Orginal Publication Date
Ethnic Studies Review
Perhaps one of the most fascinating parts of this book is its prologue, where Klindienst discusses her own family's rejection of its ethnic Italian heritage. Frightened by the anti-Italian sentiment surrounding the execution of Nicolo Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti in the mid-1920s, Klindienst's family changed their name to something less Italian-sounding (she doesn't say what) and raised their children as assimilated Americans. Only many years later, at a family reunion, did Klindienst learn of her own ethnic origins. Fascinated, she began researching not only her own family's history but also that of Italian Americans in general. In the process she discovered the letters that Sacco and Vanzetti had written while in prison, awaiting their execution. Vanzetti's letters, in particular, touched Klindienst. Vanzetti wrote lyrically of his father's garden in Italy: how he missed it and how thinking of it brought him some measure of peace. These letters, according to Klindienst, and the sentiments expressed in them, led to her interest in researching the gardens of other ethnic Americans and set her off on a series of interviews with gardeners from a variety of ethnic backgrounds in the United States to see what gardening means to them.
Copyright ©ESR, The National Association for Ethnic Studies, 2006