Going Global: Herrin-native with Italian roots - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Going Global: Herrin-native with Italian roots

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HERRIN, Ill. - Driving through Herrin this time of year, you'll see Italian flags hanging in celebration of the annual Herrin Festa Italiana event.

That's because as many southern Illinoisans like, Cheryl Ranchino Trench know, "There was a great influx of Italians into this region from 1897 to around 1920."

The popular columnist's grandparents immigrated from Northern Italy as part of that group.

"My grandfather on my mother's side knew one English word when he landed at Ellis Island, he actually got on a train and headed to St. Louis and it was banana so we always laugh that that what was what he ate from New York to St. Louis."

At one point, she tells me how Herrin was made up of about 45% Italians.

As for what brought several families to the area?

"It's coal. Capital C, capital O, capital A, capital L."

Her father joined the mining industry at age 13. He and other family members eventually went onto pursue others fields.

She credits her parents for helping make her the woman she is today.

"My mother and father raised us without prejudice and I think that was because the Italians had to face some prejudice when they first came to southern Illinois and certainly America."

Just one reason why she holds onto her Italian roots, and her maiden name. 

"So those of us who have ties to our Italian heritage, we're very proud of it."

While Ranchino Trench is a proud second generation Italian American, she's never actually been to Italy.

"And do I dare admit on channel 3 TV I have plane phobia."

But she says she experiences the county in other ways through its cuisine and personality traits.

"So food is very important to us, laughter is, we're rather noisy, sometimes we could be kind of just very outspoken but it's always done with great laughter and love for others."

So even though she's never stepped foot on her grandparents' birth country, "I feel like I've been to Italy even though this body has not been there."

And she's happy to experience her Italian heritage in her southern Illinois community.

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