Aunt Anna’s Memories, Part Two

“Papa purchased the house in the spring of 1928, a large 8-room, 3-story frame with a spacious bathroom, located at [somewhere], Akron, Ohio. It had gas jets and electricity for lighting. We used only electric light bulbs. We could pump water from a well in the backyard and from a pump in the basement. We used city water piped into our house for all our needs. However, Mama preferred to shampoo her hair with the well water and Papa cooled his homemade wine and homemade beer, bottled, of course, in a pail that he suspended into the well in summertime. The backyard had a quince, plum, and three species of apples. The side area had a mulberry and a pear tree and we enjoyed the fruits throughout the spring and summer. A gigantic oak tree was to the far side of our lot, providing beauty and shade.

Today is March 6, 1983, and I’m 64 years old, as I write this. But the story will commence with February 26, 1870. On that day my father, Domenico, was born in Castel di Sangro, province of Aquila, region of Abruzzi, Italy. He was the third child of Luigi and Domenica. There were two older sisters, Tecla and Carmela, and a younger one, Maria.

Luigi was orphaned at a very young age and was looked after by an uncle who at one time worked for a baron of the royal family Savoia in Rome. Luigi became a farmer and shepherd. By the time Domenico was eight years old, he was shepherding in Castel di Sangro from spring, through summer, and into autumn. As winter approached, the older shepherds aggregated their flocks into one huge flock and wended their way to the warmer climate in the region of Puglia. There they lived the entire winter, tending their sheep and carving wood or tanning leather.

One of my father’s prized possessions from his boyhood was a leather-bound storybook belonging to his father. Mama brought it to the States in 1928. It was titled, “Mille e Una Notte.” Translated, it means “A Thousand and One Nights” like our Aesop’s fables. Mama preserved it with care and allowed us to read the many stories it contained. Papa would tell them to us from memory as Marie sat in his lap and I at his side in the early 1920’s. The book is no longer in our heirlooms because I, the culprit, donated it together with other Italian novels and textbooks to St. Anthony Church to be sent to Italian prisoners of war housed at Camp Perry, Ohio, during World War II.”

End page one. Okay, I’m going to attempt to tag all my posts so we’ll kinda have categories. Whoa. Am I this organized person? That’s inspiration.


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