Thursday, September 12, 2013

How Achille Met Fannie

Robin wanted to know the story of my paternal grandmother, Raffaela, but she preferred to be called Fannie.

My father left me 3 spiral notebooks with as much of his family history as he could remember. The notebooks were written just as the symptoms of Alzheimer's were beginning. So in Dad's words the story of how his parents met.

Some time in 1917 or early 1918, Achille went to work [as a tailor] and as usual took the ferry [from East Boston to Boston] for two cents. When he boarded the ferry, he saw a young girl sitting on one of the benches. And he said, "That's for me." And he ran all over the ferry to find someone who knew who she was.

Just how long it took him is unknown. However, he eventually found a person who could introduce him to, in this case, the relatives, that she was living with. One just did not go to a girl or woman to introduce himself. She would react and anyone watching or observing would ask that woman, "Is that man bothering you?" It's just the way things were done.

Anyway, Achille did find someone who knew who that girl was. The individual either knew Achille or Achille had to get someone who knew him to visit the woman's family and explain that a young man was interested in the young woman, seriously of course, with the objective of marriage if the lady and her relatives were amenable. Of course, the person who would introduce Achille would have knowledge of his background, family in Italy and America and of course and job and trade, profession etc. And the result would be an invitation for the prospective husband to be. 

Anyway he finally found that person who knew where the girl lived and with whom she lived. She was living with an uncle and his wife and family. And keeping with custom, Achille's friend visited the girl's uncle, explained that there was a young man who was of a good family in Italy and East Boston on Cottage Street who was interested in the young lady that lived with her uncle's family.

Arrangements were made to have Achille visit with his friend and introduce the young man to the uncle and wife. Who was asked what his intentions were and then was allowed to speak with the girl. While this was going on, either the uncle or his wife gave a sign to the girl who evidently signed back assenting and things began between the young man and the young lady.


  1. That is so sweet. You are so lucky to know that story.

  2. Wonderful story! Thanks for sharing. Now I want to hear the rest of what's in those three notebooks! :D

    1. The notebooks are my dad's memories of growing up and things he did as a kid and young man. The notebooks have more or less the same stories and are incomplete. I think the poor, old dude started a notebook, forgot where he put it, and started another. While the contents are similar, they vary. One notebook has a lot of names of his aunts, uncles, and cousins, and I've used these treasured notebooks in my genealogy research.

  3. 'Rules of Engagement'. Fascinating...and a nice story.