04 Education: news in the cattle shed, books (Giacomina Castagnetti)
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04 Education: news in the cattle shed, books (Giacomina Castagnetti)

In the winter we used the cattle shed as our meeting place. Friends could finally spend some time together. Social and political activities took place in the cattle shed, as well as love affairs, since boys and girls met there. I would sneak in and day by day my curiosity would grow. Maybe it was my disposition, by I really had so much fun there. That’s where all the news could be heard. I was hearing everyday news, but especially political discussions which were starting to take place at our house. I began to hear that a lot of people didn’t agree with fascism. The tone was always rather timid and veiled though. Even a joke regarding the Duce could have got you in jail then. I remember a story regarding a young man who was beaten since he hadn’t saluted a fascist with the fascist salute. I was really shocked by the fact that a boy could be beaten for this. I found out that many of these young men didn’t want to take part in the “fascist Saturday” activities as they realised that they were also meant to prepare the youth for war. We were passing around “Il padrone delle ferriere” (Le maître des forges) or “Le stelle ci stanno a guardare” (The stars look down), which I’ve read many times. The one which got me thinking the most though was “Il padrone delle ferriere”. As farmers we worked hard, but at least we stayed under the sun, in the open, under a tree. Reading the book I imagined those people working several meters underground with no protection. The author explains that everything in town had turned black, the colour of coal. Even the kids’ faces were black since the coal dust was everywhere. This book really shook me. I realized what the differences between the rich and the poor were. I remembered these men saying “It’s always the sons of the poor who go to war, not those of the rich”.

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