I Viaggi del Cuore di Patrizia e Gabriele – The Interviews – Arthur Nicola

My name is Arthur Nicola. I was born in Salinas CA 1948. I’m a retired Pharmacist/Cisco Network Engineer. As a child i spoke the pure pre War dialect of Gordevio but as i went to Swiss Fests in other counties and heard people from other villages, other valleys and studied Italian in school, it unfortunately morphed into a kind of ‘Dialett dalla Ferrovia’

My Father Enrico Nicola was born in Gordevio VM 1909 the youngest of 11 children, 8 of which emigrated to California before his pilgrimage in 1927. He arrived just in time for the Great Depression during which he labored in the Mercury and Gold mines of California and, when times were roughest in 1933, as a migrant fruit picker ala The Grapes of Wrath. After WWII he returned to Gordevio and married my mother. My Mother Cesira Ottolini was born in Gordevio VM 1922 one of 8 children. She married my father in Gordevio in 1947, selling her goats as part of her dowry. She emigrated to California that same year. She had 3 children of which I am the oldest and sadly passed away recently at the age of 96. Pop always called her his little ‘motorìn’ that ran our little family farm.

My first trip home to Gordevio at the age of 20 in 1968 was an epiphany for me. There I learned from my uncles that both the Nicola and Ottolini surnames are present in the Gordevio parochial records from their inception in the 1590’s. I was transformed. That previously small Fish that had been swimming in the amorphous sea of unrelated cultures that was America became a member of a specific Tribe with a long History and a beautiful single point of provenance. Which, ironically, mirrors what an arrogant paisan had told my father as he left Gordevio for America the first time in 1927: ” In America you’re just another Fish in the Sea”

Love it!