My Italian Mamma and her Childhood Fun~

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My mom grew up along the shores of beautiful Lago Maggiore, where the summers were spent at the lake and the winters were cold.  My mom learned to swim when she was a small child!!  This is a big deal because alot of women her age never learned this very important skill!  But being that she was raised on a lake, she spent her summers at the “colonnia” ~ a sort of summer camp!  Here they learned the side stroke – and this is the only stroke she has ever used!  She never put her head under water, but gliding along above the water became her forte!  Very elegant, I must say!  But….it was strictly forbidden to enter the water less than one hour after eating!  This was a big no no, which she carried on to me as a child…and boy was it hard having that restraint when all my friends would go swimming right after eating!  Part of this summer camp included embroidery lessons, too.  The nuns from the convent would teach these girls the fine art of embroidery, and they made some beautiful things.  Most of the items they embroidered were to be put away for their dowries!  Sheets, towels, pillow cases – all with beautiful stitchery.  A lot of these embroidered fineries had monograms on them…luckily my mom’s initials remained the same, even after marriage!!

One winter, my mom’s friend got a sled and, of course, the kids wanted to try it.  So they dragged it up one of the steepest hills in their town.  This was the slope of a monument that went from the main road in town all the way down to the lake – a nice long run.  The only problem is that at the end of the slope, where it met the lake, there was a decorative railing with cement posts.  Of course, being children, they just saw the huge hill and knew it would be a thrill!  But, they didn’t look at the end of the path…One behind the other on the sled, with my mom in front, they took off down the hill!  When they got down to the bottom, after picking up quite a bit of speed, they found themselves heading right for the cement railing!  My mom’s guardian angel was definitely on duty that day because my mom’s head aimed right for the space between the posts and avoided a head on collision with the cement posts!!!  Needless to say, that was the last time she went sledding!!

Summertime view of the "deathly" sled run

My mom seemed to get herself into physical trouble quite a bit (or maybe these are just those memories that make for good stories), and she has the scars to prove it.  One day, while her and her sister were walking to school, hand in hand, a person riding a bike and with a chicken coop on the front of the handle bars came up behind them.  Because the chicken coop was blocking the person’s view, he did not see my mom (since she was small and not tall enough to be visible above the coop!)  He knocked her over while the chicken coop fell and all the chickens fluttered about!  My mom has a pretty good scar behind her ear from this mishap.  Her mom actually passed out when she saw her from all the blood gushing from the back of her ear 😦

And then, the last mishap occurred with a bunch of big dogs!  My mom has always been afraid of dogs and it probably stemmed from this incident.  She was riding her bike home from school and came around a corner.  As she turned the corner, two BIG dogs came out and attacked her!  I’m not sure what they did to her, but obviously she fell off her bike and gashed her head…once again.  She has some scars, luckily close to the hair line in the back, from this incident!

It’s a miracle she survived her childhood…but, like all of us, these are those memories that make you remember those childhood days 🙂

4 responses »

  1. Barbara – you are so lucky to be able to explore these memories with your mother! How I wish I’d have been old enough or cognizant enough to pull these stories from my relatives. Once they are gone, they are gone forever – but they are so insightful if we take the time to listen to them, and give us many clues to our own existence. Thank you for sharing!

    • Thanks, Valerie…yes, my mom has many stories that I’ve heard over the years. I love to hear these stories because it reminds me of how simple, yet very happy, her life was in Italy…and they really have so much historical information in them as far as what was going on during that time, and also the social situations (how men and women acted, etc)! Quite an interesting study 🙂 I will be posting more…so stay tuned 🙂

  2. Love this post Barbara!! Cracked me up as I remembered many similar incidents! But the ‘waiting an hour after eating’ recalled the most memories! So many family parties when all of us cousins LIVED in the ocean – only to come out long enough to get some food to sustain us – then to be told we had to wait an hour!! An hour seemed like forever back then . . . glorious days!!

    • So you had that, too? Mark never said anything about it….maybe he didn’t follow the rules 😉 It was torture for me…but my mom wouldn’t budge her rules! The one time she let me go swimming after eating a banana, because I pestered her into it, I actually got a tummy ache…and so, she held that over my head!!! Probably just coincidence, but it was ammunition for her rule 🙂 Ha! Ha!

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