Theresa Birolo Raso Buickerood
(May 2003 --San Carlos, CA)
From where did your family emigrate and when? Who emigrated
(self, parents, grandparents) and what were their names?
Father Giovanni Birolo emigrated October 1913 to San Francisco
Bay Area from San Sebastiano Po, Provincia di Torino, age 16.
Mother, Margherita Riberi, emigrated December 1919 to Arizona
from Stroppo, Provincia of Cuneo, age 18, sponsored by an uncle.
In 1921 she moved to San Francisco Bay Area where she met and
married my father. He was working in agriculture; she was a housekeeper.
My father died at age 29 in San Francisco. My mother died in Torino,
Italy, age 32. After my dad died, my mom and I returned to Stroppo
until her demise.
I went to live with my paternal grandparents i San Sebastiano
until my return to Menlo Park, California, where I then lived
with my paternal aunt Luigia Birolo Emanuel and my uncle Umberto
Emanuel, who also came from San Sebastiano. All of my knowledge
of my heritage background is derived from them. I lost track of
my mother's parents but I know that they moved to Paris, France
and never came to America.
What led them to their destination (relatives already there,
hopes of a job at a mill, mine, etc. Please explain)?
The first to come to America was Umberto Emanuel, who emigrated
to San Francisco Bay Area (in) 1907, age 23. His sponsor was a
Menlo Park vineyard grower, Giovanni Beltramo, with whom he boarded
and worked in his vineyards. Umberto returned to San Sebastiano
in 1913, married my aunt Luigia Birolo and returned to Menlo Park.
They also brought my father with them and they all settled in
Menlo Park, San Mateo County. My uncle worked as a gardener, my
aunt did housekeeping, my father worked as a handyman and gardener
at the Sacred Heart Convent.
Menlo Park has a very large settlement of Piemontesi. Most of
the men worked as gardeners. Many were sponsored by Giovanni Beltramo
who found them employment as gardeners in large estates. Many
had learned gardening at home in Piemonte, working in farming
communities. Many of the beautiful gardens of the area in Menlo
Park owe their existence to the horticulture skills of Italian
immigrants. Piemontese was commonly spoken in the gardens of Menlo
Did they settle among other Piemontesi and were they members
of a Piemontesi society (fraternal, mutual aid, etc.)?
There wasn't any Piemontese Society in Menlo Park in the '30s,
but there was an Italian-American Social Club, which had a membership
of mostly Northern Italians. However, I am a member of the Piemontesi
nel Mondo in San Francisco.
Did your family maintain Piemontesi traditions -- language,
culture, history, cuisine, etc.?
The Birolo/Emanuel family I grew up in did maintain Piemontese
traditions -- language, culture, history, cuisine, etc. Though
my aunt and uncle have been deceased for a few years, I still
speak Piemontese at any opportunity I have to good fortune to
Did your family return home to visit or to live after the initial
emigration? Did they maintain contact with family back home?
My aunt and uncle did return to Piemonte several times to visit
family and I, too, have been there five times, once with Piemontesi
Do you identify yourself more as American, Italian or Piemontese?
I'm a born American, but have maintained my Piemontese upbringing
and often think in Piemontese, then English.
Have you visited your family's town(s) in Piemonte? What was
your experience like?
(I've) been to San Sebastiano/Saronsella several times. (I) have
several cousins there and also in Torino. I feel very much like
a part of the town whenever I visit, especially since I lived
there between 5 and 7 years of age and have fond memories of the
experience. (I) attended first grade in our small village (in)
Have you studied your Piemontesi genealogy? Please explain
(I) have not studied Piemontese genealogy but would find it interesting.
Do you belong to the Piemontesi nel Mondo, Famija Piemonteisa
or any other organization?
Yes, I belong to the Piemontesi nel Mondo and have for several