Friday, December 27, 2013

The Good Old Days - Elena, 90

I mean the "good old Italian days."  Not too long ago, I was shopping in the glassware section of a store in the Waterworks when I heard two women talking to each other in the next section. I want over and asked the two lovely young women with children in baby carriages if they were from Rome.  Yes, they were from Rome.

The incident filled me with nostalgia.  I remember the days when I was a kid and everyone around me spoke Italian--everything was Italian--the relatives, the neighbors, friends. The comari and compari would visit in the afternoon and sit around the table with coffee and homemade biscotti and talk Italian.  The Italian language was so beautiful, and there was happy laughter in between--they were always happy to see each other.  I can reminisce and see their happy faces--all of them,

They eventually learned how to speak English, but they continued to speak Italian (especially if they didn't want someone to know what they were talking about) until they passed away.

I always thought my dad and my grandfather (my mother's father) spoke the most beautiful Italian--it sounded like music to me.  My grandfather always spoke to me in Italian, and I would always answer in English (I knew he understood English), and he would say to me, "Ma to perche non me rispondi in Italiano?" (Why don't you answer me in Italian?)

Many of the children at the time picked up the Italian and some didn't I went to Sunday afternoon classes that were offered and learned how to read, write, and speak Italian (both my parents spoke English). I wrote an essay about Italy in Italian and I won a trip to Italy that didn't materialize.  Before parting for Italy, a ship was sunk near Spain and the Pope at that time, because of the danger, advised the children from the Italian classes in the United States against visiting Italy.  I remember we were going to sail to Italy on the ship The Rex and return on the Contedi Savora; I have the passport with my picture on it as a remembrance, a remembrance of the "good old Italian days."

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