Around Town

Caspano Club commemorates 76th Anniversary

The Caspano Club will celebrate their 76th Anniversary at their annual banquet and meeting to be held at Roma Restaurant, College Highway, Southwick, on October 14.
Caspano, Italy, is located about 30 miles south of St. Moritz, Switzerland and approximately 25 miles north of the town of Dongo, Italy. Dongo is mentioned as a landmark even though small and inconspicuous because a historic event took place there as World War II was winding down.
Benito Mussolini, the Italian premier and fascist leader, attempted to escape from Italy through Dongo into Switzerland. Mussolini, the resembled-like dictator, betrayed the Italian people by siding with Hitler during the war, was captured in Dongo and later put to death in 1945.
Today, Dongo is a thriving summer resort town situated on the shores of Lake Como. In recent years Dongo residents “claim to fame” is that Hollywood star George Clooney must pass through their community en route to his villa which is located close by.
Caspano, on the other hand is just one of the several small villages nestled high on the mountains-side, at the foothills of LaValtellina, the “Queen of Italian Valleys,” which is pat of the Province of Sondrio.
Most of the houses in these villages were built hundreds of years ago are clustered together and include a small church in each hamlet. The church in Caspano, however, is quite large and serves a total of eleven villages. Saint Bartolomeo Aposolo is believed to have been built before 1352.
A small group of women who originated from Caspano formed the “Consorella di Caspano” society in 1936 (Sisters of Caspano). The intent of the society was to help the sick and the destitute in their native homeland.
Josephina Panighetti of Westfield, a charter member, was elected as the first president. Other charter members from Westfield are as follows: Concetta Callini, Adelina Chistolini, Josephina Lorenzatti, Paolina Masciadrelli and Josephina Pigetti. Other charter members include Maddalina Alissi, Maria Alissi, and Claudia Mauri, all of Springfield.
Because of severe unemployment in Caspano a considerable number of residents, during the 1900s, immigrated to America in search of employment. Many found work at Lane’s Quarry on East Mountain Road, Westfield, while others worked at Suzio’s Quarry in Southwick.
While their ultimate goal of securing employment was achieved, some immigrants, who were without means, were compelled to leave their wife and children behind in Italy.
Such was the case with my own father whose first wife, Antoinetta Chistolini, died at age 25 while he worked at the quarry on East Mountain Road. He was left with two small children, Rena and Joe.
Following the death of Antoinetta, his mind raced aimlessly as he endured a broken heart. He was faced with a host of uncertainties. Would his children be allowed to migrate to the United States without a mother? If so, who would care for them? Where would he and his children reside? His sister, in Italy helped answer some of these questions by offering to care for his children while he struggled at the quarry in order to provide for his family.
Eventually, he returned to Italy where he remarried. Together, with his new wife, they relocated to South Windsor, Conn., where I was born. My brother, Jack and twin sisters, Dorothy and Jennie, concluded our family. My father was fortunate to secure employment at the brickyards in East Windsor, Conn. At a later date, our family moved to Southwick.
To some foreigners the hardships which they left behind in their native land came back to haunt them in this country. In 1941 which WWII broke out many immigrants found themselves in an unfortunate confining environment. Because of the war they were forced to remain in this country while their spouses and children lived in their native land.
My Uncle Joe, (my mother’s brother) was one of these less fortunate victims. He was unable to return to his family in Italy for four years.
I was not yet a teenager, but I remember him well because he lived with our family before he moved to Plainville, Conn.
As an Italian citizens living in this country during the war years, my uncle was perceived by some as an adversary. This perception was not limited to Italians alone. Japanese and Germans were also included with this type of discriminatory practice.
Unfair as it may seem today, we were at war with their respective countries; consequently many Americans accepted this type of prejudicial treatment.
Although he never showed any acute distress in my presence, the mental anguish had to be overwhelming. It is difficult, even for me, to visualize how painful and grief-stricken those four years of compulsory separation had to be for my uncle and for his family.
His health was failing and the war ended however he was able to reunite with his family in 1945.
The unfortunate events cited above, although personal to me, could very well apply to many of you whose parents and grandparents immigrated from foreign lands.
The sacrifices and hardships which they endured in order for them to provide a better life for us should make all of us proud of our heritages.
Further, their suffering and deprivation gives all Valtellinese in our area reason to support the Caspano Club’s 76th annual banquet which in turn helps sustain some of the less fortunate in Caspano.
According to Civo, where records are kept for eleven villages, only 50 residents remain in Caspano. There are two principal reasons for this: Children, as they become adults, move away and the Historic Society restricts the building of new homes in the area.
The 2012 officers of the Caspano Club are as follows: Joseph Mauri, President, Longmeadow; Donald Andreoli, V.P., Feeding Hills; Dorothy Molta, Secretary, Southwick; and Carol (Masciadrelli) Burke, Treasurer, Westfield.
La famialia Molta (the Molta family) are serving as chairpersons for this year’s event.
To Top