Some of you have asked me how I came up with “A Rancere’s Lament” which appears at the front of the book. Nearing the end of the “La Nostra Costa” story, I realized that I needed a preface of some sort, something that would give a capsule description of what it was like to be a “rancere” during the depths of the Depression in the 1930’s. Of course, “The Rancere’s Lament” is fiction, however; it is based on fact. When I was writing the ‘Lament’ I was thinking of my father “Bronco” and my mother Valentina. The time period was 1936-1937. I was not born yet and my brother, John (about 2 years old) was very sick.
Rita (Franceschini) Giannandrea , who was born and raised ‘su per la costa’ during this time period, catches the true essence of the “Lament’ in her letter written to me last year.
You capture the very essence of the moment ---- you are a very good writer. I certainly enjoyed reading “A Rancere’s Lament.”
I can picture Bronco, a tall stately, good looking man out in the field irrigating with his “shavola” against the elements of strong winds with dust blowing in his eyes and his heart heavy over the plight he was in. Bronco was a family man, who deeply loved his wife and children, but money was very scarce and he needed to provide for them, ---but how? If there ever was a feeling of desperation it was then.
I can picture Valentina, a strong good looking woman who dearly loved her husband trying to console him and not blaming him for the predicament they were in, “E, siamo en la costa, no paradiso!” I fully think those words lifted some of the blame that Bronco was feeling.
They say that behind every successful man is a righteous woman ----- and I believe that. I think that every woman on that ‘costa’ was a woman with nerves of steel. They never wavered in their love for their men and the men truly adored their wives ----though they never showed it. There was so much mutual respect ----- don’t you agree?
IFC: Yes Rita, I agree. In the “Lament”, the young rancere hears a woman’s voice coming “from out of the thick eerie mist”, advising him not to expect too much because he lives “su per la costa” and not in heaven. Although the voice is familiar to him he does not fully recognize it. It is only many years later when the rancere crosses “Il Ultimo Ponte” that he finally realizes that it was the voice of his young wife. And it is here at “Il Ultimo Ponte” that the rancere shows his full affection for his wife.