Thursday, November 30, 2017

Throwback Thursday - The Notebooks

To clear up some confusion, the Notebook passages posted on Throwback Thursday were written by my father and found by me after he passed away. They were his attempt to tell the family history. He was in his late 80s or early 90s when he wrote them. Today's chapter:

Sometime in 1917 or 1918 Achille [ed: Dad's father] went to work and as usual, took the ferry. The fare was 2 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 in is unknown. However, he eventually found a person who could introduce him, in this case, the relatives that they were living with. One just did not go to a girl or woman to introduce himself. She would react and anyone watching or observing would aks that woman, "is that man bothering you?" It's just the way thing were done.

Anway, 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 his job, trade, or profession, etc. and the result would be an invite for the prospective husband to be.

Evidently, everything was hunky dory. Achille was a Journeyman Custom Tailor. Top of the line in the trade. His family background in America and Italy was ok and then on April 28, 1918. Achille and Raffaelina (Fannie) were married.

Achille was a handsome looking man, good frame, 1 inch below 6 feet., well dressed. And needed glasses because his eyesight wasn't 20-20 it kept him out of the Draft and military [ed: The Great War, WWI] He was also a citizen, besides reading and writing in his own language, he could speak English and read it. He went to night school. His wife to be could read and write in her language and speak English but did not read it.

Evidently, things happened fast. I was born at the Boston Lying-In Hospital [ed: now Brigham and Women's Hospital] on March 17, 1919, the firstborn of the newlyweds. My mother, your grandmother, was as usual rather proud. She presented her husband with a boy for the firstborn and the nurses presented me to my mother after I was cleaned up with a green ribbon in my hair.

Many years later, I would hear my father say that the firstborn of the Todisco were boys for seven generations. There may have been a boy born to Joe in Italy before the aunt who died or my father did not talk too much about his relatives in Italy.

[ed: I hate to burst your bubble, Dad, but this theory of relativity just doesn't hold water. Let's try to follow the pedigree as I have found on Ancestry. By the way, I'm so sorry I started the genealogy search so late, you would have loved this.

The earliest ancestor on the Todisco side that I found was Giuseppe Todisco. He would be your great-great-grandfather and was born in the town of Mirabella, near Torre Le Nocelle. I don't know if he had any siblings. He married Rosa Di Minico. They had a son,

Giuseppe Domenico Todisco, your great-grandfather who was born in Mirabella in 1822. I haven't found any siblings for him so don't know his birth order. He married Angela Rosa De Cristofaro. There looks like there might have been a daughter from a previous marriage, Maria Lucia Elsabetta born July 30, 1845.  Giuseppe Domenico married Angela Rosa on April 29, 1847, in Torre Le Nocelle. Their first son, Antonio died shortly after birth. in 1854.

Your grandfather, Antonio Donato Zeferino Todisco was born on October 20, 1855. He married (Maria) Saveria Ardolino.

Their first child was your aunt, Angelina, March 12, 1882
your uncle, Giuseppe came next, December 5, 1883, and he died February 2, 1884
your aunt, Adelina, January 13, 1885
your uncle Joe (Giuseppe), March 24, 1887
your father, Achille, March 22, 1889
your uncle, Alfred, October 9, 1891
an aunt, Alfonsina Emma Eutilia, December 19, 1893, and she died November 26, 1896
an uncle, Alberto Attilio Arimondi, October 24, 1896
an last, an uncle Arturo Amedeo Ciriaco, April 8, 1899

Your father, Achille, and your mother, Raffela Mottola had
their first child, you, March 17, 1919
your brother, Mario, November 4, 1921
your sister, Olga, October 8, 1922
your sister, Emma, April 27, 1924,
and your brother, Robert, May 22, 1929

You and Ma had
your first child, a son, 1949
and your favorite daughter as you used to call me, 1955

So that's our lineage. As to the firstborn son had a firstborn son for seven generations, well, we've only counted 5 generations. We don't know if your grandfather and great-grandfather had older siblings, male or female, and we'd have to ignore the fact your Aunt Angelina was the oldest child of your grandfather and your father wasn't the oldest son. Still, it made great family lore.]


  1. The story is very interesting, and love the propriety involved in meeting up with someone and dating etc, so much nicer than the no-holds-barred attitude today. I think it was the big dream always to have a son as first born to carry on the lineage! Thanks for sharing the glimpses into your family and ancestors. Hugs, Valerie

    1. My grandparents' meeting was romantic. Grandpa on a quest to find a mutual aquaintance to Grandma's family so he could get an introduction. A very different time, indeed.

  2. Great genealogy here, CJ.
    With as much sexual harassment coming to light, one can appreciate the way they had to get 'references' before being introduced to the opposite sex.
    Have a day filled with sparkle, my friend.

    1. Yeah, and not just a we'll go out for a few laughs. The objective was matrimony

  3. I agree with the previous comments! In this day of rampant sexual harassment it's nice to hear things were more 'refined' back then.

    1. And the fact that they watched out for each other. If a woman was being harrassed some gentleman would step in to help her.

  4. CJ

    I had to laugh at this line " Evidently, things happened fast. I was born at the Boston Lying-In Hospital" ☺☺

    it's nice these records were kept up; weezer and I tried tracing her family at the local library; started with her and all her siblings; found each of her brothers and sister alright but all with a different spelling of their last name ~~~~~ and her father's surname; researched it, it's Greek ... poppy's surname was changed by someone; either enroute to the states or when he got here; he was only 13 at the time

    1. Spelling changes weren't deliberate. Customs officials, census takers couldn't understand thick accents and broken English, or even poor penmanship. Dad's Uncle Alfred was 16 when he came over. He had to sign a document signed his name, but made a loopy "i". Even though it was dotted it was transcribed as an "e". He's 16 years old. Probably scared traveling on his own. Not about to challenge and authority figure that his name is spelled incorrectly. That spelling, Todesco, became his legal name and he used it for the rest of his life.

  5. I think it's interesting how family histories always get a little confused. Is it our memories of what we were told or were we told the wrong the things? (Which would mean our grandparents had it wrong). It would be wonderful if we could have magic eyes and see back in time. Happy almost FRiday. Hugs-Erika

    1. I think it's a bit like the old telephone game. One generation tells a story. As it's repeated, the story becomes slightly distorted. In the end, it may not bear much resemblance to the original story.

  6. Whether distorted or not, it was really quite romantic. I really enjoyed learning a bit about your grandparents.

    1. They did have a romantic story. Grandma passed away a year after Grandpa. It was said she died of a broken heart

  7. I agree with the comment above. It was very romantic. I too really enjoyed learning about your grandparents!