16 November 2009
My grandparents divorced when my mother was 2 years old. Her father died when she was 10. She was never allowed to visit his family after that.
My grandfather is Leonardo Luciano Spedale. He was born 20 May 1920 in Cleveland, Ohio to Italian immigrants. On 3 December 1941 he joined the US Army. However, on 12 June 1945 the ship he was serving on as a Merchant Marine docked in San Fransisco. I've never heard of someone changing branches of the military during war. I've contacted the Veterans Administration (VA) in hopes that they have a copy of his service record. He died in February 1966, so if they sent his records back to the National Personal Records Center, then his file was destroyed in the 1973 fire.
In January 2006 I found someone on Ancestry.com that had made a correction to the ship manifest for Leonardo's mother, Nicoletta Geraci. I sent him a message asking how he relates to this family. He is a descendant of Nicoletta's aunt, Lena. My mom and he started e-mailing back and forth. They discovered that they had met as children. After learning where we live, he told us of another cousin that lives in Southern California, the daughter of Nicoletta's Aunt "Jossie." My mom gave her a call, and it went something like this:
" Hi, is this [cousin]? This is [my mom]."
"Oh my god, we're been trying to find you for 30 years."
It gets better. Our cousin lives 5 miles away. Her daughter lives on the same street as my mom, one block down. We've all lived in these places for the last 20 years.
One of the first thing our cousin gave my mom was a stack of photographs of my grandfather as a young man. In that stack was a picture of him in his army uniform.
Smile for the Camera, 19th ed.
* I've tried not to use names of living people.