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Laura Lipari Interview Part XIII Husband

Sicilian Life / Vita Siciliana (1938-1940s)

Sicily Reminiscent

I chose to go and live in Europe for my husband. He was somebody prominent in his hometown and was used to being known by everybody. What would he have done in Cleveland? Not knowing English, not being able to work, and not knowing anybody. Plus, in those days all the teachers that got married lost their jobs. So I couldn’t continue working to make money for us to get our own apartment. He wouldn’t want to be supported by me or my parents. He would be too proud to live in Cleveland and have my father and mother support us. My father offered to put him on the payroll for his business, but my husband couldn’t have worked for him without knowing English and so forth. So I thought to myself about how my mother had discouraged me to move to Sant’Agata before and told me it would be difficult and so forth. My husband asked where I wanted to live. He offered to live in Rome and I remember thinking, “Oh good! I’ll live in Rome! There is an American colony there and knowing me, I will soon be running the joint!” But then I found out my husband would have to leave me from time to time to go down to the ranches in Sicily. Cause at this time he still had his mother’s wedding gift which was the ranch in the mountains, Mariscotta, then he had a ranch that was level with the Mediterranean called Santa Maria, and he also had a ranch right next to Mt. Etna. So he would make the rounds and had a place stay when he visited each ranch. Well the only place that could be really called a home was the one on the mountain, Mariscotta. So if I chose to live in Rome, I would spend many months without him. So what, was I supposed to choose Rome so that I would have all the Americans and the little amount of people I would know there but I would not have my husband? I decided to live in Sant’Agata and travel with him and live at the ranch when he went to the ranch. My husband was amazed that I chose to live in Sicily and not Rome. He asked me, “But Laura, what will you do there?” and I told him, “I will figure it out,” and I also said to him, “At least when you are gone at the ranch your parents and sisters are there with me.” So he built us a house in Sant’Agata. It was a beautiful house. So when my mother had said that she to Felice that she needed time to teach me how to run a household, Felice told her, “Don’t worry about that. She will have servants and if not, I will teach her myself.” I have to say, the Lord has been good to me most of the time I’ve had help in life. One time I was cooking and I burnt my hand and my husband said, “Don’t you go in the kitchen anymore!” I was spoiled, really spoiled. Felice built the house we lived at in Sicily very modern, no balconies. With terraces; there was large terrace on the second floor. We had a refrigerator–the only refrigerator in Sant’Agata. He had the furniture people in Sant’Agata build me furniture for the living room and dining room very modern. He was tired of living with old antique styled furniture. I remember he built a special alcove just for my use only, it was very special. I think of it with nostalgia once in a while. I wish I could be twenty years younger and have my husband and go once more to Italy, the two of us. When we arrived to Sicily, after the wedding, we stayed with my in-laws until our house was finished being built. The town of Sant’Agata welcomed us when we arrived. There was music on the balconies as we came into town. I didn’t know of this tradition, but they threw rose petals and wheat seeds instead of rice as we walked through town. They throw wheat seeds because it is more fertile than rice. The men walked up to Felice and told him congratulations and wished for him to have many sons! My husband was the only son of a wealthy and noble family, politically and socially up family. I was surprised the first day that I went to live at my in-laws house in Sicily. The first morning I woke up there the maid walked into our bedroom with coffee and I said, “No thank you.” Then she tried to offer me tea instead, but I also declined. She went to my husband’s side and gave him the coffee and called him, “Master Felice.” Later I overheard the maids talking and I heard them say, “I don’t think she comes from a high class family.” All because I didn’t want coffee in bed in the morning, all of a sudden I am of lower class. They also told him that the barber was there and I remember thinking, “Did he come to take him to the barbershop?” But when I finally came downstairs I saw the barber chair was sitting in the room. The barber actually came every few days to shave Felice and if he needed to cut his hair he would do that too. The barber had his own set up at the house for whenever he had to come there. I just sat there and the barber welcomed me and so forth and gave my husband the news of the town. He would inform my husband of the news of the whole town all while he got shaved and so forth. When he was all finished, I waited for my husband to pay him but I learned that Felice actually paid him by the month, including the tips! So when I got my hair done the stylist also came to the house. While I was teaching English at the college in Sicily I would walk to school and stop at the hairstylist and have my hair combed every day. Also when I got a manicure it was a man who did it! Italian barbers have a gift!