Perched on top of a fortress 750 meters above sea level, overlooking the underlying Sosio valley, stands an ancient Sicilian little town:…
Tales of old Sicilian people
Nar: Your name is?
He: Bontempo Filippo
Nar: How you used to play in your time?
He: When the cow lost its hair we made a ball and played
These old Sicilian people prepare for us the conca, which is the ancient brazier and around it once we all conversed together in the family.
Nar: You used to stay around the conca?
He: Yes and we talked. With some bread with oil, and some wine.
Nar: There was the radio in those days?
He: What radio! We were the radio. The elders told us about the Matter of France, the count of Montecristo and many others. Then the next day they resumed where they left off. It was in episodes.
He: Once there were the Matter of France, Fioravanti, Orlando and they fought with swords and shields.
Here they brought the puppet opera, the puppeteer moved them and the champions fought.
Nar: What did you eat when you used to be at work?
He: Bread and onion, there was no cheese, salami … even if we breed pigs we needed meat to buy pants, shoes
Nar: How old were you the first time you went to the sea?
He: 17 years old, when I left as a soldier and then I went at 60 years old
Nar: What do you have inside there an antique watch?
He: Wait, I’ll show it to you. It doesn’t want to come out. Is embarrassed ?
Nar: Can I touch it?
He: Are you sure you want to touch it?
Sicilian people of one time are actually gorgeous!
Nar: What is your name
He: Bastiano Parasiliti of 1937
Nar: What did you do in your life, I know they called you the sheriff, what’s the reason?
He: After the third grade at 9 years old I went to work in the forestry because we were in need. My father had returned from the war without an arm. One day they brought a bandit who had come out of prison to make him work in the forestry, and to insert him again in the society
Nar: A bandit? And what did this bandit do?
He: In the 40s there were bandits who stopped you and asked you for money or wheat and if you didn’t give them to them they used to beat you.
He: So, I had this bandit for a colleague. One day the warrant officer arrives and says: salutamu a tutti. This is how his position was. And we said hello to everyone. Then he detached this leg and rested on the other.
Congratulations, he tells us, the pigs have escaped and entered in the garden centre.
I told him: but where were they? The bandit had to be careful, they were under his supervision.
Why didn’t you think of it warrant officer to bring them back instead of telling us that we had nothing to do with it?
Ah, smart, he told me.
I had jeans as a pair of trousers, a pistol at my waist, cartridges, a straw hat, I looked more like a warrant officer. I turned to my comrade, still nervous, and I told him: let’s go and look for these pigs.
The warrant officer looked at me with his hand in his belt. When I distance away a little he said to the one next to him: look at him, it seems to me like he’s the sheriff of the county.
And since then I’ve been the sheriff.
From that day nobody knows me with my lastname, even the children call me the sheriff.
They even know it out of town of Maniace.
My sons – in law, my children no longer call me the dad but sheriff.
Nar: Your name is?
He: Signorino the first name which means young Mr. and Liuzzo the lastname. I’m Signor Signorino
He: 1935. We were peasants
In those days we were fine, not because of wealth, but because we were satisfied with what we had, as long as we had food for ourselves and for the animals, we sang and drank.
There is so much poetry in the tales of old Sicilian people!
These are the shoes of the past, with cow skin.
Then when the war came and we found the tires we made shoes.
These were put on during the day and in the evening they became hard and we put them to soak and then to dry . If we weren’t careful, the dogs ate them because they smelled the cow.
He: My nickname was Scavo which means dig, maybe because my family used to dig .
He: My Ficara, perhaps because there were fig trees near my ancestors’ house … I don’t know …
Nar: Was there the barter at that time?
He: It was paid with wheat
The teacher would come… Every family gave 24 kilos to be a teacher
At the end of the year we brought it to him with mules to his village.
The teacher was called Abbadessa Francesco and the nickname was pollastro.
Nar: Have you ever thought of emigrating to America?
He: No. I emigrated to the piana of Catania, which is 30 kilometers from here, to harvest wheat. We were out for a month.
Nar: Let’s talk about women: how did you meet your wife
He: You couldn’t even talk at that time
Nar: Who made the fuitina?
He: We’ve all eloped
The first night of the wedding they made us the seranade on the balcony: There was the accordion, the guitar, there were those who sang
Nar: And then come on continue! Tell Me
He: We got up in the morning …
Nar: What do I care ! I want to know how the wedding night was?
He: Are you blunt? Don’t you know how it is?
Nar: Did you see thighs in those days?
He: But what thighs? There were none
He: They had the dress up to here
Nar: Were there places where you saw women, closed houses where you entered with a card?
He: They were far away … in Catania, in Enna …
But some times we went … to Paternò there was a closed house … 20 kilometers from here
Nar: This is a nice stick
He: But it is wild
Nar: You made it?
Nar: Thank you, lets take a nice picture together?
We had great times with these nice old Sicilian people.
Birth date characters: 1935, 1937, 1928
Year of the interview: 2018
A ball with cow skin, the conca, tales, bread and onion, the sea, “the sheriff” nickname, shoes, “scavo” nickname “ficara” nickname, barter, elopement, thighs, first night , closed houses