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Happy Labor Day Weekend, 2020!

September 2, 2020


Happy Labor Day Weekend of 2020!


By Alice Jane-Marie Massa



Due to the COVID 19, the Little Italy Festival in Clinton, Indiana, will be significantly changed this year from its status of a four-day festival over Labor Day weekend. Begun in 1966, when I was a junior attending Clinton High School, the festival has been an important part of the Clinton community and surrounding area of South Vermillion County for 53 years.


In August of 2017, when I was recalling enjoyable places, events, and food of the Little Italy Festival, as well as remembering the fifty years since the CHS Class of ’68 began its senior year, I was inspired to write the following prose poem which is creative nonfiction. The “creative nonfiction” comes into play in just a couple of spots in the poem. For example, although the authentic gondola has been a part of the Little Italy Festival parade in past decades, one can no longer take a ride in the festival’s gondola on the Wabash River.


Much to my surprise, three years ago, the following poem appeared in The Daily Clintonian, the newspaper of Clinton. Throughout my years of growing up and living in Vermillion County, The Daily Clintonian was such an important part of our community. Receiving and reading this newspaper each Monday through Friday were part of daily living for everyone whom I knew. Interested in writing and journalism from a young age, I enjoyed reading this local newspaper. Since not many poems have ever been printed in The Daily Clintonian, I was especially delighted that friends Mary Fornero and Fran Rayce brought this poem to the attention of Mrs. Diane Waugh at the newspaper and that Mrs. Waugh chose to share it with the readers of The Daily Clintonian.


Sadly, The Daily Clintonian printed the final issue of the newspaper in April of this year–another victim of COVID 19. After this newspaper had been published in our Hoosier community by the Carey family since 1936, imagining the Clinton area without this newspaper is difficult. This small-town newspaper is and will be greatly missed.


Even if you are not a member of the Class of ’68 nor a resident of Vermillion County, I hope you will enjoy this poetic tribute and visit to the Little Italy Festival.


* * *


Fifty Years later, Meet Me


poem by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



Once again, fifty years later,

meet me

at the Little Italy Festival.

This time,

follow the green, white, and red lines

down Ninth Street,

and meet me

at Immigrant Square,

west of the Coal Fountain,

in the striped shadows of the twenty-six flags

which represent countries

from where Clinton area residents

have immigrated.


Meet me

in front of the statue of the immigrant


with his one hand waving

and his other hand

holding a valise.


Meet me

by the drinking fountain

called “Il Toro”–

the Bull–

like Luigi,

crafted near my ancestral home,

in Torino.


Then, we will go

to the riverfront,

down the terraced banks

where Joe Airola

nurtured his grapevines.

On the Wabash River,

we will ride

in an authentic gondola.


Returning from our taste of Venezia,

we will eat spumoni

as we sit beside

the Quattro Stagioni Fountain,

listen to music of the main stage,

and absorb the chatter of festival-goers.


Back to Ninth Street,

we will tour the Little Italian House,

Il Mercato, and the Wine Museum

where you can buy my book.

Then, in the Wine Garden,

we can sit

under lush Grapevines and Hoosier stars,

sip Chianti,

listen to a polka band,

talk of old times

and fresh tomorrows.


Don’t be concerned:

at Immigrant Square,

in the midst of the crowd,

you will recognize me.

I will be the one

with the Black Labrador

guide dog.

Meet us.


* * *



Best Wishes for a sunny, safe, healthy, and happy Labor Day weekend!


Alice Massa and Leader Dog Willow


September 2, 2020, Wednesday




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One Comment
  1. This is one of my most favorite of your many poems, Alice. I just love reading it again, and each time I’ve read it I discover something new.

    It is a delightful journey through your home town.

    Here in western PA, the Italian immigrants arrive nearly 100 years after the Germans came. Before that it was the English. Each different section of the one who came is not so noticeable these days – but Our “Little Italy” section holds so many beautiful memories for me because in high school, when I sent into the city for the finally four years of my early education, all of my friends were Catholic and Italian. How I loved going to their homes for the foods I never even heard of before!

    And, the home made pastas that I tasted there on Sundays, my goodness, it makes my mouth water today after all these years. I even attended the Tuesday morning Catholic instructions with my friends – we were able to do this before going to school to our classes.

    Today will be Day 3 of the Kitchen face-lift – they have spent 2 days prepping for the painting. It was a really big job because it took 2 days to remove the wallpaper – and dismantle all the cupboard doors in preparation. Today, they begin to paint. This is so exciting, for now, I will begin to get the vision that has been in my mind as I planned out this face-lift for our kitchen. The counter tops were installed about 2 weeks ago, and now the painting will happen today and Saturday. After this, we will get the ceramic tile and the tile man will arrive to do his magic. My granddaughter will take me to pick it out – she is my colour-coordinator in all the painting projects in the entire house. I have the vision, and we work together to get the colors for it.

    Next, after the painting and tile work, will come the flooring. I do not yet know what that will be –

    I told the painters I want to get on their schedule for late winter – and we will do the dining room,., living room and stairway – at that time.

    Of course, they are glad to put me on their schedule so far in advance. Right now, they have jobs lined up thorough November. They are 2 great guys, and we learned we have long-distance connections to my childhood – I knew his grandmother when I was a small child – she lived next doo to our family. She just passed away yesterday at age 98.

    I am working all day, every day, on the revision of Concerti: It will be ab out twice the size as the original book – and it is coming along.

    I should have it finished up before my goal of December. I am getting so excited as I work on it. I have learned that it is so much more difficult to revise a book than it is to write an entirely new one. Who would have thought?

    It is raining outside so a good day for me to be in the office working on the book – while the painters come and do their magic.

    Have a lovely Labor Day weekend, Alice.


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