Personal Rememberances

I cannot relate to the time element, but eventually the grandmother died, the two sisters got married and left the parental home, and Mother was left alone with the four children. It appears to me as a vivid recollection that Mom and I would go and visit her parents who lived at Vaglie, another small town, maybe five miles away. I see me alone with her and our donkey, I would be riding the donkey and she would walk by our side. She would walk most of the way. We would go through paths along cultivated fields. At some point there was a sharp incline and when we got to the top there was a good view of the surrounding area. On the side of this incline there was a deep ravine. Throughout our journey Mom would sing all the time. At times we would meet other villagers going in the same direction and we would all follow 'Indian File' as the paths were very narrow. Her parents' house was very big, built with heavy thick stones, two stories, and with two balconies, two outside stairways, one leading to the girls quarters and the other to the boys quarters.

About my own childhood over there it is very very sketchy. I had a little dog that a month before we left for Canada bit me heavily and Mom took a shovel and put him to sleep and buried him. We had to dispose of him before we left anyway. Like others in the village, Mom used to make cheese and then put it to dry (she also did this in Montreal). The cheese would be put to dry and age after it had been anointed with a mixture of oil, wine vinegar, oregano and other herbs. I liked cheese so much that at some point I went in the drying room and took bites on the cheese rounds, maybe sampling most of them. When Mom saw all the teeth marks on the cheese, she did not know where they came from. Eventually, I admitted that it was me and not the rats.

Another event was that I took a pair of scissors from the bedroom and went around and cut the hem around the bed sheets and caused some serious damage. A lot of psychologists say today that misbehavior in children is caused by early childhood mistreatment by abusive parents. I don't remember ever being beaten up or ever being inflicted heavy punishment. There must have been some incidents where I must have been chastised, but I can't remember any.

The Fascist Movement and the march on Rome by the Black Shirts with Mussolini at its head happened in 1922, the year I was born. When I look at the passport photos I see that Litio is dressed as a Balilla. That was the Fascist children's groups. The indoctrination started early. I wonder what Litio could have told us now. I am sure he had nothing to do with joining the groups, but it was mandatory to do so and survive.

While Dad was away and we lived in the paternal house at Campo, we were alone then, a mother with four children. In those days it was scary to live without a man in the house, at the foot of the mountain very dark in the evening and certain incidents of disorder taking place as anywhere else. But, Mother's brother, Raffaele, came to the rescue. He brought Mother a revolver with the ammunition and he took her out to practice, making sure that they were within earshot of the town. At certain time intervals he would come over and take her out for shooting practice so that the town residents would know, both about the revolver and that he was keeping an eye on things. It must have worked because Mother never had any intruder problems. Mom said that the revolver was very close to her bed at night. From the bedroom window she could see the front door and we all slept in same room. When I was born, Mother was not feeling too well and somewhat sick and could not breast feed me, as it was done at the time, or maybe there were no bottles then. There was another lady close by that also recently had given birth. I don't know about her baby but apparently she had enough milk to feed me at the same time and she would come to our house just to feed me two or three times a day.

Though she had a child, she was not married and was not well accepted in the town. To Mother what was important was the survival of her child. This lady's name was Cristina. Eventually she came to Montreal and I met her around the 1960's. She was tall, big and husky, nice looking woman, and by the size of the chest she still had, I could see that she had no trouble feeding two babies. When she saw me she said, "Remember you are my milk-fed son (mio figlio di late)", It doesn't translate well but the meaning is understood. I acknowledged that I had been told of this before and thanked her for what she had done and probably either saved my life or allowed me to grow up as a normal child. I saw her a few times and always reminded her that she was my benefactor, and would never forget her gift to me.

During this time (1918-1925), Dad tried to return to Montreal. It proved quite difficult. The relatives that were already here would have had to sponsor him. Of course none was willing to take the responsibility. Eventually one of his uncles, Luciano Iadeluca, wrote to my Dad that he would sponsor him and told him what was required. He would take care of the approaches to be made in Montreal. He approached the Member of Parliament for the county of Dorion and obtained a letter of recommendation that eventually led to Dad being able to immigrate to Canada. The year was 1925. I met Uncle Luciano later and I wondered how he was able to do what he did for Dad as Luciano was illiterate.

On arrival at Montreal, Dad lived with Luciano and his wife and two sons on DeLaroche Street. His immediate efforts were devoted to make money as quickly as possible to bring his family to Canada. In the meantime, the Canadian immigration was closed and he could do nothing immediately, nor did he have the money to pay our passage. That would take a few more years.

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