Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Aj mei cüggèni

I was just a young kid when I became interested in our family history, I was fortunate to be exposed to so much of it growing up among a close knit legion of aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and great-grandparents – and a strong sense of the extended family. Even as a child, I had a natural curiosity in the previous generations, I listened to the conversations my elders would have about “the old days.” My father often spoke to my sister and I of Giusvalla and our family there, passing along the many stories he remembered hearing during his own childhood. With the encouragement of my Aunts Anne and Elsie, I began writing to a 2nd cousin of the same age in Giusvalla who has become like a brother over the years. Back then, there was no internet or email, and we had no computer in the house. Everything was written out by hand, and it was often many months in between each letter.

Then when I started high school, I began researching our family history in earnest – that was almost 23 years ago now. There was still no such thing as the internet or email at that time. To trace your family tree you had to write letters to town halls, archives, courthouses and the like and wait for someone to look up the information for you, copy it and mail it back. Or go in person and look up the records yourself, sifting through drawers of dusty documents or carefully going line by line through bound copies of property deeds or probate records - hoping to find what you were searching for. If the records were microfilmed, you might spend hours in front of the microfilm reader, carefully reading each frame until your eyes went bleary. There were no instant answers "online," every step of the process required great pazienza. It has been quite a journey into the past.

I’ve met some really wonderful people along the way, various cousins that the family has lost touch with over the years and other people who simply share my interest. Some cousins I’ve written to never write back, some fade away again after awhile and others I’ve become very close with over the years. The capacity of some people’s generosity is what is most memorable to me. Folks that I hardly know – some of them not even related – who have sent me the nicest letters or even treasured family pictures and the like – and those who have never had email or a computer but continue to write or call.

How lucky I am to know such wonderful people, I am happy to call many of them “cousin.”

A nù nent parole per ringrazié aj mei cüggèni … che brovi ch’ishtei. Tanci grazie a tùcci!

In the picture: The Rosaio & Perrone cousins gather for Grandmom’s birthday, July 23, 1966.


  1. Amen to that. And how lucky to be able to enjoy the work of yourself and Jim, and this wonderful blog.

  2. You did all the stuff I always wanted to do. Thanks to your persistance we all get to read the wonderful stories over again. Love that photo.