A place for Quattrones, Betteridges, and Praticos to share our family stories, history, and heritage.
Initially posted on Facebook back in October, I am sharing a photograph that hangs in my house, my mom’s house, and in Fred and Mary’s house. This group of men and women were the Society of Fata Morgana. Like many Italians settling in the United States, our ancestors embraced any semblance of the village life that they had left behind.
Societies like the Fata Morgana were a part of their process of building a new community of people who would be willing to help one another find a place to live, a job, and friendships.
Sidebar: Fata Morgana is a nod to the optical illusion created in the Strait of Messina when the Ionian Sea meshes with the Tyrrhenian Sea. The differences in temperature can make it look like a castle or strange things are floating in the distance. After the massive earthquake and tsunami of 1908, some southern Italians blamed the Fata Morgana and it took on the narrative mythology of a fey spirit.
I remember Aunt Connie telling me that Beppa sometimes wagged her finger and clucked her tongue at butterflies because she thought they were mischievous fairies. And I remember someone in the family telling me that some women in the family would never go into the ocean at the beach because they did not trust it…or the Fata Morgana.
The Fata Morgana Society was a club of Southern Italians. They even made their identification cards with photographs. Fred and Mary have a copy of one.
A close-up of the large photo shows us Gregorio Pratico with young Greg on his knee. I initially thought it was Carmen Pratico (I mean, those chubby cheeks, come on) but Greg has seen the photograph and told my mom that it is him on his father’s knee.
When our ancestors came over from “the other side” Italy was only a newly united country (1861). The North and the South clung to their regional differences and identities.
When I grew up, my friends used to cling to our neighborhoods as identification. The kids I knew identified ourselves by the street corners we hung out on: 13th and Jackson, 2nd and Jackson, 12th and Wolf, et al. I wonder if that is a hangover from the immigrants clinging to not only their regions but also the town from which one emigrated. I clearly remember family members making the clear distinction that we were not just from Calabria, but Reggio Calabria…and not just Reggio Calabria, but Pellaro.
Scanning the faces, we think Ferdinando Quattrone is in the photograph alongside of another Quattrone. Could that be a young Carmen or Dan Quattrone also in the photo? Can anyone in the family confirm the identity?
Finally, what I love about the larger photograph is that chronicles the young and the old–the extended family–and the challenges to come as second-generation children would grow up trying to make sense of and accommodate two worlds: a household filled with Old World values and beliefs, and the other found outside the doors of the home, among the Americans.
Can anyone from the family comment on that thought? Did anyone ever see or feel the two worlds coming together? clash? blend?