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ix Rudi Vecoli first told me about his project to write a biography of Celso Cesare Moreno in a September 2004 email. Like him, I had stumbled onto Moreno while I was working on something else, and, like Rudi, I considered writing a book about him. So when Rudi told me that he had started his project, I was enthusiastic. The following summer, Rudi retired and found the time to devote himself to it. He kept me updated about his research: his trip to Hawaii, his brief trips to the Library of Congress, and naturally, a trip to Italy, which ended in Moreno’s hometown, Dogliani. Emilio Franzina, another great historian of emigration, accompanied him and told me the trip was also a thorough and memorable tour of Piedmont ’s food and wine. I enjoyed following Rudi’s research from afar and seeing how enthusiastically Rudi undertook it. It was a point of pride for me to see how Rudi valued my opinion on a series of small questions connected to this work. Then, on December 18, 2007, I received a terrible email. Rudi wrote that he had been diagnosed with incurable acute leukemia two weeks earlier . “It is a matter of weeks,” he added. All that, in three lines. The longer part of the message was instead dedicated to his book on Moreno, which risked remaining incomplete. “It would be a great satisfaction for me,” Rudi wrote, “if you would agree to be the joint author. There is no other person to whom I would entrust this work.” I responded immediately, with an unbearable pain in my heart. I told him that yes, I would find the time to complete his work. I could not have done anything else because I was indebted to Rudi for his openness, enthusiasm , kindness, and his help with my work on Italian Americans. I had met him more than twenty years earlier in Minneapolis, in his “kingdom,” the former site of the Immigration History Research Center. I had decided to research the forgotten literature of the first generation of Italians who emigrated to the United States, and this was the place to do it. On a cold, pale spring morning, I began to consult the catalogs and made request after request. Someone must have told Professor Vecoli, who was the prologue Francesco Durante x Francesco Durante director and heart of that place. He came to see what I was doing, and when I explained, his response was wonderful: He brought me to a door, opened it, and said, “Do it yourself. It’s useless to fill out these cards.” And so, for a week I was the freest and happiest mouse in the archive. That night, I told Rudi about my progress and asked his advice. At his home, I also had the opportunity to listen to Ruby–De Russo duets on an old LP. Later, we saw each other in New York, Rome, and Naples, but I regret having spent far too little time with such an extraordinary scholar and a kind and fascinating man. It comforted me to know that perhaps he felt similarly. “Unfortunately, we have seen each other little in the last few years,” he wrote in the message in which he thanked me for agreeing to finish the book. Rudi passed away on June 17, 2008. More time passed. In Minneapolis, many of the materials on Moreno that he had gathered were carefully collected, a task that was certainly not easy. Rudi had ensured that they would not be available to the public until I had seen them. So I returned to the IHRC’s new location in Minneapolis for several days of furious research, many photocopies, and consultations with the magnificent staff who worked there. Soon after I returned to Italy, I received a package of the copies I had requested, and I set myself to the difficult task ahead. It was not easy. The book on Moreno was a project full of difficulties and surprises. Rudi did a magnificent job in archives on three continents, but I needed to go back to the archives, especially the Italian ones, to check and cite the original documents. Then there was Rudi’s legendary handwriting , a kind of hieroglyphics. On top of all that, I also needed to attend to my daily responsibilities beyond Moreno, and this explains why the work was not finished quickly. And now here we are. Rudolph Vecoli is the author...


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