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Amarcord 70s
The Decade that shaped us

1980 - The earthquake
(Published 20 August 2020)

Then came November 23rd. I remember that Sunday evening very well.  It was around 7:30 in the evening. Carmine Rega, Salvatore Aschettino and I were in the square looking for Michele Vona. for a game of cards at “Minuccio”. They told us that Michele was up at Don Peppino's. I had parked my brother Enzo's yellow Diana in Piazza because I was thinking of going out with my girlfriend, but she was late in the parish. Carmine, Salvatore and I decided to go to Capomoschiano to pick up Michele. Once we arrived on the open space in front of the Church I got in while Carmine and Salvatore remained in the car. On television they were showing the second half of the Juventus-Inter match. I asked Michele to come down but he said to wait a few minutes to watch the game until the end. I stayed too. Suddenly, the ceiling began to sway, a noise like prolonged thunder or a train could be heard. the television began to move, Don Peppino ran to grab it and prevent it from falling.  Instead the cabinet next to the television fell and trapped him. Someone shouted: earthquake !. We all ran down the stairs. At the end of the stairs Gietta fell. We, overcome with fear, passed over her but we all stopped at the threshold of the sacristy to look at the bell tower. It swayed fearfully. I remember behind me the various Cherubina, Rosetta, Gietta, Girolamo, Luigi and others undecided about what to do. Michele had gone out into the churchyard but turned back because he didn't know where to go. When the tremor ended we all ran outside. My car was no longer there. I was later told that Salvatore and Carmine, tired of waiting, had taken it down to Vicolo della Chiesa. Michele and others fled down the alley. I was told that at a certain point someone gave Michele a child to hold in his arms because some houses had fallen down the alley (see photo) and they were looking for survivors among the rubble.  Michele did it even though he wanted to run to his house. Instead I ran away up Via della Carita. As soon as I passed the bell tower I found “Cristinella”. She was in front of the door of her house. She saw and stopped me begging me not to go away. I tried to calm her down and asked her if everything was okay at her house. She said yes, but she feared for me. I replied to her that I had to go down to the Croce district to make check on my family. I left her. Running along the Strada della Carita I remember the moon shining over the sky of San Teodoro, the silence that fell when the shock ended and then the screams that rose and the barking of the dogs. Along the way I met someone running in the opposite direction. We passed each other. After a few steps we recognized each other. It was my brother Enzo who, knowing that I was in Capomoschiano, was coming to look for me. We decided to go home by different routes. He with the car in case he needed to take the injured to the hospital, I continued along the Via della Carita'. I gave him the keys to the car he had seen in the square. Carmine and Salvatore had brought it back there with the engine off. They were saved thanks to their jovial spirit. If they had remained where they had parked in the alley once they left the churchyard the wall of a house would have collapsed on them.

Fortunately, there was a lot of damage in Moschiano, especially in Capomoschiano, but only a few minor injuries. Needless to say, we spent that night in the car, jolting with every new shock.  I remember there was another very strong one around one in the morning.

The next day Mayor Mimi' and members of the city council toured Moschiano to assess the damage. People who could not return to their homes were placed in the school building.

In the following days the rescue organization was slow to start moving. I remember a joke in the newspapers of the time where a sort of "ranking" was made: The President of the Republic (Pertini) arrived first. The Pope arrived second (Saint John Paul II). Rescue time out of time. A little gruesome but it reflected reality.

We young people from Pro Loco decided that we couldn't sit on our hands while Irpinia suffered. With the help of the baker Guido Addeo who provided the raw material (the flour) and the machinery, we helped him knead several quintals of bread. We worked all night. In the morning we filled Pio Addeo's truck with bread and set off for Alta Irpinia to distribute it for free to those in need. I didn't go but from the story of Pio and others it seems that they found very polite and generous people on the street. They only took what they needed, encouraging those who were most in difficulty to move forward. The bread was even distributed to the army soldiers who had arrived there completely unprepared.

The following week a column of trucks arrived in Moschiano with young volunteers from a small town in Lombardy (I don't remember the name). They brought everything you can think of. From clothes for the children to toothbrushes. I remember that there was even a little doll with a note from a little girl in Lombardy that said more or less: "Dear little girl who suffered from the earthquake, I hope you are well. I'm sending you my doll to play with." We filled the rooms on the first floor of city hall (the Pro-Loco headquarters and others) and were also forced to put some stuff in the garage of the lawyer Pietro Manfredi, the Municipal Secretary at the time. It was raining very hard and one of the trucks had broken its windshield wipers. Undaunted, the volunteers did not stop. The driver and the person next to him had attached some string and were taking turns to clean the windows in order to speed up the rescue. To make sure the stuff didn't "disappear" we decided that we would work night shifts to keep all that stuff safe. I took the shift with Michele Esposito (“The Accountant”). At a certain point we heard a noise. We ran down to see if anyone was there. There was no one. It was the earthquake that continued and made the wood stove sway.

The young volunteers also brought tents which were set up behind the school building. Unfortunately, the incivility of some of our fellow villagers manifested itself on that occasion: they went to park their cars in those tents and destroyed them.

In the following days, a large military attempt was mounted in the square by the German army. Don Salvatore Pierro celebrated Holy Mass there.

At that time I was working in Naples at the software company ElComIt. One of the partners was a well-known insurer from Naples (Dr. Gianni Marone). Knowing about the disaster, he called me to make sure how I was. He asked me if we needed anything personally or for the village. He was very good friends with people who were willing to send help. I told him no, but he insisted. I then spoke to Mayor Mimi and the parish priests, presenting them with this opportunity. They told me to accept and leave it to the benefactors. The next day we sent two vans to Naples. They returned with hundreds of blankets (I think more than 500), foodstuffs and more. Everything was distributed in the following days although, it must be said, many people did not behave in a civilized manner. In the following days we found a lot of stuff thrown into the waste. Of course there were some controversies but they left the time they found. We had acted according to our conscience. The rest is  History."


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