In a town in Calabria …

Today is the feast of San Francesco di Paola – St. Francis of Paola – the Calabrese mendicant friar and founder of the Order of Minims. He is the patron of Calabria, and because Paola was an hour away from my hometown of Aprigliano, my family made the trip several times.

My most lingering memory of Paola is a day-tip with my dad and our cousin Za Peppina – Aunt Josephine. We went to the beach. And among the various entertainment, there was a vendor, who for a small fee, would take you out to the outlying rocks on his wooden rowboat. I refused to go, but my dad went and when the small wooden boat disappeared in the swell of the wave, I was convinced the boat and my dad were lost forever. (was it a lack in object permanence development or a lack of knowledge of waves?)

Also Tomie dePaola, the American writer and illustrated who created the children’s book Strega Nona, died on March 30. His Italian grandparents came from the city of Paola. The book begins with the endearing phrase – In a town in Calabria …

Tomie dePaola at Glastonbury Abbey, Hingham, Massachusetts.” August, 1962

On the death of Tomie dePaola, the Glastonbury Abbey published the above image on its Facebook page.

The next paragraphs in this post are about my cousin.

My cousin and her husband live north of Detroit an area hit particularly hard by the COVID plague. And as a relief gesture, I sent her a copy of dePaola’s Strega Nona.

She came home from her walk in the subdivision to find an Amazon box on her front steps. She opened the box and saw the children’s book. Her first thought was that someone had hacked her Amazon account and her credit card account. She spent the next couple of hours frantically trying to contact both Amazon and the credit card company. She had no luck.

She went back to the box and after lifting out the book, noticed a piece of paper that had information saying that the book was a gift. She called and relayed the story.

My first comment was to suggest she not tell the story to anyone else. My second comment was – WHAT HACKER WOULD BREAK INTO YOUR ACCOUNT AND THEN SEND YOU A $15 CHILDREN’S BOOK? OMG!!!