On Friday 20th March 2009. Eight people sat down to lunch. You may think that there is nothing unusual in this until I say that the eight people were from three families, the families had never met before but they shared a common bond, they were descendants of the West bar Italians.
Before I launched the website I had made contact with several people via Sheffield forums, after a few conversations and emails we decided to meet.
Our day started at St Vincents Church on Solly Street. We were greeted by Vincent Hale who had keys and allowed us to enter 'St Vincents', from the outside the Church appears well but inside the picture is completly different. The Church is in a poor state. It still retains some of it's original features, mosaics & part of the lady alter, but they are covered in dust and rubble and forgotten to the outside world.
As I stood in the middle of the Church I closed my eyes and just soaked up the history that surrounded me. I thought about all my ancestors and others that had been married and Christened in the Church and about the hundreds of others Italian families that had attended the Church over the years. I felt priviledged to stand where they had stood and proud to be part of what they had achieved and thier reasons for leaving the old Country .... a better life.
Having taken a few photo's and experienced the emotional journey of St Vincents we left and drove to our luncheon venue "Rossi" Italian resturant off Sharrow Lane. The resturant does not usually open for lunch but agreed to open for us. I was grateful to the management for this as it meant that we were not competing with other peoples converstaions & 'back ground noise'. I have to say at this stage the food and service were excellent and I couldn't have wished for better.
At the start of the day I had reservations about my plans, would we all get on ok, but my thoughts were unfounded. The conversations flowed between us all as if we had all known each other for years. Our ancestors would have been proud of us being able to share our thoughts and stories with each other as they had done years ago.
To the decendants of the Franchetti, Rebori/Granelli and the Pelegrino families I would like to say thank you for making a good idea into a remarkable day.
If you are wandering why I am telling you about this day it is because since this meeting I have made contact with other decendants of the West bar Italians some of whom have expressed an interest in meeting with other decendants.
If you are a decendant of the West bar Italians and would like to meet with others who's families lived in the same house/Street/neighbourhood as your forefathers, please let me know by email.
As soon as I have an idea of how many people may be interested I can organise a date and venue.