Monday, February 23, 2015

A day of reflection

Yesterday was quite warm. It hit around 40 degrees after days of temps in the teens, single digits and around zero. That is changing again today. I went to the dentist this morning and it was 29. This was still quite balmy compared to how it's been but it is on the way down again tonight and will be in the single digits by tomorrow morning. At the moment it is quite sunny but the wind is picking up. I can feel the cold through the window. I was going to buy tires after the dentist but I just didn't feel like doing any more driving than I had to. The main roads are fine but it is the residential area's that are difficult. Trying to see around 7 and 8 foot piles of snow to see if anybody is coming is a trial and while driving on the main roads you have to be on the lookout for people coming out of side streets. Most just inch out which is understandable because you just don't know if anybody is coming. It's the morons who continue to drive like there's no snow and they're just going to make their turn traffic be damned. We do have the reputation of being notoriously aggressive drives around here or just plain bad. I think the roads contribute to this. But I do think we have more than our share of bad drivers. I am proud of the many things that have come out of this area. It's really an impressive list. From the first college to the first public schools, the revolution that gave birth to the country, to the first liquid fueled rockets, the industrial revolution, to the computer and the internet to mention a few. Driving not so much. As I have said before some of these roads date back to the 1600's. Cow paths is what they sometimes refer to them as. We have some buildings and homes in my hometown that date back to the 1600's, 1700's and 1800's. Arlene and I just prefer to think about scenes like this. It's only a few months away.

It's almost been about a year since Arlene and I have semi-retired and I think we're still in a period of adjustment. You have to fill up the time that used to be taken up by work. Staying home sure beats working but you can't just sit in front of the TV or a computer all day. So yesterday I continued to sort things out in my own home. Even though it was "warm" and sunny out I had no desire to go anywhere. I decided to go through more pictures that I have taken over the last 10 years and put them in better order. I have a lot of pictures stored on discs and I do mean a lot. I first separated all the Martha's Vineyard pictures and put them off on their own. I scanned a few more family pictures in Here are two shots of my great grandmother and grandfather on my mothers side. These had to be taken in the 1800's sometime because I know my grandfathers were born around 1887.

 Then here's a shot from 1968 when my dad went back to the old country. It's both my grand fathers on one of their farms. I'm not sure who's farm it is. The one on the right is the son of the above people.
All this has put me in a more reflective mood. I have entered a new phase of my life. My great grand parents are long gone. My grandmothers both passed in the late 50's and my grandfathers made it until 1980.  As I am aging I think back on my family and there is nobody left save for one aunt back in Italy and she has to be in her late 80's. I came across this photo from my uncle Sam's funeral back in 2011. Here's a shot from before I was born of my parents, uncles and aunt. On the right are my parents, then my mothers sister Tina and here husband Joe. Kneeling in front is my mothers brother Sam. He was in the army at the time. I do know it's after WWII.
So all that are left are my generation of siblings, and cousins both here in the U.S., Italy and Australia. I've never met the ones in Australia and only met my cousins in Italy in 1956 when we went there though my aunt and uncle from Australia did come to the States back in the 80's. They did a kind of world tour, first going to Italy then coming here. I know I've posted this picture before but it's my cousin and me in Italy back in 1956. That's me on the left, I don't remember my cousin's name in the middle and my cousin on the right is named Benedetto or I'm assuming in English that would be Benjamin.

 I was and still am reflecting on the past as I get older. Now I'm not feeling sorry for myself. I am a lucky guy. I'm in a wonderful relationship and though I'm not living in the lap of luxury I'm doing ok. Still it's a time in my life where I reflect on the past and miss the people that have gone before and how hard they had it. Especially my grandparents. Both grand fathers came to this country sometime between 1900 and 1920. My mothers parent both came and my mother was born here. They went back and the war broke out. Only my father's father came here, worked and sent money back before he went back. After watching the ongoing PBS series "The Italians" did I fully realize how tough it was for those people. They weren't exactly welcomed with open arms but what made the Italians finally succeed was the fact that they valued the family most of all. They stuck together. That's why we have the wonderful enclave of Italians in the North End of Boston where you have a ton of restaurants and bakeries in a relatively small area. You won't find better Italian food anywhere, even Italy. 

I didn't know that the first place the Italians immigrated to was not New York, Boston or any other east coast city, It was New Orleans where they replaced the black slaves who were "freed" some 20 or so years before. The picked sugar cane for meager wages and were essentially slaves and treated horribly. My grand fathers came to Boston and worked as laborers. Then went back. By the time my parents came in the late 1940's there was already a small community of people from that little town in Italy in the area. Though they still faced some prejudice it was booming times for the country and they found their place in America. I am in no means comparing their experience to what blacks went through but it still wasn't easy for any of them to uproot from their homeland and come here, learn a new language and become citizens.

So that's it kiddies. There's still much to do but I do have the time and in the future when I can fully retire, I plan to enjoy my life as much as I can because in the end it's finite. To all that came before me I salute them. They were exceptional people and through their hard work and sacrifice I am able to live a fairly comfortable life and I thank them.

I'm outta here.      


  1. I enjoy reading about your family and the photos. I watched the PBS doc and found it enlightening. I forget the name they gave the ones who went back and forth to Italy. I never knew the real life hardships they went through. PBS did a great job. I love the bowtie by the way. Such a cutie in the picture. Finding things to do instead of vegetating is my quest. Chores should not be the only thing that keep me occupied. But I am confined inside, ugh. Our snowmobile trails need snow....when can you deliver?

  2. This is a great post Paul. The old photos are wonderful! And you were just the cutest thing when you were little. Hi to Arlene. Spring is inching closer each day.

  3. Just love hearing all about your family Paul, this is a great post. The photo's are really lovely .
    You are brave to drive in that condition a bit scary to say the least.
    Not long and your vacation with Arlene , smashing.