Left to right: Cousin Italia, Grandpa Sam and Grandma Josie in front of the house in Agropoli, July 1976. The man in the back might be Grandpa Sam’s younger brother Luigi.
Old Town of Agropoli, July 1976
When I was in Agropoli with Grandma Josie and Grandpa Sam, I let my mind wander whenever the conversations changed from English and went back into the dialect they knew so well. Even though I had 3 years of Italian language classes in Junior High School I could never make out what my Grandparents were saying. Pronunciation between their dialect and the Italian I learned in school differed greatly. In class I learned to pronounce “the school” as “la scuola” (la skwola). Grandpa Sam pronounced it differently so that it sounded like “la schkwolla”. When I tried out that kind of pronunciation in class my Junior High School teacher was quick to say, “Stop speaking that dialect.” It was that kind of an attitude that discouraged me from taking the Italian language classes seriously when I was in High School even though the teachers were much better. By the time I got to Italy I depended on my Grandmother to translate everything.
View from the home where Nicola, Letizia and Josie lived in the Old Town of Agropoli.
When we went to visit the house where Grandma Josie was born I took note that my Great Grandmother Letizia loved living there. I was showed the room with her favorite view. It was stunning. Below was the view of a castle tower and outwards stretched the sea.
There was a story as to why there were no stairs going up to the white door with the little window but I never asked my Grandmother to repeat it to me. It was one of the many details I thought I’d ask about later but then I forgot. WhatI can remember is that after we came out of the cool interior of the house, the day was even brighter and hotter than before. We spent some time with Grandpa Sam’s niece-by-marriage Carmela Serrapede. She lived in the house nearby, to the right of where Grandma Josie is standing in the photo. There was a lemon tree in the yard there. The lemons were as large and juicy as oranges. Carmela generously sprinkled sugar on some cold lemons from her refrigerator and to my surprise they were very tasty.
I wondered what Letizia thought of the smoke stacks, railroad tracks and green mountains of Wilmerding after coming to the United States. None of those views would equal the beauty of the view from her house in Agropoli. I think the security of Nick having steady employment, good food, health care and an 8 year public school education for the children may have been the better part of Letizia’s new life in America.