Memories -> My Italian grandparents / trains

Picture courtesy of (jonasreichard).

Recently, I was thinking of Italy, missing Florence, my grandmother… Don’t they say, when we THINK about something the Universe answers?!

Thank you, Blogger Dave, Life In A Word, who wrote Covering My Tracks. In his post, he talked about his childhood train memories. I smiled, each of his memories, made me think of my own train memories.

ITALY: For me, I can still hear the LOUD train going by my Italian grandmother’s house in Florence between 1-4 AM every night. I first visited her when I was a Freshman in High School. This was my first time getting to know her, she did not come to America. I did not speak Italian; she did not speak English. Good thing Italians communicate with their hands while they talk. Otherwise, I might have starved (smiling, that would not have happened with an Italian grandmother!).

She immediately paraded me on the balcony, so the neighbors could see her granddaughter from America was visiting. She was so PROUD. After a long day, we closed the green shutters on the windows and settled in for a “peaceful” night’s sleep, so I thought.

Imagine my fright. I’m in an unfamiliar place, trying to sleep, when suddenly I sense a rumbling feeling and hear a loud horn tooting over and over. The horn is what made me realize a train was going by. THIS WAS LOUD, like it was in the bedroom. How could this be?

I tip toed to the green shutters. The apartment was small, if I tried to open the shutters it would have made a loud sound. I didn’t want to wake my grandparents, but peeking through green shutters was NOT easy, they are heavy and slant downwards.

Confirmed, it was a loud freight train, RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET. I immediately wondered if the train went by every night! At that point, I could not sleep. I sat and watched the train go by. Freight trains have a heavy rhythmic sound. It took forever, as freight trains do. So began my nightly train adventure.

What’s amusing, is that often in childhood what annoyed us, brings us the greatest memories later.

Picture courtesy of (victor893).

MOSQUITOS / ITALY: Another memory came to mind. THAT first night, my Italian grandfather was fiddling with some white netting. Remember, I spoke NO Italian, they spoke NO English. I had an Italian/English dictionary, no iPhone translator.

We were at their tiny kitchen table. It was HOT, middle of summer, no air conditioning. This meant we kept the windows open and had fans. Which meant — MOSQUITOS / FLIES would come in.

My grandfather was a little man with white hair and very intense blue eyes. When I say little, maybe 5′ 2″ tall. I was much taller than him. While he was small in stature, he was a VERY STRONG and CONFIDENT man, not weak at all. He kept working away at his netting and looking at me with a quirky grin. I smiled back, thinking, “WHAT IS HE DOING??” He was acting like a mad scientist.

Soon he was done! He put the netting over his head with a crazy laugh. He had very strong little hands, he grabbed my hand and said, “Stasera, NO ZANZARE! Capisci? NO ZANZARE!”

As he kept stressing ZANZARE, I knew that was an important word. I told him, “Aspetta (wait),” as I looked up Zanzare in the dictionary. THEN I showed him the translation and said, “ZANZARE, CAPISCO.” Basically, I was confirming — Ah, mosquitos, I get it!

I’m still laughing as I write this. My grandfather looked so funny and a bit scary with the netting over his head because he doubled it. I would never have thought about sleeping with mosquito netting on my head. However, mosquitos are awful, when you try to sleep, and you keep getting bitten and hear their buzzing sound. So annoying!

So, Blogger Dave, thanks! Your post, brought back my own memories about trains, grandparents, etc.

I’m sure some of YOU have memories of trains too. SHARE THEM, memories are good!