30b-Muro Family in Agropoli-The house where Josie was born

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.


8 thoughts on “30b-Muro Family in Agropoli-The house where Josie was born

    • Oh yes, that is true. I was besotted with all the little boutiques Cousin Italia took us to. I kept thinking about Italian leather shoes, sandals and handbags. All those are gone but if I’d paid more attention to my Grandmother I’d have more interesting things to share.

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  1. The man in the background looks interested in the goings on :). It is so very humbling what some of our forebears sacrificed for the education and work opportunities for their young. Pre & Post war Europe must have been grim to drive such massive upheaval.

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    • I think that was my Grandpa Sam’s brother Luigi. Carmela was Luigi’s daughter-in-law and I distinctly remember she lived in the house to the right. She was busy all day long and like the other relatives I met she cooked everything from scratch. The “Bella Italia” of today was not so bella-bella back in the time frame 1880-1920. Yes, it is so humbling. We are so blessed and need things like this to remind us. Thanks for stopping by!

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    • Yes, it is beautiful. But like my Grandfather said all during the trip, “To eat, you must work.” There wasn’t much work in Italy at the time Letizia lived so many left the beauty and came to live in America. We take the blessings of employment, housing, nutritious food and public education for granted.

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  2. The challenge of learning languages in America is that you are only exposed to one version of pronunciation which will change depending on where you are in the actually country. It was most unfortunate your JH teacher did not embrace the dialect you brought into the classroom from your grandparents. I studied French at French Institute in Manhattan. The teacher used tapes of people speaking from all over France so we could hear a cross-section of voices & dialects. To my delight, when I arrived in France I understood EVERYBODY!!! BTW…I like very much the cultural direction your research has taken you.

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    • Thank you for your support April! The direction is evolving all the time.

      What’s interesting about this teacher’s attitude was that he was the only one teaching Italian from grades 7-9 and he felt a kind of self-importance. I now understand that the standard Italian taught in schools is based on the Northern dialects. Another example of prejudice against the Southern Italians.

      You were blessed to have such understanding teachers who prepared you so well to converse with a variety of French people. This is what education is about–opening minds and awakening capabilities.

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