Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Leno Prestini Files #1: Letters Looking for a Translator

The Leno Prestini Files #1:
Letters Looking For a Translator
 Wally Lee Parker

            The Prestini files are intended as a series of research blogs designed to explore various aspects of the life of Clayton, Washington, artist Leno Prestini.  Leno was born in Besano, Italy, in early February of 1906.  A few months later his father, Luigi, left for America.  Two years after that in late April of 1908 Leno’s mother brought Leno and his older brother Battista to the United States by steamship.  After Ellis Island, the three traveled to Barre, Vermont, where Leno’s father was employed as a stonecutter.
            The family is believed to have relocated to Spokane, Washington, in 1911, and then north to the small town of Clayton in 1912.
            The six letters reproduced in this and subsequent “Prestini Files” appear to have been exchanged between Luigi Prestini and his wife, Caterina.  The letters are dated from February 21, through March 9, of 1919.  Luigi died ten days after the last indicated date.  As such these letters may supply more revealing insights into the nature of Luigi’s illness, and the relationship between Luigi and his wife.
            After 92 years or repeated handling, we cannot guarantee that the contents of each envelope are still original to that envelope.  Luckily most of the letters carry their own date on the header.
            These letters were found inside a locked trunk purchased at an estate sale held at the Prestini family’s Clayton home sometime after the death of the last member of the original family Battista.  Recollections place that sale “Sometime in the early 1980s.”  On July 26, 2011, John and Pat Colliver, the trunk’s original purchasers, donated these letters along with the rest of the trunk’s catch of photographs, postcards, certificates, and other assorted items to the Clayton/Deer Park Historical Society.
            As you will quickly realize, these letters are handwritten in Italian.  My purpose in posting them is to solicit translations and discussions of their contents.  If translations are received, they’ll be added to the blog for further comment and discussion.

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Item # 1
Letter of February 21, 1919

This letter contains a short note and several receipts.  This is the only letter without extensive writing.  The facsimiles reproduce here show both sides of the artifacts when something of possible interest is on the reverse.
Item a

Item b

Item c - reverse of item b

Item d
Item e - reverse of item d

Item # 2
Letter of February 26, 1919

The evidence indicates Luigi’s fatal illness began with stomach surgery and progressed into pneumonia.  The sanatorium at 2404 W. 2nd Ave. in Spokane still exists – as an apartment building.

Item a
Item b - reverse of item a

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