Friday, January 19, 2007

Signore Renzo Luigi

Mr. Luigi lived in Bagnone and was a local Lion who stopped by the Camp from time to time to check on things. The first night we were there, we went drinking at the Pizzeria. When we got back to camp, there was a part going on. Mr. Luigi had brought a big doll and was dancing with it. He was very nice. On one of our last days at the camp, he invited Alain (France) and me to his house. His daughter had just gotten married to Bruno Grandi's son. He had a lovely house. Franceso informs me that Mr. Luigi died a few years ago. Anyone have any good Mr. Luigi Stories? Here he is with Anat(Israel) and me. He wrote me a postcard after the camp was over. He said "maybe you will come back to Italy on your honeymoon." Well, he was not too far off. Remember that you can click on any picture in the blog to enlarge it. Ciao.

In the beginning....

Let's go back to how I got to be in Italy in 1986 in the first place. I grew up in a mainly Italian area of St. Louis, Missouri, USA. This area is known at The Hill. It is a working-class neighborhood with 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation Italians from both Northern and Southern Italy living in one neighborhood. In 1985, a group of kids were sent to Italy to learn first-hand about their heritage. They did not go to a Lion's Club camp but they were the first to be part of the "Youth Exchange" program. The following year the kids would be sent to the Lion's club camp in Bagnone. To decide who would go, first you had to write an essay saying why you wanted to go to Italy. Then you went on an interview. Of all the people who applied, 4 were chosen. A benefit concert was held to help pay for the tickets to send us. In 1986, 4 girls were chosen: Cheryl Imo, Angela Polizzi, Victoria Bottini and me, Margherita Lahrman. We all lived in the same area. Cheryl and Angie were in the same class,one behind me. Vicki was in the class ahead of me. We took some Italian lessons from John DeGregorio. We helped to make Italian Immigrant Statues which were sold to help pay for the cost of the trip. Here is a picture of the 4 of us at the cheese and wine reception after the concert. Then here is a concert ticket and the sash that I wore at the concert to designate that I was going to Italy. The last is a newspaper clipping from a local paper.
Behind me you can see the original Italian Immigrant Statue that is in front of our local Catholic church St. Ambrose.

Bruno Grandi

Ok let's start with the main man,the big wig, the top dog. Bruno Grandi. We all will remember him as the guy who left Ulf and the fab 5 in Florence. He never tried to get to know us. Anyone have a "good" story about this guy? I don't know if he is still alive or not. Here is a picture of him. He was the organizer of the camp and in the end responsible for all of us.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Here come the Italians!

The next 20 people are from Italy. I will need to work with Francesco Carpena and Elena to see if they can help me match faces. If anyone has any pictures of the following people please send them to me.

Antonio Fidemi
Simone de Sio
Elena Palmieri
Paola Bianchi
Alfredo Forni
Sara Galimberti
Ilaria Nagliati
Evelina DaVini
Anna Maria Ravera
Maria Teresa Bicchierai
Andrea Zanotto
Emmanuele Lupi
Luisa Fantuzzi
Vincenzo Ferrari
Luigi Fontana
Luca Pierini
Paolo Fraschini
Ada Zanotto

I have lots of pictures but I am not exactly sure who is who. So I am looking for lots of help.

Homecoming for the 4 girls from St. Louis August 6, 1986

The following is the very last entry that I have in my journal. "Wednesday. August 6, 1986. Went to Walgreens to drop off all my film. I have 9 rolls. I could have taken 900. They will be ready tomorrow! I went around dropping off presents for people. I can drive again!!!!! It feels like a million years since I was behind the wheel. Mel called to tell me that volleyball is at 7:30. Aunt Mary called to welcome me back. Zio Pete came over to hear about the "old country". I lost almost 10 pounds on the trip. Amazing since I was hungry all the time and ate constantly. I called Angie's mom. Angie and Cheryl slept in the best hotel in Milan. They got a flight from Milan to Rome, Rome to New York and are in NY right now. They will land in St. Louis at 4:30 this afternoon. It is 9:03 am right now. I called vicki and she and I are going to the airport together. Mrs. Polizzi said that the airline also gave them $250 each in cash! We should have stayed with them!!! Ok, I need to sleep now. Suddenly it all hit me that I have not slept enough. I wore my new New York t-shirt to the airport. We met Angie and Cheryl what a loud meeting that was."

The picture is of Cheryl, Angie, Vicki and Me when we all met at the airport in St. Louis. Ok, that was the last thing I wrote. It was fairly typical of my travel journals. I have kept journals since I was about 12 years old. I always give the impressions of the places I visit and ALWAYS talk about food. What we ate, where we ate. Food is important to me. I am glad I had kept this journal because I really would not have been able to remember some of the things in it. I did not write it everyday, but sometimes filled in several days in a row. Sandy, I know that you had a journal. Want to share any of it? I am not sure how I will continue the blog. I have been alternating with a journal entry and a description of someone from the camp. I will keep this pattern for a while but it may be that I will just have a picture and description of one member after another.There are 44 more people to go. Silly me. I thought I could do this whole thing in a year. Here is it a year and even if I write and entry once a day, there are still almost 2 months of work to go. Maybe by March...I'd like to have it finished before my 40th birthday. I hope that you have enjoyed it so far and if you have journal entries of your own or memories and stories to share about the trip, please send them to me. Thanks. Ciao. Marg

Anat Kempler

Anat Kempler. She and I spent so much time together in the camp. She was such a sweet person. She really was a good embassador for Israel. She had so much info and kept telling people to take holidays in Israel. She is from Petah-Tikva. I corresponded with her for a long time after the camp was over. Then for the 10 year anniversary book she wrote to say that she is married now and working as an economist in the electrical company in Israel.
When I mailed the anniversary book to her, it was returned to me with invalid address. I wrote the one she gave me and since then I have not had any contact with her. She sent me so much information. She sent travel brochures and pictures. She tried to teach me some Hebrew words Degel means Flag. Ir means city. Kova means hat. In 1987 she too had to go to Military service which is mandatory for both men and women. I hope that we can find her. Anyone have any Anat stories?
The pictures are first from Flag Raising day, then one from a group shot with Nikki (England in the back), then the tall blonde Jaakko from Finland, then Anat and in the front is Francesco(Italy) our camp leader.The third picture is from the beach in Cinque Terre where we stopped to swim. The fourth picture is of Anat, Mr. Luigi and me. The last one is a clip from a group shot.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

August 5, 1986 On my way back home.

Here is my journal entry for August 5, 1986. " I slept well. I took my time getting dressed. I wore my new white Benetton pants, new Italian black top and my gold jacket. I had tea and biscotti for breakfast. We dd not take pictures. We did that when Sandy left already. Both the Mom and Dad were home. It was really sad. I gave them the present. And I left. Maria brought me to the airport. The trip there was long. It is amazing how differently you look at things when you know it may be for the last time. We got to the airport, got checked in. Then I saw Angie, Cherly and Vicki the other American girls from my town. The lines were very slow. It ends up that he other 3 can't board because the plane is overbooked. I was to fly alone. Shit. I had to run to the plane. We sat there a while and then I see Vicki board. They were able to get her a seat. But Cheryl and Angie were bumped and will fly the next day. NO!!!!! This really sucks. The flight is not too bad. My contact lenses hurt from the dry air. The food sucked. It was really bad. Now they are serving lunch and it is better than breakfast but still not good. The movie was "Back to the future" so that helped to pass the time. Vicki was sittting somewhere towards the back of the plane. i am not looking forward to New York and the customs. We have 2 and a half hours layover. i did not get to say good-bye to the boys..Maria's friends. They were fun. I guess I will read for a while. The customs were a breeze, not problem at all. Heck I could have taken anything back with me. They did not check at all. I bought a t-shirt in the airport. I wanted one of the Statue of Liberty (since they just remodeled it this year). But they were all sold out. Vicki noticed I was wearing a ring. (the one alain gave me on the last day of camp). We talked about it. I think that in a few months he will have totally forgotten about me. We boarded the TWA plane home. i drank 2 orange sodas in the airport. There is a 1 hour delay. we are in the plane. The floor is burning hot and there is ice cold air being forced into the plane. This sucks. Finally we got home. We were met by everyone. Elisa (my little sister), my mom and dad and youngest brother. We talked a mile a minute. My brother Louis has moved out to his own apartment. I got all the latest news.
When I got home I was wide awake. So I called Teresa (my best friend). She says "I'll be right over." She picked me up and went to Uncle Bill's. I had diced ham and eggs and lots of coffee. We cruised around the neighborhood and then she took me home. There was a huge storm during the night. I just layed in my bed and barely slept. My bed and my pillows don't seem to be my own. I got up and took a long bubble bath. That always helps. Tomorrow Cheryl and Angie come home. Vicki and I will be there to greet them. " The picture is our landing. One is of my dad and me. The group shot is of Vicki, her parents are behind her and some friends, then my dad and me.

Israel -- Danny Lichtenfeld

Here is what Danny wrote in the address book: "stupid dog giraffe elefant trip picture elevator road danny youth hospital father rice egg girl love envelope excellent tom money yamaha ape each horrible east ticket time everyone everything genius shit top postcard doll law word dick king garden nuts strawberry. " Amazing that he remembered that! It was a game we played in the bus. One person says a word and the next person says that word and adds one that starts with the last letter in the word before it. See the list above. What was more amazing is that they did this game in English, which was not their native language. Wow. Genius people. I got exactly 4 letters from him after the camp was over. He mentioned that he was going to school and then would have to to 6 years of compulsary military service. He was studying computers at the moment.
I will try his parent's address and see what happens. Does anyone have any stories? The only one I can think of is when we were leaving the boat ride from Lago di Garda and he touched a piece of coconut that was on a sort of fountain. The man screamed at him for touching it and not buying it. That was weird. But then I did not find that the customer service in Italy to be good. Most sales people were suspicious of us. I remember looking for some new trousers, the people in the stores were angry that I touched the clothes. How do I know what they look like? Everything was folded not hanging!