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#1: Share With Us! Author: CaroleLocation: Valtellina - Near Lake Como PostPosted: Wed Apr 02, 2008 4:53 am
Yesterday Billie de Kid called me (via Skype 'chat') after she read the 'final letter' in the Cache of Letters thread. She had been very moved by the references throughout that thread about the hunger that was suffered by Tano and his family, and almost certainly by so many others in Europe during those dark days.

Hunger - alas - is usually a painful 'given' of any war, and Billie remarked that it was difficult for her, and maybe others, to imagine such pain as described by Tano when writing about his childrens tears when they were hungry. She made many comments about living through these letters and not having thought about it before really - until she read the letters. But Billie may want to place her own thoughts here on this thread too.

Everyone in Europe at that time was hungry - well 'nearly' everyone! As always there were always those who (somehow) 'got by' better than others. But most didn't. At the end of the day hunger is hunger and the way I see it 'the tears of a hungry child have no language'!

Films were produced in the war which were pure propaganda, often showing the populace living reasonably well, when in fact that wasn't the case - but that was just 'to fool the enemy' (whoever they were...). So who can blame those who came later for not realising that the reality was worlds apart from what they had been told. Often the lucky ones (?) were those who had managed to escape the poverty of thier homelands and had settled somewhere else in the world.

I was explaining to Billie about my (somewhat vague) memories of life in England during the war - it wasn't a whole lot of fun I can tell you. But it wasn't fun for anyone, anywhere through those dark times. I explained that there was 'rationing' in the UK at that time and this was the quota for an adult - for a child these quantities were reduced... and of course this was ONLY if available - which often it wasn't!

Bacon and ham - 100g/4oz
Butter - 50g/2oz
Cheese - 50g/2oz
Margarine - 100g/4oz
Cooking fat - 100g/4oz (often dropping to 2oz)
Milk - 3pts/1800ml (but not always)
Sugar - 8oz/225g
Preserves - 1lb/450g every two months
Tea -2oz/50g
Eggs - one fresh egg a week if available
Dried eggs - one pack per month
Sweets -12oz/350g a month
Plus monthly points scheme for fish, meat, fruit or peas!

But obviously even with this seemingly draconian regime we were far better off than many others. But I can clearly remember having a plateful of boiled nettles for my supper. I didn't realise until much later what effect that had on my mother when 'that was it' for her child. Tano's letters bear witness to what is, even today, every parent's worst nightmare.

But on 3 July 1954, Britain celebrated a different D-Day - "Derationing day" saw housewives gather in Trafalgar Square and ration books were burnt around the country to mark the end of food restrictions after World War II.
Introduced in 1940 to ensure there were enough supplies to go around, rationing entitled everybody to limited quantities of essential foods and drinks, from butter and cheese to tea and sweets.
So - NINE years after the war ended, meat and bacon were the last items to become freely available again - to everyones relief.

I'm sure many of you have gleaned some such insights into what it was like, and to help others understand maybe you could share those moments with us as Tom did!

Forgive me for rambling on so much, but so often we don't realise the real hardships our ancestors lived through to find a better life. So please feel free to share with us any stories or memories that you may have about these moments in your family history!

#2: Re: Share With Us! Author: lilbeesLocation: Georgia, USA PostPosted: Wed Apr 02, 2008 8:10 am
My experience during WWII was being able to take the fats saved to the grocer for some kind of credit, helping with the small garden (I loved to dig in the dirt) and chasing the chickens and ducks around the yard which were later killed and eaten as a great treat. Fruit was from the huge grapevine my grandfather had planted after immigrating to the US. We were also lucky to have an apple tree in the yard. The worst for me was standing in long lines with my mother waiting to get whatever the item was that my not have been available for some time.

#3: Re: Share With Us! Author: BillieDeKidLocation: Illinois PostPosted: Wed Apr 02, 2008 10:07 am
Hi all,

Yes I've been very moved by the letters that Tom shared, actually I've been quite emotional. I did not live through WWII but we studied it all through school. I thought I understood....we learned about the rationing of food and the hardships that people suffered..........I thought I understood........until reading the letters between the two brothers. Somehow that made everything I had learned in school very real. My grandfather and family came here in the early 1900's, he left behind his mother and an older sister that we didn't even know existed. Reading the letters made me think of his sister ,her children and her grandchildren that were probably in the same position as Tom's relatives. So reading that Tano and his children would go for days with no food and he with no work made me think of my grandfathers sister and family going through the same thing and feeling the same way as Tano. It broke my heart.

Many times you will hear people say they grew up and didn't have much or they had nothing.........well this entire experience has brought new meaning to the words having nothing or not having much. I certainly have a new respect. I have made a promise to myself to find the children of my grandfathers sister (if still alive) and her grandchildren so I can get to know them and they can get to know me.

Thanks to Tom for sharing and to Carole and Luca for enabling us to follow the story of two brothers.

#4: Re: Share With Us! Author: tjbrnLocation: North Carolina PostPosted: Wed Apr 02, 2008 10:14 am
Although I was too young to remember rationing during WWII, being the pack rat that I am, I still have a partial book of ration stamps. Here is a sampling of ration stamps.

#5: Re: Share With Us! Author: nucciaLocation: Toronto, Ontario, Canada PostPosted: Wed Apr 02, 2008 11:37 am
My parents often talk about the war and what it was like. Mom remembers quite a bit...things like having to move her sick mother and new born sister out of the house and hiding in the woods with them until the danger had past. Or playing outside and not realizing they were nest to everyone, money was tight for them so they had little to eat. But hers was a small family (4 kids, only 3 survived).

My Dad on the other had tells the story of how his parents got a hold of some flour (also contraband at the time) and my grandmother hiding in the bomb shelter to mix the bread before anyone found out. She was in such a hurry that she forgot to add th salt so the bread was awful, and yet he says it was the best bread he ever ate, in the dark, in the bomb shelter...he came from a large family (7 kids) and grandma would sew to help them get by. My grandfather, having served in WW1 was called again to serve in WW2 but because of his age he was released after 9 days. The last time Dad and I went to Locri together he took me down into the bomb shelter and I asked him why he would want to go down there...he said that for him it was a reminder of the things his family shared and that he found peace when he was in it.

I didn't understand it then, but I do now...

#6: Re: Share With Us! Author: MikeSavoca91 PostPosted: Wed Apr 02, 2008 5:58 pm
While I was born no where near WWII, I have forced stories out of my grandma about her experiences growing up in Croatia during the war. My grandmother, her aunts, and other cousins have painted a vivid picture for me of those horrible days that seemed as though they would never end.

Lack of food from the war and my great grandma's lack of ability to produce breast milk, caused my grandma's sister to die of starvation. Her father and grandfather built the coffin and a cross, and they quickly buried her to avoid a Nazi attack.

The war really hit my grandma's life hard, at 4 years her father was killed at age 29 by a group of men (which included his own brother). He was beaten on his parent's land, shot, spat at peed on, and thrown in the ocean. My great grandmother went to the spot on his parent's land where he was beaten, and you could just see the violence.

Soon after the death of my great grandfather, the entire town was rounded up and stood in a line, they were all to be shot and killed including my then maybe 6 year old grandma; the town's savior was an Italian soldier who rode by on his horse and called off the mass murder.

Then a German officer named Fritz came to town, and would sing out a song "Come on girls and _______ me, or I will _______ you." He had a particular liking for my great grandmother's sister, and went over to her house (my grandmother lived there as well as it was really her grandparent's house), and the position of the house was perfect as it over looked a harbor, so a German cannon was placed on top of her house. Fritz went into a battle and was killed to the joy of the town's women.

There are other stories too, of my grandma sneaking into the stables where the German's kept their horses, and taking the feed that they would drop and eating that, and hiding in the woods, when bombs would drop. The war was a terrible time for my grandma, but it made her who she is today...and that is a wonderful person.

#7: Re: Share With Us! Author: Cathy PostPosted: Wed Apr 02, 2008 10:23 pm
OMG Mike - what a horrible story! Crying or Very sad I just do not understand how people can be so cruel to each other! Thank you for sharing! kiss

#8: Re: Share With Us! Author: MikeSavoca91 PostPosted: Wed Apr 02, 2008 11:08 pm
Cathy it was so bad, there was a cousin of my grandpa who was shot with the rest of his family, he played dead and was thrown in a mass grave...buried alive! People heard him yelling, but couldn't help because they would have been shot. Mothers and father's disappered during the night leaving children parent-less. It was so bad, I don't know how my grandma survived it. People can be animals.

#9: Re: Share With Us! Author: CaroleLocation: Valtellina - Near Lake Como PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 4:09 am
Such a harrowing story Mike, and one which can only help us to understand what many of our families suffered in the past.

But it was events such as we are beginning to hear on this thread which shows (I think) that often, for a lucky few, there was a better place - somewhere... Their bravery in leaving their homeland, often their loved ones, and all they had ever known behind was incredible. To embark on a journey into the unknown (for them) and often being unable to read or write OR undertstand their 'new' language must have been so very frightening.

Until a short while ago I never realised the details that could be seen on ships manifests, but now having seen quite a few, I'm still amazed at how little these people had 'for their new life'... Travelling often with no more than a few dollars, one piece of luggage, unsure of what was going to be done to them by their new (unknown) 'regime' and its law officers... and on top of all that many faced very long journeys to reach their family/sponsor!

No - their is no doubt about it... those people are really to be admired - they were so very, very brave!

#10: Re: Share With Us! Author: wldspiritLocation: Usa PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2008 4:10 am
I haven't yet had the oppurtunity to read the tale of of the two brothers,
still trying to catch up with all the postings.....

But as a parent, the thought of not being able to feed your child, watching them cry from hunger, it just chokes me up.....

I think in reading this, we can appreciate how incredibly blessed we are.

#11: Re: Share With Us! Author: AetherLocation: Americas, Italy PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2008 2:22 am

How much suffering! The surviving ones were so brave, and from those terrible experiences had the spiritual strength to start new families.

For the ones lost, they are remembered! And one must pray that they have finally found peace!

Abbracci, Sophia

Account Deactivated

#12: Re: Share With Us! Author: Bella_MiaLocation: Ontario, Canada PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2008 11:58 am
I was adopted and did not learn of my Italian heritage until I was about 35. I know very little about my birth father except his name, Lividotti, and that he was born in Italy. I am not sure where. If anyone has heard of this name or can give me a few pointers, I would really appreciate that. Grazie

#13: Re: Share With Us! Author: CaroleLocation: Valtellina - Near Lake Como PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2008 12:54 pm
Bella_Mia wrote:
I was adopted and did not learn of my Italian heritage until I was about 35. I know very little about my birth father except his name, Lividotti, and that he was born in Italy. I am not sure where. If anyone has heard of this name or can give me a few pointers, I would really appreciate that. Grazie

Let me welcome you to "Gente" Bella Mia you are very welcome and I'm sure you will find plenty of help and guidance on how to trace your family roots.

Why not go over to our "About Us" forum in the 'General' section and introduce yourself there. Tell us a little about your family and that will be a good start for you. From there you can go on to post in any other suitable forums here, where our current members will, I know, love to give you a helping hand.

#14: Re: Share With Us! Author: charliemisLocation: Philadelphia PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2008 8:18 pm
My Father's brother moved from Corato to the city of Foggia for work before my Dad left to come to America. During WWII Foggia was a major Italian Military base and was bombed heavily by the Allies. My 1st cousin Francesco told us that he ran so fast, he ran out of his shoes as their home was bombed. Thankfully no one was hurt, but the family lost everything (the only thing that survived was my Parents wedding picture and picture of my Grandparents). The family spent the rest of the war in the small hillside town of Troia where a kind family tried to help them as much as possible, but they spent a lot of time outside with no shelter. Being much younger, I was born after the war so I never experienced the rationing, etc. It must have been very difficult for a lot of folks with lots of sadness due to loss of life.

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