Sunday, May 22, 2011

Amanuensis Monday -- Nonno Enzo's Diary -- November 20-25, 1915

Vincenzo Dibennardo
Here is the next translated entry from my grandfather's diary, written in Sicily when he was 15 years old.  For previous entries click here.

                                                        20-21-22 November, 1915

These days it rained continuously with a mighty wind and a bit of cold.


                                                        25 November, 1915

Today was a day for walking.

My fellow fourth gymnasium schoolmates and I took a stroll. Don Mattias, the school catechist, led the way.

The walk turned out truly splendid. We went to San Francesco di Sales (boarding school) in Catania where we found the director, Don Massimino; the prefect, Don Scelsi; Don Vanoli; and others. The latter person showed us some dormitories occupied by the wounded (WWI); there were those injured in the arm, fingers (unsure if writes "finger"), others in the head, and some with wounded feet. It was a desolation. There was also one man from Genoa with frostbite to the feet who gave a letter to Don Vanoli to mail for him.

Later, we visited the various laboratories, and therefore some, or rather most of us, went with Don Sinatra to the "soid" (unsure of this word), while I, Putrino, and Di Bella remained in the school.

Along with Don Patané, director of the Amico (Friend) (Salesian newspaper), we went to the first floor where there was a pantry with Salesian books. There, my classmates chose some annual issues of the Amico and handed them over to Don Patané to bind them.

When we arrived in his room, we all changed our address, and I had him give me the last issue of the Amico. (Note: In an earlier entry, my grandfather explains he attended San Francesco di Sales before the boarding school in San Gregorio. According to my research, San Francesco di Sales was closed in 1915 because it was used as a hospital for WWI wounded. This may be why he "changes" his address so he can receive the Salesian newspaper.)

When we left him, we walked with another superior near the flower beds, spending another good half hour waiting for Don Mattias; but when we saw that he did not come as promised, we came up with the resolution -- also coerced by the inspector -- to begin a swift walk toward San Gregorio at 5 minutes after 5.

We continued to talk softly while walking. Arriving near Cannalicchio (a district of Catania), with the one called Di Bella who had ten cents, we went to a belsola (a grocery -- unsure) to buy bread, but unfortunately none was to be found. So we continued our journey.

To tell the truth, I turned back a few times to look behind me, feeling a bit scared; but then reassured, I continued on my way. Arriving a little higher, above Cannalicchio, we met a young man who was going to Ficarrazzi -- a small village not too far from San Gregorio. He was heading home after being in Catania to do masonry work, and he now returned to get bread.  My mind was filled with scary thoughts, but I did not express my weakness to my friends; my consistent turning around to see behind me was quite useless.  The darkness was perfect and one could hardly distinguish one thing even ten meters away. The moon was not in the sky, and the stars were hidden behind the clouds.

The young man started to recount some things while we had our ears open for any sounds, consoling ourselves that our other classmates were probably nearby.  But, no, we were deceived, and we could accept this when we entered the dormitory and at first did not see anyone but, going down to the study hall, we found them at their respective places, staring at us with questioning eyes.  I have to warn my dear readers that they must forgive even when a learned man makes a mistake because in this world we are all made of flesh and, therefore, easily make mistakes.  So, I must tell you that we went to the Director and told him the story; but, as always, he put on a smile and said, "Go on sons, and next time be more careful" which left us confused and heavy-hearted.

So this is how our nice walk turned into our adventure.

Original diary pages:

Stay tuned for the next entry...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Pasquale Ursino's Brother, Giuseppe

Now that my son is out of school for the summer, I have more time to research my family history!  In anticipation of the free time, I ordered 7 new microfilms of Italian records via my local family history library about two weeks ago.  Four microfilms arrived Thursday, and this morning I went to see what I could find. 

One of my goals was to find the birth record for my great-grandmother, Francesca Scuderi, so I can learn about her parents; but that film had not arrived yet.  Out of the 4 that did, one was a microfilm of marriage records from Catania, Sicily, spanning 1888 to 1893.  The story told to me was that my great-grandmother married very young -- perhaps as young as sixteen.  This would mean she may have married in 1892; however, I did not find a record for her through 1893, and I checked the earlier years, too.  It looked like I would have to order marriage records starting in 1894 and that she probably married young but not as young as sixteen.  However, I did take the time to see what else I could find in the records.  After all, my great-grandfather Pasquale was widowed twice before he lived with my great-grandmother, and one of his marriages could have occurred between 1888 and 1893. 

Again, no such luck, but I did find a marriage record for a brother of his I did not know -- Giuseppe Ursino.  Finding a great-uncle was quite exciting because it told me a few things.  For one, Giuseppe was nine years younger than Pasquale, which means there must be more siblings.  It also gives me a later date as a starting point to find out when Pasquale and Giuseppe's parents may have died.

Giuseppe Ursino may have married a cousin since his bride's name is Carmela Ursino.  The marriage record shows Giuseppe's father and mother to be Orazio Ursino and Maria Stabile (as expected) and Carmela's father and mother are Giuseppe Ursino and Rosaria D'Arrigo.  I will have to dig into the records and see if Orazio had a brother named Giuseppe.

Michele is a brother I have heard may have existed but I have yet to find.  Giuseppe Ursino is a new brother I
 discovered today. Pasquale Ursino is my great-grandfather on my maternal side from Catania in Sicily.
A rough piecing together of the marriage record I found telling of the marriage between Giuseppe Ursino and Carmela Ursino.  The marriage took place 18 June 1892.  Click on picture to enlarge.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

My Nonna and Her Half-Sister

Left: Innocenza Napoli (called Zenna), probably born before or around 1900.  I was lucky to meet her once in the early 80's but too young to think to ask the right questions.  Right: My grandmother, Giuseppa Napoli, or as I called her, Nonna Pina, born June 11, 1914.  She was half-sister to Zenna, but as I have explained before, she carried the surname of her mother's legal husband.  There was no divorce in those days, so my great-grandparents managed to get the legal husband to claim the children (I believe they paid him).  Her father was Pasquale Ursino.  Both sisters were born and lived in Catania, Sicily.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Wordless Wednesday -- Emil Samuelsen Haugen and Family in Finland

Emil Georg Samuelsen Haugen (1871 - 1954) and Hanna Marie Andreasdatter (1871 - 1943) with children, Elvira Helene Haugen (1901 - 1979) and Hans Ereinius Haugen (1906 - 1993).  This picture was taken soon after arriving in Finland in 1914.  They stayed there for 3 years before returning to their home country, Norway.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Amanuensis Monday -- Nonno Enzo's Diary -- November 18 - 20, 1915

The continuation of my grandfather's diary.  He had just turned 15 on November 15, 1915 when he wrote these pages a few days later.  He was born in Palagonia, Sicily, and was living in a Salesian boarding school in San Gregorio.  His mother had died when he was very young, and it was custom, in such cases, for fathers to send their children to boarding school.  To find the trail of previous posts, go to my last post.

Translation below

                                                                                    November 18.  Thursday.

Today we headed to Pedara. In Trecastagni, we met with those of Pedara [Salesian school students], and there was a stampede. I was surrounded with old classmates from boarding school and other villagers [he probably means they were from his same town], such as: Nicolino, Salvatore; Calcaterra; Pappalardo; Claudio Condemi; Pastura, Giovanni; Squillace, Gaetano, etc...  Later, we walked as far as their boarding school.  We visited the Director, Don Massimino Morganti, the Prefect [resident advisor], the Catechist, and other superiors. Afterward, we descended into the courtyard and found that the boarding school teams had been formed once more.

We drank a little wine offered to us by the Prefect and then returned to our boarding school.  As always, we arrived in San Gregorio singing.

                                                                                    November 20 [he probably meant to write 19]

This evening, during the blessing, a flower caught fire, and if the Catechist, Don Mattias, was not quick to act, the fire would have spread throughout the altar. I kept my eyes closed to the flames and reopened them in a burst of fright.

                                                                                    November 20. Saturday.

This morning, at a quarter past ten, my father came.

My hometown friend, Brancato, came to ask permission from my professor, who willingly consented. I was really happy, and as I left the school, I ran into him right away, so I hurled myself into his arms with much affection.  Afterward, I kissed my sister, and then we walked to the parlor.  We sat down on a soft sofa, immediately starting an animated conversation.  They brought me a large basket [type used for bread] filled with ten eggs and some biscuits. There were also eight notebooks of twenty cents each.

Our talk lasted a good hour and a half, and when the bell rang, we entered the office of the Director, who cordially received us.  Having asked permission, I went to the bedroom, to my place [probably means "bunk" since this is a dormitory with several beds], and I put away my goods before returning to my father.  We stayed with the Director for about a quarter of an hour, and then he wanted to accompany us to the parlor.

Nearby, there was a priest who played the piano.  The Director made us go in and insisted my sister play something. The Director affectionately said goodbye to my father and left us.  Then, I hugged my father and my sister and gave them a last farewell as they left.  I retired feeling afflicted but without shedding a single tear.