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Altobell or Altobelli?

Paul Altobell the First and Paul Altobell the Second, August, 1966, in what may be the only photo I have of just the two of us.

Paul Altobell the First and Paul Altobell the Second, August, 1966, in what may be the only photo I have of just the two of us.

In the early 1920s my grandfather, Paul Altobelli, wanted to get married. The woman he loved would only agree to marry him if he dropped the vowel at the end of his last name. Unfortunately, during that era, immigrant Italians were not looked upon with respect. The dark skin, strange language and heavy influx of thieves, ex-convicts and other types of Italian riff-raff created prejudices towards all Italians during that period. So, Mr. and Mrs Paul Altobell got married.  A few years passed; the marriage did not work out. Paul, however, never bothered to add the "i" back to his last name and become, unofficially, Paul Altobell for the rest of his life. As such, his son, my father, was born Donald Altobell, and my brother and I were named Paul and Stephen Altobell.  No "i" at the end of our names.

Fast forward to the 1990's and I'm very annoyed. For most of my life people have mutilated the pronunciation of my name: "Attabell," "Aughtobell," "Adabell," "Atbell," "Taco Bell," to mention just a few. I decided that with my new job I would add the "i" back to my last name. Lo and behold, people almost immediately were able to pronounce Altobelli. So, in the same way Paul the first never legally dropped the "i" Paul the second, that's me, has not added the vowel officially. That is until now.

Officially, my son's, Michael Santino and Joseph Giovani, last name is Altobelli.  My brother, Stephen, officially changed his last name to Altobello.  His son is Harry Mose Altobello.  My mother gets the kids names mixed up all the time to our delight.

From l to r - My Great Aunt Martha (and Paul's sister, her husband Ed, Paul, and my father, Don (circa 1985)

From l to r - My Great Aunt Martha (and Paul's sister, her husband Ed, Paul, and my father, Don (circa 1985)

My brother Stephen and our grandfather shortly before his death in 1989.

My brother Stephen and our grandfather shortly before his death in 1989.

Paul Altobelli

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