So last night I found a new family member. We might be related by marriage more than DNA, but having talked for a good long while about how and where we both grew up, I realized that we're related by something incredibly important: We're related by Brooklyn.
Why Brooklyn and not "The Italian American experience?" Maybe because, despite Boston being an arrival destination, most Italians arrive in New York and settled in Brooklyn.
So what did we have in common? We both have one side of our family from Naples and the other from Sicily. Big deal, right? Well, yeah. It led to a conversation about teaching styles: In both cases our Napoletan relatives taught methods that were painted with a catholic veneer: saint intercession, novenas, The Eye, witches are bad, but we do the good magic so it's ok, here's what you do for protection, to bless your house, here is how animals give us info, etc etc. Everything is what we come to understand as "catholic" as opposed to just plain christian. However, with the Sicilian sides of our families, things were more open. Not public, mind you, but more honest about what was being done, even admitting it's magic that's being done, that it is indeed Witchcraft and the tales about bad witches are church grown bullshit.
So why the huge difference? Sicily is a whole other world than Naples. Naples is Rome's next door neighbor. They had to hide what they did moreso than the Sicilians, who were hundreds of miles away by land or sea. Hopefully we'll have a post soon about the corruption of Sicily after its annexation by Rome from Dusio. Maybe we have to cheer him on? ;)
Anyway, back to the topic: My Family, once they came to America, had such a desire to fit in that they felt the need to hide who they were. I don't mean as practitioners of Magic. I mean the old world customs. They'd be kept in the house, or in the community, but now, surrounded by outsiders, as opposed to living in proximity of your extended family, it became important to distinguish what could and could not be talk about to outsiders. It's only in the past few years that I've been able to publicly speak about my family practices and traditions and invite others into them. 125 years since my Great-Grandparents arrived here. What can I say, they're patient lol
Are you? One of the themes of the NYPL event this weekend was to have both the Patience and Fortitude to rise up to the challenge of completing the quest. The two lions outside of the NYPL were named Patience and Fortitude by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. A Paisan ;)
As I've been writing this, I've been going through more genealogy records and info I have stored here and on line. Some of my family arrived before Ellis Island and aren't so well documented, but the search continues, and not just here, also on the other planes. If you reach out, they will reach back. Have you tried? What have you done to reach out to family, both past and present?
I'm leaving it here tonight and hope to have something especially interesting tomorrow night. I'm working on it!