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

No comments:

Post a Comment