Friday, March 5, 2021

A Tribute to My Dad


A Tribute to My Dad

By Nick Cimino, League City, Texas, March 5, 2021


Today would have been my dad’s 87th birthday.  Dad passed away on January 22, 2021 and it has taken me awhile to get to the point where I could deal with my feelings in writing.  With COVID I was spared from having to write a eulogy for his memorial service. I didn’t even have to write an obituary. We have not had a memorial service. Just a few Facebook posts.  But this is not enough for a man that was deeply loved and respected by all who really knew him.

Richard James Cimino was born on March 5, 1934, in South Sioux City, Nebraska, his father, Richard Cimino, was 27 and his mother, Mary Iza McCrory, was 25. He married Jill Anna Mayne and they had four children together. He then married Phyllis Lorraine Hershwitzky and they had one daughter together. He died on January 22, 2021, in Vancouver, Washington, at the age of 86.

Born 1934-Died 2021 but that dash in the middle is filled with a lot of living and loving.  Dad had his share of disappointments in life but he was also well-known as a man who enjoyed a good celebration and there were many.

His early life was spent in South Sioux City, Nebraska. He was born there in 1934 and his parents house was on a dead end of West 17th Street which was a Cimino family compound. His grandfather lived across the street and his Uncle John had a house there too.

When Dad was a kid, he began his life as a picker. He would go through the alleys and pick through the trash to find the cards from the Wing cigarettes that had airplanes on it. Tony was embarrassed by his little brother so he turned him into their mother and she made him promise not to rummage through the trash anymore. When the milk bottles would freeze in the winter, the cream would be pushed over the rim of the bottle and Dad and Tony would break off the cream and eat it and then put the paper caps back on the bottles.

Tony had a bicycle that my Dad would ride. It was too big for him so he would lean it against the house or the garage to climb aboard and then push off from the wall to get the bike moving. Dad hardly ever wore shoes and one time he got his big toe caught in the chain. His grandfather arrived at the scene and was going to pull his foot out of the snare but Uncle Sam stopped him and got a tool to cut the chain loose which probably saved Dad's big toe. Uncle Fred's Buick sedan usually had trouble starting but it started right up that day and they took him to Dr. Legg and the good doctor sewed his toe back together. Dad got the royal treatment during his recovery. His dad would carry him into the movies and he got to sit up in the front seat of the car with his foot resting on the dashboard.

Dad's mother would bring the family down to Omaha from South Sioux City on the Greyhound bus and they would stay at the home of her mother and stepfather, Julia and Alfred Hansen. The bus ride could be a scary experience for a little boy. Dad recalls a trip in the wintertime when roads were flooded and he could see parts of houses floating in the water. Alfred had a 31 Chevy with a rumble seat in the back so it was a treat for Dad and Betty Ann to sit in the rumble seat and go visit relatives in Omaha.

Dad recalled visiting his Aunt Sarah and her husband August Oddo in Omaha before the Cimino family left Nebraska probably in the late 1930s or early 1940s. August would be out in front of the house working on cars covered in grease.

Grandpa Dick would go out on Friday and Saturday nights to play gigs with his band. Dad inherited the job of shining shoes and cleaning the saxophone case from his brother, Tony when he went into the army. He remembers vividly those nights staying home with his mom. He would put cream and sugar into his Mom's coffee for her so this is probably why he preferred cream and sugar in his own coffee.

Grandpa Dick had gone out to California during World War II to work in the shipyards. He was not enamored with cold of San Francisco Bay but he was impressed with Sacramento and vowed to come back.  He found an opportunity in Montana first and the family relocated there for awhile but Sacramento was still calling him.  A job at a casing plant in West Sacramento made it possible for the family to relocate there.

Dad vividly remembered the fat lady at Playland in San Francisco. He didn’t write many emails but some pictures sent to him by his friend Coy stirred some memories of his early days in Northern California:

From: Richard Cimino ( Sent: Fri 12/24/10 7:19 PM The Bay Area seems like a different world looking at these pictures. We lived in Sacramento in the mid 1940´s. We would take the train to Oakland and catch the ferry to San Francisco, then on to the street car to Playland at the Beach. I cannot put into words how much I enjoyed these trips as a young boy 11 years old. After all these years it´s still a thrill for me to cross the Golden Gate. I love San Francisco. Thank you Coy for sending me these pictures. Rich

Dad told me that he loved to drive from an early age. He would take his father's car when he was sleeping. It worked pretty well until the neighbors asked Grandpa Dick who was driving his car. He bought his first car when he was 16.  Dad like to cruise the main streets of Sacramento with his friend Jack Flock.

He was a graduate of McClatchy High School, in Sacramento. He worked while going to school at a service station and also baled hay. They baled hay at night in the Sacramento area because the hay was too dry during the day and the alfalfa would lose its leaves. At night it was cooler and the hay bales turned out better.

Dad and Mom were married January 17, 1954. They had four children: me, Vicky, Vince and Faran.

Dad needed a good job to feed his growing family. His first full-time occupation was as an electrician apprentice, but he only did it for 18 months. His brother was an electrician and he often had periods of unemployment so when Dad saw an opportunity to apply to the phone company, he took it.  He was employed by Pacific Telephone from 1956 to 1986 and he never regretted the decision to opt for a steady income. He started as a supply man, but worked most of those 30 years in the installation and repair units. He also worked on the test board toward the end of his career.

While in Woodland he worked the graveyard shift supplying the trucks for the next day. There was a tomato field next to his building and he would go out and pick a ripe tomato and sprinkle it with salt for a delicious snack. In Sacramento, he worked out of the yard at 24th and S Streets.

One of the earliest memories of times with Dad was on Carmela Way when there was a fire at a neighbor's house.  Dad took me through the house after the fire.  I think he was hoping that seeing the house and smelling the charred remains would reinforce the seriousness of being careful with matches and open flames. It was a very memorable experience for me and I think it had the desired effect.

Dad put a lot of work into the house on Carmela Way. This is where we lived when Vince was born on November 17, 1958.

He enjoyed going into people’s homes on installation and repair jobs. He was a sociable fellow and would often admire their antiques and collectibles. Sometimes he would offer to buy their unwanted treasures. On one occasion, I remember that Dad took us to an old house that he had serviced so we could dig for old bottles in the backyard.

In 1960, we moved to 2352 Craig Avenue in Sacramento. Dad’s work improving the house and the yard began again. We were literally on the southern edge of Sacramento and on a clear day we could see Mt. Diablo out of our two patio doors on the south side of the house. We waited to install our fence to preserve that view. But eventually Dad built a fence and a patio. I remember him smoothing and watering the concrete on the patio.  He and I installed phone jacks in every room of that house.  My job was to crawl under the house with the wire and poke the wire through the hole that Dad had drilled.

One of the best days of my life was when he and his brother installed an air conditioner in our house.

One of Dad's fondest family memories was taking the entire family to the drive-in movies. Mom would make bags of popcorn and they would purchase candy at the store to avoid the high prices at the snack bar. Sometimes he would put me in the trunk before we entered the drive-in to save money on the entrance fee. Dad created a place for all of the kids to sleep in the car when we got drowsy. Dad made a plywood platform to go over the drive shaft that allowed one kid to fall asleep on the floor of the Chevy. The lucky kid got the seat and another would be behind the back seat. I remember switching off with Vicky on the sleeping area. When we got the 52 Mercury woody wagon, we had more room for everyone.

One movie that we saw at the drive-in was Goldfinger. We would go to several different drive-ins.  My job would be to wash the windows.  Occasionally I would get to go to the snack bar to get popcorn and candy with Dad. In the 1961 City Directory there were listings for the Fruitridge Drive-In Movie at 5201 Fruitridge Road and I know we went there but the one we went to most often was Skyview Drive-In on 47th Ave. There was also the El Rancho at 200 West Capitol in West Sacramento and we went there a few times too. Mather Auto Movies at 9977 Folsom Boulevard was another place that we went to a few times. Some of these places had playgrounds but I do not remember spending much time at a playground. One of our cars was a convertible which was nice on a hot night but I seem to remember that Dad used the car heater to defrost the windows on many nights.

Dad was well immersed into the 1960s car culture to the point of purchasing and restoring sports cars and then exhibiting them in car shows. He owned an MG-TD and a drophead Morgan. One of my favorite photographs is of my brother Vince standing in the engine compartment of the Morgan.  Dad had removed the engine and fully restored it. Uncle Tony had a Volvo that he had renovated and they both were attending car shows and sports car races.

In the late 1960s Dad purchased a Citroen wagon. The car was quite the oddity on the streets of Sacramento at the time especially when we would come to a stoplight and the kids would shout 'raise it up, Dad'. The suspension had a hydraulic system that would allow the driver to raise the chassis higher for better clearance and it created quite the sight for the other drivers and passengers to see this car raising up several inches. Perhaps this is what inspired the low-riders to install similar systems on their cars!

Dad loved to take us on drives around Sacramento and day trips to the foothills. He liked to take the scenic route and pull over at historic markers and let me read the history of the site. I think that was one of the things that inspired my love of history. When he had his motorcycle, he would let me ride with him out to the river road. It was always fun to ride on top of the levee next to the Sacramento River whether I was on the motorcycle or in a car.

We spent a lot of time in the car going from one place to another. Sometimes we would get caught waiting for trains on Meadowview or Florin Road. When we were able to cross the tracks, it was always an adventure because the tracks seemed to be at a steep incline and it was a bumpy ride over the tracks.

One of my adventures with Dad would be a trip to the dump in a borrowed pickup truck. The road to the dump had lots of undulations so it was fun if we could get a little air as we were going over the bumps on the way back home. Dad was always very scrupulous about bringing the truck back clean with a full tank of gas no matter how empty it was when we picked it up.  Sometimes we would walk around the salvage yard and find a few treasures to bring back home.

When I was in Boy Scouts, Dad would often be one of the drivers that would take us to and from camp-outs.

The period from 1964 to 1970 was very difficult for Dad and Mom. Tensions were at a very high level and both of them started drinking too much.  Mom was in an auto accident and my brother Faran was in the front seat and received a huge gash in his cheek from the impact. Dad worked a lot of overtime ostensibly to pay the bills but there might have been some avoidance going on for him.  He used to spend a lot of time at the Round Corner Bar playing pool with his work buddies. There were lots of late-night parties at the house with work buddies and their wives. Mom’s drinking got out of control. Mom also struggled with epilepsy and she had some events which were called mental breakdowns. Dick and Jill were divorced in July 1970.

Mom got custody of the kids but she struggled to make it on alimony and child support and she wasn’t working full time. Her drinking seemed to get worse. Dad filed for custody of the kids about 1972 and I supported him during the trial. He and I lived together during that period. He obtained custody and things started to improve but Dad had his challenges raising three kids as a single father.

I was in college and Dad was able to get me a summer job with the phone company at Lake Tahoe. That was a very memorable experience for me and it gave me and dad a lot to talk about regarding our shared experience. I was now out of the house either working in the summer or going to school and living at UC Davis.  After I graduated from college, I moved back to Sacramento with Dad and my three siblings.  I could see that Dad was not happy trying to raise his kids alone in Sacramento. He thought a move would be a good idea.

He transferred to Santa Rosa and he described that as the best thing that ever happened in his career.

Dad moved to a rental house on West Avenue in Santa Rosa in January 1976. I got to drive his prized Shelby Mustang. Somebody broke into the moving truck in Sacramento behind the condo but they didn't take anything. A few months later, he and the boys moved to Aztec Court in Santa Rosa. The subdivision was known as Indian Village. Dad described it as a war zone. But he loved his work in Santa Rosa. He said it was easier because there were fewer conflicts with the customers. Now that I read this paragraph again, I wish I would have reviewed this sooner. I would have asked him to explain the war zone and the conflicts but I guess I can ask Phyllis and my brothers for their interpretations.

Meanwhile, I had met someone very special and in November 1976, I was married in Sacramento to Robin Harrington.  Both mom and dad participated in the wedding. Their divorced relationship was amicable at that point. Mom was working and getting on the right track.

Dad had also met someone special at a Parents Without Partners event in Santa Rosa.  Her name was Phyllis Hershwitzky and she was a nurse with three daughters. They dated for several months and were married on June 18, 1977.  Dad, Vince and Faran moved in with Phyllis, Kim, Alison and Shannon and they had their own little Brady Bunch on Monte Verde Way in Santa Rosa.

About 1982, Kim went to school in Mt. Po Yay (spelling?), France and Dad and Phyllis went to Europe for 3 weeks. They landed in Frankfurt, were there one night, then took the train to Aachen, Germany. This town was bombed out in World War II. They stayed in an old hotel with very good beer. They visited a toy company in Aachen called Danhausen. The town was shaped like a wheel. They had some meals at a railway station buffet which had excellent food.

They took the train to Paris to meet Kim and her boyfriend there. They went to Mt Po Yay and the Palace of Versailles. The rooms were huge.  One of the fireplaces was so large that Dad walked into it. There was an old merry go round. There were beautiful gardens and buildings and Dad thought it was a magnificent place. He remembered that Empress Josephine had a secret door in her bedroom.  

Kim and Phyllis climbed the Eiffel Tower. They went to the Moulin Rouge and had champagne and an excellent dinner. The entertainers were from Texas.

Dad and Phyllis went to Milano for a few days. Most days were spent shopping for toys and walking around. They went to flea markets and toy stores in Milano.  This was in the early years of his toy car collecting hobby.

In 1986, Dad and Phyllis moved to 10027 Herb Road in Windsor. This is where his toy collecting hobby became an obsession. The house was decorated with his toy collection and Phyllis collected dolls and several other items. He was employed as a school bus driver for the Windsor School District that same year and he retired from the school district in 1996. It was during those years that Dad and Phyllis started their business called Cimino Machines in Miniature.  The toy collecting became a weekend business.  They purchased a camper van to carry their inventory to toy shows, flea markets and sports car races.

It was also during these years that their home became the scene of many family reunions, birthday parties and other celebrations.

In 2004, Dad and Phyllis decided to move to Battleground, Washington to be near their daughter, Shannon. Her family had already moved to nearby Vancouver, Washington. They purchased a house at 910 SW 30th Street in Battleground. Uncle Tony came from Bend to help them move with his friend, Dave. Vince Cimino, his friend, Bert and Shannon’s husband, Nick McCarthy also helped. When they arrived in their house in Battleground, they had no furniture until December. They had mattresses but no bed frames.

They spent their first Thanksgiving in Washington at Shannon's house with Vince and Sandra also attending. All of the boxes were in the garage but everything was out of the storage unit. The house had an open floor plan with kitchen, dining room and living room combined. The had a long table suitable for large family gatherings. They hosted a Christmas party for the neighborhood when they first moved to Washington. Phyllis made a delicious dinner.

In 2006 Dad was treated for lung cancer. Shortly thereafter he had a cardiac ablation.

Things were better at Christmas in 2008 when we received this email from Dad and Phyllis:

HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM THE BEAUTIFUL NORTHWEST From: Richard Cimino ( Sent: Sat 12/27/08 10:27 PM Dear family and friends, we want to wish all of you a very happy New Year. We hope that 2009 brings health and happiness. Here are some pictures from our home showing the beautiful snow fall December 2008. It has been quite an experience. We were snowed in for four days, along with no mail delivery. Some of the pictures are also of our newest member of our family's home, Greg Welter who lives across the road from us. Greg and Alison became husband and wife on 12/20/2008. We are thrilled!!! Blessings to all, Rich (dad, poppy) and Phyllis (mom,nana) ps max and daisy send their love as well.

The following year I received this email:

From: Richard Cimino ( Sent: Tue 9/08/09 3:51 AM Our Morgan is in the shop being worked on. Hope to have it back on the road again by spring. Phyllis and myself, and my brother Tony went to the All-British Field Meet in Bellevue, Wa. We saw lots of beautiful cars, including many Morgans. We had a great week-end in the Seattle area. Enjoy the remainder of your Summer. Best Regards, Rich and Phyllis Cimino

In 2011, I received another email:

From: Richard Cimino ( Sent: Wed 7/20/11 2:09 AM To: Nick Cimino ( Hi Nick, Thanks for the email. Vince and family will be here soon to spend the night. Tomorrow we will be on the way to Canada. Back home on Saturday. Thanks again love you, Dad. Rich Cimino

In March 2016 Dad and Phyllis moved to Vancouver, Washington. The Oakland A’s had been a life-long passion for Dad. They would often record the games so he always warned me not to tell him the final score. Dad had been having signs of Alzheimer’s and he had a variety of other health challenges.

We would talk on the phone frequently. Unfortunately, the pandemic kept us from visiting over the last year. Here are a few notes that I took from a conversation last year.

September 13, 2020, 2:54 PM- Looks like a fog from all of the smoke from the forest fires. They are not going out. Having his breakfast including English muffins with peanut butter and cherry jelly.  Drinking his coffee now. Still in his pajamas. Updated him on Irma in hospital in Elko.  Not going out. Freezer is stocked. Thinking about taking a drive. Phyllis is handling him. "It is a full-time job."

His conversations got shorter over the past few months. He was fortunate that Phyllis, Alison and Shannon were there at the end to care for him.  Dad was always a great story teller. His memories of his youth were very vivid. He had a great sense of humor.  He was especially helpful to me in compiling our family history. Losing a parent is never easy. For me it has been especially hard but remembering the good times helps.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

1940 Obituary of Mrs. Mary Cimino AKA Maria Ossino

1940 Obituary of Mrs. Mary Cimino
Clipped from Sioux City Journal, Sioux City, Iowa, Thursday, November 7, 1940, Page 7 on
This is the obituary of my paternal great grandmother, Mrs. Mary Cimino, wife of Tony Cimino of South Sioux City, Nebraska.  This obituary is a perfect example of how unreliable information in an obituary can be.

The first inaccuracy is her age and birthdate. The obituary says she was 58 years old and that she was born March 5, 1882.  Based on her birth record in Lentini, Siracusa, Sicily, we know that she was actually born 10 March 1879 so her actual age was 61. The source of the incorrect birth date was probably her husband, Tony Cimino.  He gave the same birth date to the funeral home when they completed the death certificate and this inaccuracy is also etched in stone on her grave marker.

Photo of Cimino graves in Dakota City Cemetery, 6 May 2018, Dakota City, Nebraska photo by Nick Cimino

The writer of the obituary was presumably correct about the location of the funeral at St. Michael's Catholic Church in South Sioux City and her address was 611 W. 17th Street, South Sioux City. The names of the priest, Rev. M.A. Quinn and the funeral home [Becker's] are also presumably correct. We know for a fact that she was buried in the Dakota City cemetery.

Antonino Cimino and Maria Ossino about 1935;
Estimated date of photo would be in the 1930s prior to the death of Mary Cimino in 1940.
Probably taken in the yard of their home in South Sioux City, Nebraska
When we get to the names of the survivors we seem to have a big problem with spelling.  Here is how the names should be spelled with correct letters underlined: Survivors include the widower, Tony, four daughters, Mrs. Camilla Gonnion of South Sioux City, Mrs. Josephine Vontash of South Sioux City, Mrs. Sarah Oddo of Omaha and Mrs. Rose Ferraguti of Omaha; four sons, Dick, Fred, Sam and John Cimino of South Sioux City; a sister, Mrs. Camilla Peri of Omaha and 12 grandchildren.

I was excited when I found this obituary because it confirms that she had a sister, Mrs. Camilla Peri of Omaha.  The memory of this sister had been lost to the Cimino family. Her birth name was Carmela Ossino and she immigrated alone to the U.S.A. in 1912 one year after her sister, Maria Ossino had immigrated with her three children. We only recently discovered this long lost sister when I found my DNA match, Kevin Cunningham, who was a grandson of Carmela Peri.

It is also interesting to note that six of eight children were living in South Sioux City in 1940.  Daughters: Sarah Oddo and Rose Ferraguti were living in Omaha. After World War II, Dick, Sam, Camilla, Josie and Sarah would move to California where they all died.

Obituaries can be very useful for the genealogy and family history that they contain. Be careful to verify the information with other sources as they are often filled with mistakes as shown in this example.  They also contain clues about long lost relatives and can enrich the story of our ancestors.

Mary (Ossino) Cimino grave with Sophie, Mary Jo & John Cimino
Mary Jo looks pretty young (about 8?) and the grave still looks new.
There are flowers in the background so this could have been taken in the spring of 1941.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Immigration Records Unlock Ferraguti Family History

Sam and Rose Ferraguti

My grandfather's sister was Rose Cimino 1918-2004. She was married to Sam Ferraguti.  Sam's full name was Salvatore Silvio "Sam" Ferraguti and he was born on May 1, 1918, in Omaha, Nebraska. His father was Verardo Ferraguti and his mother was Elvira Settini. Sam Ferraguti married Rose Louise Cimino on June 18, 1937, in Papillion, Nebraska. They had four children in 16 years. He died on November 2, 2003, in his hometown at the age of 85.

Some of the most valuable documents for 20th century immigrants can be found in the naturalization paperwork.  For example, here is the Petition for Citizenship for Sam's father, Verardo Ferraguti.

There are so many useful details on a Petition for Citizenship that I recommend that you make a full transcript.  Here is the transcript that I made for the above document:


To the Honorable the DISTRICT Court of THE UNITED STATES of CHICAGO, ILL.

The petition of VERARDO FERRAGUTI, hereby filed respectfully, shows:

(1) My place of residence is 11401 Watt Ave., Chicago, Ill. 

(2) My occupation is Laborer. 

(3) I was born in Torite, Italy on February 18, 1876. 

[Spelling of surnames and place names in these documents is often questionable. This place name is further obscured by a typographical error placing a "t" in place of an "l." In another source I had recorded that Verardo was born in Parma, Italy.  I googled a list of the comunes or towns in the province of Parma and I found that the correct spelling should be Torrile.  Here is a link to the Wikipedia article about Torrile, Italy. ]

[According to Wikipedia, Torrile is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Parma in the Italian region Emilia-Romagna, located about 90 kilometres (56 mi) northwest of Bologna and about 13 kilometres (8 mi) north of Parma.]

My race is North Italian.

(4) I declared my intention to become a citizen of the United States on June 9, 1925 in the Superior Court of Cook County, at Chicago, Illinois.

(5) I am married. the name of my wife is Elvira [We know through other records that her maiden name was Settini.] We were married on May 28, 1904 at Oro Prito, Brazil. 

[Here is another case of poor spelling.  The actual place name is Ouro Preto and here is the link to the Wikipedia article: Ouro Preto was a gold mining town that is 475 kilometers north of Rio de Janeiro by an unlit winding road.]

She [Elvira Settini] was born at Treviso, Italy on March 27, 1884 and [she] entered the United States at New York, City on June 22, 1905 for permanent residence therein, and now resides at Omaha, Nebraska.

[According to Wikipedia, Treviso is a city and comune in the Veneto region of northern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Treviso]

I have 7 children, and the name, date, and place of birth, and places of residence of each of said children are as follows:
Leandro born May 28, 1905 in Ora Preto, Brazil [Ouro Preto]
Arnaldo, born July 13, 1907 in Omaha, Neb.
Luigi, March 25, 1909 in Omaha, Neb.
Antonio, born June 4, 1911 in Omaha, Neb.
Carlo, born April 14, 1913 in Omaha, Neb.
James, born March 2, 1915 in Omaha, Neb.
Sam born May 1, 1918 in Omaha, Neb.
All reside in Omaha, except Leandro who resides in Chicago, Ill.

(6) My last foreign residence was Torile [Torrile], Italy. I emigrated to the United States of America from Rio Di Janiero, Brazil. My lawful entry for permanent residence in the United States was at New York, N.Y. under the name Varardo [sic] Ferraguti on September 19, 1905, on the vessel Tennyson.

[I always find the following phrase disconcerting that so many Americans would have difficulty swearing to this today.]

(7) I am not a disbeliever in or opposed to organized government or a member of or affiliated with any organization or body of persons teaching disbelief in or opposed to organized government. I am not a polygamist nor a believer in the practice of polygamy. I am attached to the principles of the constitution of the United States and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States. It is my intention to become a citizen of the United States and to renounce absolutely and forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, and particularly to Victor Emmanuel III, King of Italy of whom (which) at this time I am a subject (or citizen), and it is my intention to reside permanently in the United States.

(8) I am able to speak the English language.

(9) I have resided continuously in the United States of America for the term of five years at least immediately preceding the date of this petition, to wit, since September 19, 1905 and in the County of Cook this state, continuously next preceding the date of this petition, since October 28, 1922, being a residence within said county of at least six months next preceding the date of this petition.

(10) I have not heretofore made petition for citizenship.

I, your aforesaid petitioner being duly sworn, depose and say that I have read this petition and know the contents thereof; that the same is true of my own knowledge except as to matters herein stated to be alleged upon information and belief, and that as to those matters I believe it to be true; and this this petition is signed by me with my full, true name.

Verardo Ferraguti- (Complete and true signature of petitioner)

I will let you read the Affidavits of Witnesses on the original document. Their names and occupations were Samuel H. Masessa, a Washing Machine Salesman and Joseph Napoli, a painter.

This petition for Naturalization was signed and sworn to by the witnesses on the 4th day of June 1932 and it helped me to uncover several details of dates and places of birth and marriage for members of the Ferraguti family.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

A Visit to Carlentini, Sicily 1968

Carlentini Postcards

About 1992
Carlentini, Siracusa, Sicilia, Italia
The images are from postcards received from my cousin, Angelo Randazzo, in Carlentini, Siracusa, Sicily in 1992. The lower image shows a panorama of Carlentini with Mount Etna in the background and the upper postcard includes another panorama with citrus groves on the hillside, an archeological site, the Villa Belvedere and the Palazzo Comunale of Carlentini.
For my friends from Carlentini, scroll to the bottom for my rough translation to Italian.
[Per i miei amici di Carlentini, scorrere fino in fondo per la mia traduzione approssimativa in italiano.]

The Cimino family originated from Carlentini on the island of Sicily. Our family immigrated to Omaha, Nebraska in the early years of the 20th century. Our great grandfather, Antonino Cimino 1878-1963 moved to Sioux City, Iowa and then moved across the Missouri River to South Sioux City, Nebraska.  Most of the Italians of Omaha and Sioux City are connected to Carlentini.

I have been searching for historical information on Carlentini for years but very little has been published. Searching the newspapers of Omaha, I came across this article that deserves to be shared with Omaha and Carlentini history buffs. This newspaper account of life in Carlentini was based on the travels of a gentleman named Sam Monaco in 1968.  He chronicles the profound changes in Carlentini between 1954 and 1968.  Here is a transcription of the article with a few images added to spice it up.

Date: Saturday, April 27, 1968 Paper: Omaha WorldHerald
(Omaha, Nebraska) Page: 4

Midlands News-Nebraska

Robert McMorris-

Sun-up Interview:
Sam Monaco

    THE Old Country revisited: When Omaha's Italian-Americans talk about the "old country," they're usually referring to Carlentini, a small city in Sicily.
    The first immigrant from Carlentini was Joseph Salerno, who came here in 1895. He wrote glowing letters home, saying he had found the promised land. That started a large exodus from Carlentini, where "Omaha" became synonymous with "America."

Sam Monaco image from the Omaha World Herald, 1968

    What is Carlentini like today? Our guide to this "mother city" of so many Omahans is Sam Monaco, now an Omaha produce wholesaler. While he was born in Omaha (53 years ago). his parents were natives of Carlentini and he himself spent most of his boyhood there. Accompanied by a friend, he recently returned to his "other hometown" for a two-month
    You would "hardly believe" the changes that have come to Carlentini. he said.

(Left to right) Old Market staples: Angelo Monaco, Carl Buda, Sam Monaco and Joe Vitale at 11 and Howard.
Notice that the Monaco Vitale Fruit & Veg Sign is in the background.
Photo credit: The Encounter July-August 2011 published by Omaha Magazine

No Donkeys
    AT THE height of the migration to Omaha. Carlentini was a city of about seven thousand. Today there are 13 thousand. Mr. Monaco said.
    "In my last trip there, in 1954, things were pretty much the same as had always been," he added. "You saw a lot of donkeys and horses in the streets.
"People did everything the old way. Many of the men worked on farms during the week and they slept there. And they would come into town on week ends to be with their families."
    Now they work in the new plastics factory, or at the nearby oil refinery, and things are booming, Mr. Monaco said.
    "People have cars and indoor bathrooms," he said. "And TV. They see quite a few old American cowboy movies on TV. Also, shows like 'Perry Mason.' But all the actors speak Italian."
Other signs of progress: Cocktail lounges, where the natives, in addition to wine, are experimenting with Martinis and a variety of American-formula mixed drinks.
    "They've got American whisky and everything," Mr. Monaco marveled. "And aspirins and Alka·Seltzer."

The Kids
    MR. MONACO found that the younger generation of Carlentini is spared the harsh realities that drove away so many others of their town in an earlier day.
    "It used to be that a kid would go to work, watching the sheep and cattle, when he was 6 or 7," he said. ""By the time he was 12 or 13 he'd carry large rocks on his shoulders. They'd use them :for construction work.
    Nowadays the kids are in school. It's just like in America. Girls in mini-skirts and the boys in long hair-although I didn't see any of the boys wearing beads. They listen to the same kind of loud music we've got here. They've got their combos and-guitars and all that."

    ONE thing about Carlentinians hasn't changed: "They love to sit around and tell stories," Mr. Monaco discovered. "What kind of stories? Well, like the traveling salesman and the farmer's daughter.
    "They were telling some of the same stories that I had heard in Omaha before I left. But they put more gestures and feeling into it."

Brothers Prosperous
    SAM MONACO was 6 years old, in 1921, when his parents, who were homesick, left Omaha and returned to their native Carlentini.
Sam came back to Omaha in 1932, leaving his family behind.  Since then his brothers have prospered. One is now the head of a bank in Carlentini. Another, who also still lives in Carlentini, is a professor of French and English. A third brother is a plainclothes investigator in northern Italy.
   "I was 17 and an orange peddler when I decided to return to America," Sam said. "I had forgotten all my English, but I was sure I could do a lot better in spite of the depression."

City Market
    IN OMAHA, Sam went to work at the City Market at Eleventh and Jackson Streets, near where he is now located. This was a bustling place where housewives thronged around open air stands to buy potatoes, lettuce, radishes, onions, cucumbers, peppers, egg plant, squash, pumpkin and sweet potatoes-all hauled in fresh that morning from farms of the area.
    A couple of years later, John Russo, one of the produce wholesalers, made Sam a partner. Eventually Mr. Russo retired and sold out to Sam, who in turn formed a partnership with
Joe Vitale.
    "In the old days, this area was so busy there were two cops down here directing traffic," Mr. Monaco said. "Now our business is strictly wholesale and we are the only ones left handling local vegetables. It's all changed. The retail business dropped off completely. And we only deal with about 15 farmers now. We used to have more than 30 bringing things in.
    "The airport crowded a lot of the farmers out of business. And a lot of the oldtimers have died or retired. The younger ones aren't so interested. And labor is high."

No Regrets
DESPITE the reverses in the produce business, Mr. Monaco said he is satisfied: "It's a comfortable living. This is still the greatest country in the world. I've never been sorry I came back to it. It's been wonderful to me."
    He said about half of the people of Carlentini today vote for Communist candidates in elections. But the Carlentini Communists are "a different breed than the kind we think
about," he said. "They don't stir up trouble or talk politics. I thought I might get into trouble with some of them. But I didn't have a single argument. You wouldn't know they were Communists if they didn't tell you."
    And whatever the influence of Communist ideology, he added, the traditional image of America hasn't changed for Carlentinians. "I didn't run into any anti-Americanism," he said. "Everybody still thinks this country is the greatest and ( they'd all like to come here if they have a chance. Especially to Omaha."


8/8/2016 Articolo di Omaha World Herald
Data: sabato 27 aprile 1968 Articolo: Omaha WorldHerald
(Omaha, Nebraska) Pagina: 4
Midlands News-Nebraska

Robert McMorris-

Intervista Sun-up:
Sam Monaco

    IL Vecchio Paese rivisitato: quando gli italo-americani di Omaha parlano del "vecchio paese", di solito si riferiscono a Carlentini, una piccola città in Sicilia.
Il primo immigrato da Carlentini fu Joseph Salerno, che venne qui nel 1895. Scrisse lettere luminose a casa dicendo che aveva trovato la terra promessa. Ciò ha iniziato un grande esodo
da Carlentini, dove "Omaha" divenne sinonimo di "America".

    Com'è Carlentini oggi? La nostra guida a questa "città madre" di così tanti Omahan è Sam Monaco, che ora è un grossista di prodotti Omaha. Mentre è nato a Omaha (53 anni fa). i suoi genitori erano nativi di Carlentini e lui stesso trascorse lì la maggior parte della sua fanciullezza. Accompagnato da un amico, è tornato di recente nella sua "altra città" per due mesi
    "Difficilmente crederesti" ai cambiamenti che sono arrivati ​​a Carlentini. Egli ha detto.

Nessun asino
    All'apice della migrazione verso Omaha. Carlentini era una città di circa settemila. Oggi ci sono 13 mila. Disse Monaco.
    "Nel mio ultimo viaggio lì, nel 1954, le cose erano praticamente le stesse di sempre", ha aggiunto. "Hai visto molti asini e cavalli nelle strade.
"La gente ha fatto tutto alla vecchia maniera. Molti degli uomini hanno lavorato nelle fattorie durante il
settimana e hanno dormito lì. E sarebbero venuti in città nei fine settimana per stare con le loro famiglie ".

    Ora lavorano nella nuova fabbrica di materie plastiche, o nella vicina raffineria di petrolio, e le cose vanno a gonfie vele, ha detto Monaco.
    "Le persone hanno macchine e bagni interni", ha detto. "E la TV. Vedono alcuni vecchi film di cowboy americani in TV. Inoltre, spettacoli come" Perry Mason ". Ma tutti gli attori parlano italiano ".
Altri segni di progresso:
Cocktail lounge, dove i nativi, oltre al vino, stanno sperimentando Martinis e una varietà di bevande miste di formula americana.
    "Hanno whisky americano e tutto il resto", si meravigliò il signor Monaco. "E aspirine e Alka · Seltzer."
I bambini
    SIG. MONACO ha scoperto che la generazione più giovane di Carlentini è risparmiata dalle dure realtà che hanno portato via così tante altre persone della loro città in un giorno precedente.
    "Una volta era un bambino che andava a lavorare, a guardare le pecore e il bestiame, quando aveva 6 o 7 anni", ha detto. "" A 12 o 13 anni portava grandi rocce sulle sue spalle. Li userebbero: per lavori di costruzione.
    Oggi i bambini sono a scuola. È proprio come in America. Ragazze in minigonna e ragazzi con i capelli lunghi, anche se non ho visto nessuno dei ragazzi indossare perline. Ascoltano lo stesso tipo di musica ad alto volume che abbiamo qui. Hanno le loro combo e chitarre e tutto il resto. "

    Una cosa sui Carlentiniani non è cambiata: "Amano sedersi e raccontare storie", ha scoperto Monaco. "Che tipo di storie? Beh, come il commesso viaggiatore e la figlia del contadino.
    "Stavano raccontando alcune delle stesse storie che avevo ascoltato a Omaha prima che me ne andassi. Ma ci hanno messo più gesti e sentimenti."

Fratelli Prosperous
SAM MONACO aveva 6 anni, nel 1921, quando i suoi genitori, che avevano nostalgia di casa, lasciarono Omaha e tornarono dal loro nativo Carlentini.
Sam tornò a Omaha nel 1932, lasciando la sua famiglia alle spalle. Da allora i suoi fratelli hanno prosperato. Uno è ora il capo di una banca a Carlentini. Un altro, che vive ancora
Carlentini, è un professore di francese e inglese. Un terzo fratello è un investigatore in borghese nel nord Italia.
   "Avevo 17 anni e sono un venditore ambulante di arance quando ho deciso di tornare in America", ha detto Sam. "Avevo dimenticato tutto il mio inglese, ma ero sicuro di poter fare molto meglio nonostante la depressione."

Mercato cittadino
    A OMAHA, Sam andò a lavorare al City Market a Eleventh e Jackson Streets, vicino a dove si trova ora. Questo era un luogo vivace in cui le casalinghe si affollavano intorno
stand all'aperto per comprare patate, lattuga, ravanelli, cipolle, cetrioli, peperoni, melanzane, zucca, zucca e patate dolci, tutti trasportati freschi quella mattina dalle fattorie della zona.
Un paio di anni dopo, John Russo, uno dei grossisti di prodotti, fece di Sam un partner. Alla fine il sig. Russo si ritirò e si vendette a Sam, che a sua volta formò una partnership con
Joe Vitale.
    "Ai vecchi tempi, questa zona era così affollata che c'erano due poliziotti che dirigevano il traffico", ha detto Monaco. "Ora la nostra attività è strettamente all'ingrosso e siamo gli unici rimasti a manipolare verdure locali. Tutto è cambiato. La vendita al dettaglio è completamente diminuita. E adesso abbiamo a che fare solo con circa 15 agricoltori. Avevamo più di 30 persone che vendevano.
    "L'aeroporto ha affollato molti agricoltori per motivi di lavoro. E molti vecchi sono morti o ritirati. I più piccoli non sono così interessati. E il lavoro è alto."

Nessun rimpianto
CONTRO i rovesci nel settore dei prodotti, il signor Monaco ha dichiarato di essere soddisfatto: "È una vita confortevole. Questo è ancora il più grande paese del mondo. Non sono mai stato dispiaciuto di esserci tornato. È stato meraviglioso per me. "
     Ha detto che circa la metà della popolazione di Carlentini oggi vota per i candidati comunisti alle elezioni. Ma i comunisti Carlentini sono "una razza diversa da quella che pensiamo
", ha detto." Non creano problemi o parlano di politica. Ho pensato di potermi mettere nei guai con alcuni di loro. Ma non avevo un solo argomento. Non sapresti che erano comunisti se non te lo dicessero. "
     E qualunque sia l'influenza dell'ideologia comunista, ha aggiunto, l'immagine tradizionale dell'America non è cambiata per i Carlentiniani. "Non ho incontrato alcun anti-americanismo", ha detto. "Tutti pensano ancora che questo paese sia il migliore e (a tutti piacerebbe venire qui se ne hanno la possibilità. Soprattutto a Omaha."

Saturday, September 21, 2019

The Descendants of Sebastiano Cimino and Carmela Grasso

Sebastiana Cimino, my great grandfather's sister, was born in Carlentini 21 January 1886.

Back in 1992, I started a quest to learn the names of the descendants of Sebastiano Cimino and Carmela Grasso.  These were the parents that were left behind by my great grandfather, Antonino Cimino when he left Carlentini, Sicily for a new life in America in the first decade of the 20th century. With many starts and stops over the last 27 years, I have accumulated several names. But now with a trip to Carlentini planned in 2020, I have a new urgency and have achieved new successes.

Here is a translation of the letter that I received from the City of Carlentini back in 1992.

13 / JUNE / 1992
Dear Sir:
From the research carried out in our registers it appears that Sebastiano Cimino and Carmela Grasso had 4 children:
- Alfio Cimino, born in Carlentini  7 August 1872; Antonino Cimino born in Carlentini 23 December 1878; Sebastiana Cimino born in Carlentini 21 January 1886; Rosario Cimino born in Carlentini  2 April 1892- [My research shows two more daughters: Anna born 20 July 1875 and Lucia born 29 January 1882.]
[My great grandfather's brother] Alfio Cimino was married to Rosa Gulizia  1 November 1897 and they had 5 children: Carmela born 12 February 1898; Sebastiano born 14 May 1902; Sebastiana born 20 September 1904; Salvatrice born 23 November 1911 and Antonino born 2 March 1919-
[my great grandfather] Antonino Cimino married Maria Ossino, who was born in Lentini 10 March 1879. They were married 30 June 1903 and they had 3 children born [in Carlentini] Carmela was born 28 April 1903 and died 14 October 1903; [in the Sicilian tradition the next child was also named Carmela to carry forward the name of the paternal grandmother. The second...] Carmela was born  8 August 1904; Giovanni born  3 July 1909, of this branch of the family we have no other news because Antonino Cimino transferred to the U.S.A. about 1909- [The Carlentini official had no record of the fact that my grandfather, Sebastiano Cimino was born in Lentini in 1906.]
[My great grandfather's sister; see picture above] Sebastiana Cimino was married to Luciano Inserra  22 October 1904 and they had 3 children Carmelina born 16 October 1912, Salvatore born  16 July 1920, Giuseppe born 13 June 1924-
Rosario Cimino married Carmela Idolo on 20 August 1921 and transferred to Lentini-
In our City there are currently living many of your relatives, if you wish you can also contact  Mr. Angelo Randazzo who is the son of Salvatrice Cimino; His address is: Angelo Randazzo via Carlo Quinto, 26 96013 Car1entini Province of Syracuse-

Here is a summary of what I know about my second great grandparents who remained in Carlentini.

Sebastiano Cimino was born 28 December 1841 in Carlentini, Sicily and died there 2 April 1917. His father, Alfio Cimino, was 64 and his mother, Anna Gulizia, was 46 when he was born so there were most likely previous marriages for both of them. He married Carmela Grasso, daughter of Alfio Grasso and Giuseppa Tomaselli, on November 2, 1871, in his hometown of Carlentini. They had six children in 19 years.

Two of his children, Antonino and Lucia, immigrated to Omaha, Nebraska in the first decade of the 20th century and settled permanently in the United States. One son, Alfio Cimino, immigrated to the U.S. and worked there alongside his brother, Antonino but returned to Sicily and never returned to the U.S.

The death record says that Sebastiano Cimino lived on the Via del Leone in Carlentini. His occupation was contadino which means peasant farmer. Carlentini is mainly an agricultural center and produces citrus fruits, olives and cereals. There are also cow, pig and sheep farms.

The oldest son was Alfio born 1872 and in the Sicilian tradition he was named after his paternal grandfather. The next child was a girl named Anna born in 1875 and she was named after the paternal grandmother, Anna Gulizia. My great grandfather, Antonino was the third child born in 1878. The second son should have been named after his maternal grandfather but the name Alfio was already given to the first son.

The fourth child was a girl, named Lucia and she was born in 1882. A daughter Sebastiana was born in 1886 and the last child, a son, Rosario was born in 1892.

It must have been difficult for Sebastiano Cimino and his wife Carmela to see two of his children depart for the United States and never return. But they had four children that remained in Carlentini. There were four weddings to celebrate and many grandchildren would also fill their lives with joy.

Salvatrice Cimino born 23 November 1911 in Carlentini.
She is the mother of Angelo Randazzo and the granddaughter of Sebastiano Cimino and Carmela Grasso.

I did correspond with Angelo Randazzo for several years and he put me in touch with his uncle Antonino Cimino that lived in Milan.  When I moved to Texas in 2010, I was able to get in touch with the daughter of Angelo Randazzo by email. Recently, I have discovered that she and her sister and brother are all on Facebook and we have been corresponding in anticipation of my visit to Carlentini in 2020. We have been sharing pictures of our grandparents and I have been recording all of this information in my family trees on and

If you have accounts on either of those websites, you can view my Sicilian ancestors at the following links:

Here is the link to my family tree on
Here is the link to the family tree on Family Search:

I highly encourage you to sign up for a free account at if you have not already done so.  This site is particularly helpful for those of us with ancestors outside the U.S. which I think is just about all of us.

I look forward to my Sicilian family reunion in 2020. Vito and Michael Corleone had brass bands waiting for them in the Godfather movies.  I do not expect to have the whole town come out to greet me but the list of my Sicilian Facebook friends and relatives is growing quickly!