(February 2003 -- Carlsbad, CA)
From where did your family emigrate and when? Who emigrated
(self, parents, grandparents) and what were their names?
Three people emigrated from my family, all from San Secondo di
Pinerolo (Torino). One aunt arrived in 1955 Los Angeles, one in
1956 and I arrived in 1962. First aunt is named Feria Fornerone
(married Gardiol in 1955). (Note that while I will refer to her
as first, that is only referring to the time of arrival. As far
as age, she is actually younger than the "second" aunt
to arrive.) Second aunt was named Ilma Fornerone (married in Godino
in 1956) My name is Bruno Fornerone (changed to Forneron in 1986,
which was the original, pre-Mussolini name). Just as a point of
interest, I also had a previous generation of great aunts that
immigrated to the USA. Two great aunts from my fathers side
came in the early 1900s, worked here for about 20 years, then
took their earnings and went back to retire in Piemonte. On the
other hand, a great aunt from my mothers side, Giulia Pons,
married Gasparino, went to Mystic, Connecticut. She had several
children whose descendants are scattered throughout the USA. That
aunt went back to Italy once, but none of her descendants has
maintained any contacts with Piemonte.
What led them to their destination (relatives already there,
hopes of a job at a mill, mine, etc. Please explain)?
First aunt came because she had gone to Montreal to work and did
not like it. A distant cousin, already in Los Angeles and a bachelor,
flew to Montreal and married her. The second aunt came to visit
her sister and they found her a husband, a widow also from San
Secondo di Pinerolo while she was staying in Los Angeles. I came
to stay with one aunt in 1962 because my father had died and my
mother had been institutionalized.
Did they emigrate to another location before or after (Argentina,
France, England, etc.)?
The first aunt first went to Lausanne, Switzerland to find work,
and after 5 years working there decided to try her fortune in
Montreal, Canada. The second aunt had followed the first aunt
to Lausanne, Switzerland, and then came directly to Los Angeles.
I came directly from San Secondo to Los Angeles.
Did they settle among other Piemontesi and were they members
of a Piemontesi society (fraternal, mutual aid, etc.)?
They were not members of any particular organizations, but there
was a fairly large group of original immigrants from my home town
and surrounding areas, and they regularly got together for social
activities. However, they all lived in different cities in the
Los Angeles area. There was a bocce game twice weekly during the
1960s for the men, and the women played cards. My aunts and I
were not typical, however. Most of the people had immigrated in
the 1920s or thereabouts.
Did your family maintain Piemontesi traditions
-- language, culture, history, cuisine, etc.?
Yes, all traditions were maintained. I still speak a dialect version
of Piemontese with my surviving aunt.
Did your family return home to visit or to live after the initial
emigration? Did they maintain contact with family back home?
Yes, all contact was maintained. In the 1960s my aunts helped
my cousins build a home with four apartments. One they kept for
their own use when they visited. They even purchased an automatic
transmission car for use during their visits. They visited every
few years until they got too old. I also have an apartment there,
and visit yearly. Many of my friends and relatives now have email,
so I keep in contact via computer as well as phone. I send about
30 Christmas cards yearly to Piemonte. I must say however that
my aunts and I are the exception, not the case. Most of the first
generation people I met came to the USA much earlier and have
since died. Many of them expressed the desire to go back to Italy
to visit, but they never made it. There were a variety of reasons,
but the most prevalent were the high cost and difficulty of the
voyage, followed by lack of money during the Depression, the travel
restrictions during World War II, and finally they got too old.
Most of them ended up with children who had no ties or real interests
about their roots. I know many of their second generation children,
and all have abandoned contacts, not to mention the third generation
that does not have a clue.
Do you identify yourself more as American, Italian or Piemontese?
Piemontese, but even more a person from San Secondo. People there
do not move much, so most of my friends and relatives are still
in the town or nearby.
Have you visited your family's town(s) in Piemonte? What was
your experience like?
Clearly I enjoy visiting very much or I would not do it every
year. My culture and my roots are there. I have a much more active
social life in Piemonte.
Have you studied your Piemontesi genealogy? Please explain
Not really, because it is relatively boring. My fathers
family lived in the same town for hundreds of years, and the records
are readily available. The same is true for my mothers family,
which came from a different town. I did a brief look-up in the
Mormon Library in Salt Lake City, and I had no trouble finding
everyone. Last year genealogy became a popular thing in my home
town, and several of my cousins showed me that someone had plotted
their family tree.
Do you belong to the Piemontesi nel Mondo, Famija Piemonteis or
any other organization?
I belong to the Piemontesi nel Mondo of San Francisco, but I have
not really participated in their activities, because of the distance
from San Diego. Also, there is limited interest on my part because
there is little to be gained by my attending two or three dinners
each year, when I am flooded with dinner invitations every time
I go back to Piemonte. Most of the original Piemontesi have died.
Immigration laws have not allowed people to come anymore, so most
people that are now in the USA are second or third generation.
I am first generation, so I prefer associating with Piemontesi
in Piemonte for the most part.