Friday, April 11, 2014

I finally have a talk with cousin Leino

Miranda Spicciani and Silvano "Leino" Celli, who recently celebrated their 50th anniversary, in their home in San Salvatore.

Friday, April 11
This morning I met another third cousin, Silvano Celli. Actually, I had met him two years ago, but at the time we met, we didn’t know we were related. Lucy’s bike tire had gone flat, and I located an elderly retired bicycle and motorcycle repairman in San Salvatore. His name was Silvano Celli, but everybody in town called him Leino (pronounced Lay-ino, with the accent on the first syllable). He fixed the flat without removing the wheel while I held the bike, saving me a train trip to Pescia to have the flat repaired at Francesca Seghieri’s bike shop.

Then a few days later, I discovered that Gioconda Spadoni, the sister of my great grandfather Pietro, had married a Cesare Celli in 1866 and had three sons, one of whom had married a woman from Montecarlo. I had a suspicion that one of these sons might have been the grandfather of Leino, but when I saw him in town a few days later, he had no interest in exploring the possible connection. Since then, I have wondered if I said something wrong or somehow aroused some suspicion in him by asking questions about his family. I had mentioned this to Elena, and she offered to go with me to talk to him when she had an opportunity, and that chance came today.

She had bumped into Leino yesterday and asked if she could come and visit him with her American friend who was researching his family history. He invited us to come to his house at 10 a.m., and so we paid a short but pleasant visit. My fears that I had said something wrong were unfounded; it’s just that Leino actually didn’t know the name of his nonno. The archives said the three sons of Cesare and Gioconda were named Giuseppe, Luigi and Lei (also written once as Leo). I suspected that Silvano’s grandfather had been Lei/Leo, because the nicknames Leo, Lei and Leino occurred regularly in that branch. Leino said his father had been named Luigi but he had the nickname Leo.

Miranda, Leino’s wife, brought us all cups of espresso, and she also fetched Emo, Leino’s brother, who lives upstairs. He confirmed that their grandfather had been named Leo. Neither Emo nor Leino had any idea who their great grandfather had been, but I assured them I had already found the rest of the data from the archives, and now I was sure that we shared the same trisavolo, great grandfather.

With our kinship now established, I asked Leino to tell me about himself. He is 78 years old and he has always repaired and sold biciclete and motorini, he said. He has had his own shop in San Salvatore for 60 years. Though he is retired now, he still has his shop and does a little repair work for people he knows.
Their wedding photo

He started learning his trade in the afternoons while still attending school, and for many years he worked with Ghirardengo Seghieri, the late brother of Mario and the father of Francesca. He also complained that the young people of today don’t have the patience to learn traditional but essential skills such as machine repair. Now they want to be paid every week while they learn, he said, whereas he had served an apprenticeship with a very small monthly salary for the opportunity to receive his training.

Now that we have become acquainted, I will no longer have any hesitation about approaching Leino in the future when I see him around, and if I meet other Cellis in town, Ill know that they are also distant cousins.

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