His name was Gaudenzio Lisi, and he was born in January 1879, in a place in Central Italy back then named Bauco, a burgh which changed name to Boville Ernica with a Royal Decree of Victor Emmanuel III of Italy in 1907 .
He was just the eldest son of farmers, and he himself later in life was mainly a farmer, and yet he could startle locals in many ways because of his eccentricity.
Besides having a pretty unique Italian name, he spoke, read, and wrote in Italian in an age when most people in the area were entirely illiterate, but he did not even speak in the local Italian dialect of Bauco to boot. People swore he spoke like the divine Dante himself.
He was a pioneer in his family, as the very first to come to America, and perhaps he was a pioneer in many other ways as well.
In April 1903, along with a certain Rocco Lisi (born in March 1886), who was probably either a younger brother or cousin of his, and aboard a ship coming from Naples named Balilla (built in 1888), he landed in New York harbour with $17 in his pocket, about $470 in today's money, considering the effect of inflation since then.
He was apparently so successful in his emigration and adaptation to life in America that about two years later, in March 1905, he was also reached by his brothers Domenico (born sometime in 1881 or 1882) and Antonio Lisi (born in December 1888), who also came to New York aboard a ship coming from Naples named Il Piemonte (built in 1901).
The latter Antonio Lisi, who was born December 1888, and who died in April 1964, is important to my life story on a personal level. Why? Well, he was actually the father of my maternal grandfather, and thus one of my four great grandfathers!
I'm still doing research on Gaudenzio Lisi, but I now know that while he came to America as a 24-year-old single man, he did not spend the rest of his life in America. In fact, public records and anecdotes of people still living show that he came back to Italy, and he died in the burgh now called Boville Ernica, in March 1951.
Of course, at this point the intelligent reader may ask why I've written this piece about an eccentric, yet relatively obscure Italian-American, and who was not even one of my four great grandfathers.
Here's the truth, and nothing but the truth. My sister passed away at a young age back in February 2005.
Let me assure everybody reading this, however, that my sister is no longer dead. No, she is no longer my sister, but she is quite alive!
Well, let me tell you another truth.
The soul of Gaudenzio Lisi, and my soul, are one and the same.
Just as my sister Liliana Tallini is no longer dead, Gaudenzio Lisi is no longer dead either.
There was a reason why he had such a unique name. He still has a unique name today!
There was a reason why he came to America. He came there again even after he died!
There was a reason why he was born in the Hernici tribe. He still is of that same tribe!
There was a reason why he was so literate, that people swore he sounded like Dante Alighieri. He is still very literate, perhaps even twice as literate today!
Life is very depressing these days, and for various reasons. I hope that after reading this piece, you've realised that it isn't a work of fiction, and you are no longer as depressed as you were when you started to read it.
1. Paglia, Giuseppe. (1976). Boville Ernica e il Suo Santuario di Santa Liberata. Casamari: Tipografia Abbazia di Casamari (Frosinone).