Teresa (Prato) Bossa
(February 2003 -- Redwood City, CA)
From where did your family emigrate and when? Who emigrated (self,
parents, grandparents) and what were their names?
My father Signor Ernesto Antonio Prato came from Cortemilia, provincia
di Cuneo and my mother Maria Corino Prato, came from Castino, provincia
di Cuneo. I was born in 1922 in Cortemilia and came to live in San
Francisco, California in 1930. Both my parents came to live in America
as immigrants and stayed one week in Ellis Island in 1922.
What led them to their destination (relatives already there,
hopes of a job at a mill, mine, etc. Please explain)?
They had a cousin, Virgilio Magliano, who migrated in San Francisco
in 1920 and he sent for my parents to come to America to make their
fortune and to earn more money, because they were poor in Italy.
Very little money was to be earned in Italy and Europe.
Did they settle among other Piemontesi and were they members
of a Piemontese society (fraternal, mutual aid, etc.)?
No, they settled in San Francisco on Bay Street by the waterfront
and they were renting the cheapest flat that they could find , with
a cracked, crooked floor, broken pavement and worked very hard to
earn a living.
Did your family maintain Piemontesi traditions -- language, culture,
history, cuisine, etc.?
Yes, they spoke the Piemontese dialect in the home and cooked spaghetti,
risotto. Also cooked gnocchi, bagna cauda, bagnet ... all Piemontese
style including fricoli and bugie. I try not to forget the language
and verbs, sayings and Piemontese proverbs.
Did your family return home to visit or to live after the initial
emigration? Did they maintain contact with family back home?
Yes, several times. In 1930 they came to get me from Piemonte (where)
they had left me under the care of my grandparents Giuseppe and
Vincenza Corino. In 1929 they came back and intended to live in
Italy. They thought they had earned enough money, which was considered
their small fortune. But to their misfortune they invested their
life savings in the new stock Trans America. Before they left by
train back to New York they paid $108 per share and were guaranteed
a big dividend earning of 10%-plus, or even more. So they sank their
hard-earned fortune in Trans America stock and they left by slow
train back to New York in June 1929. It took two weeks to reach
New York City and got on the ship, Conte Grande. While on this steamer
ship, which was about to depart, they heard a young boy yelling
on the street, "Extra, Extra, read all about the stock crash."
The stock dropped in price from $100 per share to 25 cents per share.
So they lost all their fortune they had earned in American and they
did not like to live in Piemonte no more. When they arrived in their
hometowns, what was in their minds when they left was no longer
there. The streets were too small, houses were poorly built. So
they stayed only one year, passed a cold winter of snow and frost,
then they decided to return back to the USA to start earning their
fortune again. and to San Francisco and they brought me here in
the USA in November 1930. I was 9 years old and started back in
grammar school; they put me in the second grade so I could learn
the English language. Thy lived in San Francisco until they both
died of old age. In 1945 I married a Piemontese man named Alfred
Bossa (his parents came from Annone d'Asti). My husband and his
parents owned a large bread and pastry bakery in Palo Alto. I worked
there very hard until I had a son named Dennis. Then my husband
bought his own liquor store and delicatessen, where I helped him.
When my husband died, I sold the store and retired. I live in Redwood
City on the San Francisco peninsula.
Do you belong to the Piemontesi nel Mondo, Famija Piemonteis or
any other organization?
Yes, I belong to Piemontesi nel Mondo of Northern California.