My earliest memory, at least the earliest that my mother can set a date on, was sixty years ago now, in 1962, in the summer. My grandparents and my aunt and uncle had two houses, right next to each other, with a narrow driveway in between, and vegetable gardens that my grandfather had terraced up the hill in back, just as his own parents and everybody else in his hometown, Tiriolo, Italy, had done, down the side of the mountain where their town was perched. I remember many a time going up to my grandfather’s garden to pick a couple of tomatoes for my mother, or in the morning to fetch a few fresh eggs from the chicken coop, but I can’t tell exactly when it was.
On this day, though, everybody was bustling about, grandma, grandpa, my mother and father, my aunts and uncles, with a lot of cousins here and there, and all kinds of furniture and whatnot going from one house to the other. They were, in fact, trading houses, with grandma and grandpa going into the smaller of the two…
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