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page from "L'Ottocento dietro l'angolo" (http://www.sanmarcoargentano.it/ottocento/index.htm) by Paolo Chiaselotti
|Petrassi - Tripicchio||Falbo - Fera - Viapiana|
MADDALENA PETRASSI - LUIGI TRIPICCHIO
Nonna Maddalena was born in San Marco Argentano, P Cosenza on 25th November 1915 to parents Gaetana and Pietro Petrassi.
Nonna married Luigi Tripicchio in 1931 at the tender age of 15. Quite young by today's standards. They settled in San Marco and raised what was to be a very large family on the farm located on the outskirts of the town. Over the years, they had 15 children and as the family grew, so did the property and so did the work. So much so, that it was all hands on deck in regards to running the farm. Nonno and Nonna had so much on their plate that the children grew up quickly and took on helping with the running of the house hold from cooking and cleaning to raising their younger brothers and sisters.
Tragedy struck in 1959 when Nonno Luigi's life was cut short in an accident. They had been married for 28 years. Their youngest child was only 14 months old at the time. Nonna was a tough cookie and survived and found inner strength to continue to raise her children and watch her family grow and flourish to what it is today.
Nonna endured further tragedies over the subsequent years with the loss of her 3 sons, Domenico in 1967, Francesco in 1973, Giuseppe in 1998, grand-daughter Madeline in 1972 and son in law Carmelo in 1993. Yet with all this tragedy in her life, Nonna continued to battle on and the family continued to grow. Nonna was proud of her children as they settled in different parts of the world, namely Australia and Argentina.
Nonna visited Australia in February 1979 to see her children and meet her many grandchildren. It really brought the family together and many a fond night was spent together just enjoying each others company. Nonna returned to Italy and over the next three decades, she was frequently visited by her children and grandchildren from Australian and took great pleasure in accommodating them and treating them like rock stars ensuring they felt at home.
Nonna's family has grown so much that it would be almost impossible to gather the entire family in one room. We may need the MCG to ensure everyone gets a seat. At last count, and I must add that this number increases almost on a daily basis, Nonna has 118 direct descendants. That's right, her children have given her 36 grand children and they intern have given her 34 Great Grand children.
Nonna was not only an important person to us, she was treated like a VIP in her home town San Marco Argentano too. I recall a story when her son-in-law from Australia was in San Marco for a visit and was in the local bank waiting for service when told that they could not exchange money on that day. When the bank teller realised that he was in fact Maddalena Tripicchio's son-in-law, suddenly, they were open for business. That's the type of pull she had in town. To the extent that during her funeral mass in San Marco, there were mountains of flowers and the Cathedral was packed to the rafters with people saying their last goodbyes as well as all the cars outside the Cathedral causing a traffic jam, if that is at all possible in San Marco.
It's always sad when the matriarch of the family passes away however Nonna lived a full life and lived to see and take part in many wonderful events. We took comfort in the fact that Nonna spent her last years in relatively good health and it was even pointed out recently that in all her 92 full years, she never spent a day in hospital. This is almost unheard of in this day and age. I suppose Nonna wasn't from this day and age yet she survived and thrived and raised a loving and thankful family who will miss her greatly.
We admired her strength and can only hope that we can be as strong as she was in our own lives. We will always remember you and will always think of you.
Rest in peace Nonna.
(firstname.lastname@example.org - work email: email@example.com)
On YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSN5c6kjjb0&feature=email
Nonna Maddalena era nata a San Marco Argentano, in provincia di Cosenza, il 25 novembre 1915 da Gaetana e Pietro Petrassi. Sposò Luigi Tripicchio nel 1931 alla tenera età di quindici anni: davvero giovane per i nostri tempi. Risiedettero a San Marco e tirarono su un famiglione in un podere poco distante dal paese. Anno dopo anno ebbero quindici figli e più cresceva la famiglia più aumentava la proprietà e il lavoro, tanto che tutti si dovevano dar da fare per portare avanti la baracca.
Nonno e nonna avevano un bel da fare, così i piccoli si trasformarono presto in adulti e cominciarono a dare una mano nelle faccende domestiche, dalla cucina al bucato, per accudire fratelli e sorelle minori.
Nel 1959 nonno Luigi perse la vita per un tragico evento, lasciando la nonna con i frutti di un amore quasi trentennale, l'ultimo dei quali di appena quattordici mesi. Nonna era un osso duro: sopravvisse al dolore, trovando la forza interiore per continuare ad allevare tutti i suoi figli, fino a vedere una famiglia cresciuta e rigogliosa.
Negli anni successivi, però, nonna subì altri dolori: la perdita di ben tre figli, Domenico nel 1967, Francesco nel 1973 e Giuseppe nel 1998. A queste si aggiunsero le morti della nipotina Maddalena nel 1972 e del genero Carmelo nel 1993. Le tragedie non fiaccarono lo spirito battagliero della nonna che continuò sempre a portare avanti la famiglia. Parlava con orgoglio dei suoi figli che vivevano oltre oceano, in Argentina e in Australia. Volle visitare questo paese, il più lontano, per incontrare i suoi figli e i numerosi nipoti: fu nel mese di febbraio del 1979. Un evento che ricongiunse la grande vecchia famiglia: quante notti passate assieme appassionatamente nella gioia di ritrovarsi l'uno con l'altro! Quando la nonna ritornò in Italia, nelle tre decadi successive fu un via vai di figli e nipoti dall'Australia, accolti con grande gioia e trattati come rock star in casa propria.
La famiglia della nonna era così allargata che sarebbe stato impossibile contenerla tutta in una stanza: per assicurare ad ogni membro della famiglia uno spazio ci sarebbe voluto ... il Melbourne Cricket Ground!
A conti fatti, e aggiungo che il numero cresce a ritmo esponenziale, nonna ha centodiciotto discendenti diretti. Proprio così, in quanto i suoi figli le hanno regalato trentasei nipoti, i quali a loro volta le hanno dato trentaquattro pronipoti.
Nonna Maddalena non fu soltanto una donna splendida per noi; nella sua San Marco era trattata ovunque come una persona importante. Mi ricordo che un giorno ad un suo genero venuto dall'Australia, in una banca in cui gli era stato rifiutato il cambio immediato di dollari, appena disse che era il genero di Maddalena Tripicchio, fu immediatamente accontentato. Questo era, solo per fare un esempio, il rispetto di cui godeva nella sua città.
Cosa che altrove sarebbe impossibile, a San Marco alla sua cerimonia funebre c'erano montagne di fiori, la cattedrale era piena fino all'inverosimile di persone convenute per l'estremo saluto, mentre fuori le auto al seguito avevano intasato tutto il traffico.
È sempre triste quando se ne va una figura matriarcale come lei, comunque Nonna visse pienamente la sua vita assistendo e partecipando a molti eventi meravigliosi. Traiamo conforto dal fatto che nonna passò i suoi ultimi anni in sostanziale buona salute e, di recente, qualcuno ha ricordato che in tutti i suoi novantadue anni non ha mai passato un giorno in ospedale, cosa alquanto insolita oggigiorno. Per me Nonna Maddalena è stata una donna di altri tempi che ha portato avanti da sola una famiglia piena di amore che ne sentirà sempre la mancanza.
Non possiamo che ammirare la sua forza e sperare di essere altrettanto forti nella vita. Ti ricorderemo sempre e resterai sempre nei nostri pensieri. Riposa in pace Nonna.
A Tribute to My Parents
My mother Rosalbina is the daughter of the late Maria Giuseppina Lorenza Fera and Salvatore Falbo. My grandparents had eleven children and my mother was the youngest of 7 girls. She was born in San Marco Argentano in 1917 just like her mother and grandmother before her.
Both the Fera's and the Falbo's were respectable and successful families in their own right and were well known within the San Marco community. When my grandparents died the eldest children took the responsibility in raising the younger siblings and keeping the family together and continued to operate the family "Blacksmith" business.
After the war my mother met and married my father Antonio Viapiana in 1948 from Diamante. Their life was complete with my arrival in March 1950. My father, like his father, before him was Tin Smith and owned a "Hardware" business in San Marco. A friend encouraged my father to migrate to Australia in 1952 to make their fortune in the land of opportunities. This event was going to change their lives forever. Against my mother's wishes my father obtained his passport and decided to migrate with his friend. My mother then joined my father in 1955 and we disembarked at Port Melbourne on the 22nd October. Both of my parents were the only ones in their families that migrated to Australia and therefore their dream was to improve themselves and return home.
However this was not to be, as my mother became very ill and complications arose. Years later my two brothers were born Fernando in 1957 and Aldo in 1963. By that time they had settled and decided to stay. But they always dreamt of one day returning to their beloved San Marco. So ambitious was that dream that they never sold any of their properties until 1997 after my mother's death.
Their journey was a long and hard one with many sacrifices and ultimate goals, to work hard and establish a better life for themselves and their children and work hard they did! My father worked as a welder until his 70's and then continued part-time until he was 75 teaching Vietnamese Refugees the trade of welding and my mother as a seamstress in a Fur manufacturing for 28 years.
As a person I have been enriched firstly, by being born, a healthy and unique individual. Born in one country and raised in another. It has had its advantages and disadvantages. One might argue that as a migrant one has lost their identity, but on the other hand you might say that one has been privileged in having the better of two countries. A migrant born in San Marco Argentano Italy a country of extreme beauty, rich in history and culture it's magnificent panoramic and scenic views, which are breathtaking and an atmosphere that leaves people overwhelmed.
However raised in Australia has been a far cry from my birthplace a land of sweeping plains with rare beauty and a multi-cultural community which has become home to thousands of migrants around the globe who share the same dream of prosperity and opportunity. How fortunate can one be! Experiencing life to the fullest and having the opportunity to be part of two worlds so far apart
My heritage and the diverse culture have been passed on to my children and my grandchildren in the hope that they will pass "the way of life as it was" to future generations.
I HAVE NEVER LOST SIGHT OF WHO I AM AND WHERE I COME FROM.
by Francesca Maria Viapiana In Cortese
(photos: Viapiana family, Cortese family, and tomato sauce making)