Vinni Smith: You probably do not know the feeling of wondering where you came from. Every time I would be questioned by a doctor or nurse about my father, I would have to say, I don't know. I would look into the mirror and say "Where did I get all this hair from?" or "I wonder how long I will live?"
It was Thanksgiving Day, 2014. With a house full of company, dogs underfoot, sideboards lined with serving dishes, and the turkey just coming out of the oven--in the middle of all that, something made me take a look at my incoming emails. And there it was, a message from a man named Vinni Smith, asking if he might have found the Mallozzi family he had been seeking. The Mallozzi family, the family of his father. And the family of my husband's mother.
He had come across my family history blog when searching for the right Mallozzi family in Stamford, Connecticut--and, believe me, there are a lot of different Mallozzi families there. Perhaps it was this post (Mary and Amalio Talk About Life in an Italian Town in the 1920s) that he saw, which was all about the 1999 interviews I had done with Amalio Mallozzi (1920-2005) and his sister, Mary (1912-2009). And perhaps he saw this photo, showing Amalio and another sister, Delia (my husband's mother), which was taken in 1930.
Feeling a little stunned, I showed the email to my husband. He read it a couple of times and shook his head. This just couldn't be--he already knew all of his cousins by name, and I had entered them all into the Mallozzi family tree. There was no Vinni, son of Amalio. Amalio never had any children. Of course he didn't. We knew that for a fact. A fact.
However, the patriarch of the family was called Vincenzo Mallozzi (1874-1951). And this Vincent/Vinni had mentioned a lot of little clues, things his mother had told him about his father's family--the house with the big yard on Wilson Street in Stamford. Amalio's sisters, Filippina and Mary, who had lived out their lives there. Could it be possible that there was a family member we had never known about before?
We went back to the Thanksgiving celebration, wondering and little distracted. In the coming days we were to learn a lot about family secrets. We discovered once again that we just don't know what we don't know. And we would get to know a man named Vinni Smith, who was determined to solve his own family mystery.