My name is Fernando
(Andy) Orlando. I was born in Dos Palos, California on December
6, 1932. My parents immigrated to California from Moliterno,
Italy in 1919. My dad hauled gravel for his first job in
California, was able to buy 10 dairy cows for their small
farm and in 1923 purchased, paying cash, 40 acres in Dos
Palos. An old house was moved from Dos Palos to the newly
acquired farm and it was in that house that I was born.
Our farm got
electricity from PG&E in 1937 and I remember every Sunday
morning at 10:00 a.m. my dad would listen to the Johnny
Cardellini show on our cathedral shaped Philco radio. This
was an Italian speaking show that I think was broadcast
from San Francisco featuring journalist Johnny Cardellini
who talked about the news and broke it up with music. My
dad didn't speak any English so this was a show he could
understand even though there was alot he didn't like about
Cardellini's views. The radio show was followed by our biggest
meal of the week. My mother made her best spaghetti or beef
roast for Sunday's noon-time meal that always included fresh
Italian bread. We would go to the Dos Palos train station
every Saturday night to pick up our week's supply of bread,
five loaves of sourdough bread delivered by train from San
Francisco as my dad didn't think store-bought sliced bread
was really bread, saying simply "that's not bread!"
We got some supplies from a man who came by our house about
once a month and took orders for anchovies, cheese and other
goods. He was a gruff Italian who had no time for nonsense
and would say "make up your mind, I got to go."
When the placed-order was delivered we would pick it up
at the train station. Other sources of goods were the Montgomery
Ward's catalogue, peaches from Merced and the fish vendor
who brought fresh fish from Monterey to Dos Palos every
Friday. And of course mother had her garden which provided
fresh produce for our table and for canning.
I think I was
six when we got a spring-wound phonograph. It was an open,
table top model in a wooden case with no lid. My dad loved
Italian opera and I can remember him cranking up that phonograph
and listening to his opera records. I remember one particular
song that he played because we saw an opera at the moving
pictures show in Dos Palos and I associate one of his opera
records with a scene in the movie where a platter of spaghetti
was carried out to a table, the platter got knocked over
and the spaghetti went flying. My dad mostly listened to
his records on the weekends, particularly on Sunday after
church while mom was fixing Sunday's dinner. I don't remember
any other records being played on our phonograph except
Italian opera. I do remember that when my grandfather died
in 1940 and my mother opened the letter telling of his death
(as he lived in Italy) I heard her scream and we had a week
of mourning that included no radio or phonograph being played.
Since my parents
weren't US citizens when the United States entered World
War II and Italy was an ally of Germany, as Italians they
were restricted to a 25 mile radius from their house and
a requirement that they had to be inside their house by
sundown each day. The government also took away their radio
and their single-shot shotgun. These were fearful times
and the government was much harder on the Japanese residents
in the US than they were on the Italians. So my parents
in some ways were fortunate that they were able to continue
to keep their farm and milk their cows. Nevertheless, the
confinement did present some problems and there was some
prejudice even though I had two older brothers, Joe and
Fred, that would serve overseas during the War.
Joe was a Seabee
in the South Pacific in 1942 and Fred joined the army in
1943, so that just left me and my twin brother Ace at home.
We had 30 dairy cows in production during the War. I started
milking cows when I was nine years old and milked ten cows
in the morning at 5:30 am and ten after school. I had to
wear bib-overalls (which I didn't like) for school and for
work because they cost the same as jeans and according to
my dad were a better value (more denim for the same price).
We raised alfalfa for the cows and got five or six cuttings
during the summertime. After each cutting we would request
irrigation water from the irrigation district. They would
tell you when you could irrigate and then you would tell
them when you were done and they'd charge you accordingly.
Irrigation was done using ditches that had "checks"
and you could do perhaps 4 or 5 checks at a time. You wanted
to stop the water before it got to the end of the row so
timing was important as you didn't want to waste water.
During the war my dad went out into the fields after dark
to change the irrigation "checks", lantern in
hand. Apparently on one occasion a neighbor or a "dollar-man"
saw him and reported him for his violation of the sundown
curfew. The sheriff came to our house the next day and my
dad received a stern warning. I'm not sure what would have
happened if they would have caught him outside his house
after dark a second time.
When the War
ended we could again have a radio but we didn't get our
old one back, or our shotgun. I don't know what happened
to that family phonograph with its Italian opera records.
I'm sure a wind-up phonograph was eventually considered
old and obsolete and thrown out. When I married Judy in
1958 we bought a Sears black-and-white television, my first
television, but it didn't have a record player with it.
We did buy a 45 rpm record player a few years later and
Judy had quite a few 45's for that machine.
In 1976 we purchased
a 1975 two-door, brown and tan two-tone Cadillac Coup de
Ville that had an 8-track sound system in it. We really
enjoyed the 8-track recordings on car trips as there was
no switching of radio stations or loss of radio signal.
Just continuous music at the push of a button. Since then
we have continued to enjoy recordings on cassette tapes,
CDs and iTunes for Judy's iPod. So although phonographs
haven't been a part of our home for many years, I'm pleased
to be a "Friend of the Phonograph" and fondly
remember those childhood Sunday's and my dad listening to
his Italian Opera records on his phonograph.
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