Sunday, March 7, 2010

Where do we come from?

Recently Ive been inspired by several of the blogs that I view and the wonderful stories that trace our family history. Its a who are we quest and why am I the way that I am. Well the Papa's tale starts back in New York at the beginning of the 20th Century with the arrival of Nonno Vincenzo Tesoriero, my grandfather.

Photographed here at the Crystal Hall Photo studio East 48th and 14th street New York in approximately 1918 we see a very young Vincenzo hamming it up for the Camera.
Vincenzo was an unremarkable man but he belonged to a very remarkable generation who literally took the world as their oyster and pursued their dreams across the oceans to foreign shores. Vincenzo arrived in Ellis Island from the The Aeolian Islands off the coast of Sicily, alone at the age of 14 years old. He was a solid lad who enjoyed hard work and so moving to Brooklyn he took up the employment of a stevedore on the wharves unloading cargo. It was here that he meet my grandmother whose family had arrived in the late 1890's. She was born on Union Street in Brooklyn. It must have been a hard time and a hard place for them both because not long after, they returned to Italy where my father was born. Four years later they were boat bound again, this time for Australia and that is where my story begins many years later.
I often wonder what my life would have been like had my family stayed in America. In some ways I have always felt a little cheated by being down in the antipodes when all the things that interest me and many of my good friends call America home, this would go a long way to explaining why Ive been to the states about 26 times and feel a deep affinity for the home of my forefathers. I am of course a product of my own environment, here in Australia, and it is perhaps because of this that I have the interests that I have, had I been born in the States there is no guarantee that I would have found any of 'IT' remarkable and I could have been oblivious to it all. It is this thinking that allows me to rationalise everything at the end of the day but at times it certainly is cold comfort when I know that every weekend you folks are at the flea market perpetually on the hunt for the good stuff. Realistically however It ain't all the bad, as I get to wake early and paddle out into pristine waters and conjugate with the sea and then once home again, dried and warm I get to sit in front of this screen and read about what a fine day you've had and what great vintage pieces you've been able to unearth.

1 comment:

  1. Paisano,
    My grandfather came over to Ellis Island on a ship from Palermo to Ellis Island in 1923.
    I grew up an Italian American in Stamford, CT where he settled. My father married a"shin'dut" (I think this was Calabrese for 'Shiksa') Australian girl.
    After growing up in the NYC suburbs and at 301 years of age emigrating to Australia, let me just say my man, you didn't miss out a friggin' thing.
    See you out on the water. I'll be on my 9'1" Gary Burden Astro, blue tint, somewhere b/w Bungan and Palmy.