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"You and Your Town" posted September 28, 2010 at 04:55 PM

After high school graduation, my parents, who were busting their buttons because I was the first in the family to go to college, decided they would drive me to Athens, Ohio, where I would start classes at Ohio University. The journey was about four hours, and took us through winding country roads, and it seemed, through every small township and village in southern Ohio.

In one of these villages, a traffic jam had Papa's car at a dead standstill. It was a two lane street, through the middle of that village, with the opposite traffic directly across from our car. September can be very hot in southern Ohio, so all the car windows were rolled down (no air conditioning in 1956). Papa, who had little patience when he thought the fates were acting against him, cursed in his native Italian, and was generally beside himself over the delay. In the car directly opposite ours, traveling in the opposite direction, a rather elderly little lady sat behind her wheel, patiently waiting to move forward. I seem to remember she looked at us, and smiled. Papa smiled back, and in his broken English, said to her, "eh ladee, thisa yu town?" She, probably expecting some nice word about her village, answered, "Yes, yes it is."

Then with all his frustration ready to be unleashed, Papa leaned out his window and yelled to her, "Wella, poo! Go to hella you eh you town!"

Unable to believe what had just taken place, I slid as far down into the back seat as I possibly could, hoping for the traffic to begin moving soon. And that's how my college days began!


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