(September 2004 -- Massapequa, NY)
From where did your family emigrate and when? Who emigrated
(self, parents, grandparents) and what were their names?
My mother (Teresa Cerrina) was the first of my family to leave Fubine to come to New York in 1902, going to a cousin, name unknown. My father Frollino Abrardo, left Fubine for New York in 1906, with “Ettore (Tulin) Abrardo, his brother, both going to their aunt Carolina Balestrero in New York City in a section called Hell’s Kitchen, where many Piemontesi lived. We understand that at some point his aunt introduced him (Frollino) to a girl she knew named Teresa Cerrina from Fubine also. They were married in NYC in 1907. I was born in 1913 and my sister Clara was born in 1918 in NYC at 436 W. 39 St., where we lived until my father took us all back to Fubine in June 1927.
What led them to their destination (relatives already there,
hopes of a job at a mill, mine, etc. Please explain)?
Mostly because of their relatives here and they were assured that there were jobs to be had.
Were they part of a migration chain?
Yes, later on others of my father’s family came over, his brother Arnaldo and his sister Linda, and they lived in the same area.
Did your family maintain Piemontesi traditions
-- language, culture, history, cuisine, etc.?
We most certainly did, in the house we strictly spoke Fubinese. My father felt that we should know their native tongue, therefore we children become fluent in the language. The cooking was pretty much Piemontese and so were the traditions, when it was allowed my dad made red wine from California grapes that he bought on Ninth Avenue, it was made in the traditional Fubinese way. I remember that as children we vacationed in South Glastonbury, Conn. always at Piemontesi owned farms. We got to these farms by taking the night boat that sailed from the East River, to Long Island Sound and then up the Connecticut River to South Glastonbury, where we were met by the person at whose farm we were to stay. I do not know if my parents belonged to “The Fubinese Society” in NYC, but I remember that as young men, we had met, through some relatives, the Variara sisters, Anita and Carol, whose Father was very active in the Fubinese Society and we went with them several times to the society’s annual balls, which were always grand affairs.
Did your family return home to visit or to live after the initial
emigration? Did they maintain contact with family back home?
Yes they returned to visit, and I went with my father several times to visit before we all went to live in Italy in 1927, we lived at the Cascina Rossa with my grandpa Giuseppe and grandma Dora until our house in the town of Fubine was ready for us to move in. I was 14, a city kid, but I loved the farm life, helped my grandpa bake bread, he had a brick oven fired by wood, we also picked grapes; the Cascina Rossa was well known for making Barbera wine and there were even parties when other families came to help shuck the corn, later on, after it was dried, a large machine came to take it off the cobs, this machine was run by a long belt from a large steam engine and eventually some of it became “polenta.” In late 1928, my mother and sister stayed in Italy, while my father and I returned to the States, he stayed with me until I was settled, I went to live with my uncle Arnaldo and his family in New Jersey and my father returned to Italy, where he spent the rest of his days.
Do you have strong ties to Fubine?
Yes, I do, my sister, her married daughter and family and first cousins still live in the village. Two of my uncles. Romano Vergano, married to my dad’s sister Fiorina, and Maggiorino Abrardo were “sindacos” of Fubine. I also have relatives in Torino, and another uncle, Pietro Longo was married to another sister of my dad Adele, he was murdered in 1929 in Torino and in his honor the main street of Fubine is named after him.
Do you identify yourself more as American, Italian or Piemontese?
Yes, I do (as American), I was born in the States, served in the military in Europe during WWII, landed on Utah Beach a couple of days after D-Day and did not return to the States until December 1945, but I have very strong ties to the Piemonte area. I married a girl of Piemontese heritage, Margaret, in 1940, whose parents originated from Pinasca, Italy. We had two children, Joseph, our eldest and Lorraine. Both now married, Joseph and Maria live in Pennsylvania and have two daughters, Lauren and Jacqueline. Lorraine married Barry Giaquinto and they live in Massapequa, NY, where we also live and they have two daughters Kimberly and Keri-Lynn. Joseph and his family have been to Fubine several times and Lorraine has been there also on a visit with us.