Italians, in America.


It takes all kinds.

And, I’m glad to say so.

What if we were all reticent and deferential? In America, we’d be stuck on a street corner, bowing and gesturing for the other to cross. Crowds would form. Traffic would stall. Chaos to commerce. Only the strong would survive. Finally, one lone person, likely among the shortest, would push through the throng and head across the road, shaking his or her head in disbelief at the inefficiency of it all. That would be the Italian.

For every proponent of tolerance, acceptance, and the next festival in celebration of diversity there’s an old Dago who sits, reading the paper and chuckling. Somebody brings him a sandwich. Talking with his mouth full, he’ll tell you what for. He knows. He’s Italian. We always do.

For the final decade of my twenty five in public education, I worked at an elementary school at the cusp of the county line. Demographically, there were few Italians living over there. True to their history in our town, the surviving generations were still maintaining their family homes closer to the center of the west side. I remember being told by my then very blonde and fair skinned boss that I was “a bit harsh.”

Nobody at the other school, over in Little Italy, would have called me by that moniker. Everybody who worked there or ran that building told it like it was. There was a happy extroversion in that climate. And, the faculty was the most cohesive social group in the entire city. I will never forget the night of my first all school program; there had to have been seven teachers there, all helping run herd, and they’d all organized entirely unsolicited by me. They were led by one woman. She was Italian.

For just under three years, I had a mother in law. She thought Italy was a third world country, and “loved my brown eyed grand children just as much as my blue eyed grandchildren.” Everybody tries, some more than others. But, we’re all different, it’s always easier to stay the way we are, and inherent bias is unavoidable. But, when you cross the line, the Italian will tell you so.

What line?

Well, back when civilization was trying to evolve beyond barbarism, there was a people who, though their motive was to establish power, were adept at assessing a situation, identifying its obstacles, and spending intelligent energy and willpower developing a solution. To expand their influence, roads were developed and constructed, the kind which could be traveled beyond the dusty sandal and walking stick. In fact, entire transport systems were created which ultimately established connections, yielding an increase in trade and cultural exchange.  Prior to this, there were kings and their extended families, and land owners, and slaves, and the poor – the latter, in droves. These expanding road systems enabled pockets of civilization to become independent and self governing, by virtue of their access to resources which existed, well, down the road. These pockets became known as cities.

Yes. The very structure of workable American society is framed by transit routes and cities. And, we have the Romans, from Italy, to thank for it; their drive to achieve a dominating empire left behind what we now call infrastructure.

Oh, and the next time you look at something beautiful that did not occur in nature, take a moment. Be they paintings, sculpture, even cathedrals, much of the world’s most magnificent works of art were created by Italians. Inlaid tile. Stained glass. Frescoes. Even before Michelangelo and DaVinci, there were artisans. These swarthy, well oiled, slightly hairy brutes did their part to decorate the entire, known world. They frosted the cake.

Yes. Every human frailty eventually makes itself known. There is weakness, right along side strength. Nothing lasts forever, not empires, not even life. But, for every moment constrained by decorum, there will be an emergent crisis. Let’s be ready to thank the personality which steps up. That will, eight times out of ten, be the Italian.

From us, you will get candor. We’ll smile at you in public if you deserve it, and reprimand you in kind. You’ll always know where you stand, with us. We are as proud of our heritage as you are of yours, and we know one more thing. We know the value of preserving that history. We are a part of the greatest generation, in this country we call home, and you can call us by our name. It’s pronounced exactly the way it’s spelled.

Let’s eat.





Β© 12/22/18    Ruth Ann Scanzillo.        All rights those of the author, whose name is pronounced “Skan – ZILL – o”, and appears above this line. Thank you for your respect.







16 thoughts on “Italians, in America.

  1. Good piece RA, but I take issue with parts of it – for instance, those Romans, they blew their own trumpets claiming before them, Briton was full of barbaric nut cases, but recent archaeology shows there was a highly developed civilisation here before them and yes, even roads! There’s always more to discover with archaeology! πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. But…….the Romans occupied your island. My grandfather had Roman blood, though he hailed from Cornwall. So, the recent archaeology confirms that this highly developed civilization preceded the Roman invasion, as it were, for lack of a better term? And, would you kindly post the link to that article in this thread, OF? Thanks, and Merrie Xmas!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I just googled “Pre Roman roads britain” and lots of links come up, such as this one explain my point quite well

        The TV program I was watching mentioned some pre-roman road shown up from drone footage during last summers low rainfall, also they discussed how the culture which built the Crannogs on Loch Tay must have been highly organised to have built so extensively, yet the Romans who wrote the first written history of Briton, claimed we were nothing but savage head hunters!

        Of course its the winners who write the history, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that their version is superior! πŸ™‚


    2. [final p.s. to Ogden Fahey]: the piece was directed at the American audience, per our immigration debate, our diversity debate, and our tolerance debate…..although, directly quoting the Conclusion of the linked article referenced: “Roman roads were, then, the arteries of the empire. They connected communities, cities, and provinces, and without them the Romans could surely not have conquered and held onto the vast territories they did over so many centuries. Further, such was the engineering and surveying skills of the Romans that many of their roads have provided the basis for hundreds of today’s routes across Europe and the Middle East. [ and, I should add, all across the United States and Canada. ] Many roads in Italy still use the original Roman name for certain stretches, and even some bridges, such as at Tre Ponti in modern FΓ iti, still carry road traffic today.

      This Article has been reviewed for accuracy, reliability and adherence to academic standards prior to publication.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Well, that’s the problem with history books. There’s much about Roman history which leaves me cold, embarrassed, humiliated but, then again, I just got home from the movie, “Mary, Queen of Scots”. What can’t be disputed is the extensive road construction, bridge building, and transitways conceived by the Romans who extended their routes throughout their entire, trans-Euro empire. I’d be hard pressed to accept that the Celts left them a template for the entire engineering masterpiece which became their transport route for as many years as the United States has been a nation. Guess I’d need to see the images. Did they build hundreds of miles, over crag and gully, up around and over all manner of geographic obstacle, like the Romans did? Have you seen a map of the extent of the Romans’ highway plan? There is one, at the article for which I shared the link. Zoom in on it. And, how big is the British Isle, exactly?

          Liked by 1 person

        2. (cont.) And, the Brits came to America and fought the Natives, succeeding in suppressing them forever. Oh, and, before that, they went to Africa and gathered up their army of slaves, too. It’s the behavior of MALES, not the heritage of Italy, which is the point of contention, here. Fresh from the story of Mary, Queen of Scots, I’m prepared to offer men in power no latitude at all. The Celts and Druids may have been far more advanced than history has declared them, but that goes to the question of just who the Phoenicians were, as well, and then takes us all the way to South America and the Mayans. Meantime: it wouldn’t be the first time that the wrong tribe of men has been glorified by history books written by them. Perhaps the Romans captured and enslaved the Celts, and forced them to build their extensive transport routes. The point is: they were built. And, without them, we would not have evolved transcontinentally into the global civilization we are today. And, that, my friend, takes me back to my original point: Romans actually do get credit.They either originated or capitalized on a good idea, and then expanded it across Europe. They possessed the drive to make it all happen, establishing the template which endured throughout history. Perhaps the Druids would never have shared their skills with anyone else on the planet, otherwise. Birds poop on volcanic rock, and vegetation is renewed. I think this rests my case.
          p.s. please revisit my final edit. Thanks, OF! ❀

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I have seen results of studies of stone age remains that show people did travel right across continents long before the time of the Romans, so sure, the Romans were great and all that, but they weren’t “all that” to everyone back then or even now as a lot of what they claimed is being historically challenged and revised πŸ€£πŸ˜πŸŽ…πŸ’‹

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Well, thank God I’m only Napolitan. Sigh.
              I’m just thinking about the pragmatic aspects, relative to our country’s layout. The Roman Empire lasted nearly, what, 250, 300 years? That is a staggering period of time, to contemplate, from an AMERICAN point of view. The system of roads they constructed determined commerce across the entire known, European world among literates, and shaped the course of history to come with regard to TRADE – trade not only of merchandise, but goods and services and ideas and everything that comes with the transport of humans from one place to another. If prior civilizations also managed the same, I must consider how the Roman Empire affected where I live and how my country was built. Believe me, when it comes to correcting the errors in historical documentation, I am a loud voice! But, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, and the force of its regime had a direct impact on the country where I live.

              Liked by 1 person

                1. OF, after completing the edit of my most recent piece, “The Revelation”, I am brought back to this one by the ever lovin’ algorithm. Sure enough; I fought back valiantly to defend the Roman brutes, but the residuals of recent date remind me that they were, essentially, an embarrassing reminder of history’s exaltation of the undeserving. In some attempt to derive fragments of value as a descendant, I cite their inherent assertive drive to move. The ideas were stolen; the effort to cement (npi) their value across the continent and, ultimately, the West benefits us all. Does that forgive the theft? Not on principle. But, I am grateful for the genetic traits of forward thinking and assertive action. It’s all in the application, is it not?


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