I was in a sociology class at Modesto Junior College, and our assignment was to find someone whose family had immigrated to America, – to interview them, their parents and grandparents, and then write a paper on the Americanization of the family. (What luck that I had just met that cute Italian guy at the singles’ party!)
Are you Italian? I asked John – just to open up the conversation. “Yes,” he nodded, smiling.
“Are you full-blooded Italian?”
“Yes.” His eyes were still twinkling, but he was giving me a quizzical look.
I explained my assignment and asked if I could interview his family.
(Now when John talks about this today he tells people he was my science project. And to tell the truth, in the months to come we did spend a fair amount of time sitting together in a science lab teaching four rats to press the bar in a Skinner box. But that may be a story for another day.)
None of John’s family lived in Modesto, but he said he’d be glad to take me to meet them.
We drove to Novato, in Marin County to meet Grandpa Guido and Aunt Anna. I learned that Guido and his wife Gelsomina came to America from Lucca, Italy in 1924, bringing their three-year-old little girl, Anna. And I was told that Guido’s brothers, Cherubino, Nello and Primo also immigrated here around the same time.
Boy, was I excited! Guido, Nello, Primo, Cherubino, Gelsomina, Anna… You don’t get much more Italian than that! My project was off to a flying start!
The following week we drove about 100 miles north toWoodland to meet John’s parents and interview them. I was pleasantly surprised that he was so willing to help me, and apparently so interested in my project!
I felt a little awkward, though, when I saw that John’s mother had prepared a wonderful fancy dinner, and when she remarked more than once that she was so pleased to meet John’s friend and to see her son so happy.
I didn’t know how to explain that her son was just helping me out with this school project…
But I had to acknowledge that the Woodland Paladinis were the nicest family I ever spent an evening with.
I learned that Guido had three sons after he came to America. He named them Franco, Louis and Georgio, and they later Americanized their names to Frank, Louie and George. Frank named his own sons John, Mark and Ray. This family seemed “made to order” for my sociology project.
Little did I know, as I set out on those long drives, armed with my trusty cassette tape recorder and list of questions, that I was conducting interviews with the wonderful people who would become my new family within a year.
May 13, 2011 at 6:03 pm
I’m really enjoying following your blog. And I stole the photo of Grandpa Guido. Do you have some family history info you’re willing to share?
May 13, 2011 at 7:01 pm
Thank you Debbi. You are welcome to it! (I wish it had come out a little clearer.) I have been gathering family history stuff, hoping to write a little book. I’ll be glad to pass some on to you when things settle down a bit here.
May 14, 2011 at 9:55 am
My dad has a little different story about the boys’ names. He says that he was supposed to be Louie, but the doctor who filled out the birth certificate was French and spelled it Louis. Also, I think he said that Frank was supposed to be Frank, but that same French doctor wrote Franco. I guess stories change a bit with time and memory! There is a book about Novato that has a chapter of Paladini history, including our great-grandfather. Your in-laws may have a copy.
May 14, 2011 at 12:42 am
May 14, 2011 at 8:37 am
I’m really enjoying this! Incidentally, I think Grandpa Guido’s youngest brother’s name is spelled “Cherubino” derived from the term “Cherub” (Exodus 37:8).
May 14, 2011 at 8:41 am
Thanks Mark! That makes sense. (Luckily I know where the “edit” button is)
May 14, 2011 at 12:13 pm
What? No Mario? What a great story and rich heritage, love it!!
May 14, 2011 at 12:27 pm
Thanks Leslie. It’s fun to think back on all the Lord has done over these generations!
May 15, 2011 at 7:54 pm
Really enjoying you and John’s background and seeing how the Lord had it all planned.
July 11, 2011 at 6:17 pm
He did have it all planned Priscilla! He is in control!!!
October 9, 2011 at 2:16 pm
Seriously a strange coincidence. I need to talk to you or the family. In some strange way I wonder if we may be related in some strange way. My great grandfathers name was Guido as was my father and brother. My grandmothers name was Gelsomina which we called Nonna. My fathers uncle was Nello which later was changed in America to Angelo. My uncle was Uncle Louie! Ok…now the highlight…..our ancestors as well come from Lucca. It was not a large city back then. When the first son is born in Italy it is tradition to name him after the fathers father being the baby’s grandfather. The next son is named after the mothers father and so on. This is why my father and brother were named Guido due to the first born son that was in the family was named after my grandfather Argante’ which was changed to Gino. Wow…..thanks for the memories. Wouldn’t it be fun if find out we all could be related? I just love your stories. You are an awesome woman. John is an awesome man as well. I am happy that you both are so in love. Lots of hugs. We need to get together.
October 9, 2011 at 3:32 pm
Maybe we should get together for coffee and biscotti and talk sometime, paisana! Those are some very interesting coincidences! But how about your ancestors’ surnames, Diane? Any Paladini in there? I can’t wait to talk to John about this! We’ll definitely get together.
October 9, 2011 at 2:24 pm
Ok this is really strange. I wonder if John’s family and ours could be related in some strange way. In Italy the first born son is named after the grandfather on the fathers side. The second is named after the mothers father and so on. This is the tradition. My grandfathers name was Guido as was my father and brother. My grandmother’s (Nonna) name was Gelsomina. My great uncles name was Nello which later was changed in America to Angelo. My uncle was Louie. I have a cousin Frank. Here’s the kicker….we are from Lucca as well. Lucca was not a big city back then so is it possible? I know these are common names but that would be so fun if we were realted in some way. Hugs. I enjoy your stories. You and John are such awesome people. I just love you to pieces. We need to get together sometime. Lots of hugs…
December 10, 2012 at 4:46 pm
So I’m not related to the Paladini family in any way but I now own property in Novato that was once owned by Primo Paladini. the landwas adjacent to his brother Guido Paladini. It would be interesting to know if Primo originally bought the property that was planted with vineyards or if the vines were already in place. Any ideas? Would have been sometime in the 1920’s to 1930’s I think.
December 10, 2012 at 9:09 pm
Check back with us. We’ll talk to dad and Aunt Anna. (Or you can go to the Novato Historical Society, where Aunt Anna volunteers, and she might know.)
December 11, 2012 at 6:41 am
Thank you for the quick response. I will stop by the historical society – I wanted to see if they had maps of the area and how the areas was subdivided by the Trumbull family. I think the property was owned by the Trumbull and sold to Primo or it was part of a larger holding by the Novato LAnd Company and sold directly to Primo. It is an interesting historical story that I think should be recorded as part of the local record.
December 11, 2012 at 9:44 pm
Please come back and tell us what you find out.
July 10, 2016 at 8:21 am
I am related to Primo Paladini’s wife Antoinette Morosi-Luchetti-Paladini. Is there any information or photo’s that you can share?
July 13, 2016 at 4:11 pm
Michelle there is a chapter on The Paladini Brothers in “Novato Township including a very nice picture on page 367. I will e-mail the picture to you and you might want to check out the book. Novato Township by May Rodgers Ungemach – ISBN 0961981008 Antoinette is mentioned on the following page.