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Tuesday, June 22, 2010


(5/ 18, 2012. This picture of my son Brian was taken in July 2011, a few weeks before he died.)

The purpose of this project was to leave some shards of the past for future generations. It became a  pilgrimage into the past, to the person I was, the family we were.

About the people in this memoir:
Teodoro Rapolla (Ted, Tiudo), married Marie Dugan, and died in Los Angeles, California. He had three children, Anne Marie, Georgeanne and Paul. Paul died before his father. His daughters still live in the house he built/designed in Burbank, California.

Adelina Rapolla, Lina, settled in Fresno, California, where Uncle Jo, Giuseppe Rapolla had lived. She had three children, JoAnn Scordino, Don Scordino and Carla Scordino. Don still lives in Fresno.

Addolorata Rapolla D’Ambrosio, Dolora’, my mother, moved to  Monza after our family home was transformed into a parking area for the elementary school nearby. This occurred after I left for America. She and my father retired back in Venosa. Father died in 1973, she  in 1986. She visited me in California and was present at the birth of my third child, Brian.

Antonio D’Ambrosio, Toni’, my eldest brother,  moved to Torino, then Milano, all over the North of Italy, worked as a taylor, a costume designer, and a fashion designer. He married, and moved his family to Monza. He ended up working for The Piccolo Teatro di Milano as a fashion designer. Later, he  worked for the fashion house of Valentino in Rome. His two two children, Mario and Laura still live in Milano or its vicinity. Toni' is 78, retired and living back in Venosa with his second wife, Rosetta. He bought land and built himself a retirement cottage on a vineyard, in the same style as our family home.

Luigi D’Ambrosio, my baby brother, was five when I left for California. He lives with his wife Debra in Invorio, Piemonte.

I, (Rosaria, Ninetta,) emigrated in 1959 at seventeen. Attended college and graduate school, became a teacher, and later a specialist and an administrator. I settled in Los Angeles, married Kendrick Williams, a scientist and researcher. Our children, Jon Scott Williams, Pia Nicole Williams-Robbins, Brian Christian Williams. We retired on the beautiful Southern Oregon Coast where we are presently residing. Our youngest, Brian Christian Williams, became a victim of homicide in Fullerton, California, on July 17, 2011.

Donna Maria Rosaria, Mingu’s mother, lived way into her eighties.

All other relatives, Mingu’s brothers, Addolorata's aunts and cousings are scattered in Italy. There are Rapolla's cousins living in New Jersey and New York. I met Helena Rapolla Farrell via Facebook-courtesy of JoAnn Scordino who had met her in person years before. That part of the family is doing well.

The family house I grew up in was torn down. Even the church I was baptized in, The Church of Purgatory, was declared unsafe and shut down. Ironically, the college I attended, Immaculate Heart College is now The American Film Institute.  The church we were married in, a small Russian wooden church, St. Basil, burned down, and in its place, a beautiful big cathedral was erected on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles.

I returned to visit Venosa just twice, in 1970, and in 2002.

Some names were changed to protect privacy. Historical facts and information reported here are shared memories, and are repeated as heard. Any error was not intentional nor meant to deceive anybody.

This memoir is dedicated to my family: my children, who are my pride and joy, and my husband who has been my constant supporter. Without them, I would cry my heart out and never tell the whole truth.
To contact me:

(this page updated 5/18/2012)


  1. I enjoyed every instalments and every line pof them. Thank you agaion and as they write at the end of a communique

  2. It has been a fascinating tale! My son just completed a series at school where they read and acted out the lives of immigrants during the early 1900's. To step in others shoes builds compassion and understanding. Thank you.

  3. Every word was a pleasure to read. Thank you so much for sharing your memoir with us.

  4. It's been wonderful to read, lakeviewer. Thank you.

  5. Dear lakeviewer, your kind invitation flattered me so much!
    I too would be happy to have a possibility to meet you in person; your wise and sensitive words and the way you tell stories about people and places make me think and reflect a lot about you but also about myself. I believe that we share the similar feelings for people and places, a small geographical map of life pleasures and disappointments.
    Thank you, again.
    You visited Venosa just twice? If you happen to be in Italy again, come and stop by me!

  6. I imagine things coming full circle and the sweet six-year old you depicted below finding this blog and holding on to it until your memories had some context in her experience. I was a late joiner and will be catching up on the early instalments, but I'm certainly drawn in by the ending.

  7. It has been a pleasure to read your memoir. Rich in love, with a great family and a wonderful ending!

  8. Thank you, everyone for taking this journey with me. This blog will close in a few days. I want to thank you for following along, for providing motivation and support.

  9. have a fun week ahead...
    Happy Writing!

  10. rosaria,

    i have loved reading your story. the emotion and depth of your journey, and your family's journey, comes through powerfully. your voice is exquisite and your handling of dialogue is expert. i am so sad you are closing your blog. is there any chance you will be writing more, in a new blog? maybe about your life in this country?

    thank you for sharing this profoundly moving story xoxo ♡♡

  11. end of the story,
    which does not mean end of your blogging,
    Happy Saturday!
    Happy July Fourth!

  12. "Without them, I would cry my heart out and never tell the whole truth."

    Ohhh, Rosaria. You've touched me deeply.


  13. This story starts in my voice, and ends in my voice...
    And a beautiful story your voice has woven with your years.

  14. Can you not leave the blog open for others to read? Seems a shame, after all your hard work, to simply close it down, and deny others the pleasure of coming upon it unexpectedly as they wander Blogland paths...

  15. I am not in a hurry! Thanks, everyone for your kind words.