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New York Folklore Quarterly, Vol. XVIII, No. 1, Spring 1962

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NEW YORK FOLKLORE QUARTERLY
Vol. XVIII, No. 1, Spring 1962

OLD TALES AND NEW TONGUES
Anthony Navarra

A benevolent fate has made me a teller of tales. After all, it was too much to escape, for I was too deeply involved with a genetic fatality. My grandfather, Padre Gilardi (Grandfather Gerard) was the village story teller in the hill town of Poggio Reale, Sicily.

My grandfather was a splendid human being. Mother never tired of talking about him. Slim, blue-eyed, and fair, he was born in the lovely Greek town of Agrigento, Sicily. His life had a fairy-tale quality about it. His father, a small merchant and a widower, remarried. This second marriage proved unwise because, like the stepmother in Cinderella, she had two daughters whom she pampered and favored at the expense of Padre Gilardi. When my grandfather (at age 18) could stand her injustices no longer, he gave his stepmother a sound thrashing, packed his clothes, and left Agrigento for Poggio Reale, a village in the north-western part of the golden isle. Family history relates that my great-grandfather rued his marriage and died neglected and impoverished by the exploitation of his second wife.

Padre Gilardi’s fortunes, on the other hand, prospered in Poggio Reale. Here he not only met and married Mamma Pippina (my grandmother) but entered into one successful enterprise after another. Here he raised a family of five sons and one daughter. And here he was to live to see all his children, as leaves fall in autumn, depart to seek their fortunes overseas (one as far as Australia where he is today a prosperous merchant in Sydney).

My mother never stopped talking about her father. He was the village story teller....



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