Friday, March 20, 2009

I've been spending a significant amount of time lately working on my newest venture,, and that has inevitably brought the issue of immigration to mind quite frequently. For some reason, today I was compelled to visit and try to track down some relatives. I got my grandparents on the phone, live from Florida, and they spit out as many names as they could think of. Though there were several misspellings in the passenger manifests (after all, as Bill Bryson points out in his book Made in America, most of the people who worked at Ellis Island collecting data were recent immigrants themselves), I was still able to track down nearly every family member I sought. Who would have guessed that my passions for olive oil, wine, and seafood were in my genes? Apparently, Bitonto, Italy and Palo del Colle, Italy (two small villages a few miles from Bari on the Adriatic Sea) were where my ancestors emigrated from around the turn of the 20th Century? Some relatives were even listed multiple times, because they made trips to Italy to watch over business holdings, and then came back to America. As my grandpa put it, "Anyone with ten cents in his pocket could get on a ship in those days." I'm a history buff, so the site is pretty cool, especially because I liked viewing the info. about the specific ships that relatives came on. For instance, my great grandpa came to America on this ship:

Built for Inman & International Steamship Company, in 1889 and named City of Paris. Liverpool-New York service. World’s fastest ship 1889-92. Sold to American Line, in 1893 and renamed Paris. Southampton-New York service. Renamed USS Yale in 1898. Returned to American Line, in 1898 and reverted to Paris. Renamed Philadelphia in 1899. Renamed Harrisburg in 1917. Carried troops and supplies to Europe and then returned troops service. Known as USS Harrisburg. Returned to American Line, in 1919 and reverted to Philadelphia. Laid up 1920-22. Sold to New York-Naples Steamship Company, American flag, in 1922. New York-Naples service. Mutiny on first voyage and ship laid up at Naples. Scrapped as Genoa in 1923.

*On an unrelated sad economic note, the place where I won quizzo last week, SF's Valley Tavern, has discontinued quizzo, effective immediately. Shucks.