Our Cow Ownership: Reminiscing about Life with a Bovine Companion

My parents came from two very distinct classes in Italian society; my dad’s mother came from an aristocratic family while his mom belonged to farmers and agricultural workers. When my mom’s parents first came over here from Italy, they left Giovanni behind with my maternal grandmother’s parents as soon as they settled down here; both stories I have heard regarding this were either that they planned on sending for him once settled or that his great grandparents convinced my grandparents to leave him in hope of their eventual return home.

As it turned out, my uncle and his family didn’t leave America until after five years in Canada waiting to immigrate – something which one of my cousins told me about life pre, during and post WWII Italy. They were to arrive all at once but one older cousin’s liver condition led them to cancel this plan; shortly thereafter a “businessman” soliciting workers came through Bari soliciting for workers – with money collected by Bari residents from Bari collecting for his passage allowing him to come alone to Canada.

My oldest cousin came alone and stayed at a boarding house in Canada with my uncle, where conditions were awful. When she told them of this fact while visiting from the US, they convinced her to join their car and come across the bridge together. Some years later however, that same uncle snuck her back in so she could marry a US citizen there and come back out seven months later legally.

Where does the cow fit in? My great grandfather Francesco owned a cow, which he would walk around town with my uncle to deliver fresh “squeezed” milk to local shops. My cousin knew grandpa Francesco well; she reported him as being kind-hearted, often giving the children some sort of treat when visiting him in Italy even if their two room home wasn’t large.

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