Lifestyle In The Countryside

Typed November 5, 1995 7.00 PM

There are many other anecdotes that happened during these years. I remember their saying that most of their time was spent working in the fields until sundown, hours did not matter, but being young and strong, they enjoyed the life. They worked together in the fields of one of the owners and the next day they would go to another person's field and work on that one. Again the next day, they would go to somebody else's field and work on that one. In this way they helped each other very much. This would happen in the spring at sowing time, during the summer at weeding time, and in the fall at harvest time to gather all the produce, fruits, grapes, and whatever else they had planted.

Maria would tell us that during the work they would all sing in chorus in bright sunlight. The songs of the women followed by songs by the men. Old and young alike would all participate. Even at home Mom and Dad would sing while working and the songs consisted of the best known operatic arias and Neapolitan folk songs. I often wondered how they learned these songs because they were far away from opera houses or other places of entertainment. I suppose they were just passed on from one generation to another. While they did attend the San Carlo Opera in Naples, this would only happen at wide intervals because of the distance and also the cost.

Also during that time, Dad was very active in the church movements and helped a lot to do things for the church and for the parish. Even later in Montreal, he ran a fundraising campaign to buy the bells for the church in our old home town. But his religious participation here that I remember as a child or young man was not very strong.

In fact, Mother would often mention the fact that going to church was not one of his priorities. I think the fact of all the hardships they suffered in Italy made him very bitter when recalling certain events. He could really swear in the Italian way. He knew of more saints than actually existed in heaven. But as time went on he mellowed and lost this habit. Especially as we grew up. Also, as things in general got better, such as the end of the Second World War when we were all reunited. Litio returned home after five years in the army, and I returned after two years. Mom often remarked that his swearing here was very mild compared to the way he would swear in Italy. When Mother would reproach him, he would say "...that's OK, we will discuss that when we meet up there and Peter will open his big book. I hope he has all this recorded." I laughed every time he said that, and I still do just thinking about it. He was always involved in church processions. Supposedly this was the big event of the town with the marching bands and everyone joining in the cortege and singing all the religious songs. The processions would go through the town and also through the cultivated fields to implore divine assistance on good crops, some rain, but not a deluge that would take away the top soil, nor too much sun that would parch the land and spoil the crops. It must be pretty hard for the Weather Man up in the sky to satisfy everybody.

One story that was narrated was this one Sunday when having a big feast, all they had for the dinner was one rabbit. I don't know how may of us were born then and whether the grandparents were still alive, but the story goes that Dad brought in a guest, one of the big shots at that feast, and when they sat down to dinner all there was in the main plate was this scrawny rabbit all roasted and shriveled. The guest was told to serve himself and he took the biggest piece there was and there was not much left for the others. He must have been just as hungry as all the others. This is just to show how difficult it was at times even to feed your family. Maybe swearing at such a time must be tolerated. (Remember that Peter)

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