Ancora qualcosa su nonno Pasquale [Un tuffo nel passato]

frisina_caldi Tony Frisina.

Chi è appassionato di cose antiche ed in particolare – come me – di antiche cartoline e fotografie molto spesso, cercando fra carte polverose, si è imbattuto in ritratti raffiguranti persone sconosciute.

Come avevo già scritto, se una fotografia non reca neppure un’annotazione non fa storia, interessa poco.

Quante volte mi sono trovato davanti al ritratto di una persona, di un giovanotto di fine ‘800, di una graziosa signorina in epoca Liberty! Sempre ho pensato all’umanità che quel cartoncino racchiudeva; rivolgo sempre un mesto pensiero alla persona ritratta. E sempre mi sono ritrovato a pensare a quale storia potesse aver avuto quella persona, agli affanni, alle gioie e alle soddisfazioni, anche alle sofferenze e alle emozioni che doveva aver vissuto. E sovente mi capitava di pensare che di quella persona ormai non rimaneva altro che il rettangolo di carta in bianco e nero e nulla più.

Sarebbe potuta accadere la stessa cosa alle fotografie che ritraggono mio nonno Pasquale,[1] se non ne avessi fatto conoscere la storia, almeno in maniera superficiale e per di più poco puntuale.

Nonno Pasquale, una persona come tante. Un uomo del sud che ha condotto in maniera semplice tutta la sua vita a Staiti, in Calabria, dopo la parentesi americana durata circa undici anni.

Un uomo come tanti, che ha saputo dedicarsi per tutta la vita – anche con grinta – alla sua terra, lavorando in maniera instancabile ed accontentandosi di molto poco, di quel poco che permetteva di far vivere decentemente lui e la sua famiglia. Una vita semplice e decorosa.

1 - 1967 07 26 - Nonno Pasquale e nonna Franca
Nonna Franca e nonno Pasquale all’età di 80 anni, nel 1967, nei pressi di casa, in un mio scatto fotografico.

Seppure lui e la nonna Franca non avessero avuto grosse possibilità non se la cavavano neppure malaccio, visto che terra da coltivare ne avevano a sufficienza e visto che con grande impegno e fatica riuscivano a procurarsi il necessario per sopravvivere con dignità.

La parentesi americana non aveva levato al nonno la gioia di tornare nel semplice paese da cui era partito, per prender moglie e continuare a vivere con la rusticità che la Calabria di fine anni ’20 poteva offrire. Il nonno aveva deciso di tornare in Italia soprattutto per farsi una famiglia in quanto le newyorchesi, a suo giudizio, erano troppo libere e troppo diverse dal modello di donna che a lui piaceva.

Il grano che veniva coltivato si fermava in parte al mulino e il resto, sotto forma di farina era portato a casa per la preparazione del pane e per altre necessità.

Il pane, alimento principe, veniva prodotto una volta la settimana, usando il lievito madre; di volta in volta la nonna toglieva dall’impasto lievitato una piccola parte dello stesso e la conservava in una ciotola, in luogo fresco e pulito, per utilizzarla come lievito la settimana successiva. Per l’impasto e per la cottura occorrevano oltre ad un pugno di sale anche l’acqua e i rami per accendere il forno. Il sale era grosso e per farlo diventare fine occorreva macinarlo. I rami e la legna arrivavano a dorso d’asino, molte volte anche sotto forma di rami con foglie che avrebbero sfamato le due o tre capre che i nonni possedevano. Mangiate le foglie ecco che restava ciò che andava più che bene per accendere il fuoco nel forno.

Il cibo per la famiglia era cotto presso il focolare, ponendo la pentola di rame stagnato su un treppiedi di ferro.

Ogni gesto, ogni attività, ogni lavoro erano fatti con grande attenzione all’economia della famiglia.

Tutto il giorno e tutti i giorni dell’anno si lavorava sodo. E questa era la norma per tutti coloro che avevano dignità.

2 - Nonna Franca e nonno Pasquale nell'orto
Nonna Franca e nonno Pasquale nel 1967 mentre si incamminano verso casa con il raccolto del giorno.

Perfino l’acqua, che oggi siamo abituati ad avere solo ruotando un rubinetto, bisognava andare a prenderla alla fonte, in campagna, facendo qualche chilometro a dorso d’asino, riempendo due o quattro barili. E così pure occorreva fare per lavare la biancheria e per le altre mille necessità del vivere.

Ogni giorno tanto lavoro; tanti lavori che si incasellavano a formare la vita di quasi tutte le persone che vivevano quel tipo di realtà.

Il nonno era un tipo tranquillo e pacifico che sapeva farsi gli affari propri e all’occorrenza sapeva farsi rispettare usando la furbizia o anche manifestando un robusto carattere indomabile. Due esempi soltanto per rendere l’idea.

Un giorno, arrivato presso la sua proprietà, trova una mandria di qualche centinaio di capre al pascolo con relativi pastorelli. Alla domanda relativa a chi avesse dato ordine di condurre le bestie in quel fondo qualcuno dei ragazzi pare abbia risposto che il cavalier “Tal dei Tali” (risparmio il nome e cognome intanto tutti a Staiti ancor oggi sanno di chi si tratti) sostenesse che tutte quelle terre gli appartenessero e quindi potevano pascolare anche lì con tranquillità. Il nonno non si era di certo lasciato intimorire nell’ascoltare il nome del “potente del paese” (o prepotente?). Ordina ai pecorai di condurre tutto il gregge nella direzione da lui indicata: la Caserma dei Carabinieri. Immaginate i Reali Carabinieri della Stazione di Staiti cosa avessero potuto pensare, vedendo il cortile della caserma riempirsi man mano di quelle centinaia di bestie.

Morale della storia: il nonno l’ha spuntata e l’arroganza del cavaliere, almeno per quel momento, è finita alle ortiche. Il danno era stato subito pagato, magari anche con gli interessi.

Un’altra volta il nonno aveva acquistato nuovi alberi da frutto e in una mattina di lavoro aveva preparato i buchi per ospitarli; aveva poi finito di metterli a dimora e dispensato la giusta irrigazione.

Immaginate il suo stupore l’indomani nel vedere che tutte le piantine nuove erano per incanto sparite.

Il nonno non si era perso d’animo.

Dopo una panoramica mentale e qualche riflessione si era recato in escursione per le vallate vicine, dove immaginava fossero andati a passeggio i suoi alberelli.

A qualcuno che, incontrandolo fuori dalle sue zone abituali, gli aveva chiesto dove stesse andando, lui aveva risposto che stava rincorrendo delle piante che erano scappate dal suo fondo. Il malcapitato taceva, pensando che il nonno fosse diventato matto o avesse preso un colpo di sole.

Trovate le piantine in un fondo, altra tappa alla caserma dei Reali Carabinieri. Invitati a seguirlo li aveva condotti presso la nuova dimora delle sue piantine.

Il padrone di quel fondo negava di aver perpetrato il furterello ma, scalzando una piantina, il nonno aveva dimostrato ai Carabinieri la vera proprietà, indicata dalle proprie iniziali, P. V., incise sulla radice di ogni alberello.

1968 - Nonno Pasquale 1968
Nonno Pasquale in un momento di riposo. Mio scatto del 1968.

______________________________________________________

[1] Le precedenti “puntate” riguardanti nonno Pasquale:

https://mag.corriereal.info/wordpress/2016/09/04/la-nave-san-guglielmo-un-tuffo-nel-passato/

https://mag.corriereal.info/wordpress/2016/09/11/la-nave-san-guglielmo-nonno-pasquale-un-tuffo-nel-passato/

https://mag.corriereal.info/wordpress/2016/09/18/senza-passaporto-non-si-poteva-arrivare-in-america-un-tuffo-nel-passato/

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