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I Remember Nonna

Mentre attraversavo il villaggio di mia nonna oggi, ho ricordato questo poema. ūüėĘ


Un’altra poema scritta in Val di Non, Italia dal mio libro Prescriptions from the Rhyme Doctor:


I Remember Nonna
© 2001 Allen E. Rizzi

I remember the face,
Old, very old;
Graced by God
In a life that was not.

I remember the voice,
Not quite sure;
In a new country’s tongue.

I remember the church,
The center
Of all life
With cold brick and warm love.

I remember the day,
Nonna died;
The first time
I saw my father crying.

I remember nonna,
Through the haze of time.

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Everyday Is Payday

My father’s quote came up again today. Remember, with a smile every day is payday!


A long time ago, I heard the words but being young, perhaps I did not understand them. I hear them still but now I am able to smile.

Sixty¬†years ago, the man at the Safeway market was standing in line to checkout his groceries. When his items were tallied, he presented the cashier with a personal check as he had done for many years. The cashier looked blankly at the piece of paper and rudely tossed it back at the man. ‚ÄúThis is no good!‚ÄĚ The man was puzzled and shyly asked, ‚ÄúWhy not?‚ÄĚ The young man behind the counter was well prepared to do verbal battle and said in the snidest of voices, ‚ÄúBecause you wrote a check here once, and you did not have sufficient funds in the bank!‚ÄĚ The man sat his groceries down and tried to explain that yes, on one occasion he did not have‚Ķ

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Too Many Choices

I remember when Taco Bell first opened in my home town of San Fernando, California. For a poor boy who was working for $1.25 per hour, it was a Godsend. I often stopped in after work for an affordable quick late night meal.

Back then the menu consisted of four items: Taco, Red Burrito, Green Burrito and Tostada. The price for each was a mere 15 cents. Two years later they raised the price to 19 cents and finally to a quarter. The choices however always remained the same.

This year I visited a Taco Bell after an absence of many decades. An impatient employee kept prompting me for my order as I stared vacuously at what had become an enormous menu. Finally I stepped out of line and told the young woman that I would need more time to understand the menu. With a look of “whatever,” she turned to the person behind me and took his order without hesitation: A taco salad and a bunch of things no Mexican has ever heard of.

I stared at the hovering menu above me for quite awhile. Where were those four vintage items that I used to love? Were they hidden there somewhere in the sea of non-Mexican entrees? I’m not the slowest guy on the block but still I squinted and tried to comprehend the enormity before me.

Finally, I re-positioned myself in a long line, determined to succeed in the simple task of ordering fast food. When at last it was my turn, I blurted, “Do you still have a cheap taco and burrito?” A new millennial sighed in unblinded disgust and motioned to the Value Menu. I started my order with two tacos but was immediately interrupted: “Soft or crisp?” Not knowing the difference for sure, I replied, “One of each.” I thought that would settle the question nicely. I threw in a bean burrito and thought I had made it over all the hurdles. Then came the selection of a soft drink. It used to be Coke or Mountain Dew. Now it was a selection of seven different drinks in four different sizes. Finally I said, “I just want a small Coke.” The whipper snapper gave me a pathetic look, nodded and then asked, “Senior drink?” Sure, whatever; I just wanted to move things along.

Next as I paid I inquired about some hot sauce. They used to come in two flavors marked green and red. She motioned silently to a table with napkins. I thought I saw some packets of hot sauce there. Upon closer inspection I winced. Whoa Nellie! There were now five or more varieties with names like Fire. What was this geezer to do? I snatched up a fist full of every variety and headed to a vacant table to consummate the feast.

As I polished off the last of the offering, a soggy bean burrito that resembled a leaky diaper, I reflected on a simple fact of modern life: There are too many damn choices!

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Internet In The Alps

Well, we still have that lovely mobile hot spot and the same experience – READ ON!


Ah, the simple things we take for granted in the United States. Almost everyone has tons of internet access at speeds that range anywhere from 6MPS to over a 100MPS. It‚Äôs what we call ‚Äúnormal.‚ÄĚ We may be a bit spoiled though.

To be sure, internet speeds can be comparable in Italy, if you live in the city. We, on the other hand, have been treated to the underbelly of the internet where we live in the Italian Alps. The reason? We live in a super rural section of the mountainous South Tirol where an internet connection of any kind is a luxury and an extremely poor connection is the norm.

When we first moved to Italy, all that we had available was a dial-up connection through our rural phone line. The top download rate was 14KPS ‚Äď YES KPS! We once downloaded a Windows update that took several days‚Ķ

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Apartment For Sale In The Italian Alps

Hello to all of you readers out there! I am re-posting this for sale announcement again because we are in Italy once more and anxious to sell our place here. Here is the original post:

If you have an interest, please get in touch directly through commenting on this site. Leave a contact and I will get back to you immediately. I am looking forward to speaking to serious buyers.

Becoming Mr. Bruce

As the quiet set in here in the Italian Alps this evening, I thought of this old post from nearly five years ago – Enjoy!


When I was a child of ten living in Southern California during the late 1950s, I was very typical for the times. Together with my friends, I would maraud our little middle class neighborhood looking for simple things to do, from catching butterflies to skateboarding. Most of our neighbors forgave our minor trespasses of property and calm because we were all living in the land of Ozzie and Harriet. We did no real damage as we were just kids being kids.

Sometime in 1959, a new neighbor moved in two doors up from our house. His name was Mr. Bruce and he was immediately completely intolerant of me and all children on our block. He would scrub and then hose off the sidewalk in front of his house daily and yell at us if we dared transverse the section of the public right of way in front of his property…

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The Trip Over

Looking out my window in Italy today, I thought of this post. Things were certainly different then!


Few of us are old enough to remember. Still fewer of us can even imagine.

Coming to America in the 19th century was a far stretch from coming to America today. First, there were no jet planes to whisk you from one continent to another in 10 hours. The crossing was by ship and it usually took 8 to 10 days of often super uncomfortable travel. My grandparents made this long trip several times.

Many, many Italians and Tiroleans traveled to America on the SS La Bretagne. The ship sailed from between 1886 and 1923 and carried thousands to a waiting Ellis Island on the Le Havre‚ÄďNew York route, initially with the Compagnie G√©n√©rale Transatlantique (CGT) shipping company. My grandparents, Eugenio Rizzi and his wife Anna Flor made several trips to the U.S. on this vessel.

La Bretagne was launched 9 September 1885 by CGT in Saint-Nazaire. Built for France…

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Rosie – Certainly An Original

If you’re my age or any age for that matter, you probably have heard the song “Angel Baby.” If you have never heard this song, you need to get to a doctor quickly – you may be missing a frontal lobe or two!

Although “Angel Baby” was a 1961 one-hit wonder, its author and singer was an enduring personality for decades. Rosie was the front-woman of the group Rosie and the Originals. The song became a Top 40 hit when Hamlin was only 15 years old. Hamlin’s “Angel Baby” was later covered by several artists, including Linda Ronstadt¬†and¬†John Lennon, who cited Hamlin as one of his favorite singers. She was the first¬†Latina¬†to be honored by the¬†Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as well as the first Latina to appear on¬†Dick Clark’s¬†American Bandstand¬†in 1961.

At age fifteen, Hamlin and some friends rented the only recording studio they could find within 100 miles of San Diego located in San Marcos, California, to record the song. The studio was owned by an airplane mechanic who had taken part of his hangar to make it. A little aside here: Many musicians, including me, contend that you can hear a car outside this hanger at approximately 1:35 into the song.

After taking the¬†master¬†to a¬†Kresge’s¬†department store in downtown San Diego, they convinced the manager to play it in the listening booth of the store’s music department.¬†The song received rave reactions from teenage listeners, and a scout from Highland Records offered the group a recording contract, under the condition that the company take possession of the master recording, and that David Ponce be named as the author of the song, as he was the eldest member of the group. Hamlin along with her band performed six shows with Jackie Wilson at the Brooklyn Paramount Theater in New York City in late 1960.

Rosalie “Rosie” Hamlin was born in Klamath Falls, Oregon, on July 21, 1945, to Ofelia Juana M√©ndez and Harry Hamlin. She got her Latina good looks from her mother. She spent part of her childhood between Anchorage, Alaska and California, before her family moved to National City, California. Her father and grandfather were both musicians who had backgrounds in vaudeville, so she grew up in a music oriented household. During her childhood, Hamlin was trained to play¬†piano.

Hamlin began singing with a band at thirteen. She wrote the¬†lyrics for “Angel Baby” as a poem for her first boyfriend when she was 14 years old,¬† while attending Mission Bay High School¬†in¬†San Diego,¬†California.

“Angel Baby”, which featured Hamlin’s noted soprano vocals, made its¬†radio¬†debut in November 1960, before the group had even received their contract; the track was also played on K-Day Radio by the to be famous disc jockey Alan Freed.¬†When the group formally established a contract, Hamlin found that she was ineligible to collect record¬†royalties¬†from the song because she was not listed as the¬†songwriter. This led to the group’s break-up, and although Hamlin secured the¬†copyright¬†to her music in 1961, decades of battles over royalties followed. “Angel Baby” charted at number 5 on the¬†Billboard Singles Chart.¬†On March 30, 1961, Hamlin appeared with Rosie and the Originals on¬†Dick Clark’s¬†American Bandstand, performing “Lonely Blue Nights”, making her the first Latina to appear on the show.

Rosie Hamlin  formally retired from the music industry in 1963 after starting a family with her husband and guitarist, Noah Tafolla. The couple had two children. Joey , and Deborah. Hamlin performed several revival concerts until 2002, before retiring from live performances due to advanced fibromyalgia.

Hamlin died in her sleep of undisclosed causes on March 30, 2017 at her home in New Mexico. 

For so many of us who grew up in the 1960s as teenagers, Rosie Hamlin was just the sweetest, smoking hot little girl that had ever come onto the music scene. As a teen I learned to sing this song in full falsetto and I still sing it occasionally with both a pain in my heart and a tear in my eye. We all miss you Rosie! You certainly were an original.

Here’s the original recording of “Angel Baby:”


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The Milkman Cometh No More

A milkman was a person who delivered milk directly to customers’ houses, usually in bottles. He also delivered butter, eggs and other dairy products. These people largely disappeared from the American landscape by the early 1960’s. They are an important part of our past yet today most young people are not acquainted with the simple concept of the milkman.

Years ago, people needed fresh dairy products delivered daily to their homes owing to the lack of sophisticated refrigeration systems that are so abundant today. Many from the turn of the century through the 1950’s had no refrigerator or at best poor models in which dairy products would often spoil. Hence, there was a great need for home delivery of dairy products. Even as post-war euphoria swept the nation in the 1950’s with the advent of supermarkets, many people preferred to get their milk delivered at home. My parents were in that group.

I remember very well as a small child recovering the milk from our front porch. It always seemed to have arrived before I was out of bed. Each bottle had its own little cardboard cap inserted into the top of the bottle indicating whether it was milk or buttermilk. There was no low-fat and non-fat milk available back then. In fact, the cream always rose to the top of the bottle, unlike today’s hormonal concoctions.¬† All of the bottles were in a wire frame holder that usually held six quart bottles. It was pure enjoyment in an era that had not yet heard of cholesterol. My job as a child at home was to take the empty bottles and place them on the front porch with a rotating tab gadget inserted in one of the bottle necks to tell the milkman what we wanted delivered next. This gadget consisted of colored tabs that said things like “one quart”, “two quarts,” “butter milk”, “One Dozen Eggs,” etc. It was a simple but highly effective method of ordering your milk and dairy products. The empties went out and the refills came in without so much as a word.

We seemed to have had loads of empty bottles to put out for the milkman. I guess we drank a lot of milk back then. I do remember friends coming over to my house and guzzling a quart or two, much to my mother’s chagrin. Even back in the 1950’s, milk wasn’t cheap enough to waste and we were constantly told not to waste because “children were starving in Europe.” That was the mentality then and so most of us went forward in life never wasting a drop of milk, or any other food product for that matter.

Milk in a glass bottle was just plain better than today’s stuff that comes in a cardboard or plastic carton. The feel of that ice-cold quart in your hand seemed to give you power. Today, it takes an origami specialist or piping engineer just to open a half-gallon of milk and the taste is flat at best. True, you can travel to a local dairy in some parts of our country but you’re still apt to get the paper carton or plastic container.

In the same past era there was also the Helms Bakery truck that would drive slowly up and down neighborhood street tweeting a high-pitched whistle to let you know he had arrived, usually parking in front of a neighbor who displayed the “H” in their window. The trucks had wooden slide-out shelves filled with bread, donuts and other baked goodies. These have faded into the sunset of Americana as well. These things are important to our history as a people but now they are largely forgotten by all but a few of us old geezers.

But hark! Ironically, the milkman in its modern form is beginning to make a small come back to certain parts of America. If you’d like a bit of nostalgia or just a glass of fresh milk, you may want to check online to see if such a service exists near you. But for the rest of us, the milkman cometh no more.

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