Monday, December 29, 2008

Carla Capucci

I met Carla Capucci seven years ago, when Andrea's mother, Dina, came from Italy to visit us in New Jersey and we took her to see this friend whom she had not seen in 35 years, since Carla moved from Lugo to New York City. Carla is retired now and has been battling a series of serious health problems over the past years, but getting to know this spirited, generous, crankerous woman has been a real pleasure for me and I smile as I write about her.

This is Carla's story: When Carla was 11, it was Liberation Day, April 25, 1945, here in Italy and the American soldiers were marching through Lugo (which is very close to the Gothic Line, the last major line of defense held by the Germans in the Apennine Mountains at the end of WWII). Carla lived on via Mazzini and as the the soldiers marched down this main street of Lugo, her young, earnest face caught the eye of a young soldier and he approached her with a smile and a number of food items: coffee, tea, flour, bread, chocolates, etc., putting it all into her arms. Carla, shocked, turned and went into her house to deposit these items to her mother who suspiciously questioned her on how and why she received them. Carla, still in awe, explained the non-verbal exchange with the soldier and then exclaimed to her mother how she though America was the most wonderful country and one day she was going to move there.

Carla was in her 30s when, shortly after both her parents had passed away, she bought herself a ticket to New York City and once there, found a job as an accountant and eventually worked for many notable companies and personalities. After our visit to her with Andrea's mother, Carla regularly invited us to Manhattan, taking Andrea and I to the Broadway show of Phantom of the Opera, getting us backstage to meet the cast and then after the show, to an apartment of one of the actors where the leading actress joined in for tea and cookies. When my mother and Lee came to visit, she took us to a Turkish restaurant where she knew the owner and we were treated especially well. My niece Sophia and I caught up with Carla at a designers shop she was working in that day, and so on - it was obvious Carla knew a lot of people and they all loved her snappy (and snappish) personality.

Carla never married, never had a family of her own during her long life in America, but in the short time I have known her I feel as though I have found a kindred spirit (but perhaps this is wishful thinking on my part). This courageous woman serves as an Aunt who doesn't hesitate to tell me to how lucky I am in many ways, who reminds me that the glass is always half full, who always makes me feel she is thinking of me and consoles me when I suffer from the cultural differences while living here in Italy. I know I can call her anytime. Though Carla frequently contemplates returning to Italy to spend her final years, economics has not made this probability and so I look forward to seeing her this summer in New York.

Here are some of Carla's writings that she recently sent.


For America, this limitless notion in which
in spite of human contradictions, everything smells
of "Promised Land", three things seem
to be sacred: Jobs, Family, and Business!

In America, this unequaled Country where,
on every street, Man is flanked by Good and Evil,
thus finding or losing himself it's his constant
choice, three things seem to be inviolable: Privacy, Freedom, and Law!

America, this young world rich
of superfluousness and solitude,
that still confuses arrogance with
freedom, lacks three things: Humbleness, Tolerance, and Wisdom!


From a far gone past
memories are calling me back.

Their muddled stillness
would poison my freedom.

I must ignore them,
and keep on walking
toward every new morning.

Perhaps, one winter evening,
from the cozy warmths
of a fireplace, my mind
will pay a visit to the ones
that did not fade away.

New York City

In the dark, millions of windows are
sparkling, and they are burning,
by day, playing with the sun.

A rigidy, quiet troop of gigantic rectangles
and cubes in concrete is standing
by the side of intertwinable roads.

The stylish, even if geometrical transparency
of the U.N. Palace is telling
Le Corbusier's secret dream: a rough but limpid world!

Then, after the magical forest of buildings;
the subway's dim and grime;
the Bohemien memories of Greenwich Village;
the party-colored crowd;
the omnipresence of gangs, drugs, and violence;
the harmonious elegance of the most high Empire State Building;
the homeless' human degradation;
the vibrant luminousity of Times Square;
there is the resting, greeen immensity of Central Park.

It's hell and heaven on Earth: it's New York City.

My Creed

If our small private worlds
would abolish their frontiers;

If our hands would stretch out,
the palms open, clean to feel
the warmth of others' hands;

If our eyes would gaze
into others without boredom,
then Babel's world would vanish
into the sun and the strengths
of Unity would smooth even
the thorns of sorrow.

The Family of Man

I wake up every morning
happy for I belong
to the Family of Man,
sad because I belong
to the Family of Man:
this indestructible
yet vulnerable race;
yet coward;
the sweetest
yet cruel;
rich of dreams
yet full of nothingness;
lover of Justice
yet unjust;
constantly searching for Truth
yet enslaved by hypocrisy
and, looking at my daily life,
I fall asleep, every night,
happy and sad together.

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