home. It contained newspaper article clippings on soldiers from the Montchanin, Talleyville, and surrounding Wilmington areas. I knew that some of the families who resided at Squirrel Run had migrated to these areas after the Gunpowder Mills were dismantled, and I was pretty sure there would be some articles in the book relating to descendants of those families. I contacted the owner to see if it was still available, and explained why I was interested in having it. The owner replied and asked me for my mailing address, and said she would be happy to see me have it.

The package arrived in the mail this past week, and as I opened it I found a note from the sender of the book. It read, "my grandmother who compiled this scrapbook was Mary Keating of Rockland. Her husband was a millworker at the Doeskin Mill." I was glad to see that the sender of the book (whom we'll simply refer to as "Jody") provided the name of the actual creator of the scrapbook, so that we could credit her accordingly. After reading that note, I began to look at the articles in the scrapbook- right on the first page was a Squirrel Run-related article. The clipping is shown with this posting, and details the death of Sergeant Victor J. Carozzo (click on the article clipping to see the full-size image).

Victor was the son of John Carozzo, and was born on June 25, 1921. He can be seen in the Tutti I Giusvallini picture on the far left, being held by his father, John (for those who have the numbered version of the picture, Victor is #137).

The newspaper clipping does not have the date of death present, however thanks to Frank Rosaio's Rootsweb site (link found in the right column of this site), we know that Victor died on July 17th, 1943. This article was obviously drafted at some point in the following week.

I was happy to find this article in the scrapbook, since it not only provides information on Victor's death, but also includes a photo of him in his young adult life.

A very special thanks goes out to "Jody" and her grandmother for taking the time to compile such a valuable piece of Delaware (and surrounding area) history. In a world where so many are quick to move to a "paperless" environment, treasures like these are becoming more and more scarce.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Remnants of Frizzell's Store

Yesterday I made a trip up to Hagley with my cousin, Vince Ghione, to appreciate the remaining landmarks of what was once Squirrel Run and the surrounding area. In-hand I had with me a series of notes and pictures that I keep all together, regarding all that I know to date about Squirrel Run. One of the pictures I had with me was an old photo of Sam Frizzell's store, which is shown in the picture attached to this posting (the black and white photo is courtesy of Hagley Museum).

The store was originally located at the base of Breck's Lane, directly across from Breck's Mill, which is still in existence today. However, Frizzell's store was not as lucky. As shown in the attached photo, all that remains of the original store is a rectangular impression in the ground, backing up to a hill. At the back of the location, one can still make out a small stone wall, built into the dirt, that would have been to prevent erosion.

As the years roll on, many landmarks still exist which point out the past layout of Squirrel Run and Walker's Banks. We just have to be a little bit more curious today to see them..

The Passing of Lucille (Juliano) Catalino

On Tuesday of this week, Lucille E. (Juliano) Catalino, wife of Thomas J. Catalino Jr., passed away at the age of 96. Her husband was a fellow "Squirrel Runner", and a very close friend of my grandfather, Ernest Salvo. The obituary in the Wilmington News Journal reads as follows:

"Mrs. Lucille E. (Juliano) Catalino, age 96 of Wilmington, DE, passed away on August 25, 2009.

Lucille was born in Bridgeton, NJ on August 14, 1913, daughter of the late Thomas and Elizabeth (Ruggerio) Juliano. She was a lifelong member of St. Anthony of Padua Parish. A loving and adoring homemaker, she was endlessly devoted to her loved ones.

Lucille was predeceased by her husband of 41 years, Thomas J. Catalino Jr., in 1981; and 12 siblings, including her twin sister, Clementine "Tina" Betts, and Pauline Miller. She is survived by her daughters, Mary Lu Catalino Roberts, with whom she lived, and Angela DeMaio; son, Thomas J. Catalino, III (Eileen); grandchildren, Jody Gould (Eric), Joseph Roberts (Kerri), Scott Roberts (Robyn), Christy DeMaio, Heather Catalino, and Amy Keeler (Tim); great-grandchildren, Adam and Emma Gould, Lorelai Roberts, Cecelia Roberts, and Evan DeMaio; and numerous nieces and nephews, including Kathleen Catalino, whom along with grandson, Scott Roberts, served as primary caregiver.

The family extends their deepest gratitude to the nurses, aides, and volunteers from Blessed Home and Delaware Hospice for their attentive and compassionate care of Lucille.

A Funeral Service will be held at the CHARLES P. ARCARO FUNERAL HOME, 2309 Lancaster Ave. in Wilmington, on Friday morning, August 28, at 11:30 am. Interment will follow in Cathedral Cemetery, Wilmington. Family and friends may call at the funeral home on Friday morning, prior to service, from 10-11:30 am.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer's Association of Delaware, 2306 Kirkwood Hwy, Wilmington, DE 19805 or to Delaware Hospice, 3515 Silverside Rd., Wilmington, DE 19810.

To send online condolences

please visit



If any of our readers have a photo of Mrs. Catalino that we can include with this posting, please let me know.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Crossin' the Creek

Work in the DuPont powder mills along the Brandywine was a dangerous undertaking. Accidents and explosions were common and there were many work-related deaths on the grounds of the powder mill.

The powder houses built along the Brandywine were constructed to minimize the fatalities in the event of an explosion. Three thick stone walls with a weak wooden fourth wall which faced the Brandywine ensured that if there was an explosion in the powder house the contents (including the unfortunate powder worker) would be blown out over the creek, and not into the yard where other workers could be injured. Workers who died in this way were said to have “crossed the creek.”

Explosions in the yard were more deadly, because there were no protective walls to minimize the damage. Our Lalla Delaide told a story about one such explosion, which was caused by a spark made when a horse drawn carriage crossed the trolley tracks in the yard. The explosion was so great that the houses in Squirrel Run shook violently. Giusvalla native Giovanni Abete perished in that explosion, along with many other men who were in the yard that day.

Edoardo Zunino was rushed to University Hospital in Philadelphia in September 1925 after inhaling toxic fumes while at work in the powder mill. He wasn’t able to recover from the poisonous fumes and died at the hospital. Joseph Pesce became very ill from breathing in the same fumes that killed Edoardo Zunino, but recovered and was back to work within a few days.

The quiet, idyllic beauty at the Hagley Museum today is a pale reminder of the hustle and bustle in the powder yards during the days of our grandparents and great-grandparents. But if you stand beside the restored powder houses along the Brandywine and listen patiently as the river trickles by …. perhaps you can still hear the voices from the yard and those who crossed the creek so many years ago.

In the picture: Hagley’s restored powder houses along the Brandywine

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"The Tortarolo Code"

I always knew that my Aunt Theresa (Tortarolo) Angelone was a blood-relative of mine “somehow,” but once someone explains how you are so-and-so’s sister’s cousin’s aunt’s roommate etc., you unfortunately tend to lose your way off the comprehension path...

The same thing happened to me when Frank advised me that we were distantly related. My immediate reaction was “great!,” but then came the inevitable question of “how?” He’d told me during a few different conversations that this person in his family was my great-grandfather’s second cousin, and that his family adopted my Aunt Theresa’s brother and sister when their parents died in 1918. But usually these points of linkage would be mentioned in passing, and I’d never get a chance to sit down and actually map it out to understand the big picture. Well, last night I did just that.

Attached is a graphic representation of what I like to call, “The Tortarolo Code” (modeled after the famous film starring Tom Hanks). In the graphic, it is much more clear to see not only how Frank and I are blood-related, but also how the relation of my Aunt Theresa’s family comes into play. Click on the image to see the full-size view.

Be sure to peruse our earlier posts on this site as well, for more details and pictures pertaining to Theresa, Egidio, and Josephine Tortarolo.

Update from Frank R.: My family is also related to the Tortarolo children – Egidio, Theresa & Josephine – through my great-grandfather, Francesco Rosaio, so they were our "double" cousins. The mother of the Tortarolo children was Luigia Maria Perrone, who was my great-grandfather Rosaio’s 1st cousin.

It was my great-grandfather Rosaio who took in and raised Gidio and Josephine after their parents died in 1918. They grew up on his farm up on Ebright Road.

Little Theresa Tortarolo went to live with a relative of her father's, Giovanni Battista "John" Salvo.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The "Goodfellas" of Squirrel Run

Just as it happens today, when kids and cameras are combined, it makes for some truly memorable and funny photos. In this picture we see Ernest Salvo (far left), Paul Pesce, Adolpho Pesce, and most likely, Edgar Carozzo. His face is shaded by the thumb of who is most likely Tom Catalino taking the picture (multiple family photos reveal these guys as one of the Squirrel Run “brat packs” of the time).

The picture was taken in the Winter time, as can be seen by the heavy coats, the snow on the ground behind them, and the leafless trees. When compared to other pictures of the same locale, it appears that this photo was taken at Wagoner’s Row.

As I have said many times with other photos I have posted here, it is so great to see these historic shots out in the light again. They spent decades in boxes. Frank and I both have received feedback from many who follow this site and have enjoyed viewing these old memories. Rest assured that both Frank and I will keep these pictures coming for as long as we have them to share! And speaking of which, do you have boxes of these old pictures that you would like to share with the Squirrel Run community as well? If so, feel free to contact either Frank or myself, and we’ll do what we can to get them uploaded onto this site for you. These memories have gone forgotten for too long!

Monday, August 10, 2009

The 24th Annual Mushroom Festival

Virtually all of we Delaware Valley Giusvallèn are connected in some way to the mushroom business. Many of those who left the powder mills in the early 1920s went directly into the cultivation of mushrooms. It came naturally to our first generation forefathers, because mushrooms were a big business back home in Giusvalla (and other areas of northern Italy).

What better way to celebrate our heritage next month than heading to Kennett Square, “The Mushroom Capital of the World,” for the 24th Annual Mushroom Festival? The food alone is reason enough to stop by (don’t forget to try the mushroom soup!).

If you want to make a day out of it, there’s plenty for everyone: antique & classic car show, games and activities for the kids, live entertainment, local vendor, parades and lots more. The festival will be held this year on September 12-13.

You might even bump into a cousin or two!

For more information on the Mushroom Festival, go to:


Sunday, August 9, 2009


We are all probably familiar with Eric Enstrom’s famous painting “Grace,” which depicts the bearded elderly gentleman deep in prayer at his kitchen table. I’m sure many of us grew up with a replica hanging on the wall of our parents’ or grandparents’ home.

In the mid 1980s my father’s sister Marina took this picture of my great-grandmother Rosaio at her dining room table, using the Enstrom painting as her inspiration.

Grandmom Rosaio loved having her picture taken, we have dozens and dozens of pictures of her taken in various propped poses from the time she was a young girl. This particular picture was taken when Grandmom was in her 90s, and is a family favorite!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Don't Mess With Mutèn......

This past weekend, my Uncle Paul Salvo and his wife Rita (Devlin) Salvo were at our home to visit for my daughter's birthday party. After the mayhem subsided a bit, I pulled him aside and asked him if he would mind recounting some memories about his grandfather, John "Mutèn" Salvo..

One of the memories that he shared was one that I had never heard before: as was the case with many Italian communities, there would be times when friends would come to the Salvo house to drink, sing, and be merry together. My Uncle Paul shared that at one specific gathering, the celebrating apparently went on into the wee hours of the night. Mutèn finally decided that he would retire for the evening. He said Buona Notte to everyone, and headed up for bed. One would think that when the head of the household retires for the night, it might be time to pack it in and close down the party.. However, in this instance, that did not take place.

Mutèn had headed up to bed, but the "party" continued without him. The drinking and the singing persisted. After some time of it, Mutèn apparently made an encore appearance.. But this time, it was while sporting a SHOTGUN. Thankfully, the gun was never aimed and fired, but without even squeezing the trigger once, its message was conveyed without question: "THE PARTY'S OVER!!"

The Cavallo Bianco

Those of us who grew up close to the history of our family in Giusvalla (especially we members of the Pesce family) are familiar with the “Cavallo Bianco.” The history of the “Cavallo Bianco” goes back to the early years of the 20th century, when it was known as the “Locanda Cavallo Bianco” (White Horse Inn). At that time, it also served as a stopping point for travelers to change their horses. Adjoining the inn and beyond the archway that leads to the “port ed Tzentòn,” there were stables where the horses were kept. The original proprietors of the inn were our dear Lalla Francìşcha and the infamous Borba Tzentòn.

At the “port ed Tzentòn” was a large oven, where Lalla Francìşcha prepared bread to sell to the weary travelers. These were busy years for our Lalla, running the restaurant, inn, keeping the stables up, baking the bread and managing her brood of six children. Borba Tzentòn was frequently away pursuing some new business venture, so Lalla was often left alone to bear the heavy load on her small shoulders.

Lalla Francìşcha’s son, Vittorio and his wife Gemma, eventually took over the running of the restaurant, which became known simply as the “Cavallo Bianco.” Vittorio and Gemma’s daughters, Francesca and Nanda grew up in the kitchen of the Cavallo Bianco, helping their parents with every little task from cleaning, to cooking, to baking the bread in the big oven in the “port ed Tzentòn.”

Today Nanda and her husband Angelo run the restaurant, and their son Massimo who is an architectural engineer in Genoa sometimes lends a hand. The stables and great oven are gone, but the rooms upstairs have been beautifully restored and are ready once again to receive guests and travelers.

I had the great pleasure of celebrating my birthday at the Cavallo Bianco this past year with 25 of my dear cousins in Giusvalla, many of whom are grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the restaurant’s original proprietress, Lalla Francìşcha. An vüj di ciü che, tante grazie a tucci … ashper purrej turné prasht!

In the picture: At the Cavallo Bianco in 1963 – Meme, Pina (my great-grandmother), Teresita, Francesco, Bastianèn, Gigèn

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A’summa parenti? Are we related?

The short answer to this question is yes, if your family came from Giusvalla, then you are probably related in some way to other people whose family came from there. Giusvalla has always been a small town, with just a handful of nuclear families intermarrying generation after generation, it is a mathematical probability that if we go back far enough into our family history, all we Giusvallèn will discover a common ancestry in at least one branch of our family.

However, it would be inaccurate to simply assume that all Baccino, Bonifacino or Perrone families sprung from the same ancestral patriarch. For example, it is well-known in Giusvalla that the various Bonifacino families are descended from the soldiers of “Bonifacio il Vasto,” a 13th century nobleman from the Aleramici family.

Families in Giusvalla distinguished themselves from other unrelated families with the same surname by associating themselves with their ancestral frazione (neighborhood), for example there were the Perrone della Colla, Perrone dei Dogli, Perrone della Casùrera and Giusvalla’s noble family, Perrone dell'avvocato. It was the same with all the large old families in Giusvalla.

At the time of the 1645 census in the town of Giusvalla, the following families were living in Giusvalla:

Bonifacino - 36 families
Perrone - 30 families
Baccino - 27 families
Beltrame - 25 families
Pizzorno - 14 families
Buschiazzo - 10 families
Tessore & Rabellino - 5 families
Bazzano & Brondo - 4 families
Doglio & Porro - 3 families
Astisano, Bistolfi, Ferraro, Iardino, Rapetti, Siri, Scarrone & Zuffo - 2 families
Biale, Bagnasco, Ivaldi, Laidi, Marchisio, Marenco, Richebuono, Salvo, Salvagno, Tortarolo - 1 family

As record-keeping as we know it was just beginning to develop following the Council of Trent a century before, we can perhaps consider this list an accurate representation of the earliest documented residents of our ancestral village of Giusvalla.

Some of these family names disappeared from Giusvalla over the subsequent centuries, while other families moved into Giusvalla from other towns nearby (Carozzo, Camoirano, Manzino, Pesce, Rosaio, Zunino, etc.).

Of course, you’ll only know for certain if you are related to someone by carefully documenting each generation of your family history. The rule of thumb with genealogical research is to start with yourself, obtaining documentation such as birth, marriage and death records for each vital event in every generation, which (with luck) will lead you to a starting point for researching the previous generation.

Interested in your Giusvalla family history? I started my search over 20 years ago and over the years have obtained copies of many of the original records from the Giusvalla town hall, as well as the older ecclesiastical records from the registers of Giusvalla’s parish, the church of San Matteo. If you’d like a hand getting things going with your own “family tree,” I am more than happy to share whatever I have, or get you started on your search!

In the picture: Marriage Act of Lorenzo Antonio Perrone & Maria Luigia Perrone - from the marriage registers of the parish church of San Matteo, Giusvalla

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Death of Gidio Tortarolo

Growing up, I knew very little about the family of my Godmother, Theresa (Tortarolo) Angelone. I knew her parents were buried at St. Joe’s on the Brandywine, because my father would point out their headstone whenever we went to visit the family graves. However, I’d never once seen a picture of them, or heard anything about them. I knew they had died from the 1918 influenza, and I knew that as a result, my Aunt Theresa had come to live with my Grandpop Salvo’s family. I’d also heard briefly that she had a brother and sister, but I’d never met them or seen a picture of them either. Years went by and the topic came up somewhere again that she’d had a brother and a sister- so, I finally asked to know who and where they were. After all, if we visited Aunt Theresa regularly, why couldn’t we see her siblings too?? It never made any sense to me as a kid.

My parents explained to me that both had died early in life, and that her sister’s name was Josephine, and her brother’s name was Gidio (spelled as Egidio on the family headstone). And this is where things got interesting: I remember my father telling me that Gidio was killed “in a hot air balloon accident”. At this point I was a kid growing up in the 1970’s and 80’s- at that time, I knew people died when airplanes crashed. I knew people died in car accidents. But a hot air balloon?? Come on. I really thought my father had gotten a bad translation from Italian to English on that one.. Yes, I knew balloons go up high and all, but really- how many people did you ever hear about who died from hot air balloon fatalities?! It just sounded nuts.

Of course my father had no other information to go on, and really had no way to verify the story. The info most likely came from Aunt Theresa herself, or her husband (Art Angelone), and I’m sure it was upsetting for Aunt Theresa to discuss. So, I doubt she went into much detail about it. Either that or, she simply did not know all of the details surrounding the death. After all, it happened in MD in 1930. We had no obituary for Gidio, and there was nothing called an “internet” yet, so without any clues there was little more research that could be done. At that point in my life, the given explanation had to suffice, even as vague and odd as it was..

Interestingly enough, in another household in the tri-State area at that time, a similar question had been asked, and an equally-interesting response had been provided: Frank Rosaio had been told by the sister of his grandfather (Francesco Rosaio) that Gidio had met his death in a motorcycle stunt. Frank’s family recalls Gidio riding his motorcycle all over the place on the Rosaio family farm. But once again, as was the case with my family, no one really knew for sure what took Gidio’s life so early on.

Fast-forward about 25 years- my father signed up for an account with ancestry.com, and started doing research on the Brady, Salvo, and Angelone lineages. While working on the Angelone tree, he was doing obituary searches, and lo and behold, found the obit for Gidio Tortarolo posted on Frank Rosaio's genealogy site (which is how I first met Frank)! It had his last name misspelled, but it was definitely him. It read as follows:

From the "Wilmington Morning News," 8 Oct 1930, p. 2:

"Body of Balloon Victim To Be Buried Here

The body of Egidio Torgarolo, who was killed in Whitehall, Baltimore county, Md., on Saturday afternoon by falling from a balloon, was brought to this city yesterday. The funeral will take place from Krienan Brothers' undertaking parlors at 400 Broom street. tomorrow morning. Requiem mass will be held in St. Joseph's Church, on the Brandywine, at 9:30 o'clock, and interment will be made in the adjoining cemetery.

The young man was 23 years old and formerly lived in this city, but lately had been traveling and giving balloon ascensions. He has two sisters living in Wilmington. The young man was substituting as parachute jumper for Captain John Smith, and was known as Ernest or "Steve" Carinalio."

The obit confirmed the story my father had heard and passed down to me.. But even though it provided more insight, it in turn raised even more questions: where in MD did this happen? Were there witnesses? I felt compelled to find out the whole story, as grim as it may be.

I posted inquiries to a few online sources, explaining the details of the incident (brief but confirmed), along with when Gidio had died (October 4, 1930). Within 24 hours an email came back stating that an article regarding the accident had been found in the Baltimore Sun newspaper. It recounted the death of a man at the White Hall Fair, by the name of Ernest Carinalio (Gidio’s stage name, which appeared in the obituary my father had discovered). The posting of the article was October 5, 1930 (pg. 3, column 6). I requested to have a copy of the article emailed to me, and received it 3 days later. The article (which has been attached with this posting, click on it to view full-size) indicated that Gidio was in fact on a hot air balloon, but that he was actually scheduled to jump from the balloon wearing a parachute, as part of a stunt show. Somehow while preparing for the event, Gidio’s parachute pack got tangled up in the ropes of the balloon, and while trying to get it free, Gidio fell. He was only 50 feet from off of the ground, which would not have been enough time to deploy the chute. As a result he fell to his death, and according to the article, the tragedy took place while 1000 fair-goers were watching.

From what we know about Gidio, he spent his life as a thrill-seeker. Family members can remember him riding his motorcycle all over the place as a young man, and the career he selected at the time of his death further reveals his interest in such activities. I feel in a strange sense that some piece of Gidio carries on in me, as I am an avid motorcycle rider and enthusiast, and I am the only one in the Tortarolo-Salvo-Ghione-Brady lineage who seems to have that gene.

Another interesting point of curiosity about Gidio has been in regard to the stage name he selected, “Ernest” or “Steve Carinalio”. In trying to determine why he chose that name, our family couldn’t help but wonder if the “Ernest” came in some way from my grandfather, Ernest Salvo. But recently, another subtle fact has revealed itself: in the Tutti pic at the top of this site, you can see Gidio standing with his right arm around his little sister, Theresa. And his left arm is around a pal at that time: Ernie (Ernest) Camoirano.. That sure sounds a lot like Ernest Carinalio to me.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Laundry Day

This image highlights a common activity at Squirrel Run: doing laundry by hand. In the image is Albina (Piuma) Salvo and, just recently discovered, Mary (Mazzoni) Perrone, (wife of Edward Perrone). Edward and Mary (along with daughter, Emma) temporarily shared a home with the Salvos while getting themselves situated here in the States.

The picture is another random shot of everyday life at Squirrel Run, captured by my Grandpop Salvo’s camera.

Thanks goes out to Frank J. Rosaio once more, for his assistance in identifying the person sharing the laundry water with my great-grandmother!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

New Site Feature: "Run Squirrel Run!" Forums

For our reader community who has been wanting to see who else is viewing the site, and hoping to get in contact with others from the Squirrel Run and Tutti I Giusvallini communities, this update is for you:

Today we have launched the "Run Squirrel Run!" Forums, which can be viewed at the following link:


Be sure to add this new addition to your favorites, and get registered so we can help get you back in contact!

A Lazy Day For A Kid At Squirrel Run

I'm sure it was rare when children at Squirrel Run didn't have anything to do. There are countless records of parents always finding something needing to be done to keep the kids busy- helping with wash, sweeping the floor in the home, helping to cook meals, etc. However, once in a while, a free moment would present itself where the kids at Squirrel Run could play and dream, just like the kids of today. These pictures capture one of those exact moments.

At some point in his youth, my Grandpop Salvo had a camera, and took many of the pictures that you see throughout this site. I am continually thankful that these photos have survived both the test of time, as well as regular relocations to multiple homes over the years. These specific pictures have travelled from Squirrel Run, to West 6th St. in Wilmington, DE, to Pike Creek, DE, to Bridgeville, DE, and have now landed in Elkton, MD. The journey has spanned over 90 years. And now, they've been copied into digital format, which hopefully will preserve their existence for the up and coming 90 years.

The pictures are random shots on the Squirrel Run premises, taken by a young boy eager to experiment with a relatively new hobby for that time: photography. We hope our readers will enjoy them as much as we do. (click on the photos to see them full-size)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Giusvalla nel flusso .... Giusvalla in flux

Our ancestral town of Giusvalla has always been small, the population peaking somewhere during the first quarter of the 19th century at around 1200 souls. Today there are somewhere around 450 residents, including a sizable and growing contingent of Romanian immigrants. Mass in Giusvalla is now celebrated just once a week, and not by a local Italian priest, but rather by the affable Fr. Remigio Hyun, the new Korean pastor who tends the dwindling flock at Giusvalla’s parish church of San Matteo and splits his time between several local parishes.

Giusvalla, like the world around it, is changing ….

My Pesce ancestors lived in a little village within Giusvalla called “Taranco,” land that had come down to my great-grandmother’s family by way of her maternal grandmother, Margherita Tortarolo. The Tortarolo family, in fact, had already lived on the land at Taranco for generations before my great-grandmother‘s time.

Other families that came over to Squirrel Run were associated with different villages or neighborhoods in Giusvalla …. Bonifacino of Cavanna; Baccino of Cianpè; Rosaio of Vicoŕi; Ferraro of Zerbi; Camoirano of Becìancia; Perrone of Casùrera, Collà and Dogli ….

Many of the homes in these old neighborhoods now sit empty, our contemporary Giusvalla cousins having left the family homestead in favor of an apartment and better job opportunities in the big cities of Savona or Genoa. Simultaneously, the idea of the “country home” has caught on in Italy … attracting wealthy city folk to little villages like Giusvalla … driving the cost of real estate through the roof and further pushing out the native farmer‘s son.

The future of Giusvalla seems uncertain, with a shrinking native population being replaced by a growing immigrant population, the astronomical cost of real estate in the area and natural and geographic factors that lend themselves to the dreaded “bedroom community” designation … one wonders what the next generation in Giusvalla will look like.

My cousin Dialma, who still lives on the old family land at Taranco, wistfully lamented to me recently “Giusvalla is dying, drying up like an autumn leaf …” We, the children and grandchildren of the old generation of giusvallini will one day perhaps be all that remains of them, the fate of their traditions, their dialect and the memory of old Giusvalla rests in our hands … it is a formidable patrimony.

Sperumma ben ….

In the picture: località Taranco, April 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The "Other" Theresa Ghione

My Grandpop Salvo married Marian (Ghione) Salvo, whose mother was Teresa (Reggio) Ghione. In the mix of other families at Squirrel Run was another lineage of Ghione’s, who as I understand it today were not directly related to my great-grandparents, Joseph and Teresa. However, because of the same last name, apparently the families were familiar with one another. This particular family consisted of Carlo Ghione and his wife, Mary. They actually lived next door (according to the 1920 census) to my Aunt Kitty (Robino) Salvo’s grandparents at Squirrel Run, and Carlo is listed as a laborer at that time.

Because of the knowledge of the 2 Ghione families, my Grandmom Marian apparently became friends with one of the children from the other Ghione family, Theresa. These pictures are of her. She was apparently born in 1918, the same year of the dreaded Influenza that Frank cited in a prior post.

After Squirrel Run was dismantled in 1923, it shows on the 1930 census that Theresa’s family moved out to Woodlawn Avenue in Wilmington. If anyone happens to know Theresa or her family today, we’d love to hear from them.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Musings of a post-modern Giusvallèn

My grandfather was Frank John Rosaio, known in the family simply as “Junior.” He was the baby of the family, born in 1930 when his mother was 38 and his father was 51. He grew up on the family farm off Ebright Road in north Wilmington. His father cultivated mushrooms and his mother would take the mushrooms and other produce grown on the farm to sell at the old farmer’s market on King Street in the city.

Times were a lot different. Ebright Road was just a little dirt road in the country, there were no street addresses … the scattering of homes in the area were simply known by their “rural route.” Naamans Road was two narrow lanes flanked on either side by open farmland, forest and fields (one of which was used as a landing strip for small airplanes). Route 202 north of Blue Ball was more like a drive through the country than the traffic-clogged, uninterrupted stretch of strip malls, restaurants and corporate plazas that it is today. Old families with names like Husbands, Mousley and Grubb still owned vast plots of land that had been handed down through generations, legacies from Quaker forbearers who had cleared the land two hundred years before.

This was the world that my grandfather Rosaio knew. His parents had both come from Giusvalla to Squirrel Run as young adults; his father first came in 1904, but returned to Giusvalla for a few years before coming back permanently in 1910. His mother came in 1909. At the time of my grandfather’s birth, his household included his parents; his three older siblings Elsie, Anne and John; his maternal grandmother; and two teenaged orphans, Gidio and Josephine Tortarolo, whose mother had been a close cousin of my grandfather’s father.

After my grandfather graduated from high school (Salesianum '49), he went into the carpentry trade. Within a couple years, he opened his own construction company and converted the old red barn behind his parents’ house into his office, and became very well-known in the area. He married my grandmother in 1951 and they settled into the family farmhouse. My father was the second of the seven children that would be born into the family, when he was three years old the family moved “across the field” into their newly constructed home, one of the first to line Ebright Road.

By the time my father was growing up in the 50s and 60s, little had changed. Ebright Road was still just a narrow stretch through the country. “Fairfax” seemed like the big city and 202 north of the city was still pretty much a ride through the country. A right turn off 202 onto Naamans Road brought you to the new raceway, but after that the rural road resumed. The old landing strip had given way to a new high school.

I grew up on Ebright Road, but by the time I came along in the early 70s, there were some changes. Ebright Road had been paved (though still lacked any painted lines) and every house had a number. When I was four or five years old, my great-grandmother Rosaio sold a large portion of the farm to a developer who put in a housing tract called “Brandywine Forge.” Naamans Road was still just two narrow lanes (and would remain so until the mid 80s), but the old farmers had been busy selling their family land and so several new large housing developments flanked either side of the road from just past Ebright Road down to the intersection of Naamans and Foulk roads.

Route 202 had seen the birth of the Concord Mall, a couple hotels, the beginnings of a couple strip malls and a tall white office building built by the Rollins brothers, which seemed to stretch high into the sky …. If he had still been living, my grandfather Rosaio might have begun to have trouble recognizing parts of 202 by then. The wheels of progress were in full motion by the time the 80s arrived, the credit card companies had moved in and things were changing quickly ….

The old Quaker families are long gone now, their vast farms sold to developers, divided and sub-divided to make way for the endless housing tracts and strip malls that have become the new face of north Delaware’s landscape. My father, in turn, has become the legacy holder, living on the land that his Giusvalla-born grandfather purchased from a Quaker named Talley almost one hundred years ago ….

In the picture: View across the field to Grandmom’s house, circa 1975

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

John "Mutèn" Salvo

John "Mutèn" Salvo was my great-grandfather, and came to this country in 1910. His family (Albina, Ernest, and Esther) followed in 1913.

Mutèn was a hard working man who, as was the case with many others highlighted on this site, was a laborer at Squirrel Run.

The attached picture shows him alongside of his daughter-in-law, Marian (Ghione) Salvo, on her wedding day to his son, Ernest. It took place on June 15, 1939, at St. Patrick's Church in Kennett Square, PA. The day of the marriage apparently had an "interesting" atmosphere to it, as it has been told to me by my mother that sometime before this picture was taken, Marian gave Mutèn a kiss. At that point he openly referred to it as "the kiss of death". He'd stated that because he felt that she was taking his only son away from him, and without Ernest to care for him, he would not survive long. His daughter, Esther, had passed away in 1920, from a strain of the flu that Frank highlighted earlier on this site.

Little did Mutèn know that Marian would become one of the best people he could have had in his life, as she not only ended up caring for Ernest, but for Mutèn himself, as well as his brother-in-law, Teodoro (Doro) Piuma! Mutèn had not only lost his daughter in 1920, but also lost his wife, Albina, in 1937.

Mutèn and his family moved to 2903 W. 6th St. when Squirrel Run was dismantled in 1923. The home would later become where my Grandmom and Grandpop Salvo would reside and raise their three children as well.

My mother was only 5 years old when Mutèn passed away, but she does still have a few precious memories of him. For example, she recalls when he and Doro would return from a visit to the local tavern, he would bring her back a small bag of Planter's Peanuts for a treat. She also remembers bringing his lunch up to his room, during the final stages of his life when he had become bed-ridden. He would always respond to her with a polite "thank you". Sadly, my mother was not taught to speak Italian, so she did not get to communicate much with Mutèn before he passed. However, I believe that his accomplishments, and all that he'd experienced over the course of his life, had said more than enough for him.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Dilwyne Farm

These pictures show my Godfather, Arthur Angelone (husband of Theresa (Tortarolo) Angelone), enjoying a warm day with his buddies, one of whom was employed by Dilwyne Farm (as per the huckster truck in the background). Arthur is the man to the right with the brown hair and short-sleeved shirt. The Dilwyne employee and friend's identity is not known at this time. If you happen to recall this individual, please post a comment below the article, as we would be interested in knowing his name. Clicking on the photo will allow it to be seen at its full size.

Dilwyne Farm is one of the Estates in proximity to Squirrel Run, that was owned by R.R.M. Carpenter, an heir of the DuPont family.

These pictures were taken by my grandfather, Ernest Salvo.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Lalla Marì

Maria Manzino came from Giusvalla to Squirrel Run in 1913 at the age of 27. She was a younger half-sister of my great-grandfather Rosaio and was married to my great-grandmother Rosaio’s nephew, Fortunato Salvo.

Lalla Marì had a little girl, Celsina, who was left behind with her relatives in Giusvalla. The intention was to send for little Celsina after they had settled into life at Squirrel Run, however within just a few months of her arrival, Lalla Marì started experiencing abdominal pains and was soon gravely ill.

Poor Lalla Marì never got to see little Celsina again. Just a year after her arrival, she died of an abdominal infection. She was 28 years old at the time of her death, and was laid to rest in St. Joseph's-on-the-Brandywine cemetery.

Fortunato Salvo returned to Giusvalla, where he remarried and had three children by his second wife.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Great Influenza Epidemic of 1918

The Great Influenza epidemic (also known as “Spanish Flu”) hit the Philadelphia area in the fall of 1918 with the velocity of a freight train at full throttle. Hospitals were quickly inundated with the sick and dying. Whole families were decimated as the flu quickly infiltrated the cities, neighborhoods and countryside. Mortuaries and cemeteries could not keep up with the dead, family members were often buried together in a single grave, unembalmed and one on top of another.

Squirrel Run was hard hit during the flu epidemic, which overtook the area the first week of October. Following is a list of those unfortunate Giusvallìn who succumbed to the flu during that fateful fall of 1918:

Flaminia (Briccotto) Pesce, died 6 Oct (age 26)
Luigia (Perrone) Baccino, died 8 Oct (age 23)
Paolo Rocco Pesce, died 10 Oct (age 70)
Charles Bazzano, died 13 Oct (age 3)
John Carozzo, died 13 Oct (age 40)
Frances Carozzo, died 13 Oct (age 1½)
Peter Bazzano, died 17 Oct (age 1)
Onofrio Baccino, died 18 Oct (age 1)
Valentino Tortarolo, died 20 Oct (age 40)
Luigia (Perrone) Tortarolo, died 20 Oct (age 34)
Adelina (Sicco) Baccino, died 21 Oct (age 22)
Giuseppe Marenco, died 30 Oct (age 2)

These poor souls were buried at St. Joseph-on-the-Brandywine Cemetery, each carrying their own sad story with them to the grave.

Adelina (Sicco) Baccino was pregnant at the time of her death. She spent her last days tending to her flu-sick parents-in-law. She nursed them until she too became ill and was no longer able to leave her bed.

Little Onofrio Baccino died just 10 days after his mother Luigia (Perrone) Baccino, leaving a childless widower, and little Francie Carozzo died the same day as her father, John. They were buried together on the same day.

Mary (Baldo) Bazzano was ill with the flu at the time she lost her two sons, Charles and Peter, who died within four days of one another. She didn’t know of their passing until after she recovered.

Husband and wife, Valentino and Luigia (Perrone) Tortarolo died within just a couple hours of one another, leaving three young children to the care of their relatives.

Allura, an vüj di ciü …. ch’am mem’nan and'umma a desh'mentiemie mai ciü!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Ghione Family

Although they were not from Giusvalla, the Ghione family (from which my Grandmom Salvo comes) was still associated with Squirrel Run. The attached picture shows the complete family, before tragedy began to fall upon them. In the upper row are Marian (my grandmother), Teresa (Reggio) Ghione, Joseph Ghione, and Joseph Ghione Jr.- in the front row are Paul Ghione (left), and William Ghione (right) (photo courtesy of Vince and JoAnn Ghione).

As the years passed on, Joseph Ghione was killed in a freak hunting accident (December 15, 1930), as was Joseph Ghione Jr., who died apparently from being kicked by a horse. As a result, Teresa was forced to raise her family alone, and her children in turn were required to become adults much earlier than expected. It is yet another example of the hard lives our ancestors experienced when trying to gain a strong foothold in their new homeland.

Teresa and Joseph Ghione were from Alessandria, Italy.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

St. Patrick's Church, Kennett Square, PA

If you are doing any genealogy searches on your Squirrel Run or Tutti I Giusvallini family, and don't have many leads, you may want to check out this church for any wedding, baptismal, or funerary records for your ancestors. This church has been (and continues to be) a place of worship for many of the families who resided at Squirrel Run. My Salvo grandparents were married at this church on June 15, 1939. Many of their friends were as well (including the Carozzo's, whose family wedding photo can be found in an earlier post in this blog).

For more information regarding the church, you can go to this link.