December 5, 1997

I remember another one of my experiences with my brother, Baby, that occurred on a trip which we made to Sicily. We wanted to visit the area where my mother and dad lived and went to church in Chiusa Scafani, Sicily. We also visited a place in Cocomo to see where my brother’s wife’s people lived by the name of Purpura.

When we arrived in Cocomo, we discovered that the Purpura’s lived in the mountains, and the only way you could get there was by horseback or Jeep. Well, it just happened that I had had surgery for a double hernia and my stomach sported a foot-and-a-half scar, and was very sore. We therefore could not go by horse, so we rented a Jeep.

After about a half-hour’s bumpy ride to the top of the mountain, we finally came to the dwelling. We saw a tiny hut with a straw roof, dirt floor, pigs and chickens in the house with goats, sheep, mules, and ducks all over the place. There were so much animal droppings, we had to walk like we were in a mine field.

The family consisted of a fat, old lady who grabbed my brother and kissed him. She grabbed me next and the garlic smell of her breath almost knocked me out. She was expecting us because my brother’s wife had written and told them that we were coming.

We sat down on an old cot and Mrs. Purpura got two glasses, rinsed them in a trough where two small pigs were drinking. She took out a gallon of wine, which was about half-fermented and was full of trash and other sediments. She poured the wine and gave it to Baby. Then, I remembered that Baby had told me to never refuse anything that these people served. So my brother drank the wine down fast and his eyes rolled like a slot-machine. Then she turned to me to give me a glass of wine.

I had to think fast. I opened my shirt and showed her that big, fresh scar on my stomach and told her in Italian, “e ah sungale’ malata dra stomaco.” That meant that I was sick in the stomach and could not drink wine. Well, I got out of that one. Then she got a rusty old knife from her stockings and reached under the mattress and pulled out a big roll of goat cheese that had flecks of straw and dirt. She cut off a big piece for Baby, who took it and started chewing it. Boy, did that cheese stink! Baby was eating the cheese and he looked like a possum eating yellow jackets. Then she turned to me with a piece of cheese and looked inquiringly. I opened my shirt and went into my act again. Then, she said, “Oh tu amy matata,” meaning, “Oh, yes you are sick.”

She wanted us to stay for dinner, which was to be a good meal – goat meat, spaghetti, chicken necks and blood sausage. I hurried up, showed Baby my watch and said, “it is time to GO!”

* The End *

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