After all these years, I happened to come across my father's first passport. I was always told that I was named after my father. The only name I knew my father as was Leo, so the name Leon for me made sense.
To understand this imbroglio, let me start from the beginning. My father's parents arrived in America as newly weds in June of 1910. The first of five children were born to Attilio and Lucietta in Philadelphia starting with Anthony in 1912. My father Leo, in August of 1913. Then came Renata, Galileo and Attilia. But after WWI ended, the entire family retuned to my Grandmother's town of Ortona a Mare, province of Chieti, Abruzzi, in 1919. One final daughter, Carmela, was born in Ortona around 1923.
First to return was uncle Tony and then my father Leo, in 1929 and 1931 respectively. Followed by the entire family to Philadelphia in 1932.
In my father's passport, the name Leone was used seven times. So if I was named after my father Leone, how did I end up with Leon instead of Leone? I think I have the answer. Though my mother Emma Costa was born on the Aeolian Island of Salina, Sicily in 1927, the entire family of my grandparents Giuseppe and Giuseppa, and their children, Giacomo, Assunta, Joyce and Emma, emigrated to Sydney, Australia in 1929. Being an English speaking country, Leon, though Spanish in origin, fit better in the English language, by not ending with a vowel.
But the name riddle had to wait many years to be totally solved. The journey of discovery started in earnest in 1985 when I decided to do something to defend my Italian heritage. It would not be until recently, that the story would unravel. The good news for me is that my new blog makes a great vehicle to tell my amazing story. Sort of like Julie & Julia, but without the cooking and Meryl Streep.
However, for at least a couple days, I will put aside the blog and prepare myself to celebrate the 28th anniversary of my 39th birthday tomorrow April 19th. Yes, your math is correct, tomorrow I'll be sixty-eight years old. Quite a sobering fact. But I will use it to count all my blessings. I'm happy to say that God has been generous, for which I am most humbled and grateful. I'll see you later this week for the second installment of this blog. Ciao for now.