July 4th – Grandpa and the Fireworks

That was the year everything changed, 1938. The whispers of war circulated, but no one seemed to know the facts. It was a time of wondering and waiting. One of the precautions taken by the United Sates Government was to seek out and remove people who were resident aliens, even those who were citizens. who might pose a danger.

Grandpa and his brother Raffaele who had had a bit of renown in Italy for their pyrotechnic displays for the King and Queen, were not permitted to run the fireworks displays. They were hazardous – even in the hands of professionals from a family of three generations in the business.

In addition, people in the neighborhood who had the luxury of a ham radio had to turn it in, so that they could not communicate with family back home in Italy. Much of their homeland was devastated by the War and there was no communication.

We now know that clusters of naturalized citizens, of Japanese, Italian, and other ethic backgrounds were even interned in dismal camps where many fell ill and some died.

On the other hand, neighborhoods put together their own safety crews, with wardens to let people know of any danger, to be sure drapes were darkened, that all were following the curfew. Neighbors elected Grandpa to be in charge becase they trusted him so much. I suppose that Grandpa thought that their situation was better here in the U.S. than in the unknown status of the old country where madmen were in charge.

When July 4th is celebrated here, a fireworks display is often the centerpiece. But it is bittersweet, knowing that even this beautiful light display has been taken away for a greater cause.

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