Reporting live from Minnesota

My mom’s sister has been moving around since she got married. Every 3 to 5 years, my uncle would be relocated for work because he is good at what he does and they would settle into a new home in a new city.
In 36 days they will be moving from Minnesota to Virginia. Thanks to my aunt and uncle, I’ve been across the country and around the world.
Today, I was sitting in Minneapolis, at a kitchen table with my grandparents, aunts, cousins and uncle’s family, who have become my own. Everyone had traveled from New York for my cousin’s first holy Communion. Seated together we discussed life in Minnesota, their move, what’s going on at home in New York, and Italy back in the day. I am second generation Italian-American. Both my parents were born in America but their parents came to America from Italy. My mom’s parents moved to America after they got married in a small town in southern Italy in the region of Puglia. My dad’s parents came from the same small town as my mom’s parents but met and married here in America.
I appreciate all they did by sacrificing theirs lives in Italy to come to America and start all over again, but I still like hearing about their childhoods. They talked about what it was like during the war when the American soldiers came to their town and how they all knew each other even before they became related by marriage. Most of the time I know the people they mention in their stories because I’ve met then before or heard the story, but today they mentioned someone with a weird name I has never heard of. In this small town in southern Italy, a lot of people had the same last name. To avoid confusion, everyone was given a nickname that could relate only to them. That way, the other people in the town didn’t have to use their last name. I thought it was really exciting that every man in the town had his own name. It seemed helpful in situations where there were 6 sons in the family, all with the same last name (like my mom’s father’s family.)
My dad’s grandfather was called Garofalo, which means carnation in the town’s dialect. Apparently he got this name because he always wore a carnation in his suit pocket. I could tell my dad liked to hear that one. I get my love of history from him. My mom’s grandfather was called Brocolaiulo. This is the dialect word for the excess that is left over when making olive oil. His profession was to collect and sell it, so that is where his nickname came from. I remember hearing stories when I was younger about my Mom’s youngest sister thinking Brocolaiulo was part of her name as well.
I love history, but really love hearing about my family’s history. It’s good to know where you come from because it can help you figure out where you’re going.


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