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Joseph Caimotto
(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 Piemonte.

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 back home?
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 or Piemontese?
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 explain why.
No, I have never studied my genealogy. I learned from my father and mother everything that I need to know about my genealogy.


Il testo in italiano è in preparazione


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