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May 31, 2013

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Page4 POST-GAZETTE, MAY 31,2013 L'Anno Bello: A Year in Italian Folklore A Winning Day in Winthrop by Ally Di Censo Many months ago, I was doing a routine morning check of my e-mail when I noticed that I had received a message from a woman named Dottie D'Onofrio. A self-described leader to a group of vivacious and lively women, Ms. D'Onofrio in- vited me to speak about Ital- ian folklore and customs to her chapter of the Winthrop Ladies Lodge of the Sons of Italy. This invitation made me ecstatic. When I first started writing my L'Anno Bello column for The Post- Gazette, I did so because I loved talking about tradi- tions and wanted to sort out the jumble of ideas I had in my head on paper. I never expected that my articles would touch so many people, and that they would encour- age others to explore their own family customs as well. I wanted to meet with the Winthrop Ladies Lodge pre- cisely because they are a group so committed to pre- serving history and tradi- tions, and because their knowledge and- wisdom would inspire my own growth and love of my heritage. May 21st, the day of the meeting, dawned gray and drizzly, the sky resembling a worn and leaky sponge. Nevertheless, the dreary weather failed to quell my spirits -- after all, I was heading to a luncheon at an Italian restaurant and a meeting with a group of amazing women as inter- ested in folklore as I am. My parents and I arrived in Winthrop and were immedi- ately charmed by the small seaside town of slate-blue clapboard houses and wind- ing main streets. We quickly found Alia's restaurant, a trattoria-like establishment with golden brick walls, hazy lights, and 1920s posters advertising Italian pastas and olive oils adorning the room. As soon as I stepped into the eatery, Ms. D'Onofrio took me under her nurturing embrace, calling me "honey" and gushing over how happy she was to have me present. The other women were very warm and opening as well, and any anxieties I may have previously felt evapo- rated into the muggy air -- this was just like being at a family reunion! Through our shared meal of crusty bread with olive tapenade, I could easily imagine that I had stepped back in time, to a close-knit Italian village run by wise and perceptive com- munity women. I gave a quick speech about how I became inter- ested in my Italian heritage and its folklore and holidays, but the most important as- pect of this opportunity for me was opening the floor to the comments and ques- tions of the women after- wards. As I explained in my discourse, I do not write in a vacuum but rather depend on the stories and experi- ences of others to enrich my knowledge. And oh, what amazing stories I received! The women eagerly jumped in with examples of super- stitions passed down from their mothers and grand- mothers, replete with an in- teresting ritual to determine how much malocchio, or evil eye; one had in her life that involved scattering oil on Christmas Eve. We traded amusing anecdotes about the Italian habit of never writing down recipes. They teased me good-naturedly about how my fianc~ has become an honorary Italian by marrying into my family. Finally, we conversed about the significance of family: how it is a wonderful tool for preserving traditions and passing down wisdom and how sad it is that some people increasingly distance themselves from their fami- lies. I was sad when the luncheon ended, because it felt as if I were leaving a newfound family. I have always considered my studies on folklore and traditions to have a feminist bend, because I recognize that in ancient times it was powerful women who acted as guardians of nature and community customs. My wonderful day with the Winthrop Ladies Lodge af- firmed my belief that women are crucial to preserving the integral backbone of cul- ture and heritage. I would like to end this article on a note of thanks. I want to thank Alia's restaurant, including its friendly owner Said and indefatigable wait- ress Loubina, for hosting this meeting. I would like to thank Ms. Dottie D'Onofrio and the other women of the Winthrop Ladies Lodge for so warmly welcoming me into their circle and for sharing so many fascinating stories with me. Finally, I would like to thank all the women out there who are devoted to pre- serving traditions and folk customs for future genera- tions. Grazie. Note: While at the lun- cheon, I met an amazing Winthrop man named Richard Honan who runs a wonderful charity that sends care packages to soldiers serving overseas. He has had a lot of success with this charity and even shared a touching letter he received from a soldier who had been the recipient of one of his packages. I encourage you to look into and contribute to this charity; you can do so by searching Richard Honan Care Packages for Troops on the Internet. Thank you Richard for your caring deeds and a big thank you to all our military men and women out there. Ally Di Censo is a Graduate Student in History at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She appreciates any comments and suggestions about Italian holidays and folklore at Forbidden Hollywood Films from the Pre-code Era The North End Branch Li- brary, 25 Parmenter Street, NBoston will be showing For- bidden Hollywood - Films from the Pre-code Era on Wednes- day evenings throughout the month of June beginning at 6:00 pm. The cost is free. Wild Boys of the Road (1933). Wednesday, June 5th. Wild Boys of the Road (1933) is a black-and-white, Pre-Code Depression-era American film telling the story of several teens forced into becoming hobos. The film was directed by William Wellman from a screenplay NEW Since 1969 FOR ALL YOUR INSURANCE NEEDS AUTO * HOMEOWNERS * TENANTS COMMERCIAL Experience makes the difference 209 BROADWAY, REVERE, MA 02151 Tel. 781.284.1100 Fax 781.284.2200 Free Parking Adjacent to Building by Earl Baldwin based on the story "Desperate You" Midnight Mary (1933). Wednesday, June 12th. A young woman is on trial for murder. In flashback, we learn of her struggles to overcome poverty as a teen- ager -- a mistaken arrest and prison term for shoplift- ing and lack of employment lead to involvement with gangsters. Frisco Jenny ( 1932. Wednesday, June 19th. Frisco Jenny was orphaned by the 1906 earthquake and fire and has become the madame of a prosperous bawdy house. She puts her son up for adoption and he rises to prominence as dis- trict attorney. Waterloo Bridge (1940). Wednesday, June 26th. Unable to find work in London at the height of World War I, American cho- rus girl Myra Deauville resorts to prostitution to sup- .. port herself. ................ by Sal Giarratani Where was the Bystander in Chief? Lots of folks are asking Pfeiffer responded, "He was that question lately. Here kept ... he was in constant we are eight months after touch that night with Benghazi and there is still ahis national security team lack of a timeline for what and kept up to date with President Obama was doing the events as they were the night terrorists killed happening." four Americans including an Then of course there's American ambassador to IRS-Gate and A.P.-Gate. Libya. On a recent Sunday Seems the president was out morning White House Se- of the loop on things. Accord- nior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer ing to his press secretary played the role so poorly recently, he apparently found played by former U.N. Am- out about I.R.S. and A.P. sto- bassador Susan Rice last ries in the morning news- September 16th and took it topapers like the rest of us. new lows. He called ques- Let's hope to God the seques- tions about the whereabouts ter cuts never reach the of the president on the nightWhite House's newspaper of September 11, ,2012 an subscription lists or the "irrelevant fact." When Chrispresident won't have any Wallace from Fox News Sun- idea what is going on in the day tried to pin down why we country he leads. had photos of the president Little by little we see that sitting in the Situation President Barack Obama's Room the night we got legacy may very well match Osama, but on the night that of President Jimmy Ambassador Stevens was Carter. Both were elected killed we don't have any ideawith high hopes and both where Obama was. Pfeiffer showed a lack of real lead- said, "The president was ership. Every minute now kept up to date on this as iteven God Bless His Heart was happening throughout Joe Biden looks more and the entire night from the more like presidential tim- moment it started until the ber. We have certainly come end." There have been some a long way since George reports that the president Washington, Thomas Jeffer- allegedly had gone to bed to son, Abe Lincoln and rest up for a September 12th Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Las Vegas fundraiser. How- haven't we? ever, Pfeiffer tried to put aRemember no one died at stop to Wallace's questions Watergate. Former Secre- by stating, "The question tary of State Hillary Clinton here is not what happened can make flip remarks, that night. The question is but four Americans died at what are we going to do to Benghazi. America stood move forward ensuring that down that night and watched this doesn't happen again." it happen. That is not the To Wallace's credit, he America I remember grow- wouldn't relent. Firing back hag up in and that is not the he asked, "You didn't answer America that stood in the my question. What did the shadow of Bunker Hill back president do that night? on June 17, 1775. Without Leaving Boston? This Summer You Can! Come to the Italian Language School at the Dante Alighieri Society of Massachusetts and join us in one of our classes offered from June 11 to July 30, 2013. While learning to speak, read and write Italian, you will feel immersed in'Italian daily life, its culture and traditions. Our faculty is composed of native speakers profession- ally trained in the most updated methodologies. Courses taught this summer: PLIDA 101 - PLIDA 102 - PLIDA 103. These courses are offered for students with little or no knowledge of Italian. PLIDA 301 A2-B1 PARLIAMO IN ITALIANO! This new course, conducted at post-elementary level, will place spe- cial emphasis on oral communication. Multiple activities and games will be centered on short films relating students to various aspects of Italian society. Two additional courses, NON-PLIDA 201 and 202, will com- plete our summer program. For other information and enrollment please visit the Dante Alighieri web page at