Il Mio Ritorno a Roma!
27 Febbraio 2018
La Neve (Yes! SNOW!) 35°F/2°C a Roma
Tuoni (Thundershowers) 70°F/21°C in Cedar Park, Texas
Buona giornata amici miei!
My apologies to Ray Bradbury, who wrote about a Martian transported to Earth. I’m writing about an American, me, transplanted to another country, Italia!
Since, I am thinking about not merely delaying my returns to my homeland, but actively considering moving here permanently, I tend to view my Roman Holidays a bit differently than the average turista. I’m thinking about how the legendary 19th century explorer Karel Botula I first felt when he planted the flag of the Hapsburg Empire on the barren shores of Philadelphia, and first felt the cold stares of alien creatures who wore neckties and spoke only English and called out strange names like honky and dirty bohunk and exhorting the hardy explorers to go back where ya came from, ya filthy furriner! Since he did not yet speak English, Karel and his companions from steerage could not know that the natives were murmuring thoughts like, buncha dang furriners! They’re taking the food outta the mouths of REAL ‘MERICANS ‘n feedin’ their own anarchist brats.My grandfather, who had spent part his meager savings to pay one of the unscrupulous labor contractors who scoured eastern Europe for the unskilled labor to run the mines and foundries of Titans like Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick, was completely unaware that his wanton desire to
|Johana and Karel Botula|
For one thing, his employer, the Ellsworth Coal Company, did offer its immigrant workers and their families a rudimentary social support system. The company provided everything, housing, schools, the notorious company store, which accepted only the currency printed by the company to pay its workers – called scrip. There was a company doctor, who treated mineworkers injured in the numerous mine accidents. (Karel lost two fingers in a mining accident). If he had time, he would care for the wives and children of the miners. My grandmother, Johana, once travelled to far-away Chicago to receive training as a mid-wife, and eventually helped hundreds of immigrant mothers bring their children into the world as brand new American citizens. One of Karel Botula’s conditions of employment was that he was required to become a citizen of the United States.
This was not altogether an altruistic gesture on the part of the Ellsworth Coal Mining Company. The new American Industrial Revolution was powered by the millions of immigrants coming to this country either completely on their own volition or recruited by brokers who scoured the European countrysides to recruit people for the American labor force. If these immigrants did not become American citizens, they would become a political liability for the Barons of Industry. So, Karel and Johana Botula and three of their children, Maximilian, Karola and Frantiska became U.S. citizens. And so, many decades later, I’m struggling to fit into a new life where the language is different, politics are strange, and the legal system is alien to me. In an overwhelmingly Catholic country, my Protestant upbringing verges on irrelevance, but, I love Italy. I have family here. Not just my son and his wife, but also their extended family. Michael and Laura have introduced me to their circle of friends in the ex-pat community, so I am making new friends. I love my visits to Italy. I wish my own country was still the warm, welcoming place it once was. But, a sort of madness has taken hold back home, and I don’t know if the clouds of distrust and fear will ever lift. It’s easy to see what’s happening back home from the distance and perspective that Europe affords. I never thought I’d be quoting Thomas Wolfe about my homeland! I always thought that Wolfe was referring to a location other than one’s native country when he said, you can’t go home again!
There I go…thinking out loud again! What else is going on? Oh yes! It snowed in Rome Sunday
|Il Neve a Roma|
Late Monday morning as I was watching the snowy scene outside and contemplating a walk to the store, Laura called to invite me down to join her and Sofia for a caffѐ at il bar across the street. By the time I got downstairs Laura and Sofia were waiting for me along with her neighbor Tiziana and her husband Pino. Seeing me, Sofia perked up her ears and barked in recognition. The shopping center is closed because of the snow, Laura said. So, we will have to walk a short distance to the other place. Everyone in Rome had taken a Snow Day off from work to play in the white stuff. After our coffee and pastry, and a quick stop at the grocery store next door, we headed back up the hill for home. Another perfect day.
[Mike Botula is the author of LST 920: Charlie Botula’s Long, Slow Target! He is a retired broadcast journalist, government spokesperson and media consultant. Mike’s book is available from Amazon or Barnes and Noble Books. You can follow his blog at: mikebotula.blogspot.com, or visit Mike Botula at www.mikebotula.com]