Make your own free website on Tripod.com
 

UNDER A LION SUN

Childhood Days of Joy and Sorrow in Old Calabria

By Michael Caputo

Author of, The Coin From Calabria: Discovering the Historical Roots of My Calabrian People

 

 

    NEW BOOK ABOUT CAPISTRANO AND CALABRIA

Under a Lion Sun:

Childhood Days of Joy and Sorrow in Old Calabria

Available as paperback and downloadable versions on Amazon in several countries. If not available in your country, you may order from AMAZON.COM

Enter another world through the eyes of Michelino (Meekehleeno), a boy who grew up in Calabria, the southernmost Region of Italy, during the fifties and sixties. Discover a society built on rigid expectations, where family and honor were paramount and where violence was all-too-often the favourite way to solving some of the painful challenges of life.

In this book you will also learn about Calabrians' attitude toward food, discipline, education, destiny, the supernatural, exorcism, suicide, mental illness, the handicapped, crime, etc.

You will also meet, among others, the following unforgettables: Maestro Fera, the teacher who had been an officer in Mussolini's army, who ran his class like a battalion. Nino, the Mafia Boss, who collected lovers like trophies and who was feared and revered by young and old. Toto' the brilliant mind who will never have the opportunity to excel, due to having been born on the wrong side of the fence. Salvatore, who was tortured by life since childhood, in ways that most people will never imagine. Tommasino, the gentle giant whose life was ended in a most shocking and horrendous way.

If you are a descendent of Calabria you will return in time to the moments when your ancestors were torn apart by the curse of emigration, and you will become aware of the forces that shaped your ancestors that may have also contributed to shaping you.

But the book does much more. It also traces how Calabrian customs and beliefs have evolved up to our time and how Calabrian society has moved forward in some respects while remaining fixed and immutable in others.

By the end of this book, you will know Calabrians--their strengths and their weaknesses. You will grow to appreciate a people undaunted by life's many challenges; a people who takes pride in their stubborn spirit and their unwillingness to admit defeat, even if confronted by penury and great suffering.

M. Caputo

PREFACE

INTRODUCTION

BORN IN HEAVEN; SAVED FROM PURGATORY

A FAMILY LIKE NO OTHER

CALABRIAN FUNDAMENTALS

INTRODUCTION TO CALABRIAN LIFE

CALABRIA'S CRUEL REALITIES

FROM BLISS TO GLOOM

THE FEASTS OF JOY AND CARNAGE

MAESTRO FERA: MUSSOLINI'S LEFTENANT

REMEMBRANCES OF A FOOLISH WAR

ACTING, TEMPTATIONS AND DANGEROUS GAMES

A DIFFERENT TYPE OF DISCIPLINE

 PEOPLE AND PLACES  IN CAPISTRANO

SIMPLE CALABRIAN JOYS

MEMORABLE MAYORS AND ELECTION TIMES

THE LAND'S GIFT TO CALABRIANS

TRAGEDIES AND DESTINY

MY SISTER IS GONE

CONFRONTING THE BANDIT

A MOST TRANSFORMING GIFT

THE UNFORGETTABLES

BARBERING AND TRAGEDY

THE GRAND ORATOR

MENTAL ILLNESS  AND THE HANDICAPPED

KIND ANTONIO BECOMES THE DISCIPLINARIAN

THE TEARS OF DEPARTURES

WHEN SATAN STOPPED IN CAPISTRANO

JUNIOR HIGH BEGINS

RENOIR IN CAPISTRANO?

HEARTLESS NAMES AND FLATTERY

WHEN SUMMER CAME

THE UPPER CLASS

THE CURSE OF UNEMPLOYMENT

WINTER LEARNING

DEBATES, POETRY AND CURSES

THE "AMERICANI"

BURIED TREASURES AND STAMP COLLECTING

BEACHES AND MOUNTAINS

FIERCE JEALOUSY

THE POWER OF MAGIC

GOING TO “AMERICA”

CONCLUSION

APPENDIX 1

APPENDIX 2

 

 

 

PREFACE

According to Carlo Levi, the famed author of, Christ Stopped at Eboli, Mussolini callously referred to the Italian area south of Naples as, "No-Man's-Land."  He, and others before him, saw that area of Italy as a remote land of rugged mountains and dark forests where primitive and savage people lived and fought, and where the possibility of visitors risking their lives would have been quite high.

 I came from the southernmost part of "No-Man's-Land."

I was born in a small town in Old Calabria, the southernmost Region of the Italian South, where for centuries few foreigners thought of ever visiting, given its distance from the major Italian tourist centres and the dark and frightening images the word "Calabria" elicited in people's minds.

Up to today in 2015, there are maps of Italy where my town of Capistrano is not to be found. It is definitely there between the two sister towns of San Nicola and Monterosso, but Capistrano might still be invisible, as I  found out when I recently perused a map given to me by my Automobile Association.

Thus, in summary, I come from "nowhere" in "No-Man's-Land." Not a very flattering assessment of my origins.

And yet, Capistrano has always been there under the oppressive Calabrian sun, peopled  with  a great many unique, dynamic, kind and intelligent people striving daily to eke out a living from the parched and rugged land at the feet of the Serre mountains in Central Calabria.

Yes, Capistrano has always been there; tranquil at times–violent at other times. It was most beautiful and welcoming to the strangers who rarely came to visit; but it was not always kind to its own children that for generations struggled to survive in a beautiful but frugal land.

It was in this unknown town filled with contrasts that I was born in the early fifties, and it is this special town that I hope will embrace you and hold you tightly, as you read this book; for this book is not  just the autobiography of someone who wants to share a joyful past; this is the autobiography of someone who witnessed the most wonderful acts of kindness from people who justly deserved the title of saints, juxtaposed with incomprehensible acts of violence by people who acted like devils and left behind unspeakable pain.

This was life in my town in Old Calabria, when I was young. Was it typical of all of Calabria? No, it was not. Some Calabrian towns never experienced the traumas that my little town had to endure, but other towns in the southernmost part of the Region saw similar violence–and more. That violent phase in my town's existence has been over for decades; it is unfortunately quite pervasive in other areas of Calabriaand there are no signs that it is close to the end.

Thus, this book is not just the result of my need to help my children understand the forces that shaped their sombre father. It is also an attempt to help the children of Calabria - they who descend from this beautiful and tortured land - to understand their parents, their grandparents or even their great grandparents and to shed some light on the cultural forces that shaped them and that may have had a lingering effect even on they who descend from them, many decades later.

After my previous historical works which explored Calabria's amazing history, I am now offering the reader a new gift; but this gift is not the result of digging deep into the historical layers of my land; this is the result of digging deep into the layers of my mind and of painfully re-living several traumatic moments no child should ever be subject to.

As I share the joyful and the painful recollections, I also hope to share some relevant observations and some precious lessons that I believe are worth considering.

Under a Lion Sun is an honest and transparent account of what was and what in some cases still is the reality of a region of the Western world where the civil rules of life do not always apply; where fear and injustices still raise their ugly heads, limiting the great potential of a bright and energetic people.

Welcome to Calabria, then. Welcome to my beloved Capistrano, and may you be greatly enlightened by my honest sharing of what my eyes have seen and my ears have heard in a non-existent town in "No-Man's-Land" in the southernmost part of Italy.

Michael Caputo

INTRODUCTION

There is only one master in Capistrano. It rules like a merciless potentate–like a pagan god who demands fear and respect. It – not the saints nor the revered Madonna worshipped in the main church – has the pre-eminence. It is the supreme lord. For centuries it has shaped its people's future and moulded their temperament. Most of the year, it cruelly scorches people and land. When its power and pride reach the highest point, its weary subjects refer to it as, “Il Sol Leone” (The Lion Sun), a name which implies lordship and cruelty–to be feared and to be respected.

My people live under this lord and master all year long. In winter, it briefly slumbers, as if to regain its strength and vigour;  but as the month of April and May approach, it wakes up seemingly more determined than ever to remind its subjects that he – and only he – is master; and that he – and only he – will shape the months ahead.

I lived under its authority and power for fourteen years, from 1953 to 1967. I have been reminded of its authority and power multiple times, as I returned several times to my beloved Calabria to see my relatives, my friends and the places I hold so near to my heart.

It is because of the Calabrian sun's fierceness and its power over its subjects all year long that I chose to title this book Under a Lion Sun; for all you will read took place under its force and its control.

ORDER FROM AMAZON

You may order this book as a downloadable (CLICK HERE)

You may order this book as a fully illustrated paperback CLICK HERE)

Contact the author at mclcpt1@yahoo.ca