She seemed uncomfortable about the interview. Yet she had volunteered to do it. I tried to be gentle, ask open ended questions and listen carefully to her answers without interrupting.
“It was during world War 11. I was one of six children living on the farm with our parents. Times were harsh. The people of Italy were poor and struggled to survive through those times of food rationing, gas rationing, and life rationing.
I was the youngest child and was taken out of school after second grade because my parents needed me to help work the farm. I was the one to fetch groceries from town. That meant walking two hours into the village to buy bread for the family. I had to fetch water from the stream and carry it back to the house. We had no electricity and no running water.”
Calabria was a destitute farming town located on Italy’s southern “tip of the boot”.
As Nella described her deprived childhood during the war years on a farm in Italy, I had to think about how strange life is and how strange we humans are.
Now that we no longer have to walk two hours to fetch bread in the village we have invented gyms so we can walk on treadmills and simulate Nella’s experience of her childhood chores. Now that we no longer have to carry heavy buckets of water from the stream to the house we lift weights at the gym to build those same muscles she was forced to develop. We no longer have to hang clothes on clothes lines or carry rugs outside to beat them clean, so we invented machines to perpetuate those motions and practice them dutifully at the gym.
We had the fortune to have more schooling than she, but the dumbing down of society has limited our brain power to gossiping about the goings on of pretend people on TV shows.
It seemed so strange to me to listen to her story and recognize how we have carefully imitated the jobs she had to do. We do them in a more modern, but unproductive manner.
We may work out and exercise but we have no bread to bring home after the work out at the gym.