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Short stories about emigrants

by Sandro Sbarbaro (versione italiana: Brevi storie di emigranti)
English translation by Maura Rocco

" American "

The first migratory streams of Val D'Aveto valley-dwellers towards both South and North America date back to the year 1870.
Those emigrants, who were very often searching for what they found out to be only an illusory affluence, took up any kind of job with the typical tenaciousness of our people.

 Emigrants from Vico Soprano
 Ingrandisci l'immagine
Emigrants from Vico Soprano

Some of them actually came into money thanks to their business and could thus bear the title of 'American' that to the people who lived in Val d'Aveto just meant "rich".
However, on the other hand, many Val d'Aveto emigrants were unsuccessful and had to go back home.

 

Mulitta's homecoming

Mulitta (which means knife sharpener), who maybe was a certain Agostino Sbarbaro, son of the late Bartolomeo Sbarbaro, had just come back from America.
All the dwellers of Villa Sbarbari gathered to wait for the countryman who once left for America.
At last Mulitta arrived and stopped by the river Aveto...
He took a piece of bread out of his jacket, soaked it into the river and then, very slowly, ate it.
After that ancestral rite to seal his return, he joined his friends.
When people asked him about America he used to answer "Vą cił a mč banca, che quanta America gh'č!", which means, "My bench is much worth than America".
He had not succeeded in becoming rich and had had enough of America.
The frenzied pace of life of that far away country got the better of the countryman, who had to give up.
Like every countryman from Aveto does when resting from work, he loved to have a nap on his bench, too.
His wife, who had stayed in America, kept on sending him money to add a storey to their house (any emigrant's dream). People say that Mulitta used all the money to buy flasks of wine: he drank America!

 

Hard-working people from Aveto

They say that many people from Aveto who lived in America used to work very hard and that for such reason coloured people did not like them very much.
Emigrants from Aveto feared to lose their jobs and thus were indefatigable workers. The only ones who could work as hard as they did were Chinese workers.
Thus coloured people tried to explain them by gestures (Aveto valley-dwellers could only speak their own dialect) that sometimes a break was needed in order to enjoy the very few rights that trade unions had managed to achieve at that time.

 

Chicago bars

Luigin di Zerghe (Luigi Sbarbaro) used to tell this story: "Semmu annče in ta bara du Dullu. Gh'era de facce scassč, che zugavan a carte cun i curtelli ciantąi sutta a tora", that means, "We went to Dull's bar. There were criminals all around and they used to play cards with their knives hidden under the table".
Luigin lived in Chicago with his father, who sailed the lake selling fruit and vegetables on his boat.

 


 

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Pagina pubblicata il 28 agosto 2005, letta 6207 volte dal 23 gennaio 2006
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