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  • Papa's Radio: The Gift of True Friendship
    Page 1

    Italian Memories

    by Cookie Curci

    During World War II, the freedom of more than 52,000 Italian born immigrants in California and more than 600,000 Italian born immigrants nationwide was restricted by government measures that branded them enemy aliens. Many were restricted from travel, suffered curfews, surrendered all radios and were prevented from entering California coastal zones during wartime. Despite political infringements, immigrants like my grandparents were grateful for their bountiful new home in America and were eager to become good citizens. Tales of our ancestor's early struggles and tribulations are told again and again across America from Father to Son from Grandma to grandchild we keep their legacy alive with every story told, with every memory recalled.

    As a young Italian American, my childhood was filled with stories, stories that boasted colorful characters, lively dialogue, wonderful settings and, best of all, each story taught me a valuable lesson. Children's storybooks you say? No. Although I did my share of reading the fanciful illustrated fairy tales and nursery rhymes, the stories that filled my childhood were not written down. They were spoken.

    Night after night as I lay in bed with a soft, hand- stitched quilt drawn up under my chin, I listened in the dark as my mother, my father, a grandparent, a visiting uncle or older cousin, would fill the nighttime silence with stories of life in the old country- Italy. Or even tell stories of life in the new country- America.

    I loved these family tales. Each one gave me a clearer picture of my ancestors, or a better understanding of the relatives I already knew. One of my favorite nighttime stories was of Grandpa and his beloved radio, and how it helped him learn the real meaning of friendship.

    Papa Vincenzo nestled comfortably into his rocker and, with a twist of his hand clicked on the dial of his brand new RCA Victor radio. It was Papa's habit each night, after one of Mama Saveria's robust Italian meals, to position himself by his beloved radio and tune-in the nightly antics of radio characters: "Fibber McGee and Molly", "Amos and Andy", "Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy" and "The Lone Ranger"

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    This article by Cookie Curci is featured in the book titled Opening the Gifts of Christmas : Practicing the Angelic Gifts of Faith, Hope, Charity, and Love by Jennifer Basye Sander and Jamie Miller. You can purchase a copy by clicking on the book to your right.
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