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 ( or myself an email (, and we'll see what we can do about putting a gathering together that includes you!