Monday, March 21, 2011

Amanuensis Monday -- Nonno Enzo's Diary -- November 5,6, and 7, 1915

Continuation of the translation of my grandfather's diary written in 1915-1916 at age 14-15.  See the previous two Monday posts for previous pages.  Location: San Gregorio, Sicily.

Translation below.
                                                                                                                                      November 5

Yesterday evening, around 7, I saw my old advisor, Don Traina, coming from the house. He had left on October 20 to suffer a second visit to the military (recruiters).

But fortunately, he was among the few considered unfit for service and was sent home where he stayed for about a week, and now here he is, ready to resume his duties.

Just last night after dinner, during the short recreation time, I went to him, wanting to kiss his hand, but he shied away. Then, I congratulated him for being rejected (by the military), and I said, “We can stay one more year together.” Having revered him, I then began to walk with the Director.

                                                                                                                                       November 6

Today, two new pupils of the 4th gymnasium -- my class -- arrived; they are brothers.

The larger one -- stout, medium height, black hair, wide forehead, narrow mouth, with a forelock of hair -- was my classmate some time ago in Catania at the boarding school, San Francesco di Sales.

The smaller one -- of the right size, aquiline nose, black hair, closed mouth in the expression of a smile, lively eyes like those of a rooster -- also attends the 4th gymnasium, and today came to school.

I shook their hands and reminded them of all the tests we'd had together at the Hospital.

In the study, their place is in the front pew. Don Ercolini departed from us and will return in a few days.

Today, our new professor, Don Bologna, arrived -- medium height, features a bit rustic, flashing eyes, voice like thunder, calloused hands ...

He was my old advisor in the San Francesco (di Sales) dormitory.

Don Ercolini will now move on to being the professor of the 5th gymnasium.

                                                                                                                                        November 7

The boulders Polyphemus threw at Ulysses
Today, at 2 o'clock in the afternoon, we went for a stroll. I enjoyed the walk, and we ended up on a hill opposite Aci Castello. From there, you could see a beautiful view -- the boulders the Cyclops, Polyphemus, threw against Ulysses, which now rises above the sea as peaks. On top of the larger rock there is a house. Later, we returned happily. I joined Messina and Ruggeri, and we began to speak of many things. Ruggeri, with the excuse of needing to take care of his needs (bathroom) remained behind us, and when he caught up to us, his pockets were full of lemons. He offered me a lemon, but I did not accept it, saying it was stolen. Before arriving in San Gregorio, we met a man with a small pig over his shoulders, who every once in a while let us hear his beautiful voice (squealing pig). Our laughter reached up to the stars, but then it all ended, and here I am already, at the table, describing this meeting.


  1. These are fascinating, Astrid. I love how your grandfather describes the friends he meets, even though he's writing to himself in a journal. And the way he describes things -- lively eyes like those of a rooster -- you can really tell he's a writer at heart.

    What does he mean when he calls someone an assistant?

  2. This is wonderful, Astrid. For some reason, something about this diary, particularly the Nov 7 entry reminded me of a book by Morris West, "The Devil's Advocate." The lemon reference reminds me of Lorca.
    What a treasure you have.
    Charles R. Hale.