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81 12 A Visit to Where the Boss Scavengers Were Born My father-in-law, Guido Campi, once told a story about his dad, Giovanni, who migrated from a small village called Fontanarossa in the Province of Genova. He explained that his dad left there in 1904, came to the United States, and by 1921 had saved up enough money to bring his family to San Francisco. As the story goes, after his family came to the United States, Giovanni alone went back to Italy in 1931 for a visit. He purchased lumber, corrugated metal, nails, and other materials in Genova, drove these items some seventy miles to the entrance of a four-mile dirt road that went up the steep mountain, and loaded them on burros to be transported to the town of Fontanarossa. Once he got all the materials there, Giovanni built a roof over the spring-fed fountain in the small square. All of the resi­ dents used this fountain for their drinking and washing needs. Giovanni built the roof over the fountain so the women of the town would not get wet when it rained. His work demonstrated to me the great love and respect he held for the place he was born and all the people who have lived there over the centuries. According to my father-in-law, the town acknowledged the gift by putting a small marble plaque on the wall, stating “Dono di [donated], G. Campi, 1931.” Giovanni’s son Guido never visited his father’s town, but my wife and I did in May 1972 during my return from a technological exchange in the Soviet Union. I met up with my wife in Rome and we headed to Fontanarossa. Before we left on the trip, my Guido asked me to tell the people in Fontanarossa about his father ’s fountain roof. Guido also said to me, “When you get there, tell them that Virginia is the granddaughter of Zuwallo” (his dad’s nickname). What little Italian I do speak is a northern dialect, Zeneize. I felt that I would have one hell of a time communicating that much of a story to anyone, especially because I assumed that no one would ever remember the event that occurred so many years before. In 1968, my wife and I visited Rome and thought it would be fun to pay a visit to Fontanarossa. I asked the carabinieri in 82 A Visit to Where the Boss Scavengers Were Born Italian where the city dumped its garbage. To my embarrassment, he couldn’t understand a word I said. As I was to learn, the proper word for garbage is immondi­ zia and the Zeneize word is rumenta. (There are other words that have changed: for example, pencil is matita vs. pensulo.) I assumed that my attempts to communicate with the people in Fontanarossa would be an effort in futility, especially because I was sure that no one would remember Zuwallo, let alone understand the way I spoke Italian. When we arrived in Genova I found that, even though my Italian was limited, we were able to rent a car, get a roadmap, and drive to Fontanarossa. We took the main highway, found the side road to our destination, and drove the sometimes-paved, fourmile , one-lane road to the town. Prior to arriving in Fontanarossa, we passed by an old cemetery with markers that dated back more than 150 years. We saw names like Campi, Moscone, Duni, Mangini, Guaraglia, Fraguglia, Chiosso, and more—all names synonymous with San Francisco’s garbage industry and with other garbage companies in Cali­ fornia. After spending time in the cemetery, we drove through the narrow streets of Fontanarossa and passed really old homes. We eventually came into a small square with a small trattoria across from the town’s church. We parked the car, entered the church, lit a candle, and said a prayer. Then we walked across the square to the trattoria and went inside, noting three elderly men drinking wine. They looked up, and I heard one of them say, “Turisti!” referring to us. A nice lady by the name of Maria Toscanini came up and said, in somewhat shaky English, “I am sorry, but we are closed.” I responded by saying (in English), “I am sorry, but we came such a long way for pasta con pesto.” She asked me in Zeneize where I was from. I responded in my best Zeneize, “Stati Uniti.” “Si si...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780874175592
Related ISBN
9781943859399
MARC Record
OCLC
1001968451
Pages
244
Launched on MUSE
2017-09-27
Language
English
Open Access
No
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