(January 2003 -- Bedford, MA)
From where did your family emigrate and when? Who emigrated (self,
parents, grandparents) and what were their names?
My maternal grandfather and grandmother emigrated from Cuorgne (TO)
to Boston. My grandmother was born Albina Angelina Spriano in San
Salvatore Monferrato in 1888. My grandfather was Giorgio Augusto
Cerutto from Cuorgne, born in 1883. They met and married in Cuorgne
where my grandmother's parents had moved around 1900. My grandparents
left Italy for the U.S. in September 1908 immediately after marrying.
At that time my grandfather had resided in Boston for three years
(1905-'08). He had returned home to marry.
What led them to their destination (relatives already there,
hopes of a job at a mill, mine, etc. Please explain)?
My grandfather was connecting with a friend when he first came to
Boston. He was trained as a baker and candymaker. His purpose in
coming to the U.S. was to establish a bakery and candy factory,
make lots of money, then probably retire back in Italy. He took
a job as a waiter at a prominent Boston hotel restaurant in order
to save enough money to start his business and to learn English.
He did in fact establish the business about 10 years later. The
business was successful and the candy factory made his partner,
my grandmother's brother wealthy after my grandfather's death in
Were they part of a migration chain?
I don't think so. What I know of my grandfather makes me think he
acted on his own and his motive was economic opportunity rather
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 Piemontese society (fraternal, mutual aid, etc.)?
When they first came, they settled near other Piemontesi, but after
eight years they bought a house in the outskirts of the city in
a neighborhood that was mainly Yankee and Irish.
Did your family maintain Piemontesi traditions -- language, culture,
history, cuisine, etc.?
My grandmother spoke Piemontese to her family her whole life and
when her children started school, they knew more Piemontese than
English. I lived with my grandmother as a child and she spoke to
me solely in Piemontese. She ultimately learned enough English to
get by. She could also speak Italian, which she had learned in school
and read both English (the newspaper) and Italian (the Sons of Italy
newspaper). She cooked some traditional Piemontesi dishes, especially
on holidays. Sunday dinner always included risotto, which she made
with her own tomato sauce and chicken stock. Polenta with a sauce
made of tomato and onions, was another staple. She sang Piemontese
songs. She used colorful Piemontese epithets, which I could say,
but not spell. She never mentioned the history of her region or
even the history of her family. Her traditions died with her. Though
her children could speak Piemontese in their adult lives they spoke
to her only in English. Nobody cooks risotto or polenta and nobody
can make her "buona minestra."
Did your family return home to visit or to live after the initial
emigration? Did they maintain contact with family back home?
My grandmother remained in contact with her family for her whole
life. They wrote to each other in Italian (not Piemontese). In 1923,
when her husband was ill with his final illness (heart problems
secondary to rheumatic fever contracted in childhood) they returned
to Courgne for eight months. My mother's oldest sister maintained
contact with her Piemontese cousins. I believe she wrote to them
in Italian. That contact has been lost, but we still have the names
and, in some cases, addresses. My mother and this sister visited
Cuorgne and San Salvatore in the 1970s.
Do you identify yourself more as American, Italian or Piemontese?
I identify myself as an American of Piemontese and Irish descent.
Have you visited your family's town(s) in Piemonte? What was
your experience like?
I haven't yet, but I am about to.
Have you studied your Piemontese genealogy? Please explain why.
I have investigated the Spriano link because I was lucky enough
to connect with Sprianos via the Internet. I have no one to connect
with on the Cerutto side. I was looking for roots. I have this whole
language (Piemontese) taking up space in my brain with nothing to
do. As I grew up with my grandmother, she was more like a mother
to me, so I feel connected to the Sprianos.
Do you belong to the Piemontesi nel Mondo, Famija Piemonteis or
any other organization?
I do not belong to any ethnic organization. Probably because I come
from more than one ethnic group so am a "half breed" in
either of them.