I love many things. Quotes and traveling are two of those things. They don’t have to be the words of famous people and the destinations don’t have to be other countries. I love these things for the feelings they evoke. I started this blog for genealogy purposes, with some small hope of distant relatives finding my site and helping me add to my family tree. When someone said to me the other day that they were thinking about the history of their family since they arrived in the United States, it made me laugh because if I were to write about mine it would be a relatively short story. I am the third generation on my dad’s side (Reynolds/Mutti) but only the first generation on my mom’s side (Loya/Rodarte) born in this county. The idea did make me think about traveling.
When I was a kid my family went to Mexico many times to visit family in Mexicali. When I was a teenager I backpacked through Canada for a few weeks. That was the extent of my international traveling. As a younger person I hiked through some stunningly beautiful national parks and as a slightly older than younger person I drove across the county, east coast to west coast.
“The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by man.” -Author Unknown.
The past five years however have been filled with grand adventures to other countries and I am filled with as many amazing memories as my passport is with stamps. And it has changed me.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…” – Mark Twain
I could write an entire novel about my travels, but this is a genealogy blog and what I started to think about when I thought of my family’s history in the United States was how they got here, because they got here by traveling. Why? I don’t think they came from Ireland because of religious persecution or the potato famine. I haven’t heard a single story about them leaving Italy to escape war or disease and no one has told me that they left Mexico to escape drug lords or corrupt politicians. Most likely they were seeking opportunity, a better life, maybe “The American Dream”. One thing I am certain of is that they didn’t leave their countries for a vacation. It wasn’t a luxury, they weren’t tourists, and they weren’t returning. And since I have not traveled under those circumstances, I am interested in their stories. I am intrigued. I wish they were alive to ask.
“A desire to change and alter your life” – Novaturient (adj), Origin: Latin
Domenico Mutti arrived in New York City on April 9th, 1873. He was 22 years old. He travelled with his wife Mary (Agazzi) and their infant daughter Jennie. They left on a train from Bedonia, Italy, got on a ship in Genoa and travelled to New York on a trip that had them at sea between 2 and 3 weeks. This is the passenger ship France:
I have been on a few cruises, but I was on vacation, and the ship I was on had a 24 hour self-serve ice cream machine and every night when I went to my private room with a balcony I had a towel folded into a cute animal shape on my pillow next to a mint.
The Mutti’s travelled about 4000 miles in a few weeks. This year I travelled 6500 miles in 13 hours, with wi-fi and movies on demand.
They were the first in their family to arrive in the United States, they had no jobs, no home, no friends, no family. They did not speak English. I’ve travelled to 8 different countries and though some accents were heavy and hard to understand, most people understood and spoke English.
They packed everything they wanted to keep in the world in heavy steamer trunks and carried them from a train station, to a ship, and finally to and down a street. I have telescoping handles on my fairly lightweight luggage with 360 degree spinning wheels and usually pay a pleasant attendant a few bucks to load them into my midsize rental car. That’s not to say I have not travelled under harsh conditions but when I did it was by choice, remote adventures I paid to have or remote locations I preferred to camp.
“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home. You are constantly off-balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal, or what we imagine of it.” – Cesare Pavese
The Mutti’s eventually found their way to Newark, New Jersey. Mary had 11 more children over 27 years. All of them were born at home. One died at birth, another shortly after. They raised all of them in a small apartment on Newark Street. My grandmother, Victoria Mutti was one of those children. My grandfather was born in the apartment next door. James Joseph Reynolds ended up on Newark Street because his family left Ireland, first by train, then by ship, until they found themselves, steamer trunks and all, walking down the same street as the Mutti’s.
“Travel is glamorous only in retrospect”. – Paul Theroux
I wish I knew them all, beyond what I have pieced together from records and fading stories. I wish I could soak their experiences up into my brain and my very soul. They weren’t tourists, they weren’t on vacation, they were immigrating, but they were travelers. And so am I. Maybe motivated by very different circumstances, but maybe for a few surprisingly similar reasons. I would like to think so because though I don’t travel to find a new place to live, I often travel to find myself. And in some hard to explain way, an odd kind of freedom. That’s a cliche’, it may even sound silly, or worse, self-serving, but I know it’s not.
“So much of who we are is where we have been”. – William Langewiesche
From those two apartments on Newark Street, 16 new Americans were born. They married, they received higher educations than their parents, they got better jobs, they bought homes. They went to war, they went to church and they had children of their own. And they loved. I am here because of them and I am able to live the life I have because they were willing to leave everything behind and travel across the world. I doubt they saw themselves as adventurers, and many may say I am romanticizing the difficult path of immigration in the 1800’s and the real reasons so many left their homelands, but, to me, adventure is not always a fun luxury, it is sometimes just a chosen path. I prefer to think of the Mutti’s and Reynolds’ as adventurers, so I will. And, I want to choose adventures as well, so I will.
“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white”. – Mark Jenkins
In case you were wondering about the title of this blog…. Veni, Vidi, Amavi (I came, I saw, I loved).