Thursday, July 15, 2010

You Never know Who is Watching!

ITALY Magazine: Blog of the Week - When I was your age

Published: Jul 13th, 2010

Location: Basilicata
Topic: Blog of the week

Words by Pat Eggleton - Pictures courtesy of Rosaria D’Ambrosio Williams

Today our blog of the week is a bit different and we think you’ll find it interesting. In “When I Was Your Age – A Memoir” Rosaria D’Ambrosio Williams, who now lives in Oregon, tells the story of a young Italian woman’s journey to America and of the people she left behind.

Rosaria, you wrote the blog “When I was your age” as a memoir for your children. When did you decide to do it and what inspired you?

Right after I retired, when I moved away from my children and missed them terribly. Somehow, writing about my childhood helped me connect all the pieces.

For those who have not followed your blog, can you tell us where you were born in Italy and something about your childhood there?

I was born in the region of Basilicata, in a small town called Venosa, during WWII. My earliest memories were all about the war, the occupation, the poverty. I downplayed that part, actually.

There has been so much written about the war that I could not add to the literature. Instead, I concentrated on my family’s focus to emigrate, to find a way out of the poverty. The memoir is both about me and about my family’s tragic situation - how they survived, what they went through to keep on living with hope and faith.

When did you go to America and why?

I was seventeen when an uncle sponsored me to study in America. My town had schooling up to the fifth grade. To go beyond that was very difficult. It took all of our extra resources to continue my education past the fifth grade. I jumped at the opportunity to go to university.

Were you very lonely at first?

Very! Lonely for everything and everyone. What kept me focused was the desire to finish my degree.

Where did you live and what did you do?

I lived with my uncle and his family, serving as a babysitter and housekeeper, helping out any way I could, in exchange for room, board and tuition.

What helped you settle and what, apart from your family, did you miss the most?

Settle is a process still going on! I missed the food the most. Products were not the same and were hard to obtain at that time. Later, I fell in love with a wonderful man a few months before I was scheduled to return to Italy. Falling in love changes everything. Still, to this day, I don’t think I am settled. I’m content with my choices; I’m happy to be alive and have all the opportunities I have; I’m glad my children are well. But, if I had any choice at all, I would live half a year in Italy, and half a year in America. I miss so many things! At the beginning, it was my family. Later, even little things - a food I craved, a smell. I am still homesick.

Did any of your family follow you to America?

No! It’s one of the tragic strands of the story. They never did. They kept hoping all the time that somehow, one or all of them could join me. They visited me for short bursts.

Did you ever think about going back to Italy to live?

Right after we retired, we contemplated the idea. Italy is just too expensive. Besides, my children are here and I would miss them.

Do you ever visit Italy?

I’ve visited Italy a couple of times, for brief periods.

Do you ever think about contacting members of your family with whom you have lost touch?

Yes. We attempt to stay in touch; but, it is not easy. I am hoping that through the internet we can reach each other, or that our children can. I have many nieces and nephews whom I have never met.

If you could give the girl you were when you emigrated some advice, what would it be?

This is a good question, but most difficult to answer. I was so naïve and I knew nothing of the challenges waiting for me. I’d say, visit for a little while, say a year, as an exchange student. Enjoy each country and what it can offer before you make such a life-changing decision.

What do you hope your children and, perhaps, their children, will gain from reading your memoir?

I hope they understand how difficult my choices were. I hope they learn that every one of us is on a journey, peppered with choices, both moral and financial. That our journey defines us and gives us both strength and character.

What aspects of your Italian heritage would you like to pass on to your children?

A love of life! An appreciation for art and music and education. A sense of wonder and exploration and joy! An appreciation of the classics.

You have two other blogs, don’t you? Can you tell us a little about these?

Sixtyfivewhatnow is about living in a small town, growing old, being involved with the community. I also have an Italian language blog, Italian for beginners. I started it for my grandchild, who has shown interest in learning Italian. She is Asian/American, speaks Mandarin, Burmese, Spanish, and now is dabbling in Italian. Who knows where she’ll go on her journey?!

Thank you for talking to Italy Magazine and happy blogging.

Thank you for your interest. I appreciated the opportunity.



Advertise on ITALY - Pubblicità su ITALY


Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter updates

Property for sale in Basilicata

2340 Lido di Metaponto € 150000

Basilicata >> Matera Province >> Bernaldacasa Rita B85 € 50000

Basilicata >> Potenza Province >> LauriaCasa Corte € 35000

ITALY Magazine - the n.1 magazine for lovers of all things italian

istos srl - web development and social media / +39 0932 950222 / Via Benedetto Spadaro 109, 97014 Ispica (RG), Italia



Rosaria Williams said...

If you read this far and are confused, When I was Your Age is my other blog/memoir.

Pat blogs at She also writes for this and other magazines. When she decided to interview me, I was most appreciative. Her questions helped me put the experience in perspective.

Thanks Pat! Thanks Italy Magazine!

ellen abbott said...

Congratulations. Very exciting.

potsoc said...

Magnifico, Rosaria. Congratulazione.

Monkey Man said...

That is quite an honor. Congrats. I also really like your idea about the memoir blog.

Midlife Roadtripper said...

Very cool. I can only think an Italian mother would bring much to a child's life.

Nancy said...

I loved your memoir. Congratulations on blog of the week.

Maggie May said...

That was mighty interesting. I also was also born in the middle of WW2. Not nice!
I am glad you got away from the poverty but I think it must have been really hard to leave Italy as it is such a lovely place.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Wander to the Wayside said...

I wasn't confused at all since I've read your other blog! What a great interview!

RNSANE said...

Rosaria, this was a wonderful article and I think Pat did a great job of having this for Italy Magazine. You were the perfect one to be interviewed!

Woman in a Window said...

How wonderful, Rosaria! Your memoir blog deserves such attention. It is more than your story. It is a story that reflects social history, as well. It grants us all questions of ourselves that we can sit with.

"Settle is a process still going on!" The honesty of you goes a long way to the authenticity of your memoirs. I'll always be grateful for you sharing them.


Brian Miller said...

woot. that is awesome! congratulations!

#1Nana said...

Congratulations! Isn't it nice to be recognized for your accomplishments?

rjerdee said...

Very cool, Rosaria! I followed your memoir blog so I know what this is about. Yes, you never know who's watching! Congratulations!Next, a publisher will pop up to put your story on real paper!

Hilary said...

That's great. Congrats to you. :)

NitWit1 said...

I really enjoyed this feature of your memoir, especially from the viewpoint of someone on the other side of the ocean durin WWII. I was in 1st grade during the last year or so of the War.

Natalie said...

Congratulations Rosaria.xx

Rob-bear said...

This is fascinating, Rosaria. What a challenge for you — and what a kind Uncle!

Thanks for sharing you life with us.

Arkansas Patti said...

Congratulations on a wonderful interview.
It was an eyeopener and aptly described what had to have been a somewhat difficult experience.
Unless Native American, we are all immigrants. To do that as a young adult had to have been a challange.
We are lucky you made the trip.

Cloudia said...

Warm & usual with you, my friend!


Aloha from Waikiki

Comfort Spiral

Dimple said...

Congratulations! You have led a most interesting life, and it's wonderful that you write about it.

Thanks for coming by!

xxx said...

I'm grinning from ear to ear as I read this.....
I am so happy for you!
Congratulations Rosaria... your writings are wonderful.

A Cuban In London said...

This is a very pleasant surprise. You're right, you never know who is reading your blog. Well done! :-)

Greetings from London.

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Terrific interview!

Linda Bob Grifins Brin Korbetis said...

how nice!
Happy News is always good to my ears.

Saretta said...

I had no idea that your lifestory was like this. I have so many friends who live a variation on that theme. Their families emigrated to the US from Italy, they spent a good chunk of their lives in the US and then they returned to Italy with their families. Most of them are unhappy and confused about their cultural identity. Most of them were obliged to return to Italy because of their age, or just because the family imposed it on them. I think the lack of free choice makes it harder for them. They are not really Italian nor American. A little bit of both, but not fully one or the other.

Rachel Cotterill said...

Congrats on the feature - your story definitely deserves to be read more widely :)

Marguerite said...

Congrats on this well deserved honor! Cheers!

Velva said...

Awesome, awesome and awesome again. I loved this post.

Tabor said...

I am so glad to read this because it lays a lovely and interesting background to your creative writing. I loved the little stories but they were somewhat out of context, and now I know. I am 3rd generation Italian and even I having visited ITaly feel a little homesick for it sometimes!!

Unknown said...

Hi there! is organizing a short story writing contest.

We do think that you too might have a marvelous story to tell, one that is your own! So if you can compose it in not more than few words, we would want to hear from you. Also, you stand a chance to get your story published on our site and win cash prize of USD 100.

“Then what are you waiting for? …put on your thinking cap and get writing. For registration and other information check -

Happy writing!

Everyday Goddess said...

this is so wonderful to know about you!

Jinksy said...

Bet you're glad now you didn't just close down when you finished the blog! All power to your elbow!


great interview! congratulations! i love your memoir blog! and thanks so much for coming by my place and leaving such kind words - your visits mean a lot!

Phoenix said...

Congratulations on some great publicity for your blog :) You're a talented writer and your blog deserves all the attention it gets!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

It was a pleasure to interview you, lakeviewer.

kj said...

i read every word with interest.

this is my favorite:

"I hope they understand how difficult my choices were. I hope they learn that every one of us is on a journey, peppered with choices, both moral and financial. That our journey defines us and gives us both strength and character."

good to know, good to remember...


Anonymous said...

Your interview was very moving. It's not easy to leave one's home and family.

Cheryl Cato said...

What a great opportunity! I'm proud of you for being such a good writer & interesting person that Italy Magazine wanted to interview you! Congratulations.

Jo said...

Very interesting...! Your story reminds me a bit of Francesca's in "The Bridges of Madison County".

Relyn Lawson said...

CONGRATULATIONS!! This is absolutely fabulous!

Teri and her Stylish Cats ~ Coco the Couture Cat, FurryDance Brighton, and Disco NoFurNo said...

Oh, the blogosphere makes the world more personal and not so large. This was a wonderful way to share!