Stories of August: Americans in Technicolor

ANDit was 1977, I had not yet turned seven and I was in Tirreniathe least glamorous place on the homonymous coast, where my grandfather, at the time, was in debt with a loan of about ten thousand lire a month, to buy a small house by the sea.

Porn & freedom.  The documentary film on the sexual revolution in the 70s

Had he been a bit more forward-looking, he would have taken it a little further up (like Forte dei Marmi), and today it would be worth 9,000 euros per square metre, but that’s another story. And although Tirrenia has remained the only seaside resort that has never been valued over the years, and that today it looks like the set of a Fellini film, if you ask me, I will always say that it’s my “strawberry place”. The place where I was happy.

Going back to that year, I had recently lost my two front teeth: one in ice cream and the other in a sandwich with Nutella, avoiding the cruel methods in vogue at the time which involved bricks tied to the tooth with a wire and thrown from the window, or at the handle of the door, opened by surprise. Methods that today would be grounds for reporting to social services.

The vacation period that awaited me was four months, which today may seem like a lot, but I guarantee the days were never long enough to do everything from sand castles, to learning how to go in bicycle without wheels, eat kilos of stone-crushed pine nutsbreaking my knees falling off the aforementioned bike and playing wolf and sheep, witch commands color and the four cantons with the children of the building, until an ordinary mother shouted from the window “It’s ready!” and we disappeared into our homes.

Tirrenia was, and is today known above all for the Camp Darby, the American military base that adults often referred to as: “There’s a rocket Swiss cheese down there”but which for me was only that large enclosed garden on Via Pisorno (35 hectares!) where I sometimes saw the fallow deer running.

Those technicolor American neighbors

1970: flying over the world. Foreign tourists arrive and Italians too begin to leave for holidays abroad. (AP Photo)

At the time, military families lived in the large villas around us, in the streets named after plants: lindens, oleanders, willows and what they had and did (the parties, the sports, the biceps, the cars, the trophies), it was all oversized. Even the foods were an absolute novelty for us: peanut butter, ketchup and marshmallows scored a touchdown against our cotton candy and the only cup we could boast was that of “grandfather”.

The famous adage “Americans are twenty years ahead of us” was true, compared to our simple and routine lives theirs were in Technicolor, ours in black and white. Needless to say, from my balcony I observed that movement with the same curiosity as my cat when he looks at pigeons. I was obsessed with it, I had to get adopted.

But as a very shy child that I was, it would not have been easy for me to succeed, until I met a boy with red hair and freckles, identical to little Ron Howard in A girlfriend for dadalso lacking front teeth. Of course I didn’t speak English and he didn’t speak Italian, but we undoubtedly had a common point that would have allowed me to be introduced to the family. Hers.

One day he came to me at an unusual time to tell me, with gestures, that he was leaving, and instead of taking me with him to the magical States, he handed me a green plastic flute as a gift and ran away. For weeks I played a heartbreaking dirge to express the pain of parting, until my mother, exasperated, he didn’t make it disappear along with my future as a cheerleader. So I went back to my daily routine of ice cream and armrests until the fall.

The following year we never saw them again, the government preferred to host them directly at the base, probably because parties and barbecues had cost too much. Gruyère, on the other hand, is said to be always there.

The author

Federica Bosco, writer and screenwriter, author of a million copies. Among her latest successes published by Garzanti: Our imperfect moment And Let’s keep in touch. His next novel, We wanted to take the sky (Garzanti), will be released on September 19th.