the last hurrah
May 10, 2021
Some thoughts after surfing Netflix, and browsing the doc on Queen Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret.
- Back in 1950’s Canada, the narrative of Elizabeth and Margaret took over the nascent TV world; sisters were compared to the two Royals – my mother was like Elizabeth, responsible and steady; my aunt was like Margaret, impulsive and young.
- For us Italian and German immigrants, the new Royals represented the post-war optimism, the post-war euphoria, the post-war pride. We immigrants needed to shut-up and get with the program. After all we had all been on the wrong side – the losing side.
- My family, Franchino’s family and Rainer’s family had came to Canada with children; my parents had 2; Frank’s had 4, Rainer’s had 2. Also, this group, who was in their early thirties, had seen the horrors of war, the horrors of poverty and was skeptical of the new lie – the British Empire and those who embrace it would succeed.
- The rush to assimilation was strong among the new, younger, newly-married immigrants. Many of these new families opted to not teach their young children to speak Italian. That was the old-country; in Canada everyone spoke English.
- Many of these new families went out to restaurants and ate ‘English’ food; many of these new families went to the Woolworth counter and ordered hot turkey sandwiches with glow-in-the-dark gravy; many of these new families ate Wonder Bread.
- My experience of 1950’s Canada was one of being told I was too dark; of being told how well I spoke English for an immigrant; of eating my fried eggplant sandwich in a corner so no one saw it; of feeling less-than my ‘English’ schoolmates.