It started with a photo. My grandparent’s wedding photo.
I always had a sense that we were different. My mother’s parents had a funny accent when they spoke English and they talked real loud. My friends couldn’t understand our grandfather. I was used to it and explained that my Pop-Pop was Italian and that he was from ‘the Abruzzi’.
He did have a thick accent but we must have grown used to it. Mom-Mom not so much. Pop-Pop was only 13 when he arrived in America and he was already a tailor. His schooling lasted 3 years before he was taught a trade at age 9. Imagine that today. Mom-mom arrived with her mother and a one of her sisters to join their father who was already in Philadelphia. She went to high school and although Italian was the language of home, she was educated in English through her high school years in ‘l’America’.
But the photo. I was a little obsessed with it for some years. It seemed like something from another time and place than our rather normal Anglo existence, it was foreign and exotic and we just weren’t!
I don’t remember seeing the wedding photo for the first time until I was in High School, probably after my grandmother died and my grandfather sold up and moved to the Jersey Shore. It turned up at my parent’s house amongst the possessions that Pop-Pop no longer needed in his tiny apartment on California Avenue, Atlantic City. He had been totally dedicated to Mom-Mom, Anna. He use to refer to her as ‘my Annie’. He survived another 18 years after she was gone.
But I digress. The photo was taken in 1922 in Philadelphia and I don’t know the other people in it other than my grandparents, the bride and groom. They were 9 years apart. My grandmother was only 18 and my grandfather 27 or so. The bride, bridesmaid and flower girl have the best hats and the biggest flowers, but the little boy ring-bearer is jut the funniest looking little fellow with wild hair that looks like he jut tumbled out of bed. They all look so serious.
I have been inspired to think about this photo again as a fellow Italy-obsessed blogger Debra recently posted an entry about a wonderful looking museum with some equally great photos from the Museo Paolo Cresci in Lucca. Refer to the post here.
So here’s a copy of my lovely grandparent’s wedding photo. It started me on journey to discover my Italian heritage, to visit Italy many times over to meet my grandparent’s families and see their villages in Abruzzo and to try to learn how to speak the most basic sentences in Italian.
I would love to hear what you think or if you have a story (or even an obsession) associated with a family photo.
6 thoughts on “An Italian Obsession”
What a wonderful photo!!! I grew up with a grandfather with an accent too, in his case, Finnish. We could understand him, but others couldn’t. I am very proud of my Finnish heritage, I even look like a Finn.
Thank you for the link to my blog.
Non c’è problema Debra! Ah, so now I get the stopovers in Helsinki…could it be you have a little Finnish Obsession? Who could blame you!
Lou, the little fellow in the photo (a copy of which hangs in my bedroom) is Johnny Fagnani, son of Mom-mom’s older sister Alice. Aunt Chris and uncle Robert said the flower girl is Aunt Ethel! LOVE your telling of our story sorella…
Noted! And the bridesmaid and best man?
Non lo so Lou, I will ask Chris and Robert, I think they said it was friends of Mom mom and Pop pop.