Sicily to America

CustonaciTouring Sicily in the years before the First World War, the writer Henry Festing Jones reaches Custonaci, ponders the guestworker phenomenon and makes a prediction:

‘“You see all these young men?” said the shoemaker.  “In another couple of months they will be in America.”

I spoke to some of those who had returned from the States and from South America.  Those who have been to the States like an opportunity to speak English, but they are not very strong at it, and it is more than tinged with Yankeeisms.  One of them told me that in New York he was treated very well by his Capo-Boss.  They earn more over there than they can at home; every week brings American money-orders to Custonaci and on mail days the post-office is crowded with wives, mothers and sweethearts.  When they have saved anything up to 5000 lire (£200) they return and buy a bit of land on which a family of contadini can live, or they embellish the family shop or open a new one and hope for the best.  If business is bad and they lose their money before they are too old, they can go back and make some more.  It is the same on the Mountain; the young men emigrate and bring back money and new ideas.  The time will come when Cofano will see what influence this wooing of Fortune in a foreign land by the sons of Mount Eryx and Custonaci may have on the next incarnation of the goddess who reigns in this corner of the island.’

From: Diversions in Sicily (London 1920) p213  Courtesy of Project Gutenberg

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About rimboval

Writer, thinker and proud grandfather
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