IL PADRE DI DELIA
English version Italian version
THE GREEN DRESS
Another summer and another holiday of Canneto were getting closer. It was the biggest holiday celebrated in the village and perhaps the biggest in the valley even. In those days, we girls wanted to be noticed in our new dresses and we did not want to wear our tired old dresses from last year because we were now “grown up.” I was lucky: my aunts in the U.S. had sent me fabrics from America for me make new dresses with.
That year they sent me a piece of green fabric with little white stripes. It was not a uniform green, but, to try to describe it, it had different shades. There was a green stripe, then a lighter green stripe and then another one even lighter. Taken all together the mix of colors looked perfect!
As soon as she saw it, the seamstress immediately told me what style of dress would be good with that fabric. The seamstress in the village was very good; today, they would have called her a stylist. She sewed the dress with open pleats; dark green on one side and lighter green on the other side. The collar had lapels, as was the fashion in those days, and it had short sleeves.
I wore it the first time on the day of the Procession. When I walked the pleats would open and reveal the darker color underneath the lighter green. It must have particularly attractive looking because my friends still talk about that famous “dress green as the grass”. The seamstress had gotten every detail right. The waist was narrow and the skirt was wide, but not too wide; and the collar lapels were a feature that particularly highlighted the slim silhouette. When I walked along in the dress, I felt like a movie star, or a fashion model, or I don’t know what. It was a Sunday afternoon, the living, the dead and world peace had been prayed for; and I was sitting with my friends when I saw my two sisters Iole and Maria arrive. They were getting closer to me walking hand in hand. When they came looking for me, it was always a bad sign. I became rigid when I saw them. When they got close enough to talk, they told me that I had to go home immediately because my dad was looking for me. They could have not given me any worse news. I blushed with embarrassment and the fear of my father’s wrath paralyzed me. 11 america en .htm
When my father looked for me and I wasn’t home, he would get angry and this did not promise anything good. I left my friends and with big long strides I made my way back home. The closer I got the more my apprehension increased. I tried to imagine why he was looking for me. Many thoughts came to mind, but nothing seemed so sufficiently serious to justify my recall immediate home. With my heart in my throat and unsure steps I entered the house. I did not find that it was my father, but my mother that was waiting for me. Mom seemed calm. She said with a serious voice to take off my dress and never wear it again. I opened my eyes surprised by that request and without understanding I asked her why. She put on a dark expression and said that my father did not like that dress and forbade me to wear it. I looked at her very surprised again, I looked around, a looked at the dress and it seemed that nothing had changed since the last time I had worn it. I went upstairs to change it; I was so confused and discouraged that I was ready to cry.
I was convinced that my father hated me and my mother was his accomplice.
Time passed, the relationship with my father had become tense and difficult. It seemed that I never did anything right and every time I did something I was afraid that I would irritate him. I was confused and felt alienated. Every time I went out with my friends on Sunday, he knew exactly where I was and who I had talked to and this made me nervous.
(After 50 years, my sister Iole told me how my father always knew where I was when I went out. My sister says that when I was out, he would take her by her hand and say “Let’s see where Delia is”. They would go up to the terrace and with a pair of binoculars he searched all around until they found where I was.)
Delia Socci Skidmore