On A, I, and O

My paternal grandparents arrived in America on December 6, 1920. After living in different Midwestern cities, they would surprisingly settle in rural southeastern Ohio. Given that area is considered as Appalachian, it is surprising how the letters A, I, and O played a prominent role in my youth. While the closest association most people have is through pizza, spaghetti, and jello (which isn’t Italian) – mine is a bit different.

A – Adrianna, Angela, Elisa, Gemma, Gilda, Gina, Nella, Olga, and Zita.

I – Angelleti, Barsotti, Bastiani, Casci, DiPiero, Girolami, Lippi, Marchi, Marzetti, Menchini, Periotti, and Rocci.

O – Basilio, Bruno, Franco, Gino, Guido, Livio, Remo, and Renzo. Of course, others had already morphed into society as Bob, Leroy, Ned, Oscar, and Paul.

My family tree follows a similar pattern.

A – Guiletta, Maria, Neva, Nina, Rosa, Rosanna, Rosetta, Verdiana, Vidia, Vivianna, and Vivitta.

I – Andreucci, Barsi, Cecchi, Giacchini, Landi, Lucchesi, Mariani, and Pini.

O– Alvaro, Domenico, Ersilio, Enno, Francisco, Mario, Olvido, Rafaello, Rigolleto, and Turiddo.

Meanwhile, my most of my cousins and I have American names ending in consonants, and married non-Italians with consonant-ending names. Meanwhile, A, I, and O continue to live on through my maternal first cousins still living on the Mediterranean boot.

21 thoughts on “On A, I, and O

  1. Alright, enough dancing around my facts. I live in the TINY little burgh of Fresno, right off 93. Township Road 172, to get even closer. We’re a short way outside West Lafayette. We’re getting sewers compliments of Pearl Valley Cheese. So please, Frank, either here or via a side Email, please tell me there is SOME form of civilisation (i.e. your history) nearby! The closest we have to a historical society is the cemetery on the hill where we buried our friend Lee Kimball. (We’re overdue a visit to Lee; we’re gonna wait a few days until it warms up. I have a small flag, and maybe one or two other things, I’d like to give Lee.) Let me in on your background? PLEASE? 😀
    (I respect your privacy, so NO is a perfectly legit answer. Me, if somebody wants to come get me, they gotta go through my armoury and my goat buddy Blackjack, not to mention our growing force of attack cats! 😉 )


    • John,
      Actually have a bit more about my history ready … hopefully for next week. On the other hand, privacy remains. A visit to Lee’s site is a good idea. Good news is that a warming trend is approaching. Thanks for commenting.


    • Okay, I’ll give you a break until next week. 😉 Don’t know if we’ll get up the hill, I gotta bust some big logs to replace some of the firewood we’re chewing through here. Like you, I want to keep an eye on the developments in Egypt. It doesn’t influence me directly, but it’s always nice to know where the next big war is gonna start! And we have to make sure there’s somebody home throughout the week, so the contractors can hook us up to the new sewer line. Thankfully we’re one of the first – I’ve dealt with live sewer and septic lines, and a new line in the cold air is the ONLY way to do it!


  2. Hi Frank,

    Great post! Very interesting the vowels ending the names.

    In French many masculine names can be made feminine with the addition of one of these suffixes: -e, -ette, or -ine.

    Examples: Paul – Pauline, Paulette

    Jean – Jeannette, Jeannine

    Also very common in my family, all of my siblings have hyphenated names, this is also French.

    In my class at school we had eleven “Marie’s” –
    Marie-Claire, Marie-Catherine, Marie-Ange etc. all of the next name to Marie were different. I guess the Mother’s must have held some naming meeting when they were pregnant.Ha!

    It’s funny, that none of my siblings have carried on this custom with naming their children.

    I noticed what you said of marrying non-italian women, I was telling Al, from five girls in my family, only one married someone who also speaks French.

    Have a great evening Frank! I enjoyed this post!


    • Meesh,
      That a way … I was hoping you would add a French perspective! But 11 ladies named Marie in the same class is a bit of an overload. And then to top it off with 11 different names after the hyphen. WOW.

      Much like the US, Canada is also a melting pot of cultures … and over time, cultures blend together. Interestingly, I have a cousin who named all his boys with o-ending names.

      Thanks for sharing!


      • Frank,

        I REALLY liked that post of yours, I could not agree with you more on old traditions are disappearing owing to Western influences. I guess until you posted this, I could recognize the parallels just with names alone… The list goes on, for instance, our Christmas traditions, “le Réveillon” for one, I tried to preserve it, but must admit it has been modified to accommodate my style of living.

        Here’s more detailed French traditions that have gone to most of us “French” background peeps living in Canada.


        Many old French traditions are related to the holiday season. Holding a puppet show on Christmas eve is very common and later at midnight, people attend church for the traditional Christmas Mass. Personally, have never had the puppet show, I guess my parents had other things to do.

        After mass, we would have a late Christmas Eve dinner, called le Réveillon (referring to the wake up or revival, alluding to the birth of Christ). Menus for this occasion change according to the region you are in but will usually consist of dishes containing turkey, capon, goose, chicken, and boudin blanc (white pudding). The menu has changed considerably at my place.

        Children wait for Père Noël (Santa Claus) and leave their shoes out in front of the fireplace, hoping presents will fill them by morning. The tree was hung with nuts and candy. Children also believe in Père Fouettard who hands out spankings for anyone who’s been naughty.


        Called Pâques in French, this is a very important time for some of us, who have a strong Christian, and especially Catholic, background. According to tradition, no church bells are rung on the Thursday before Good Friday and remain silent for several days, until on Easter Sunday, they revive. As the bells toll, the custom is for people to hug and kiss each other.

        Flying Bells

        What’s an Easter Bunny? In France, children didn’t look for eggs left by an Easter Bunny… rather, the French believe that the Flying Bells leave on the Thursday before Good Friday, taking with them all the grief and misery of mourners of Christ’s crucifixion, reaching Rome to see the Pope and then come back on Easter Sunday morning bearing chocolate easter eggs, which are hidden around houses and gardens for children to find.

        Poison d’Avril

        This is the name used for the French Easter Fish and also comes in a chocolate version. An age-old tradition however, that dates back several centuries, involving the Poison d’Avril, takes place on April 1st. The great joke is for children to make fish of paper and pin as many as possible to the backs of adults, then run gleefully away yelling “Poison d’Avril!!”, which is a little like saying “April Fools!”


        • Meesh,
          Many thanks for the delightful information. According to Wikipedia, Easter eggs seems to have originated in Alsace region of France and southwestern Germany. The Germans in Pennsylvania Dutch area seems to have brought the Easter Bunny into the US. Has the Easter Bunny migrated into Canada?


        • Meesh- Thanks for all the neat cultural information! Not a criticism but a question- wouldn’t Pere Noel translate to Father Christmas as opposed to Santa Claus? I know the European nations have a somewhat different interpretation of Father Christmas. I don’t know for sure about French traditions, but I know from my German studies that there was a “non-secular” character (as opposed to Santa Claus being derived from Saint Nicholas) who, much like your French Pere Noel, would leave treats/presents (the story varies over time and place) in children’s shoes. I’ve recently begun looking into Christmas traditions after finding myself being several websites’ “subject matter expert” on the 1914 Christmas truce during World War 1. Now all I have to do is actually live up to that title! 😀
          Thanks again!


        • Frank – Just so you know, the Pennsylvania Dutch aren’t Dutch. They are Germans, who only spoke German (Deutsche), which was anglicised to Dutch. My wife used to drive for the Amish – same thing – and they got QUITE testy when people would refer to them as Dutch! Well, that actually depended on what sub-group of Amish you dealt with. There are more variations on Amish around here (not counting Mennonites) than there are variations on Judeo-Christian religion! An interesting group, to say the least!


  3. John,

    Good question, at home/school we were always told it was Père Noël after St. Nicholas… methinks Père Noël is the French equivalent of the British term “Father Christmas”.


  4. Frank,

    Are you kidding? The way rabbits populate, we certainly have the Easter Bunny, those were only religious French traditions.

    Many people consider Easter a bigger holiday than Christmas… not in my family though. I guess we weren’t all that that religious. The Easter bunny in french is le lapin de Pâques. I didn’t know that about the Easter egg. Thanks! My parents families came from Normandie my Dad, my Mother from Paris.

    Both families then established in the province of Québec about 200 years ago and then some stayed there others went to River Rouge in Michigan? Mine came to Southwestern Ontario.


    • Meesh- Any idea where in Normandy the grandparents come from? Also, may I ask where in southwestern Ontario your parents are from? I’ve spent a lot of time wandering around that area of Ontario, just curious. And my policy is the same for everyone – if you want to answer me, fine, if you want me to mind my own business, that’s fine too. Don’t worry about offending me – I’m offensive enough on my own! 😀 And thank you for the information!


    • Hi Meesh,
      I’m not sure if I’m happy or sad to hear that the Easter Bunny is alive and well in Canada! Interestingly, in terms of the church, Easter is a bigger holiday than Christmas …. yep, the highest holy day of them all. Sorry about the delayed response … it’s still glued to a brush and roller. Hoping Tuesday is the last day! Hope all is well with you.


    • Buona sera, Il Dottore. (I hope I got that right.) I’m sorry our paths didn’t cross a few years ago, I needed a good gastro-enterologist when I was having pancreatic problems. Fortunately, they have cleared up and not troubled me lately – touch wood!
      Are you currently in the States, or in Italy? (If you don’t mind my asking – feel free to not tell me, I appreciate privacy.) I would like to find some good sites about the Italian military in World War 2, preferably written by (or dictated from) actual servicemen. I’m an amateur WW2 historian, interested in all sides’ stories from their soldiers. Thank you in advance for any information you can give! 🙂


    • Dr. Ed,
      Glad you appreciated this post … and wow … you do have many vowels in your name! 🙂 Thanks for the link to your site. I briefly visited, but I caught enough that I know I have to return for a closer look. FYI: I have a upcoming post that will interest you, but I’m not sure when I will post it. I’ll let you know with an email or a blog comment. Thanks for visiting and commenting!


  5. Pingback: On an Autobiography: Blog Style | A Frank Angle

  6. What is it about Italians and Jell-O, Frank? My grandmother used to make a Jell-O dessert that was supposed to look like the Italian flag (note: she was born in Utica and moved to Chicago in her youth before heading to San Francisco in 1943). It consisted of green and red Jell-O sandwiched between cream cheese. Usually, after we finished eating dinner, she would remember that we forgot to serve the Jell-O. Possibly none of us remembered it because all of us hated it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lame,
      Now that’s an interesting thought. I imagine my mom did this too, but I can’t recall it … but with so many Italian families in the middle of nowhere, someone had to do it! … but one thing for sure, it didn’t stick in my mind. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Family names and naming practices can be funny. We laugh about how my mom’s families Americanized names were all the same. There was a Charlotte Miriam and a Miriam Charlotte, and I think another Charlotte. There were also several Sara’s, and someone distantly related to my mom with the exact same name and father with the same name as her father. 🙂


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