Begin Searching in Western Sicily

Simultaneously I had begun researching my paternal side. Based on the birth certificates I was given, I had written to both the Comune in Trapani and Castellammare del Golfo. No replies. Maybe my requests were not communicated properly. But I was not deterred.

Castellammare del Golfo, Trapani, Sicily 1999 Photo courtesy C.M.

So, I went to the online Italian white pages and began entering all the surnames for Dad’s side of the family. There were many names listed, so I began comparing the names and addresses. As there were some duplicates, I eliminated them from the list. I then began composing my letter [introduction, explanation of my research, list of great-grandparents, their children and how I was related (nonno), their knowledge of this family, closing].  I then translated the letter from English to Italian using Babelfish as Google translate did not exist yet.  (Unfortunately, the Sicilian dialect is not available through Babelfish nor Google.)

I printed out 54 letters, signed them, addressed the envelopes and went to the post office. The postal clerks know me so they had the international stamps ready for me. I mailed them and now it was time to wait, again.

On Valentine’s Day 1998, I received an air mail envelope with Dad’s name in the upper left-hand corner. I froze. As I opened it, I saw that the letter was typed and written in dialect.  I tried to translate it as best I could but I knew I needed help.  So, I called The Language School and  got into the car.