Sunday, November 21, 2010

A different kind of Pilgrim

We read about the pilgrims in our history books when we are young.  I really never understood what it meant to be a pilgrim until we moved to Plymouth in 1998.  The details of what I learned in school were very vague and did not include the details of the people that were living in this area before 1620.  I am thankful for the knowledge that I have gained over the years and the appreciation for the native people.  They were instrumental in the survival of the European settlers so many years ago.

My ancestry cannot date back to the Mayflower as far as I know.  My father and my grandparents came to the USA from Italy in 1955.  I am a first generation American.  My family history included making a pilgrimage of sorts to a land that was more prosperous and where people would achieve success by hard work.  It was truly the typical emigrant story.  They arrived in February of 1955 in NY's Ellis Island.  They did not go far, and settled in Westchester County New York.  It was a foreign land to them, and they did know a few people here when they arrived.  It is here in the USA that they made a life for themselves.

I am thankful for Pilgrims of all sorts.  The settlers in 1620 wanted religious freedoms because where they previously lived they could not worship with out persecution.  My family left Italy because they were living in poverty after the depression and World War II and sought a better life for themselves and their children. While I do not think they left for religious reasons like the settlers in 1620, I feel my family left Italy and emigrated to this country because they wanted to work hard and live the American dream. 

At times I am conflicted at my love for my family because of the current issues that I am having with my Uncle Mike.  I love the fact that they were adventurous and left behind the only county and language that they knew and came to this foreign land.  They had faith and out of desperation they exited the only security that they knew existed.  My father was only 10 years old.  He arrived in an English speaking school in NY in the winter, not knowing a word of the language.  It was a very different climate in NY than in Calabria Italy, adjacent to the Mediterranean Ocean.  My father never went back to Italy.  I think he had too many bad memories of being poor.  He spoke of stavation and not knowing where the next meal was going to come from. I remember him talking about the home he grew up in.  Dirt floors, no electricity or indoor plumbing.  The "out house" was detached.  He rarely spoke about this time in his life.  I think it was too painful for him.  He really did not like to talk about the past.  At least not until he got sick.  When he was in hospice, he spoke about the past quite a bit.  I learned many things about my dad in those few short weeks, than I did in my entire life time.

I do not know much about my Mothers side of the family.  I need to do some research.  My mom thinks we might have some connection to the Mayflower, however so do a few million other people.  I am not great at genealogy.  I would love to be better at it.  I never really thought about it until my dad died a few years ago.  That is when I became interested in it.  I am always amazed when I see someone who can trace back their family for many generations.  I have come to a stopping point mostly because I need to devote time to the issue, and that is something that is such a scare commodity for me right now.  I think my family tree is a Walnut, because they are all nuts !

This Thanksgiving I am SO thankful for ALL of the pilgrims and pioneers that have come before me and that have sacrificed so I might have a better life.  Their courage and determination continue to amaze me even so long after the fact.  As I get older I think about what legacy I will leave for my family. 

I wonder what kind of Pilgrim I will be to my family.  Hopefully one that has some of the same admirable qualities of those Pilgrims that have gone on before me and who have sacrificed so much for my welfare.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010


That is what my license plate says.  I have never had a vanity plate before.  I have never had a "cool" car before either to put a vanity plate on.  The cars I have had include, chevette ( not to be confused with a corvette), 1973 Volvo,  Chevy blazer, Dodge Mini-van and now my little VW Bug.  It is VERY cool.  I feel like this is my "mid life crisis" car!

Why the obsession with U2?  That is really hard to pinpoint.  I have always loved everything Irish I suppose since I lived in Southern Africa.  The music isn't that bad either !  The lead singer Bono is also to be admired for his humanitarian work in Africa.  I remember seeing this photo in TIME magazine a couple of years ago of him visiting a school in Maseru, Lesotho.

That is where I lived when I was in Southern Africa, Maseru Lesotho.  I have that photo of Bono & school children on my refrigerator today.  It is a constant reminder to me of a connection that I have always felt about Africa.  Of all the places for this rock star to choose in all of the continent of Africa, he and his wife Ali choose Lesotho to be involved with.  It is amazing to me the coincidence of it all. ( This photo was taken in 2006, 26 years after I lived in Lesotho!)

Lesotho is where I first fell in love with Ireland.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Visiting Zimbabwe Again !

In 1982 I visited Zimbabwe with my family while we were living in South Africa. This week end, many years later I was able to "visit" Zimbabwe again, only with another purpose: to help Spencer with his Geography Fair project.  The theme  is "Fresh Water: Clean Water". 

I love project based learning.  I love how my boys really get into the subject and  learning about somewhere far, far away.  I think so much is learned by trying to visually put facts on a tri-fold board with glitter.  The best part is coming up with the 3-D model and working with clay.  It is all about the clay!  Spencer had such a great time with the clay, he almost forgot he was learning about solutions to clean water in Zimbabwe.

It was in 1982 that I visited Zimbabwe.  I wish I had had a camera back then, as I do not have any photos.  My parents didn't take picture either back then, ( although when they divorced, I think my step dad took the slides & I have never seen them)  The only remembrance I have are a few coins from Zimbabwe.  Where ever I have travelled, I have collected coins.  I have a large collection of silver and copper pieces from around the world.  I love going through them and recollecting memories of where I got them and I am able to be reminded of how fortunate I have been to travel.

What I remember about 1982 Zimbabwe:

When we arrived at the airport from South Africa, we were strip searched as a measure of security at the airport.  I remember the women were in one line and the men in another line.  Each person went into a room with a security guard and searched down to their under cloths.  I remember it was very respectful, and they kept apologizing, however that was their procedure.   Afterwards we went to Harare (the Capital) I remember Harare was very crowded.  The people though were so kind, and I remember having a great feeling for the people of Zimbabwe that we had met.  We took a tour of some of the official offices/buildings.  I remember sitting at a square in the middle of the city and watching the traffic and all of the cars driving crazy by me.    I think my step-dad went to a Rotary meeting for lunch.  It was an adventure.  We were only there for a few days, I am not sure why we did not go and visit Victoria Falls.  I was more concerned at the time with my new Sony Walkman.  I think I had 5-6 cassette tapes with me.  Foghat, Foreigner, Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, Go-Gos, U2, those I know for sure as they were in my constant rotation.  There could have been others !  I remember I had some USA radio station recorded from 1980 so I could be reminded of what I was missing back in the States.

I certainly have more memories of Southern Africa.... to be continued in further entries !

For now I am thankful to have guided Spencer with his "Water in Zimbabwe" project.  He is so enthused about Africa.  Hopefully someday I will be able to take him to Africa and share with him and the rest of my family my love for the continent.  After working on the project, maybe he will be one of those who will help in the solutions to clean water in Zimbabwe.  Our kids are so fortunate to have all of this infomation in front of them, and with that will be able to do great things !

I dream of Africa. 


Friday, November 5, 2010

Topping Off 11/3/2010

Today was a ceremony to celebrate the last steel beam being placed on the Plymouth North High School building structure.

( I just noticed I am "wearing lemon" on my head ! )