(August 2005 -- Albuquerque, New Mexico)
From where did your family emigrate and when? Who emigrated
(self, parents, grandparents) and what were their names?
My father, Fioretto Dorato, was born in Villadeati, basso Monferrato, And my mother, Rosina Lachello, was born in nearby Moncalvo. I believe my father emigrated to the United States in 1924. In 1931 he went back to Villadeati to marry my mother (who had moved from Moncalvo to Villadeati), and then returned to the United States (New York City) right after their wedding.
What led them to their destination (relatives already there,
hopes of a job at a mill, mine, etc. Please explain)?
My father's sister, Eufrosina Dorato, had been living in New York since 1916. She had come to United States all alone at age 19, for reasons I don't know. My father did not get along well with his father, Gasprin Dorato, and his memories of fighting in WW II as were very bitter. He was anxious to start a new life far away from Italy, and having a sister in New York was helpful. My mother dreaded the idea of having to marry a farmer, and living the rest of her life in a small poor town such as Villadeati.
Were they part of a migration chain?
Yes. As previously noted, my father's sister had been living in New York a number of years when my father decided to emigrate. Also my father knew some fellow Piemontesi that were also living in New York, many of them Garda's, from Albiano. My aunt Eufrosina had married a Pietro Garda.
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 the settled on a block in west Manhattan, north of Hell's Kitchen, (67th Street just west of Amsterdam Avenue) that was full of Piemontesi. But we they did not belong to any Piemontese organization.
Did your family maintain Piemontesi traditions
-- language, culture, history, cuisine, etc.?
Yes, very much so. My first language was Piemontese. It was the language spoken by most of our friends on 67th Street. I did not realize that Piemontese was not Italian until my first trip to Italy in 1938, at age 6. Of course we eat lots of Polenta, risotto, and bagna cauda. In 2001, I wrote a book with my daughter Syvlia, "Italian Culture: A View from America". It has a very strong Piemontese bent, with an appendix on Piemontese grammar and lots of Piemontese songs. The front cover show a view of Torino, with the Mole Antonelliana, and the rear cover show a view of Villadeati. In fact we strongly considered using the subtitle, "A Piemontese View from America."
Did your family return home to visit or to live after the initial
emigration? Did they maintain contact with family back home?
Yes. Our first return to Italy was in 1938 when I met my Villadeati grandparents for the first time. Our next visit was after WW II, in 1950, when I was 18 and could still speak Piemontese. We keep very close contact with our family in Italy. I visit Italy very often, and in 1991-Ô92 I spent a sabbatical year at the Politecnico di Torino.
Have you visited your family's town(s) in Piemonte? What was
your experience like?
Yes. I visit Villadeati very often. I still have an aunt, zia Ondina, and a first cousin, Piero living there. I also have a first-cousin, Piera, living in nearby Moncalvo and five other first-cousins, Fausto, Rosa, Beppe, Elsa living in Torino. Indeed, except for a distant cousin, all my relatives live in Piemonte.
Have you studied your Piemontesi genealogy? Please explain
A bit. During one of my visits to Villadeati I tried to get more information about the Dorato and Lachello families, but many of the church records were destroyed during WWII, and government records were minimal before 1860.
Do you belong to the Piemontesi nel Mondo, Famija Piemonteis or
any other organization?
Yes, I am a member of the San Franciso chapter of the Piemontesi nel Mondo.