Saturday, September 06, 2014

Memories from the 1950‘s

A lot of memories seem to be coming to the fore lately and this is one of them. It will make more sense if I tell you that I was the youngest of 5 girls brought up in a loving but quite reserved household in Massachusetts. I can’t remember one instance of my parents arguing in front of us and when a situation did need to be faced we would approach it with those old New England traits … self restraint and common sense. We certainly never aired out grievances outside of the family unit, that’s for sure !

In 1952 a friend and I went to California on our College break. We got jobs as waitresses and one of our fellow workers was a very vivacious Italian girl named Gina. We became friends and one weekend when we both had a Saturday off she invited me to spend the day with her family.

I had no idea what to expect but it certainly wasn’t the elaborate Italian villa with an ocean view that was Gina‘s home. She introduced me to her family and her grandma insisted that I sit with her at the head of a very large table laden with food. There were maybe 8 of us there to begin with and then other visitors arrived …most of them bearing even more food and many bottles of homemade grappa.

What I thought would be an hour or two at lunch turned into a full day of festivities interspersed with heated arguments. It made me uneasy until Gina’s grandma informed me that it was a commonplace occurrence at Italian gatherings and would soon be over. She was right and the next 3 or 4 times that disagreements cropped up I just watched in amazement as they fizzled out with much laughter, back slapping and lots of loud Italian that I didn‘t understand.

It was 62 years ago that I spent that day with Gina and her family but it feels like it was yesterday. I will never forget the feeling of love and contentment that overshadowed the disagreements and, although I don’t think I changed much, it really made me take a second look at how we staid New Englanders would have handled those situations !


Blogger possum said...

It is always amazing when we meet another culture head on...
I, too, remember my first foray into an Italian household - one of my first 'serious' boyfriends. But that's another story for another time.
Fun post, brought back some memories... thanks. Now I will have to play some Italian love songs in my head for the rest of the day! LOL!

5:27 AM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

We are products of the old, Anglo reserve.

5:45 AM  
Blogger Arkansas Patti said...

You brought back memories of my own foray into an Italian culture. All day eating and animated, to say the least, conversations. It was fun.

2:51 PM  
Blogger NCmountainwoman said...

We had plenty of arguments in our family but not at dinner. No arguments were allowed at the dinner table. Bad for the digestion my mother always said.

8:09 AM  
Blogger ellen said...

What a wonderful memory..something to cherish. It is such an "eye-opener" to meet people from other cultures. I remember that as being such an important part of my college learning years.

12:55 PM  
Blogger troutbirder said...

It was a whole nother world when I met my first Italian family. What fun....:)

3:44 PM  
Blogger Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Being that my own heritage is Italian, this post was right on in describing some of the gatherings with fellow Italian neighbors, lots of good food, fun and spirited conversations.

9:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love Italian -Americans and had many as friends while growing up. My closest friends throughout my work life were Italian, Spanish, or Jewish. I love the exuberance of people from southern climes. I too am descended from Yankees and Puritans and plenty of Germans too...although they are not so effusive.

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"self restraint and common sense".
Ah ! ... Those were the days Ginnie.

7:17 AM  
Blogger kenju said...

Hmmm......I am from an Irish family and we did nearly the same. Jim's family was just like the one you describe and we and our children fit that description too. LOL

6:46 PM  
Blogger Syd said...

My mother and father didn't argue either, at least not in front of me. I was the only child so there was not much animation around the dinner table. Even with guests over, there was conversation but not much in the way of animation. I would like to have experienced being part of what you describe. My animation around others comes and goes, depending on who I am with.

5:19 AM  

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