Working with the Americans {Tuesdays with Tina, part 6}

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

Tina: During the war, they would come get all the men. Sometimes they were forced to work for them, sometimes they would just kill them. There’s a movie called “The Four Days of Naples [I’ve never seen or heard of this movie! It’s going on my ‘to be watched’ list!] which tells of  those four days near the end of the war. It was the Neapolitans who got rid of the Germans. When the Americans arrived, the Germans were already gone [again, I had no idea].

Me: The Americans were coming from the south. First Sicily, then slowly, slowly…

Tina: Right! It took time for the Americans to get there. 

Me: Where did nonno hide when they would come look for him?

Tina: No, it only happened once before the Americans arrived. In the neighborhood, they would spread the word: “Hide your men!” They would load them up on trucks and take them away. He managed to escape getting caught. Then he went to work for the Americans. 

Me: How did he get this work with the Americans?

Tina: EVERYONE worked with the Americans! He was a welder. They would call him “Mig-lee-aro” [pronouncing the G hard] because they couldn’t make the /gli/ sound. He picked up some English words like ‘boiler’.

Me: Were they building the base?

Tina: They took over the Alfa Romeo plant and made their headquarters there. Later they built several bases (Bagnoli, Capodichino), including a NATO base. [I was later born at one of these bases!]

Me: We are learning this in school!

Tina:  It was when he was working for the Americans, that it came time for Thanksgiving. When the Americans feasted, we feasted as well.. My father would tell us the story that when the Americans carved their turkey they would remove the meat but of course they left the carcass with plenty of meat on it! They were going to throw it away but my father brought it home in a pillow case! He also hid food – white bread, canned goods – in his coat. He separated the lining from the wool of his coat and would fill that space with this food they they were throwing away. He would feed two whole families with this foodstuff. You can imagine how funny my father looked with this coat full of food…he was a skinny person and especially during the war…EVERYONE was skinny! I remember when I was little – I was only a few years old, maybe 2? It was 1945, so yes, about 2- I remember the taste of “pork and beans” which is NOT an Italian dish at all! We called them “American beans.” I don’t know where I first had it. Maybe at my Zia Nannina’s house. Zia Nannina, one of mamma’s sisters, would offer “drink” to the American sailors when they would come off the ship. Never girls but drink yes. [Alcohol.] Like a bar. I remember in the 1950s, there were some houses who did offer girls but my aunt did not. So it could have been at her house that I had pork and beans because of the fact that she would have American visitors. The sailors would give chocolate and cigarettes as gifts or even as payment. There were the “scugnizzi” (street kids) who would meet the ships when they would come in to port and they would call out, “Hey Joe! Hey Joe! Do you want ‘signorina’?” The ‘signorina’ would then tip the kid who would bring her a client. It was a business! Children had to help bring home the bacon! There was a lot of hunger, a lot of poverty. People did what they had to do to survive. 

Tuesdays with Tina

Series Navigation<< It’s a girl! {Tuesdays with Tina, part 5}Anna’s story {Tuesdays with Tina, part 7} >>

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!