My Aunt, who was also my godmother, and one of my most favourite people in the world, sadly passed on 2 years ago after a 10 year hard fought battle with cancer. My mother and sister dedicated themselves to the task of organizing all of her belongings in order to eventually sell her town house. This process revealed that our Aunt was quite the collector of personal histories.
One of the items my sister put aside for me was our great grandfather on our mother’s side, Giuseppe DiFede’s, Libretto Personale, which is dated 1883.
Giuseppe DiFede was the father of my grandfather, Giusto (Joe) DiFede, who I am named after. Loved that man, though I believe I was 11 when he passed away. He taught me how to take my first oral medications, after I threw a fit, showing me that he had to take about 15 pills daily after suffering a heart attack. Of course, he took them all at once. I never had a problem after that. He also introduced me to sardines, anchovies (he was quite the pizza maker), demitasse with anisette, and my greatest memory is when we went to the docks in New York and bought fresh crabs, and we steamed them in his apartment in Brooklyn, just me and him. I didn’t know at the time that he was holding on to such “ancient” documents, and also didn’t know that it would mean so much to me now.
If I remember correctly, we had a very good time at Lundy’s in Sheepshead Bay.
I thought a Libretto Personale was some kind of passport, or ‘papers’, as in “show me your papers”, but I learned today that it was a document that tracked one’s provisions, training, and pay while in the military.
It is in surprisingly great shape for it’s age and lack of formal preservation, and the penmanship is something to strive for. Besides the date of 1883 which looks like when it was generated, the latest date I can make out is 1905. That side of the family must have left Sicily after that date I wonder?