My Socks from Sicily

In Attire
Relationship: Child of im/migrant
My socks from Sicily
My socks from Sicily

It was 1960.  After years on the waiting list, my Nonna, Petrina, and my Nonno, Rosario, were contacted by immigration officials.  They were approved to move to America with their four children.  Quartarone, my family’s land holding and subsistence farm, was sold to the Italian government.  Bags were packed.   When my grandmother remembers life in rural, post-WWII Sicily, she repeats the word “miseria”— using shoes that do not fit, having only straw as cooking fuel, perpetually mending threadbare clothing.  When Nonna sees me, college degree in hand, pursuing a life as a farmer, she is confused.  Why darn socks, sew patches onto pants,  or use a treadle spinning wheel to spin yarn?  Now she laughs, and I join in.  Sometimes the culture of thrift takes several generations to fade.  Likewise, people’s connection to the land and the empowerment that comes from self-reliance may also linger.   Upstairs, I keep a very old pair of woolen slipper socks, knitted by my grandmother’s sister—my Nonna’s only sister who she left in Sicily.  I have darned those socks many times over, and I have loved them well.  To me, they represent the sacrifice my family made for me, and the privilege to be able to return to the land.

Year: 1960

– Mark Stonehill

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant