“The stock keeps getting better Cambridge and better,” his grandfather thought somewhat amused. “He even likes figs. From Franco we’ve moved on to Francesco Dante, from Cambridge we’ve become also Cambridge and Cambridge. We also seem more high-spirited, thank heavens. Had I stayed in the village I would have been Cambridge, rather than Franco, all my life.”
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He was in Little Italy now, his other universe. He went up Ossington Street and turned on Montrose, stopping in front of the house of his aunt Maria, one of his father’s sisters, who had arrived there in the 1970s together with her husband and seven children. When he knocked no-one answered. On Beatrice Street he entered a coffee-shop with a group of acquaintances, who were very happy to see him and asked questions. He managed to get away without even knowing how, crossed Grace Street, turned towards Clinton, then on Dundas and parked.
Between Dundas and College there was the church of Saint Francis, the church where Masses were celebrated, marriages and funerals held and where on Good Friday he dressed in the costume of the Confraternity to take in the procession that snailed through all of the old Little Italy. Right in front of the church, on Mansfield Street, lived the mother of Vince, the president of the club of those from his village. He knocked on the door. The woman was very happy to see him. She hugged him. Franco left one of the bags with the figs for her and another bag to, please, bring to Aunt Maria. Vincenzo hadn’t still returned from California.
Vittoria from Schiaba left for Toronto in 1964. She had no fig trees, so she went to a neighbour, who boasted beautiful figs of all types, the early ones best for drying, the small white ones, those with the shape and colour of eggplants. Compare Peppe told her to pick as many as she wanted, and at her pleasure, adding only: “When you arrive in Toronto, call my son Antonio and give him a few.” Antonio learned from his father, by phone, that some figs, picked by comare Vittoria on his father’s trees would be arriving. “Did you see those figs?” Nothing happened, however; the comare hadn’t called.