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Interview with Virgil Pedrizetti

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PEDRIZETTI: The following interview is with Virgil Pedrizetti an Italian-born Duluthian. The interview was conducted in the Pedrizetti home at 4911 London Road on February 1st 1980. Mr. Pedrizetti’s wife, Louise [unintelligible - 00:00:26] Pedrizetti, may occasionally be heard in the background. The interviewer is Jaqueline Rothview Moran a local student of history.
J.R. MORAN: What year you were born?
PEDRIZETTI: 1897.
J.R. MORAN: That makes you 83 years old.
PEDRIZETTI: Eighty-three years old a week from today.
J.R. MORAN: Okay and when did you come to this country?
PEDRIZETTI: 1905.
J.R. MORAN: And you came here with your parents I assume?
PEDRIZETTI: No, I came with my mother and my brother and sister. My father had been already over here, had come here before, and he sent for us and we came and joined him in this country.
J.R. MORAN: Do you know what year your father first came to this country?
PEDRIZETTI: It was in the 1890s some time. It was before he was married before he served in the military in the -- serving his military term in the Italian army. And he was married after he got out of there and then after three children were born; myself, my brother and my sister, he came back over to this country.
J.R. MORAN: I see. Now, what was your father’s occupation in Italy?
PEDRIZETTI: He was a brick layer. He started out as a helper around the building trade and then gradually worked in the brick laying trade.
J.R. MORAN: And now why did they come to this country in the first place?
PEDRIZETTI: Because there was insufficient work in the little town where we were born. In that particular community in northern Italy there were more workers than there was work. So, because many had to work either in France, Switzerland, you had to travel out of the country in order to find work. And he had some relatives over here in this country so he decided to come over here.
J.R. MORAN: Do you happen to know at all why work was so scarce at that time in Italy, was this a temporary situation or?
PEDRIZETTI: I don’t believe so. I think it was just one of those things, the conditions that existed at the time.
J.R. MORAN: Is that there was more skilled workers than there actually work available for them.
PEDRIZETTI: Yes, there was.
J.R. MORAN: Now, why did your father choose to come to Duluth?
PEDRIZETTI: Because he had some relatives here, a family in the name of [Greeny] who lived here along with a few other Italians. There was a small Italian colony in the city of Duluth at the time that he came and he joined them.
J.R. MORAN: Now, these people were all from the same community in Italy?
PEDRIZETTI: Not exactly in the same community but in the same surrounding territory, very close to each other.
J.R. MORAN: I see. Now, where did your family settle in Duluth?
PEDRIZETTI: We settled at 5th Avenue West and 4th Street [unintelligible - 00:03:31] in the hill side district.
J.R. MORAN: So, you settled very close to the other northern Italians.
PEDRIZETTI: Yes we did.
J.R. MORAN: Your relatives and friends.
PEDRIZETTI: Mm-hmm.
J.R. MORAN: Now, the northern Italians then did not settle at all in the 11th Avenue West community close to Superior Street which was commonly known as little Italy?
PEDRIZETTI: No, that’s right. They were very -- they had their own locality a little further north and east of that. The bulk of the Italian colony in 11th Avenue, in and around 11th Avenue were from the southern parts of Italy; from Naples and in that vicinity. Northern Italians settled in the northern part of the cities.
J.R. MORAN: Now, were northern Italians at all reluctant to settle in the southern Italian community? Was there any stigma attached to living in that area?
PEDRIZETTI: No, I don’t believe they were at all reluctant, but they just naturally drifted to the community where the Italians of like nationality because then there was quite a distinction, difference between northern Italians and southern Italians. Northern Italians originated from France and German tribes who invaded Italy after the Roman fall. [00:05:02] While the southern Italians have a lot in common with those from Africa who crossed the Mediterranean and inhabited there.
J.R. MORAN: And particular language distinction [unintelligible - 00:05:16]?
PEDRIZETTI: There was little language differential also because we all have dialects over there and our dialect was entirely was entirely different from the dialect of the southern Italians and sometimes it was pretty hard for us to understand what they were talking about.
J.R. MORAN: Okay. Now, let’s get back to the employment situation. Was work plentiful here in Duluth for your father?
PEDRIZETTI: Apparently so because he had no trouble finding work when he came here.
J.R. MORAN: Now, how about during the winter months when contracting and the building trade were at a standstill?
PEDRIZETTI: There was no work for them and then -- during the winter months at that time because they had to work and earn enough in the summer months while the weather was favorable, because during the winter there was nothing doing as far as construction work was concerned.
J.R. MORAN: So, the family simply survived on the savings or…?
PEDRIZETTI: That’s right.
J.R. MORAN: Any supplementary income at all?
PEDRIZETTI: No other -- no supplementary income to my knowledge at that time.
J.R. MORAN: So, this then would be true of at least the Italians that were in the building trades and…?
PEDRIZETTI: Right.
J.R. MORAN: And of course the southern Italians working on the railroads and stuff [unintelligible - 00:06:26]. Now, there's one thing that puzzled me. The Italians in this town are constantly credited with working on [unintelligible - 00:06:37] blue stone foundations, the observation world and some of the stone work that we see throughout the city. And yet at the time, at the turn of the century and so forth, there were many more masons in the city who were actually Scandinavians. Why is it that the few Italians who were actually in the trade are always credited with this work?
PEDRIZETTI: Well, in Italy in the section where we came from, most of the construction was stone work. Stone was more plentiful than wood and the construction was practically all of stone work so that the people that did leave there to go find work somewhere else were the stone masons who did the work that their fathers had done before them. Naturally it was the kind of work that was more abundant in that locality than anything else.
J.R. MORAN: But now as far as the work that was done in Duluth, specific Italians have told me that their fathers worked on this or that project.
PEDRIZETTI: Yeah.
J.R. MORAN: And so of course we know that the Italians did work on these projects, but they seem to be given exclusive credit for so many of these projects, and yet as I say there were so many more stone masons who actually were Scandinavians or really southern nationalities.
PEDRIZETTI: I don’t know that I can answer that. I know the Italian stone masons that built our church [unintelligible - 00:08:06] associated with took a great deal of pride in their work, and they did magnificent work in the kind of construction that they were noted for. My wife’s father for instance did all the work that was done at the Cedar Island Lodge down in [unintelligible - 00:08:25], Wisconsin, where President Coolidge vacationed. And he did a lot of work down there for the owner. I forget which one [unintelligible - 00:08:36] one of the -- I think it was one of the in the meat business in St. Paul.
LOUISE: It was Clayton [unintelligible - 00:08:46] I believe it was. He was from the east of New York. Presidents like [unintelligible - 00:08:57] was his summer home.
PEDRIZETTI: And luxury.
J.R. MORAN: Now [Crystal] a great deal of this bluestone work is actually in the area in which the Italians lived, for instance the observation wall and so forth, and we know of course that the Italians did work on those projects.
PEDRIZETTI: Yes, but then they did quite a bit of work for instance on the [unintelligible - 00:09:20] colonies, they were in the WTA work.
J.R. MORAN: Yes.
PEDRIZETTI: Because they acquired several of the stone masons had charge of crooks who did that type of work so it was in this vicinity it’s true.
J.R. MORAN: Now, when did your father die by the way?
PEDRIZETTI: I forget exactly. It was about fifteen years ago.
J.R. MORAN: Your father lived that long?
PEDRIZETTI: Yes.
J.R. MORAN: I see.
PEDRIZETTI: He lived -- what was he? He was in his 80s when he died, 86 I believe.
J.R. MORAN: I see. [00:10:00] So longevity is a family trait.
PEDRIZETTI: Yes. But he was not active in his last years of his life as a stonemason. His health wouldn’t permit it.
J.R.MORAN: Now, that brings me to a question. I had thought perhaps that he had died earlier in the century. Was he a member of the stonemasons and bricklayers union?
PEDRIZETTI: Yes, he was.
J.R. MORAN: He was?
PEDRIZETTI: Yeah.
J.R. MORAN: Now, I have been going through some of the old record books. Now in 1890, the very first minutes of the local stonemasons and bricklayers union, neither the [Signorelli] nor the Pedrizetti name is listed in the 1890 book. However, there is a brief reference to a Carlo Pedrizetti in 1980. Now, would that be a relative of yours?
PEDRIZETTI: Carlo Pedrizetti that was my father’s name.
J.R. MORAN: That was your father.
PEDRIZETTI: Yes. What year was that?
J.R. MORAN: That was in 19 -- 1890, I'm sorry.
SPEAKER 1: He came to this country as a youngster, as a teenager just about that time.
J.R. MORAN: Well, it was a rather cryptic reference. There was a sentence to the effect that the other building tradesmen in the area, for instance the carpenters and so forth, would recognize any grievances that the stonemasons had against a particular contractor. And then there was simply a brief statement that Carlo Pedrizetti obligated. Now, I don’t know what was meant by that. The spelling was very bad. It was hardly legible in some instances, but he was not listed as among the members. Now in…
PEDRIZETTI: See, I was born in 1897, and this was seven years before I was born. And that must have been a while before he went back to get married.
J.R. MORAN: Now, then the very next book that’s available runs from 1915 to 1921. There are three [Signorelli’s] listed in that book, but again there is no Pedrizetti listed. Now, it does not necessarily mean he wasn’t a member. That, for instance, was a list of member’s addresses, so it doesn’t rule out the fact that he might have been a member and his address was not listed for some reason or another,
PEDRIZETTI: To my knowledge he was always a member. He and his brother Frank Pedrizetti] were both bricklayers and were both members of the union. I remember as youngsters we used to go have family picnics, the stonemasons and the bricklayers together down at [unintelligible - 00:12:38]. And that was my first recollection of him being a member of the union.
J.R.MORAN: Was the union then a rather important part of his life?
PEDRIZETTI: Well, I wouldn’t say that it was too important. No. He was a member, but he attended meetings once in a while, but he wasn’t active. He was not an active member as you might call it as such.
J.R. MORAN: It appeared that one almost had to be a member of the union because reading through the minutes, various individuals who did not work on union or work on union projects were firmly denounced in the minutes and fined and so forth. And yet we were told, for instance, the [unintelligible - 00:13:34] which was built between 1905 and 1908, we were told that that was built with non-union labor. I don’t know how they would get around that when all the building trades were unionized at that time.
PEDRIZETTI: That was before my time. I couldn’t answer. That’s when we came over here in 1905. I was busy with school at that time.
J.R. MORAN: I see. That’s true. So, you’re not aware of any talk of any of this, the masons for instance working on nonunion projects or any kind of ostracism because of work along that line?
PEDRIZETTI: No. I don’t -- I am not aware of anything like that. I don’t imagine for instance, and I said my husband’s father when he took that job down in Brule, but it was -- that was a special job and it had nothing to do with the union whatsoever. He was building fences, fireplaces, and things of that kind. More beautifying the place than construction.
LOIUSE: [Unintelligible - 00:14:44] 1957 they still want that information you see.
PEDRIZETTI: 1957. That’s 23 years ago isn’t it? That’s right.
LOUISE: [Unintelligible - 00:14:56].
PEDRIZETTI: That’s right. I said 15.
LOUISE: You know my mother was the last one of the grandparents who died and she said 16.
J.R. MORAN: [00:15:07] Did you ever hear of any reluctance among local Italians at all to join unions? This is a question which has occupied historians and scholars for some time. It seems at least that some of the earlier Italian immigrants were reluctant to join unions or at least to go on strike.
PEDRIZETTI: I remember hearing some discussions on it, but I can’t say that there was any particular antagonism one way or the other.
J.R. MORAN: Do you have any memories at all of the 1916 strike in the union?
PEDRIZETTI: [Cutting edge] Excuse me. What did you say?
J.R. MORAN: Do you recall any of the details of the 1916 strike in the union?
PEDRIZETTI: No.
J.R. MORAN: So, then you would have not heard of the fact for instance that the IWW was involved in that strike and that one of the national leaders was a man named Carlo [Tresco].
PEDRIZETTI: No. I had no knowledge of that.
J.R. MORAN: You don’t recall that.
PEDRIZETTI: There was no discussion in our family or among my friends that I know of.
J.R. MORAN: Okay. Do you remember hearing or can you recall at all any interest locally in socialism or in radical labor reforms during the first two or three decades of this century?
PEDRIZETTI: The only one that I recall with any kind of connection was Americanization organizations. Most of the Italians were urged to join Americanization clubs or associations for which there was organized between here and the range. It was a state organization and I think we had membership in the Twin Cities also.
J.R. MORAN: Those are -- those were in no way connected with any sort of radical politics.
PEDRIZETTI: No.
J.R. MORAN: They were basically conservative.
PEDRIZETTI: No, those were entirely Americanization and for I would say the [federation] of the Italian name and the Italian church.
J.R. MORAN: I am rather curious considering that, for instance, 1920 was the year of riots throughout the country. There were hangings. It was the so-called red scare at that time. I am rather curious why none of this came through to Duluth? Can you recall all right after the First World War a kind of a period of mass hysteria throughout the nation?
PEDRIZETTI: To my knowledge there wasn’t any effect, nothing of that type affected the Italian colony of which I had any knowledge.
J.R. MORAN: How about the Sacco Vanzetti case and the executions in 1927, can you recall anything of that?
PEDRIZETTI: I recall hearing about it and reading about it in the local papers. Some of our people subscribed to the Italian papers also and there was discussion about it, but it wasn’t of any serious consequences one way or the other.
J.R. MORAN: So, there was no real reaction locally?
PEDRIZETTI: Not to my knowledge.
J.R. MORAN: The local Italians then did not share the feeling of some of the national Italian Americans and even other people around the country that these men had been persecuted strictly because they were Italians and because they were anarchists.
PEDRIZETTI: If they did then they kept it to themselves. There wasn’t any outcry of anything.
J.R. MORAN: I see. Now, Mr. Pedrizetti, you yourself are a retired senior member of a Duluth accounting firm are you not?
PEDRIZETTI: Right.
J.R. MORAN: Could you just tell me briefly a little bit of your education and bring us through your education to the point that you arrived at this point?
PEDRIZETTI: Well, I am a graduate of high school, Duluth Central High School. That’s as far as my formal education went. Then I subscribed to the International Accounts Society, which is a mail order organization, taking up accounting. And after I came back from the army in 1919, I took advantage of the opportunity offered to veterans to attend the school in the evening studying accounting. And I also got a job at that time doing accounting work. Up to that time, I had been doing stenographic work, working for a lumber concern. [00:20:00] But beginning about that time I was able to get a job across the county at the F. A. Patrick Billing Company located at 29th Avenue West, Duluth. And I continued my work with the IAS and studying and finally in 1924 I had the opportunity to join the firm of Grover and Grover. Irvin Grover was a power mind for a boy with [jaundice]. We were about the same age, we grew up together, and his father had started public accounting while the two of us were in the army. And when he came out he joined -- he took up law at St. Paul College of law, but instead of practicing law when he graduated, his father persuaded him to go into public accounting with him figuring this his law, the legal knowledge would be of service to him in accounting. So, Irvin kept after me until I finally gave it up and gave up my position with the F.A. Patrick & Company at a considerable sacrifice in salary, for which my wife has never forgiven me. But that was in 1924 and for the first two years it was a hard struggle. And 1932, '33 was a depression hit. We all of us could work for whatever we could get and we had to take our pay a good many times in kind.
My wife has two fur coats which were as a result of our work at that time. We had to buy butter; we had to buy clothing and things of that kind wherever we did work where we couldn’t collect. For a long time I wouldn’t eat in any restaurant who wasn’t a clients of ours. Things of that kind until things began to pick up in '37 and '38. And in 1941 in June Mr. A. O. Grover, the senior member, died and Irvin Grover, his son, and I took over the partnership together. But it wasn’t long after that, a couple of months after that, when he had the opportunity to become secretary of the Northern Drug Company in Duluth, and we parted company very amicably and I took over the iconic practice.
J.R. MORAN: Now, had you become a CPA prior to this time?
PEDRIZETTI: Yes. I become a CPA three years after I started public accounting in 1924.
J.R. MORAN: But now you say your -- excuse me. Your high school education was your only formal education, but those courses that you took in the evening were actually university courses.
PEDRIZETTI: Yes. I took a couple of years of evening study and correspondence work, and at that time you had to be at least a high school graduate and have three years public practice experience before you were allowed to sit for a CPA examination. I sat the first opportunity I got and luckily I was able to pass it and I got my CPA degree in January of 1928. So, I have been practicing almost 50 years since that time before I finally retired. After the war started, after Pearl Harbor, I was faced with the proposition of most of the boys that were working for me being drafted and being forced to go to the armed services. So, we got along the best we could and hired everybody we could get a hold of, women as well as men, who worked for us and during that time I had worked from one end of the United States to the other. I had worked in New York, I had worked in San Francisco, in Portland, San Diego, Chicago, all over the United States. I kept that up until after the war. Then the boys came back from the service. Some of them came back to work for me, but two principals then, Ray Grover was the second son of Mr. -- the former -- A. O. Grover, my former partner. [00:25:04] He was working in Portland in connection with a firm out there after he came back from the army, and he called up one night, asked if he couldn’t see me, but might like to come in and see how things were going here in Duluth. Well, as a result of it when he came here we made a deal that he would come to work for us with the idea that he would be a partner in the firm eventually. And at the same time Earl Lockhart was working in Minneapolis with a firm of CPAs down there. I think it was Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Company. About that time I had a son, Robert, who was in school. He graduated from the central high school and he attended the University of Minnesota picking up accounting with the idea of eventually coming in to practice with our firm. And in 1949, spring of 1949 while he was home here for his spring vacation, he took sick. Had to go back to the Twin Cities, went to the University of Minnesota and up to the university hospital. Treated down there, finally died in April 1949.
LOUISE: He died within a week.
PEDRIZETTI: Huh?
LOUISE: I said he died within a week.
PEDRIZETTI: Yeah. Within a week after he was admitted to the hospital down there from a combination of circumstances which I’ve never been exactly certain as to just what caused it. But at that time I contacted -- shortly after that I contacted Mr. Lockhart, who had worked for me before and whom I had high very regard for, and got him to leave his position in the Twin Cities and come to work in Duluth also with the idea that he would eventually be made a partner. So, a few years after that -- I had been practicing up to that time under the name of E. J. Pedrizetti and Company, but after they, both Grover and Lockhart and [unintelligible - 00:27:47] for three or four years, we changed the name, Pedrizetti, Grover and Lockhart when they were admitted to full partnership. We carried on until about 1972 and at that time we also took in the firm of [Graving and Honey] came with it. And then thereon following the trend of accounting here in the United States, we merged with [unintelligible - 00:28:22] Company. By merging they simply took over our -- we continued to practice here. The two principal partners who were my two partners, Grover and Lockhart, became partners in [unintelligible - 00:28:41]. But the rest of the organization functioned here as they did before and simply participated in the earnings of the Duluth brand.


PEDRIZETTI: In connection with the merger with [unintelligible - 00:00:08], after the time that I officially retired from the firm in 1972, and I have been retired since that time.
J.R. MORAN: Do you know, Mr. Pedrizetti, are there any other Americans of Italian descent in Duluth who actually are CPAs? I know there are a number of men who practice accounting.
PEDRIZETTI: Yes. There is John [Signorelli] who is the son of a cousin of my wife, who is now practicing CPA in Duluth. He’s partner with -- I don’t know. He just joined a partnership with a firm.
J.R. MORAN: Now he would be a third generation accountant?
PEDRIZETTI: Yes, I think he is from the third generation because his father -- John wasn’t born -- was born here with me.
J.R. MORAN: Now, I believe that you [unintelligible - 00:01:10]. Now, you also did some work for the Office of Price Administration during the Second World War, did you not?
PEDRIZETTI: Yes I did. I was -- at that time I was doing quite a bit of work for the Stella Cheese Company that manufactures Italian type cheese. And in connection with the setting of prices during the world war, it became necessary for the Stella Cheese Company to submit detailed records as to the cost of their products, and also necessary for me to go to Washington and sit in with the representatives of the Price Administration to review the entire [unintelligible - 00:01:57] Stella Cheese Company. And I think we were instrumental at that time, being the largest producers of Italian type cheese, of setting the maximum price allowed for the sale of Italian type cheese during the war.
J.R. MORAN: May I ask where your political sympathies lay at that time? Were you a Republican or a Democrat?
PEDRIZETTI: Well, I would say in the middle. I voted for both Democrats and Republicans.
J.R. MORAN: Were you…
PEDRIZETTI: I don’t remember exactly who was in the office at the time I was in Washington.
J.R. MORAN: Okay. Were you sympathetic to price fixing in general? Was there something that bothered you at all?
PEDRIZETTI: No, it didn’t bother me. I did the best I could and I did what I felt was the honest effort to set a price which was fair and equitable both to the government, to the company I represented. As a matter of fact, they insisted that I be put on their board of directors afterwards. I was instrumental in the final liquidation of that company some 10, 15 years after that.
J.R. MORAN: This is the company in which the council, the honorary council general -- not the council general but the consular agent here in Duluth [unintelligible - 00:03:16].
PEDRIZETTI: Yeah, [unintelligible - 00:03:17] and [unintelligible - 00:03:18] agent were interested in that. The two families.
LOUISE: [Unintelligible - 00:03:21]?
PEDRIZETTI: Yes, the two families, when the two, they were represented in that company.
J.R. MORAN: And this is the cheese company which was later sold to Kraft Cheese was it?
PEDRIZETTI: No, not to Kraft. It was sold to somebody else in Chicago. I just forget the name right now. We did a lot of business with Kraft, and they manufactured a lot of cheese for Kraft, particularly parmesan cheese. But, when they sold out, they sold out to somebody else.
J.R. MORAN: I see. And before we get too far away from this subject, let’s go way back to 1921 and 1924. Do you recall whether Italians locally at that time realized that the Immigration [unintelligible - 00:04:11] Act was directed primarily against the Italians?
PEDRIZETTI: I think there was. There was quite some talk about it at that time because the immigration practically stopped as far as the Italian colony in Duluth was concerned. Very few families have since been admitted to this locality, and that always wasn’t [unintelligible - 00:04:32] and all of us remarked about it at the time.
J.R. MORAN: Did Italians protest this it all that you’re aware of [unintelligible - 00:04:40]?
PEDRIZETTI: Not unless they did through the consular service here. That I wouldn’t know unless you had some idea.
J.R. MORAN: And on the subject of discrimination in general, do you feel that Italians are still discriminated against in [unintelligible - 00:04:59] society?
PEDRIZETTI: [00:05:02] Once in a while I felt there was a little discrimination yes. After all they were still designated and regarded as a minor classification of citizens. I personally have never been made to feel that way. I have been accepted throughout my association here in Duluth in business management, the chamber of commerce, the banking facilities, the attorneys, everybody else, socially in Northern Country Club, [unintelligible - 00:05:42] Club and so on, and I’ve never been made to feel inferior at any time.
J.R. MORAN: To your knowledge of the national situation, do you agree with [Gino] that Italians are discriminated against however…
PEDRIZETTI: I do feel that there is some slight discrimination against them yes. There’s still a little racial differential there that some people, you know, look to.
J.R. MORAN: Do you think of yourself as an American period, or as an Italian American?
PEDRIZETTI: I guess I have to say I’m Italian American. I feel more American than Italian, but the few times we’ve been over in Italy, we’ve been over there three different times now, I always have such an exhilaration and such a feeling of joy to be there that I can’t help but feel that I must have something within me that’s still [unintelligible - 00:06:47] Italy.
J.R. MORAN: Do you object to the hyphenated label for Italians, that Italians [unintelligible - 00:06:53]? In other words, when they speak of Italians, it’s still -- or at least when they speak of Americans and Italians then it’s still Italian Americans. It’s not Swedish Americans or Finnish Americans or…?
PEDRIZETTI: You mean to say that Italian Americans are more spoken of with a double nationality than other nationalities?
J.R. MORAN: Yes, yes.
PEDRIZETTI: I’ve never thought about it.
J.R. MORAN: Have you or others of Italian descent around these guys, around these [unintelligible - 00:07:23], do you feel that you’ve retained any noticeable cultural traits or behavioral traits or any traits?
PEDRIZETTI: Would you mind repeating that please? Sometimes I don’t hear quite good sometimes.
J.R. MORAN: Okay. Do you feel that your family, you yourself, your friends, your relatives, have you retained any of your Italian cultural traits, any behavioral traits or attitudes?
PEDRIZETTI: I think we have, yes, because for instance we have a love for music, a love for opera. We have a lot of dishes that we prepare are Italian dishes. My daughter-in-law, who is preparing our dinners for us now, makes a special effort to prepare something Italian for us, because she says we always claim that’s the best.
J.R. MORAN: Now your daughter-in-law is not Italian?
PEDRIZETTI: Right.
J.R. MORAN: Again correct. So, this is a [unintelligible - 00:08:24]. Food is generally the one trait that is agreed upon by all that the Italians are [unintelligible - 00:08:34] and of course Americans of non-Italian decent have adopted Italian cooking also.
PEDRIZETTI: I think religion is something else too that we’ve all retained very much. Most of us are Catholics of course, and majority of us are devout Catholic.
J.R. MORAN: You yourself for instance, your wife and you are the only members, the only original members of the Italian parish in Duluth. You are still members of the parish though you live geographically quite a distance, is that not true?
PEDRIZETTI: Well, it’s true up to about a month ago.
J.R. MORAN: Why is that?
PEDRIZETTI: Up to a month ago, I finally decided that I couldn’t continue to patronize St. Michael’s church here which is just a block away from here without joining it, because since my wife has been in the situation she is now, we can’t attend down there at St. Peter’s anymore. So, it’s been necessary for me to go up here and finally I was persuaded to officially join the parish here; although I think my wife made a statement the other day, “If I die I want to be buried at St. Peter’s.”
J.R. MORAN: [00:10:00] Well, I would say that your, what would it be, about 70, 80 years of loyalty is a pretty good record.
PEDRIZETTI: Yes, that’s right.
LOUISE: Father [unintelligible - 00:10:10] came down this morning. He has come down before, and the ladies are trying to really make me feel at home here. Maybe you know one of them.
PEDRIZETTI: [Unintelligible - 00:10:27], but [Gary Grigoria] is with Saint Scholastica, isn’t he?
LOUISE: I’m not -- I’ve seen the name, but I don’t know if it’s familiar. She told me that the [unintelligible - 00:10:45]. They’re not among the original group [unintelligible - 00:10:51].
PEDRIZETTI: [Grigoria]?
LOUISE: No.
PEDRIZETTI: No, they’ve just been here two or…
LOUISE: Four years.
PEDRIZETTI: Yeah, three or four years.
LOUISE: They came from Michigan she told me.
SPEAKER 1: Yes. I didn’t think the name was familiar. Do you feel that Italians in Duluth have achieved greater or lesser social and economic mobility than perhaps other ethnic groups that came here around the turn of the century? Would you have any thoughts on that at all?
PEDRIZETTI: No, I don’t think I have any particular. We have some outstanding examples and we have -- both ways as far as that is concerned. I would say on an average that we have not fought the same as other nationalities, but a few of us had made good professionally. [Unintelligible - 00:11:37] has made good in business ways and outstanding degree, but the majority of them are still functioning as ordinary working men, laborers. Saint Peter’s Church is still one of the most modest churches in the Catholic diocese as far as income is concerned.
J.R. MORAN: Their congregation of course is very small.
PEDRIZETTI: Yes, the congregation is small, about 100 families in all.
J.R. MORAN: And really the Italians are not [unintelligible - 00:12:07].
PEDRIZETTI: Or very little hope of getting much more either because of the location.
J.R. MORAN: Okay. Do you feel then that there is any economic or social distinctions between Southern and Northern towns at this point?
PEDRIZETTI: I shouldn’t think so. No, no I don’t think so. There’s Dr. Fischetti, for instance, one of our citizens here; very highly thought of. I think he’s a Southern Italian. [Gino] comes in-between I believe.
LOUISE: I don’t know where [Gino] is from.
SPEAKER 1: But [Gino] was a southern Italian but had purchased [unintelligible - 00:12:53] from the range.
SPEAKER 2: Oh
SPEAKER 1: [Unintelligible - 00:12:57] coming to the area until after the Second World War.
LOUISE: But people have [unintelligible - 00:13:03] come here be born in Italy.
SPEAKER 1: I believe that he was born in this country.
SPEAKER 2: I think so in the range.
LOUISE: His father and mother of course were born in Italy.
J.R. MORAN: Now, we talked about cultural traits that you yourself may have retained. Do you have any facts about ethnicity among the second and third generations? Do you think it is pretty much [unintelligible - 00:13:24] at this point; other than let’s say food? Does your grandchild, for instance, identify with Italians and with being part Italian?
PEDRIZETTI: No, I don’t think so. I don’t think there is anything particularly that she identifies with Italian. She likes spaghetti. She still likes Italian food.
J.R. MORAN: I think we all like spaghetti. Have you yourself had any interest at all in the Italian American Culture [unintelligible - 00:13:56]?
PEDRIZETTI: Italian American Culture? I did originally when they first organized, not this last one. And one of the reasons I didn’t like the last one, I didn’t like the way it was organized. I thought it was rather, I wouldn’t say high handed exactly, but it wasn’t democratically organized and I didn’t care to associate any more than I have to I don’t think. I don’t know. I was busy with my work and I was busy with the church and leave that on -- to my knowledge there are social and political clubs.
LOUISE: One of them is social.
PEDRIZETTI: Yeah. So, we haven’t had much society out here. We’re trying to get away from the social life of the rest of the Italians.
J.R. MORAN: The original Italian American club then was more political or devoted strictly to assimilation, it was not a beneficial society was it?
PEDRIZETTI: No. Originally it was more Americanization. That was back in -- what do you say, about -- that was right after the Second World War. It was more or less of getting all the Italian people together for the benefit of the entire community and the Italian name.
J.R. MORAN: So, you feel that the present Italian American Club is strictly social although you mentioned political [unintelligible - 00:15:36].
PEDRIZETTI: Might be political too. Several of the members that are associated there were politically inclined. I think [unintelligible - 00:15:45] was one of them.
J.R. MORAN: Yes.
PEDRIZETTI: I know he’s in politics [unintelligible - 00:15:52] the last time. I had a little experience with the original club. I was secretary for two years and then I was president for one year, and then there was some activity going on that led me to believe that they were trying to use the club or use me for their particular purposes. So, I stopped, I terminated my office at the end of the first term and I have never taken any active part since because I thought they were more political then and for the benefit of certain few people rather than for the benefit of the entire group or the entire colony as I had anticipated it was at the beginning.
J.R. MORAN: So, when you say political do you mean that certain persons were using the organization to advance their own careers or their own interests?
PEDRIZETTI: Yes.
J.R. MORAN: You don’t mean political in terms of any particular party or…?
PEDRIZETTI: Not the party so much as individual positions with the steel company and things like that. The steel company had their hands in it too at that time. It was mostly controlled from the iron range, yeah.
J.R. MORAN: Well, that’s very interesting. Now, I’d like to go into this a little bit further. The steel company was interested in it and had some control in it through various members who were let us say not working class people?
PEDRIZETTI: Well, there were certain individuals who were prominent in this organization from the iron range that were all employees of the steel corporation, some of them as part of their protective organization you might call it.
J.R. MORAN: So, security kind of inside stuff?
PEDRIZETTI: Security, yeah. Security…
J.R. MORAN: Private guard?
PEDRIZETTI: More or less…
J.R. MORAN: Well, I know [unintelligible - 00:18:12]. Okay. Well, that’s very interesting. Now, in speaking to various people around town it seems to be, now you mentioned post World War Two. It seems to be, however, that the club disbanded if not before the war ended at least very soon afterwards. Can you recall at all?
PEDRIZETTI: I don’t remember just why it ended [unintelligible - 00:18:47] the Duluth organization more or less dropped out of it after I left there and just operated from the range. It dominated from the range a good deal and then what happened there I don’t know, but it just seemed to fade away
J.R. MORAN: So, you can’t actually place it in time very specifically?
PEDRIZETTI: No, I can’t say definitely.
J.R. MORAN: Well, Mr. Pedrizetti, I thank you very much.
PEDRIZETTI: [Unintelligible - 00:19:20]. If I have added anything that may have been of any benefit to anybody more power to it.
J.R. MORAN: I’m sure you have.