Profile: Emma Girimonte    
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Profile: Emma, Josephine and Matilda Girimonte

By William J. Girimonti III

It is not everyday that I am able to meet people with such fervor for life, with such high spirits and optimism than I did on a beautiful sunny day this January 22nd in 1995. Because of this, it brings me great delight to present to you the three sisters, Emma, Josephine, and Matilda Girimonte. I had the privilege of meeting them at their home in San Francisco. This was done while on a business trip to California.

Emma, the eldest of the three, was born on the 8th of November, 1909. Josephine, second in line, was born on the 7th of April, 1911, and Matilda, the 17th of March, 1914. All three were born in a small town in Siskiyou county, California called Weed (near the Oregon border) to Leonardo Girimonte and Rose Leonetti.

Growing up in Weed was just like growing up in any other small town except that the town was owned by the Weed Lumber Company. Their father worked for the company and even became the assistant deputy sheriff for the town. The town had a few different ethnic backgrounds--each with their own section to live in. Leonardo was the assistant deputy sheriff of the Italian population.

While in high school, Emma wanted to go into the arts and sang with the high school band. She turned toward music and took up the violin. Despite her endless practicing, her father pleaded for her to choose another instrument, so she chose the alto-horn instead. Matilda thought she would go into theater and stage, but changed her mind, instead to work with children, while Josephine enjoyed playing the piano. Their love for the arts was quite evident during this time, as they were in all the school plays. In addition, Emma used to sing in Latin with the choir at the local church.

Later on, after high school, they all went on to college. Emma and Josephine went to a business school, and Matilda realized her dreams of working with children, when was certified in Social Work at Lux's Academy. Her job soon after her graduation encompassed playground work, teaching the children dances, etc. In addition, their brother Nick went to the University of San Francisco and their other brother, Joe, went to City College in San Francisco. Both studied business.

When asked about humorous incidents while growing up, Emma replied, "I was a funny girl because I was thin-- I mean all eyes and nose in those days, so I thought, 'I'll be funny.' It didn't bother me when one little girl said to me, 'Oh, you have such a long nose!' It really didn't bother me. I thought, 'Well, I am funny looking. I'll just be a comedienne.' Then I belonged to the Girl Scouts and I'd get up and sing fully little ditties. When I was in the band, I would like to cut up. So when we would go out on a little march, I would look at the girl next to me and go, 'Oom pa! Oom pa!' Then I would make faces and she would blurt right through her horn and she would laugh--I was terrible!"

During the depression of the 1930's, the country as gripped by a poor economy and widespread unemployment. "During this time, we ere not really affected", explains Emma. "The town was completely self-sufficient." This makes sense considering their remoteness from any large cities. They would have had no choice but to provide for themselves, by farming, and the like on a daily basis even before the depression. The cities were the hardest hit, because they were used to depending on goods and services of others.

Some of their interests include going to church, going out to eat, traveling, and just enjoying each others company. They go to church regularly and are devout Catholics. They try to eat out about once a week—there are many good Italian restaurants in San Francisco. In fact, when I visited them, we all went to an Italian restaurant nearby and had a great meal and good conversation. If there is one way to get Italians together, it is food! Over dinner, we discussed a trip they took to Italy, which evetually took them to Castelsilano, which is where their parents came from. Most of all, they enjoy each other's company. They have lived together their whole lives. Neither of them has ever been married or had any children. Emma explains, "The right men just never came along, so we never got married."

What were some of your accomplishments?
"Well, we always got along with everyone", said Emma. "We had our opinions, but we never imposed them on anyone." To be at peace with everyone is truly an accomplishment. Josephine added, "I really didn't do anything, although I've had girls from work call me, one in particular, says that she always wanted to be like me." As many wold agree, being a positive role model was an accomplishment, too.

How would you like to be remembered by friends and family?
Matilda commented, "I would like people to remember that we were caring and that we never butted into anyone else's business. We never lectured-- ever, but we really did care, for Heaven's sake. People always felt free that they could talk to us, perhaps, because we weren't married." Emma added, "On the same line, we were kind and always did a lot for people--my mother did, too."

These three charming sisters have seen much and have touched the lives of many. They are well known for their kindness and good nature. Their active lifestyles have kept them in good spirits, which rubs off on everyone they come into contact with. Currently, they are retired and reside in San Francisco, California in the Marina district. They are within walking distance of the Presidio and ten minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge. This has been yet another testimony to the way that our family has helped shape the world in which we live--a little bit at a time.

Editor's Note: Since the interview in 1995, sadly, all three sisters have past away in California. Matilda in 1996, Josephine in 2001 and Emma in 2004.

Copyright ©1995 - 2023 William Girimonti, All Rights Reserved.