(April 2003 -- Millbrae, CA)
From where did your family emigrate and when? Who emigrated
(self, parents, grandparents) and what were their names?
My father Vittorio Caimotto, my mother Olaria Caimotto (Rogina)
and me, Giuseppe, when I was 5 years old, and we arrived in San
Francisco, October 12, 1923. We came from Costigliole d'Asti in
What led them to their destination (relatives
already there, hopes of a job at a mill, mine, etc. Please explain)?
My father's brother, my uncle Davide Caimotto, and his wife Costanza,
had been living in San Francisco for about three years. I think
being apart from each other became too much for them to handle
and probably, through corresponding with each other. My uncle
David sponsored the whole Vitttorio family to come to San Francisco.
Those days you could not immigrate unless you were sponsored,
because if you got sick, could not pay your rent, or eat, your
sponsor was responsible for you. Not the government, Social Security,
Medicare of Saint Boniface dining room.
My father Victor was a number one bricklayer, cement
finisher, tile and terrazzo man. I remember when the depression
hit us (in) the early 1930s, I never realized it because nothing
changed in my family. My father never lost a day's work. He and
two partners founded the San Francisco Terrazzo Company and they
operated it until my father died in 1953. He was 56 years old.
I, being the only child, became responsible for my mother Olaria.
My wife and I took care of her until (she) died in 1997 and she
was 97 years old.
My father sent me to Italian school at Fugazi Hall
on Green Street in North Beach. After I got out of my English
school, he taught me how to take a street car to get there. Italian
school started at 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. If I did not show up,
they would call my father and tell him and my father was the boss,
so I could not miss. But now I speak, read and write Italian fluently.
My folks both worked and I had too much time alone, so I either
got hurt or got into trouble with my friends. That is why my father
sent me to Italian school to keep me out of trouble and they would
be home when I got home.
Did they emigrate to another location before
or after (Argentina, France, England, etc.)?
Did they settle among other Piemontesi and were
they members of a Piemontesi society (fraternal, mutual aid, etc.)?
Yes, we settled in San Francisco -- Potrero District and I think
about 75 percent were Italian and, of course, we had Russians,
French Slovenians, Greeks. The first house we moved in San Francisco
was 149 Arkansas St. and it belonged to Charles and Carolina Novello.
We lived there about six years. My father came home one Saturday
from work and told my mother, "get everything ready, we are
moving.' Had eight men with him and they moved everything by hand
only half a block from where we lived. The reason was we were
paying $12.50 a month and where we were moving to the rent was
$12 month. We moved to 225 1/2 Arkansas St. The home belonged
to Ernesto and Lisa Bellesi. I think my father bought a two-flat
home (in) about 1933 at 506-508 Kansas St. about five or six blocks
from where we lived for the staggering price of 4,500 dollars
and my wife and I still own it.
Did your family maintain Piemontesi traditions
-- language, culture, history, cuisine, etc.?
Yes, we spoke Piemontese at home all the time. My mother's cooking
never changed and she taught me to cook and I still cook the same
as she taught me. My father told me about family history, about
the place where (he) was born and raised, (about) his family --
my relatives, about the town and where he got married. I know
by what he said to me.
Did your family return home to visit or to live
after the initial emigration? Did they maintain contact with family
Yes, in the 30 years my father lived in San Francisco I think
they went back to Piemonte about six times to see his mother,
brothers, sisters and relatives. One time they brought one of
(my) aunts for a three-month stay.
Do you identify yourself more as American, Italian
Italian. I speak Italian every time I can. Of course, I was raised,
live and will die here. American is the land I love.
Have you visited your family's town(s) in Piemonte?
What was your experience like?
No, I do not like traveling and I never left California in my
life (excuse me, I went to Las Vegas once). There is nothing that
I want or need that I cannot get here in the San Francisco Bay
Area. My wife and mother went to Piemonte in 1953 (and) stayed
away four months and visited all my relatives and then went to
Genova to meet all her relatives. My wife and my mother enjoyed
the trip very much.
Have you studied your Piemontesi genealogy? Please
No, I have never studied my genealogy. I learned from my father
and mother everything that I need to know about my genealogy.