Let us journey together a little while,
We will travel back to another time,
Perhaps a simpler place.
To an old-world homeland whispering,
Far across the north Atlantic Ocean
And the warm Mediterranean Sea.
Take a sunlit horse and buggy ride overland from the Bay of Naples,
Always keep your eye on Mr. Vesuvius in the distance,
And look for fields and fields of poppies blooming in the spring.
When we arrive at the railroad junction in Caserta,
And cross over the tracks to the Via Santa Croce
We will know in our hearts
That together in Santa Nicola,
We have finally returned home.
Circle closed back to the beginning.
Sometimes Mt. Vesuvius rumbled and the ground shook. Everyone was afraid. But life wasn't always the terror of Vesuvius. I remember walking through fields of poppies. Of course I should have been in school at the time, but I was young and needed to see the poppies. I reveled in their beauty and enjoyed their surroundings. I saw them after lunch instead of returning to school. There was also the lovely warm weather, and all the other flowers and the sun, "O Sole Mio!" This was my season in the sun; I felt no guilt at all in missing school.
I was sent to a convent school that was located right next to the church. Mamma saw the school across the street from her store and felt confident with me so close by.
When I was in the first grade, my teacher, the nun, had the lesson for the day on the blackboard. She drilled me on numbers one through ten. She pointed to the blackboard with her ruler and if I answered wrong, she hit my hands with the ruler.
I was only four years old and no one had ever hit me. I was so insulted!
So my afternoon excursions to the poppy fields and my love of nature were my solace and protection. I felt safe and not threatened there and closer to God.
Due to Mamma's involvement in her work in the grocery store, I spent a lot of time alone. I was left with many different relatives on extended visits and it exposed me to many experiences and people from many different walks of life. It also taught me to accept all kinds of people and to make friends of all except nuns!
I never returned to convent school after I told Mamma the nun had hit me. I started attending public school in Santa Nicola.
But I never stopped escaping every spring to see my fields of poppies when they were in bloom...