I called my paternal grandfather, Papa, and my maternal grandfather, Pop. I know my mom called her grandfathers, Pa Driscoll and Pop Fields, so once again, fairly easy for us English speakers and very common. My father called his maternal grandfather, Grandpa, and he never knew his paternal grandfather. Even though many of these men were not native English speakers, French and Italian, they didn’t have traditional native nicknames for grandparents. We didn’t have any Nonnos or Grand-peres in our family.
That’s why I have always been fascinated with my father’s nickname for one of his maternal great grandfathers. He called his great grandfather, Stefano Belmonte, Dado (pronounced Tha-dough.)
I have not found a translation of the name, partly because I don’t know how to spell it and neither does my father. I know it may be a pet nickname that the family created for him, but it could also be a nickname that was common in Campania.
Once, a few years ago, while watching Lidia Bastianich’s cooking show on PBS, her son Joe was on and he was briefly talking about his grandfather…and he called him Dodo (pronounced Dodo.) It was the first time that I had heard an Italian reference their grandfather in similar terms. The pronunciation may have been a little different, but I’m willing to bet that is merely a difference in dialect.
My journey to decipher the origins of Dado’s continues because I’m thinking that one day maybe my grand children will be able to call me Dado and I’ll actually know what they mean!