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My Brother Joe - Part I

My brother Joe was more American than me. The paradox was that Joe was perceived as an American and lived in Cassano d'Adda, Lombardia, and I was perceived as an Italian and lived in Watertown, Massachusetts.


In a black and white photo dating back to 1955, when we wore white aprons in kindergarten, I gently put my left arm on his shoulder as a protective gesture.


Joe was swashbuckling. One evening during Carnevale, at the tender age of seven, he went around the village with a group of older boys. Between a drop of wine here and a half glass of wine there, accompanied by bread and cheese, Joe returned home more drunk than tipsy and a sly look his face. My mother laughed and put him to bed dressed as he was.


At the Scuola Media Superiore Luigi Pirandello di Messina, Joe had no luck. For one reason or another, the teachers didn't like him, and no matter how hard he tried, they always failed him.


Everyone knew that middle school teachers treated city kids differently from those living in the small villages surrounding the city's hills. In their opinion, they were of peasant origins, unable to work with their minds and capable only of working with a hoe.


When I learned that he was bocciato and failed school after repeating the same year, I knew that it wasn't his fault, but I couldn't do anything to help him.


A year later, Joe attended a different middle school closer to home, but we moved to the United States of America before finishing the school year. It could have been a stroke of luck. But, unfortunately, that wasn't the case. Bad luck continued to keep Joe company.




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