by Sam Di Bella

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The strange diary of Sam

of Salvatore (Sam) Di Bella

Memories, curiosity, reflections,.. by a young …nonagenarian from Bronte


XXXVII - At Sassuolo

In February of 1943 I was called to military service. Four of us left from Bronte: Nunzio, Peppino, Gregory and I.

At that time in Bronte I used to play a lot of poker with some older members of the Circolo di Cultura and I'd won so much that I had a wallet full of money. While we were at the train station ready to leave, my father and my brother Nunzio, unaware of the my winnings, were still giving me money.

We were headed to Modena and Gregory, seeing how much money I had in my wallet asked me, “Are you going to the fair to buy beasts of burden ?” Once in Modena I proposed not to report for a few days and spend some of my money in hotels, restaurants, entertainment venues, cinemas and the like.

We really had lots of fun, but when we showed up we were all punished and poor Gregory had to peel a huge amount of potatoes.
We were assigned to the Maida barracks of Sassuolo and to a Sicilian sergeant who was nasty beyond belief.

At Sassuolo I had rented a room with a local family who had a daughter named Mafalda. She was not a great beauty but was quite willing and some of us began passionate love affairs with her. I could not bear that demoniacal Sicilian sergeant and, as soon as possible, I changed the company and joined a new unit commanded by an excellent officer who, as a civilian, used to write children's books and was a sweet and very sensible man.

In that new environment I was happy, and when in the battalion it was decided to stage a show centered on the song “Polvere di Stelle”. I suggested calling it “Polvere di Stellette”, and participated in the writing of the script. To this I included some stories of one of my countrymen, a fanatical ex soldier that used to tell this story: we were in the trenches against the Austrians when I felt somebody touching me from behind. I turned around and it was His Majesty Victor Emmanuel III, King of Italy and Emperor of Albania and Ethiopia! I snapped to attention and said: “Command, Your Majesty!” And he said to me, “Crouch, Cosimo, or they shall see you!”
Someone says: “Don Cosimo, this story is too big to be believed!”

He replied: “Ah, you don't believe me? Go and ask my dear friend the late Don Gaetano, who was in the army with me!”

“But he is dead!”

Arranciàtevi! (Do your best) Was, don Cosimo’s anwer.

There was a Neapolitan cadet who seemed born for the stage, he could act and tell jokes with an incredible naturalness. The show was a great success. It was also shown in a theater in Modena, in the presence of bigwigs of the military hierarchy of the time.

At Sassuolo, during my leaves, I saw that, generally, the inhabitants of that countrytown were good and generous, and I had the opportunity to meet and get friendly with a great many of them.


XXXVIII - The pitcher or Sicilian Bùmburu

When we were kids, I could have been 8 years old and my brother Zino only ten, we had a friend, possibly 12 years old, whose name was Salvatore Androico. After school, he used to come to my brother Nuncio’s carpentry shop to learn the craft. But, the truth was, he was only coming to play with us.

In the same shop worked a tall, thin man, who to us, was terribly obnoxious. If I remember correctly, he had a very strange name. Something like Crusifix or Christopher. He had a whitish pitcher in which he kept fresh water, and from which he drank letting the water come through a small hole he had made in the upper part of the container.
This man was very disagreeable to us because he would not let us children play, as we would have liked, with the carpenter's tools and scolded us constantly, sometimes with profanities, telling us to go home to annoy our mothers.

One day, Salvatore, suggests to pee in Mr. Crusifix’s pitcher, and we did it to avenge the mistreatment that he was serving us at every opportunity.

When Crusifix went to drink from that pitcher he began to shout: “These sons of bitches, have put salt in my bùmburu”. I also remember that Salvatore and my brother Zino, as children, were very cruel. They had taken a small mouse from a trap and, after having nailed it to a wooden board, with a boxcutter they were making small cuts to it and were putting alcool in its wounds. I went immediately to tell my mom about it and she scolded them severely.

How many memories come to mind right now of my childhood. Maybe I was three or four years old when I had found out that my mother kept coins in the drawer of her bedside table. I, almost daily, took a nickel, whith which I used to go in the shop of Mrs. Sposato, very close to my house, to buy four beautiful candies that I ate before returning home.

At that time was put into circulation a new silver coin worth five lire - about the same size and color as the nickel. One day, instead of the nickel, I took one of these new coins and went by Mrs. Sposato to buy candy. She immediately asked me if my mother had sent me and I said yes.. She poured a mountain of candy over the counter and put them in a large paper bag. I thought she had gone crazy. But I took the candy and went at the back of my house, eating as many of them as I could and hiding the bag still nearly full of candy in a hole in the wall by placing a stone in front of it.

After that I went home as if nothing had happened. But my mom was there waiting for me with a rod in her hands with which she wanted to beat me up. I went crying to hide behind a chest in my sister Rosa’ room. My aunt who was a nun, was saying to my mother: “Leave him alone, he's just a child!” But my mother said: “He is not a child, he is a thief, and now, when the gypsies come here, I'll give him to them who are also thieves!”

I cried and cried inconsolably. I did not want to go with the gypsies. Since then I never went to open the drawer of my mother’s bedside table.


XXXIX - The lieutenant Santangela

Between my many friends in Sassuolo, I had the good fortune to meet the Casali family. With me there was also my old comrade Nunzio, who had also been a former cadet in the barracks of Maida. We used to go together to many country houses of Sassuolo looking for some work in exchange for food.

When we went to the large farm of Mr. Casali, a big man more than seven feet tall and weighing more than a hundred kilos, he not only made us eat the best he had, but offered us the opportunity of going to live there with him. This was not so much to work, but to be together. He loved to listen to our adventures, and, I think, he considered us, two small Sicilians, as aliens. He laughed at a lot of my jokes and used to ask me in his strong Emilian dialect: “Ti vo danar ? “ (Do you need money?).

I had become quite popular in Sassuolo and had many friends and girls who bought me gifts and things to eat. There was a large number of us former cadets in Sassuolo and one day that lieutenant Santangela who commanded my company in Fornacette, appeared in our group and said: “Guys, the raids by the Germans and the Fascists are beginning to worry me. Maybe it’s time for us to go to the mountains and join the partisans.”

I said: “Okay, as thou has commanded us as military, thou can also command us as partisans.” I noticed, however, that he did not really like the way I had addressed him.

Several weeks later Mussolini’s soldiers really arrived to Sassuolo to rake in all the deserters and also came to the Casali’s farm looking for me. Clearly, somebody who did not like me had given the soldiers my name.

I was not at home then, and, later on, I met Casali’niece who crying tells me that the military had come to look for Salvatore Di Bella and not finding me had taken her uncle. I asked her to lend me her bike and went straight to the police station. The military were there and I introduced myself to a lieutenant called Stanzani telling him: “Lieutenant, I heard that some of your soldiers were looking for me, I am Salvatore Di Bella. What you want from me?”

He looked on a list and said: “Yes, I find here that you are a former cadet.”

I just laughed saying: “No, I was just the barber of the second company. But I have been telling the Sassuolo girls to be a student just to put on airs.” The lieutenant had almost believed me, except that another officer sitting next to him says: “Wait, if he says he was in the second company, we have the lieutenant Santangela who commanded it. He’ll know if he was the barber or a cadet. I’ll call him right away.” Meanwhile, Mr. Casali was released and I was there waiting.

When Santangela came I approached him whispering: “Lieutenant, I was only the barber.” But he went straight to Stanzani and asked: “How can I help you? “ Stanzani said: “I’m sorry to bother you, but there is a certain Di Bella who claims to have been the barber of the second company.”

“No, no” replied Santangela. “He was a cadet and I wonder why he had not joined the army yet.”

The lieutenant Stanzani looked at me and said, “Well, I have to arrest you.”


XL – Imprisoned in Modena

After the arrest in Sassuolo they led us to Modena and imprisoned us in the cells of large military barracks. The cadets raked in Sassuolo and neighboring countries, were about twenty. Twelve or thirteen of them joined the Republic of Salò’s army and were immediately freed and enrolled.

Eight of us, all from the South of Italy, had agreed not to join and agreed to remain prisoners. Lieutenant Stanzani who had arrested us and who seemed to be a good person and not a fanatic fascist, tried to convince me to join the new army of Mussolini because he thought that if I joined, more than likely, the other seven or eight young men would follow.
But I remained firm in my decision to remain a prisoner until the end of the war that, now, seemed to be almost imminent. One day the lieutenant told me that the colonel wanted to talk to me and led me to him.

This officer who was in command of the entire department received me with kindness and asked me the reason for my refusal to enlist. I explained that I was Sicilian and most probably General Badoglio was enlisting my brothers to fight against the Germans and that I did not want to be put in a position to fight against my own brothers.

I explained that personally I wanted a possible victory for Germany, but that did not want to participate even further in this war. The colonel began to get irritated and told me that these were excuses and that I was a coward and a traitor.

I pointed out that I could not be called a traitor if I did not intend to deny my original oath. Without realizing it, I must have accused him of being a traitor. The colonel became livid. His chin began to tremble with rage and said to me: “You know that I’ll shoot you in front of the entire military barracks?“

He called one of his subordinates and told him to prepare a firing squad and to bring me next to a wall in the large courtyard of the barracks. I was terribly confused. I did not think that I would be really shot.

A large number of soldiers were deployed in the yard. In the meanwhile, I was preparing myself to say something if they wanted to proceed with the execution. I was terribly scared but I never saw the firing squad.

After about half an hour they took me back to my cell and I began to laugh without being able to stop. It was a nervous laugh almost painful. And while I laughed I was thinking that maybe I was going crazy.

After a few days they made me wear a uniform of cadet sergeant and took me to Tuscany, near Florence, in a concentration camp of military soldiers that formed a kind of regiment with officers and soldiers, all ex-deserters, who were prepared to be sent to work behind the German armies in Russia, Poland or wherever.


XLI - In 1948 in Turin

One day, while I represented the company OFEI in Veneto, the accountant Contorni asked me to come back to Milan to tell me that he wanted me to go to Turin, where his agent was doing, unbeknown to him, operations quite contrary to the interests of the company.
He wanted to dismiss Mr. Caretti and put me to manage the Turin branch. So he asked me to find someone to replace me in Veneto. In Milan, then there was a dear friend of mine, a graduate in chemistry who was seeking a job, named Nunzio Pozzi. I presented this young man to the accountant who immediately employed him under my responsibility.

In Turin I found all the contacts of Dr. Caretti who was not sorry to break away from Ofei as he already had an office from which he sold ferrous products from other sources. We even became friends.

In Turin I was fortunate to find a large number of villagers including a Mr. Ciraldo who introduced me to a large number of important people in Turin’s industry. I had an office in via Bogino No. 9, a few steps from Piazza Castello, and I lived right on the corner of Piazza Castello and Via Roma. I sold a lot of pickled sheet and other ferrous products to different companies working for FIAT and other car manufacturers out of series known as Pininfarina, as well as rebar for reinforced concrete used by many housebuilders of Piedmont.Through Caretti I bought wreckage of ships that were demolished by a company in La Spezia. As a rule, the material that arrived in Turin from that company, was checked by me before proceeding to Milan, and was of excellent quality.

But after a few transports I stopped checking most of the goods that went straight to Milan and one day I received a phone call from the angry accountant Contorni telling me that he had received a load of rust instead of scrap.
Evidently Caretti, was returning to his old tricks, and had cheated. When I went to complain to his office I was practically thrown out. I was very angry and told one of my employees, named Barone, what had happened. He told me not to worry. He would find a way to fix this scoundrel. In fact, he sent two fake buyers who proposed to him that they wanted to buy a huge amount of iron at a very advantageous price.

For this order, Caretti bought a lot of iron, priced well above market value, thinking that he could have made a strong gain, but was unable to contact those ghost buyers who had given him false addresses. In other words, he found himself in a situation - almost bankrupt - and even sent his wife into my office to ask for my help that I did not grant.

Aside from that, I have wonderful memories of Turin. I lived a couple of years in that beautiful city that has remained in my heart.


XLII – A grand piano of Portland street

In 1959 I lived in Rose Bay, one of the elegant suburbs of Sydney, but in a part of the suburb that was neither central nor possessing any views of the sea. One day my wife told me that she had seen a house for sale at 13 Portand Street, Dover Heights, a suburb that over-looked Rose Bay. During one of the following afternoons we went to see it together with our small daughters, Sandra, who would have been about three and a half years old, and Marilyn who was about two years of age.

This wooden house belonged to an old lady who lived there from time immemorial in the sole company of two dogs. When the owner died, the dogs were also taken away, but in their kennels they had left an indescribable amount of fleas. Our little Marilyn, at a certain point, began to scream and cry. She was literally covered with fleas.

We immediately ran away from the place, but we noticed that the land on which this miserable structure was built had wonderful views of Sydney Harbour and was close to new and expensive luxury homes. I decided to buy it immediately and, after demolishing the existing structure, put my home in Rose Bay up for sale. On our newly purchased land, I began to build an elegant two-storey residence with a small garden with colorful azaleas in the front and a very spacious back yard. We lived in this house happily for many years, until my daughters had already graduated and partly left home.

I remember so many things about this place, but especially the parties that we held downstairs in the huge rumpus room that was dedicated just to entertaining. When my daughter Sandra was thirteen or fourteen years old, she was also studying music and I had bought her a grand piano on which to practice. Well, every morning, while I was still in bed, she used to play the same piece of music: “Für Elise” by Beethoven. My little dog Timmy, a black dachshund endowed with an extraordinary intelligence, used to howl in resonance with the music.

After several weeks of this torture I told my daughter that I wished to give that piano to the nuns at her school and they sent two men to pick it up.

The sisters thanked me very much for my generosity. I thought that should have been up to me to thank them for having delivered me from my daily, early-morning nightmare.


XLIII - In prison at the Casa del Fascio

When I was eighteen and living in Bronte, I engaged in my regular pre-military exercises with some of my peers. These took place, every Saturday afternoon, on the premises of what was then the sports field of Bronte called Colleggetto.

One day, during a pause in the exercises, I, my friend Nunzio Pozzi and another student called Trazzera, laid our muskets on the ground and, sitting alongside them, we started to play with the pebbles. Our commander, a complete idiot and a fascist, accused us of having abandoned our weapons. When we returned to the town he got us locked into a small cell of Bronte’s Casa del Fascio with seven or eight young men who had probably committed some other ‘improper’ act.

After that all the officers led by the Comandante don Attilio, our political secretary, went to the movies. Some boys who remained in the room,started mocking us through the cat flap and one of the youths kicked the door to scare them. The kick broke a small sliver off the old and frail door.

The other boys ran to the cinema saying that the prisoners had broken the door and wanted to escape. The Comandante, came running to the room with all his heroic helpers, took out one of the young men and asked : “Who kicked the door?” When the young man replied that he did not know the Comandante hit him several times with a whip and after having ordered him to go to a corner of the room, called out another young man.

The Comandante asked the same questions, gave him a thrashing and continued to do the same thing with all seven young laborers and artisans who were in the cell with us. Finally he called out my friend Nunzio and asked the same question. Nunzio did not answer and looked at him indignantly. The Comandante, now really enraged. hit him in the face with his whip. At that point, I came out of the cell as angry as a wild cat. My eyes were bulging, I grabbed a chair and, shouting like a madman, said : “Don’t you dare hit me ... you understand? Don’t you dare!”

The Comandante said to his aide : “This one is really a fighter!”, and the other replied, “and they are family!”

Meanwhile, the other young men who were in a corner of the room had all taken a chair in their hands and were ready to attack if necessary. The Comandante ordered everyone to go back to the cell. Then, one at a time, he called out each of those young men, saying that he did not like to beat people, and did so only for their own good. He gave them a cigarette each and sent them home.

Now there were only us three students remaining.He called us out together and began to recite the usual lecture. Nunzio and Trazzera did not open their mouths. I said, “Listen, Don Attilio, I’ve held you in high esteem, but you surround yourself with a bunch of idiots who, blinded by an incomprehensible military zeal, do crazy things. I have not yet understood why the three of us were punished.”

“But you have abbandoned your muskets. In a real army action that would involve shooting”, he said.

“And do you think that sitting on the ground with our muskets beside us means that we have abandoned our arms?” I answered. The Comandante changed the subject, offered us a cigarette and told us to go home. These were the things that were happening during the period of fascism and that was why I was then an anti-fascist.


XLIV - Angora goats of Burraga

While I was building apartments in Sydney and earning a lot of money, I used to pay in taxes some truly indecent amounts. One day, my tax advisor told me to buy a farm property as the charges for improvements made in it could be deducted from taxes. Soon after, he sent me a real estate agent who proposed several rural properties to me, all within three hundred miles from Sydney.
I chose a property of over a thousand acres at an equal distance between Oberon and Blainy and about 200 km from Sydney.

The property belonged to a former merino sheep farmer who had sold his cattle and sheep and had retired. In the property there was a house and a huge shed where there were all the tools for shearing sheep and treating wool. The terrain was hilly, quite similar to that of my country in Sicily, about 800 meters above sea level, and a significant number of acres had been cleared, fenced and planted with grasses for grazing. It contained two dams with natural springs and a stream that ran through almost the entire property. Forests of eucalyptus trees and various hardwoods covered the rest.

I was really in love with this wonderful and private property and I went there often with my friends to hunt rabbits and wild pigeons. I got some local workers to prepare about thirty acres of that land on which I was going to plant chestnut trees but I did not continue with the plantation as the company that had to supply the plants has quadrupled the price of them from what it had originally quoted me. Just as well, because a few years after a fire destroyed everything, including the house. In the property there were herds of kangaroos and every so often my friends killed some, though I was not able to shoot even one of them.

My neighbor had about three thousand sheep and an undetermined herd of cattle, which often grazed on my land. So, one day in agreement with him, I bought a hundred angora goats, and two expensive rams, purebred Angora, with the idea that he would look after my animals to grow in compensation for his free grazing. But this gentleman proved to be neither reliable nor honest.

After a couple of years, I asked him how many goats I now had. His reply was: “Maybe thirty.” “How come”, I said to him.

“Two years ago there were more than a hundred!” “Yes”, he said, “but many have died.”

Indignant, I did not speak anymore with this individual and a few months later I came to Italy to stay. I had given the property, in equal shares, to my two grandsons but they never even went to see the property and several years ago it was sold by my daughters without my knowledge.


XLV - The adorable Timmy

Timmy was a small black dog with a shiny coat. I think I’ve already talked about him. Of the many dogs I’ve had in my life, this has been the one of which I was really fond.

In English they call them sausage dogs because, if you think about it, they have a long and round body like a piece of sausage and four little legs that, though small, allow the dog to move with unimaginable speed. Timmy had an absolutely extraordinary intelligence. Sometimes I did really think that he could read my thoughts, or at least that was the impression he gave me as he could perceive an order given to him, even when given in a very low voice. His bed was on the ground floor of the house, on the garden level and there he spent most of his time. He was also fond of a far corner of the garden where he would cover his poo with the surrounding soil.

When I lived in Portland Street, I usually came home from the office at about five o’clock and after drinking my daily glass of water, made a little longer with a finger of whisky, I’d just whisper to him: “You ready boss?” He used to come like a bolt up the stairs, tail wagging furiously and ready for our afternoon’ stroll. If my wife or someone asked me to do something and I’d lost a bit of our walking time, Timmy used to touch my leg and with a nod of his head, beckoned me to leave.

When he was out he had a bad habit of chasing cars, and one day the predictable disaster happened. A car smashed its right front leg. I immediately took it to the vet who sedated it and after applying two small wooden sticks bandaged the leg.

While I was bringing it back to the house it looked at me with an air that was so sorrowful and contrite. Poor thing. He was terribly unhappy and somehow wanted to tell me. After a few days he began to walk with three legs without forgetting to show everybody his little leg in a cast.

When Timmy’s leg was perfectly healed and the vet had removed the bandages, he began to run merrily as he always did and when, rarely, I wanted to scold him for something, it used to put up his little leg in the same position as when it was in a cast, and he looked at me in such a way that I could not resist picking him up to pet him.

Timmy wasn’t chasing cars anymore, but one sad day, while crossing the street, a car hit him and killed him instantly. Can you cry for the death of a dog? Well I cried and my daughters were inconsolable. I buried him near my house and I did not put a cross there because it was not Catholic, but I put a banner with the inscription: Here lies Timmy, an almost almost human dog.


XLVI - The house of Wallangra Road

After selling my house in Dover Heights, I had gone to live in a new house that I had built in a suburb called SouthCoogee. It was a good place and the house was very nice but I missed the views and the Dover Heights environment. A real estate agent in the area informed me that there was a house for sale on the corner of Dover Road and Wallangra Road that belonged to a university professor who had retired in the countryside, about one hundred miles from Sydney.

I went to see it and it was a good house in an excellent location with great views of Sydney Harbour. I bought it without thinking much about it, but the house, despite being more than reasonable, was not what I wanted, and in its place, rather than a renovation, I thought to demolish it and rebuild the house that I wanted.

In the opposite corner lived a Polish builder who, when he saw the bulldozer that demolished my house, kept on saying to all the neighbors: “Someone said that this new owner is a builder but I think he must be absolutely crazy.”

I designed and built on the site a two-storey house, which was extremely nice. The entrance was from Wallangra road through a small but charming garden that ended with three steps leading into to a marble portico.

The house contained three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a large kitchen with space for breakfast, a sitting room, dining room and a large terrace accessed from the living room and the kitchen. On the lower storey, there was the laundry, a huge rumpus room for parties, a double garage accessed from Dover road and the rumpus room. An adequate swimming pool occupied the rest of the land.

How many memories attached to this house come to my mind. I remember that when the house was completed, we invited all the neighbors, as is the custom in Australia. There was also the Polish builder who, after seeing the new house, came to me and said: “When you were demolishing the old house I was telling everyone that you must have been crazy, but now I realize that the madman was me who spent a lot of money to renovate my house and now, what I still have is an old house”.

While I lived in this house, I also met many Italians who lived in the area. I met Captain Roberto Palumbo, an Alitalia’s aviator, who lived, with his wife Carla and his daughter Robertina, in my own street. I remember the day when Carla was bathing in my pool holding her daughter by the hand, and when she let her go, the baby began to cry and, out of the water, she went hiding behind a large earthenware jar saying: “I will not talk with anyone, anymore.”


XLVII - The confusion

I don’t know what to talk about today. Maybe my mind is in tune with the general confusion that invades almost all television programs dealing with politics. The things you hear from commentators of the right and the left, both journalists, parliamentarians, economic guru or even philosophers, show that they are becoming confused or incomprehensible.

They are absolutely blind of the real Italian, European or global situation. Globalization has brought us to compete with the so-called emerging countries. It is not humanly possible to bring our workers to the same condition in which people are working in countries like India, China, Korea and many others states. Our laws, unions, the myriad of laces that jam our productions and those of many other European countries will never be able to compete with those countries. It makes a nice little saying: Quality and Made in Italy How many are the people who can afford the designer and made in Italy? Now do all the machines and their buttons can be pressed Italians, Germans, Moroccans, Indians, or anyone.

Machines does not make any difference. And with the advance of technology, soon there will definitely be more even need to press buttons. Then how will you support the enormous and ever-growing mass of unemployed not only in Italy but all over the world?

According to the laws of nature the disproportionate growth of men, animals and insects were controlled by war, disease and natural disasters. We rightly reduced most of the wars, we have invented a myriad of drugs to combat disease, we are working to prevent earthquakes and floods, but never think to prevent a disproportionate number of births, especially in less developed countries.

As for Italy you could start by abolishing all health care. This would solve the problem in a few years public debt, would bring doctors to make medical and non civil servants, riabituerebbe Italians to heal in a normal manner and not to worry about so many diseases that are largely imaginary.

In America and many other countries who do not have health care people , live on less concerns for their health and die at the same rate at which people die everywhere. The quality of life depends on the overall well-being not by medicines or by the number of hospitals.

Think, my friends, think again.


XLVIII - Exams of Private Law

Back home after the war, I could not wait to return to Milan, but my father told me in a rather peremptory manner: “If you don’t graduate first you don’t go anywhere!”

When my father spoke in this way, there was no way to contradict him, so I decided to graduate in the shortest possible time. Ther were almost six months before the exams of eighteen subjects for my degree and I began to study seriously and continuously throughout the summer of 1946.

I studied mainly on summaries of the eighteen subjects of which I had to take exams, all in one session and I was promoted in all of them, of course, getting the minimum grade of eighteen in a lot of subjects, but I got also one thirty, one twenty-seven, twenty-four, four twenty-three, and three twenty-one. The most difficult exam reguarded the Institutions of Private Law. I was told that the professor, who handled that, at the University of Catania, was ruthless. The size of the textbook was frightening and I had only read the preface to this volume and studied the rest on a minimum compendium of it. A friend of mine, majoring in law, who had to take the same exam asks me to go over the material together and makes me some questions for me absolutely incomprehensible. He had studied in this huge book for about two years and to me he seemed really prepared.

In the preface, I had noticed that there were two schools of thought on this subject. One was the Roman school and the other one name I can not remember.

They called me to the examinations and the professor asked me if I had studied the subject well. I told him that I had done my best:

 “But - I added - I would like to know if you follow the Roman school or the other.”

The professor, rather surprised, tells me: “Why do you ask that?”

“Because I would agree more with the Roman school but I am not entirely sure ...”

The professor then begins a long disquisition on the theories of the Roman scnool that he also was following and I would just nod in from time to time and to give the impression that I understood perfectly what he exposing. So this thing went on for about a quarter of an hour, and then he asked me something about real estate to which I replied in a somewhat confused way. He said: “I was expecting a more precise answer, however, I can see that you understood something” and gives me a twenty-four.

My friend who was waiting on the corridor could not believe it and thought that the professor had gone mad, and that, if he had given me twenty-four he certainly would get a thirty and an academic kiss.

I decided to wait for the results of his examinations and after about half an hour you could hear the professor who was shouting: “I do not know how long you have struggled hard on this book, but you did not understand a thing.” He gave him an eighteen.

My poor friend came out in the hallway with his ears redder than the Pachino’s tomatoes.


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