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We Owned A Cow

Francesco, Maria and Giovanni

My mom and dad came from two very different classes of Italian society. Dad's mom came from a very aristocrat family and mom's came from farmers and agricultural workers. When my mom's parents came to the US, they left their oldest son Giovanni in the care of my maternal grandmother's parents. I heard two stories about this; the first was that they were going to send for him once the were settled. The second is that my great grandparents convinced my grandparents to leave him, in the hopes that they would someday return.

As it turned out, they stayed in the US, and my uncle and his family did not migrate to America until the early 1950's after 5 years in Canada, waiting for permission to enter. I have some great stories from one of my cousins about their life in Italy before, during and after the war. My uncle's entire family was supposed to come at the same time, but because one of my older cousins has a liver ailment, the trip was cancelled. A little while after that, a "businessman" was soliciting for workers to go to Canada. The town in Bari collected money for his passage and he came solo.

When my oldest cousin turned 18, she came on her own too and stayed in the boarding house in Canada with my uncle. She said conditions were horrible and when she told my uncle and aunt that were visiting from the US, my uncle said "come with us". They rigged the back seat of the car and she came across the bridge. A couple of years later, my same uncle snuck her back into Canada, so she could get married to a US citizen there and come back 7 months later legally.

So where does the cow come in? My great grandfather Francesco owned a cow. He would walk the streets of the town with my uncle to deliver fresh "squeezed" milk. My cousin actually new grandpa Francesco and said that he was a kind man and would always bring the kids some sort of sweet. In Italy, although the house was small ( two rooms ) they were better off than most, because at least they had a home.


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Friday, 01 March 2024