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THE BANDITORE F

Among the ancient professions, one of the most picturesque ones was the banditore (announcer). This typical character would go around the streets of the village, or would stop at specific places where people would gather and, loudly enunciating his words, informed everyone about the latest laws and news released by the government. If vendors were coming or if people from the village or from other villages were holding a rally, the banditore was the one who informed the people. No one had a phone and the cellphone had not been invented yet.

The fastest and most efficient means of disseminating information was the banditore.

Our banditore was called F; it was a nickname which he had had forever and no one could remember his real name. F was an spry little man; I always remember him dressed in black, a little bent over the under the weight of his age.

He lived alone in a big old house, with a courtyard and a garden.

You could see that it had been a beautiful house back in the day, but now it was in ruins.

F lived there like a king.

When F had to make announcement, he would wear the official cap of the banditore. It was a black cap with a brim and with a design embroidered on it in gold thread. It was an old worn out cap; it no longer kept its form and the lining was in tatters. But he would wear it as if it was the cap of a great leader. In the winter, he would wear be wrapped in a big scarf. When he wrapped it around himself and put on his cap, all you could see of his face were his two bright eyes.

As soon as a vendor came to the village, F would arrive in the square, followed by a crowd of kids. He would inspect the products and if everything was to his satisfaction, he would take to the streets to praise those products and proclaim them high quality items. "Attention! Attention! he shouted. He had a little trumpet attached to him by a golden woven cord. He played it loudly and stood tall, as if he was leading a march of trumpeters.

As soon as they heard his trumpet, the housewives heads would pop out the windows of their houses or even stop what they were doing walk closer to pay more attention. Then they would rush over, with their apron pulled up and with its corners tied to their belt to create a sort of makeshift shopping bag to place the purchases of the goods that F had praised. After his job was done, he would return home to take care of his daily affairs.

One day some mean boys stole his trumpet. He locked himself in his house and refused to make announcements until his trumpet was recovered and returned. Then one day even old F went to heaven where the angels welcomed him with new and shiny trumpets, playing heavenly melodies. He laughed and raised his hand with his trumpet in a triumphal salute. It was only during the funeral that I learned that his name was Vincenzo. The villagers came in large numbers to join the procession to accompany Vincent on to his eternal rest.

Rest in peace Banditore F.

Delia Socci Skidmore