Life in Naples in the Late 50s, Early 60s {Tuesdays with Tina, part 13}

This entry is part 13 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 11
Part 2                                         Part 12

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10


Tuesdays with Tina
Me: Even in the sixties, twenty years after the war, things were still hard?

Tina: Oh yes. At least for us, yes. My mother would have liked to move houses; she didn’t want to stay at Vico Canale anymore but many years went by before they did. In 1969 they moved. But things were hard, yes. We didn’t have heaters, can you imagine? Sometimes, when it was really cold, we would light a brazier but my father was against it because many people died inhaling the gases (carbon monoxide). We got by. We managed. The house was old so it wasn’t too cold [thick walled construction] but it WAS cold. When I had to wash up, I would brace myself. We would have to heat the water on the stove because we didn’t have a water heater. We would use an enameled basin to wash in. Plastic hadn’t come out yet. It would later. Beautiful multicolored buckets. But in the late fifties and early sixties, we used an enameled basin, the kind that is vintage and cool now, but back then that’s all there was.

When I was small Rosalba would wash some of the clothes, the small stuff. The one luxury we had was a washerwoman would come to the house. Her name was Filuccia, short for Rafaella. She would come from Miano, a small town outside of Naples, and she would come wash the big stuff. She came for two consecutive days, every two weeks. We would collect the bigger stuff: sheets, towels. The smaller stuff we would do ourselves daily. We had a wash basin and at night, after she washed the white load, she would leave them soaking overnight in hot water and lye which was used as a whitening agent. The next day, she would return, drain the water and then rinse everything. The dark clothes she would have washed and rinsed the day before, so this was only the whites. This was our only luxury because mamma couldn’t do it and neither could Rosalba. It was very heavy work. There were so many of us, even though we shared beds. I slept with Rosalba until she got married, in the same bed. Tonino slept in bed with mamma and papa’ and Gianni had his own little bed. When Rosalba got married, I had my own bed and Tonino had a cot in the bedroom with mamma and papa’. Regardless, we were tight! So with so many of us, there were a lot of sheets!

Me: How many clothes did you have? You hear tales of one nice dress for Sunday, one for every day.

Tina: Since my mother sewed, she made all our clothes. All it took was some fabric which wasn’t too expensive. But I do remember when I was 12 or 13 years old, I only had one pair of shoes, and they leaked. There were holes in the bottom. Whenever it rained, I would try not to go out. I still wore socks at that age and my socks would get wet if I went out while it was raining. Mamma didn’t have the means to buy me a new pair of shoes or have them repaired. I remember that they were black suede. The kind of shoe that were a little more dressy that you would wear when you would go out. Because we always would go out on Sundays. Always. 

Me: But you wore house slippers at home.

Tina: Oh yes! We never walked barefooted. We wore socks around the house because it was cold, but always  withsome kind of slippers or house shoes. I remember this particular detail though, of being 12 or 13 and going out on Sunday to our godfather’s working men’s club. He worked at the SME (electric company) and he would go to the “after work” (what they called the working men’s club). His family and close friends could go on Sundays. They had a theater where they had shows or played movies. There was a reading room where the men read the paper, a room with billiards; it was nice!

I remember when I was a little girl my mother had made me a little red outfit. The skirt had pleats and it had a little jacket. I wore a white shirt underneath and I felt so elegant in this outfit! There were some well dressed people who would frequent this place.

They would also organize outings to Pompeii, Ercolano, la Villa dei Misteri…

Me: Would you pay to go to this club?

Tina: We didn’t have to pay to go to the club but you had to pay for the cinema. I remember that the cinema cost 35 lire, which is nothing, and sometimes my father couldn’t pay for all of us to go. So when I began working, I would save my money so I could contribute to the cost of the tickets. It cost so very little! But when you don’t have it, you don’t have it! My father worked, but he earned very little. The family was big and he had many mouths to feed. That’s why I like bread so much. Because no matter what we had to eat, even pasta, he would tell us to “accompany it with bread” because bread was filling. There just wan’t very much in each plate, but when you added bread,it would fill you up.

I have this memory, you know when you get a visual picture? We were going to the SME to go see a movie, it was on Via Roma, near where the Augusteo was (the bomb shelter where I was born). That’s where this club was located. It was called Circolo Dopolavoro (literally, afterwork circle).

Me: It’s not there anymore?

Tina: No, it’s gone. The SME is gone too. It’s now ENEL [like our JEA]. SME stood for “Societa’ Meridionale di Elettricita’ “(Southern Electrical Society). We used to go there. It was so nice. The hall was very beautiful, very elegant, well cared for. In one corner of the hall, you could get drinks. We would go there often on Sundays as guests of our godfather Mario. They really were like family to us.


Series Navigation<< Celebrating Holidays {Tuesdays with Tina, part 12}Celebrating New Year’s in Naples {Tuesdays with Tina, part 14} >>

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!

4 thoughts on “Life in Naples in the Late 50s, Early 60s {Tuesdays with Tina, part 13}

  1. Wow, I cannot imagine taking a bath in the cold like that! And, I probably would not wash my sheets very often. We are so spoiled!!! Thanks for sharing your Mom’s story with us.

    1. I know!! I *loooooove* my hot showers! Can’t imagine life before those!

  2. I just think this series is so special. I would love to do something similar with my mama. We (Brennyn, Lauren and I) are in the process of getting her to write down all of her colloquialisms. Maybe I could start there. Do you speak Italian? Your mother’s English is wonderful.

    1. Oh you so should!!!!!!! My mother’s English *is* very good but no, this is translated from Italian. We conducted the interview in Italian and I did the translating. So it’s MY English that’s very good! lol! And obviously, yes, I do speak Italian. It was my first language but I did not attend Italian school so I joke that my Italian is at about a fourth grade level as far as intellectually.

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