Sunday, August 30, 2009
Frank the Bold
When you do history, the clear and present danger is always there, about the way you fill in the gaps. Yeah (gasp!) even you Dave. You're part of the first generation to be suckled at the breast of TV. You've simply got many thousands of fictional images and narratives stored in your brain. When you meet the gaps in real history, whatever you fill them with is probably derived from Hollywood.
Some of the great composers believed managing the silence between notes was more critical than the notes themselves. That because it's overpoweringly human at times, the desire to fill gaps. It's that way with history too.
Trim your sails sir, watch for the reefs. Allow Frank the Bold shine in his earned honesty.
He sailed from Genoa, Italy in 1854. A very very young kid, he arrived in New Orleans. He didn't travel with his parents, we know that much. Maybe he sailed with relatives who had a different surname. Where did he get the money for the fare? We don't know.
We can presume some Genoa folk already settled in New Orleans had been alerted Frank was coming, and they'd take him in. That's very likely, but we don't know that. We can hope they were waiting for him when the ship docked, but we don't know that either, right?
It could be too, 154 years ago, a little boy who didn't speak english, dragging a valise roughly the same size as him, found himself in New Orleans, asking for directions. A little boy with large, luminous eyes and a very serious face.
Whether the arrival was smooth or very confusing, that's nerve with an exponent, such a culture shock. I try to imagine myself age 12, showing up in Rome. Sure, maybe somebody from home is gonna take me in, but I'm still a little kid. I miss my mom, I miss the familiar sights, smells, sounds of home.
That's who Frank is to me. We'll probably never know the forces, general or specific that put a child on a boat for America. And yeah Frank made his way in the new country. Loved, married, made it through a terrible war, Yellow Fever epidemics, raised a family.
I'll just always be thinking about a little boy in a big frightening place, who missed his mom.