Life before television {Tuesdays with Tina, part 10}

This entry is part 10 of 22 in the series Tuesdays With Tina

If you are new to this series, catch up first and then come back and read.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Tuesdays with Tina

Me: So before television, what did you do for fun, for entertainment?

Tina: At night, especially during the winter, we would stay inside and embroider or sew something…

Me: You wouldn’t read?

Tina: No. (laughter…) [I love to read but my mother doesn’t!] My father would read and my brothers liked to read…I liked to read too…

Me: DON’T LIE!! (more laughter…)  I guess it was more a guy thing. Your sister and mother didn’t read either…At least I don’t remember nonna reading.

Tina: No they didn’t.

Me: So you would sew, embroider…

Tina: And we would iron…think about it…back then there was no electric iron. We had cast iron irons, two of them. You would put one on the stove while using the other one, then switch them out. We would iron on the table. And we would listen to the radio. It was beautiful! We would listen to radio theater dramas, and you would imagine what it would be like. We talked a lot! Discussed so many things…the stars and space, news…so much! We were very close because of it. Then advent of the television divided families somewhat. I remember in 1963, we were watching television when they made the announcement that President Kennedy was assassinated in Texas. So I know we had a television by 1963 because I remember this event. It made an impression on me. Imagine, I still remember the day: 22 November!

Me: And how old were you?

Tina: In ’63 I was 20 years old. In the summertime it was nice because living in Vico Canale was like living on a stage. We would watch the world go by from our balcony or watch the people who would hang out outside their homes. The houses in that section of Naples are called “i bassi” (the low houses). Some of these “homes” consisted of one room only with a kitchen in a corner and a small bath (like a studio apartment). Entire families lived in these homes, some with eight or nine children! So when it was summer and it was hot, everyone would hang outside this single room until it was time to go in. 

Me: With no air conditioning, I bet they wanted to stay outside!

Tina: People would stay out until 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. Since we lived on the second floor, we would watch and laugh at the people as they went through their life, those who would get in a fight…It was very amusing!

Me: And with your neighbors? Did you get along?

Tina: Yes, in fact, my godmother for my confirmation lived on the top floor. We got to be friends with them. To this day it seems so strange to me that two families with five children lived in one apartment. There was one bedroom each for the two couples, one bedroom for all the girls and one for the boys. 

Me: Oh, at first I thought you meant the two couples were in one room! And I thought, “How do they…make children?”

Tina: Oh I can tell you a story about two sisters who lived across the alley from us. They lived in the same room with a curtain down the middle dividing them. One had a son who slept with the mother and father and the other had two sons, I think? Anyways, one family slept in one bed and the other family slept in the other bed in the same room. Sometimes when I talk to my sister we can’t believe the things we’ve seen. This particular family didn’t even have a stove. They would cook their pasta or their sauce on a small charcoal grill. My brother, Gianni, used to say, “I can’t believe it! The lady stirred the spaghetti with the handle of the fan! (You needed a fan to fan the flames.) That handle was BLACK!” YUCK!! So disgusting! These people were “low”. We were poor but we weren’t this low. In fact my parents never let us go downstairs to play with the neighborhood kids. Never! The other kids would go out in the street and play but we were not allowed to.

Me: You never played ball?

Tina: Never! That’s why I don’t know how to ride a bike! I never learned! I never learned to skate! I wasn’t allowed to do anything! Sometimes we would go to the park (like Central Park) and walk around but maybe once a week. The rest of the week mamma and papa’ worked and no one would take us. In these two rooms that we lived in, Tonino and I would also play. We would turn the chairs upside down and pretend it was my car. “Tonino, here sit next to me, we’re going for a car ride!” Very simple games. We had very few toys that we received for La Befana. We would go to bed the night before with such emotion, waiting… Tonino and I were the two youngest. One time Gianni put a little note on the ground and while I was sweeping the floor he asked me, “Titina, what is that paper on the floor?” I replied, “I don’t know.” “Look and see what it is!” I opened it up and there was a written phrase. I don’t remember what exactly but something like, “I’m watching you! Be careful!” It was like la Befana was observing me! Oh my!! Then later I found out it was Gianni! He was 7 years older than I was! 



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About Sheila @ Making the Most of Every Day

I'm a wife, mom, and a homeschool teacher. I'm always behind on housework and paper pile sorting. I'm fond of this crazy life but not of melted cheese. I want to follow hard after God, making each day really count. I like to run, read, cook (and eat!). Thanks for joining along on my journey!

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