Hemig: How do you pronounce Emil?
May 2, 2014
Who is this Emil Baldoni? And more importantly, how do you pronounce his name?
Emil Baldoni has long been one of the owners of Weiss Brothers Nursery in Grass Valley.
Weiss Brothers has also been a longtime advertiser in The Union. I had heard Emil is a nice guy and a straight shooter when it comes to his opinion about the newspaper.
And as a new guy around town, the folks I've met often ask, "Have you met Emil yet?"
And as a new guy around town, the folks I’ve met often ask, “Have you met Emil yet?”
With all these recommendations I had to wonder, who is this guy? He seems to be a legend in town.
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What was more curious to me was how many different pronunciations of his name I heard.
A wide range of attempts at pronouncing this gentlemen's name included:
and even, E-mail.
Email? Seriously? Well that would be a cool name, although somehow I doubted that interpretation.
As the meeting recommendations mounted and different pronunciations increased, so did the legend of this longtime local, at least in my mind. Could he be that popular and be unknown at the same time? Could folks be messing up his name as a term of endearment?
So what do you do when faced with such a question? Go straight to the source? No way, that's too embarrassing. You go to the Internet.
But that idea didn't pay off as I had hoped. Pronunciations varied depending on whether the name originated from Italy, Germany or The Netherlands. And, of course, once here in the States, we take it in many other directions.
With the Internet failing me I was left with the second-best option — asking everybody but Emil. So in my travels around town I asked people point-blank: "How do you pronounce Emil's name?"
Well that didn't help. I still got a wide range of variations. How could someone of such long standing in the community be such a mystery?
I finally bucked up and drove over to meet Emil. I dropped by unannounced, as I've heard he prefers. I had to wait a couple minutes as he was in deep conversation with a customer. As they walked around pointing at plants, I could see this gentleman took his time with people. I could tell his personality and care with people far exceeded what most call "good customer service skills."
When I had my chance, I introduced myself, and we sat and talked about The Union. Over the years he's seen many publishers and sales reps come and go, and I could tell he was sizing me up to see how long I'd last. Publishing a daily newspaper is hard work and not for the faint of heart. Emil knows this and offered me great advice that day.
"You turn over too many sales people. Fix that and you will have better success."
His straightforward, but kind, words have led me to one of my top goals for the year.
It was a short discussion, but I now understand all the suggestions to meet Emil. He is a friendly, smart and charming man — and someone with a vast knowledge of the county and more than 40 years of experience in retail nursery and horticulture.
I also now understand the legend. He has sold plants to hundreds, if not thousands, of Nevada County residents. He has supported nonprofits, Girl Scout and school fundraisers for many years, and even provides how-to sessions at the Home & Garden Show each year.
So how does Emil pronounce his name? He told me. But since I had to do all the work and go to the source, I'm not willing to share.
Go to Weiss Brothers Nursery. Ask for Emil. If you haven't met him before, you are in for a treat. He is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet. Thank him for all he has done for this community. And while you are there, buy a plant.
He will even pot it for you while you wait. Then you can ask him how he pronounces his name.
Jim Hemig is publisher at The Union. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 530-477-4299.
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