Sunday, March 21, 2010

What is my Name?

March 21, 2010

The other day when I posted "School Days - Chapter I", I stated that the reason I remembered those thoughts was because someone addressed me as Elvera, but what I forgot to tell you was that for the first time, with determinaton but politely, I corrected the lady and asked her to please pronounce my name Elvira (with the long 'i'). At home that evening, I recalled the incident and was angry with myself for being so arrogant. However, I pacified myself by saying:
"I don't care; I've been Elvira for 62 years and I'm not going back there any more".

I also forgot to mention that the name Concetta was one that I have had to acknowledge twice during my life, due to necessity, Once in 1964 and again in 1984, each time when I applied for a passport. In 1964, I obtained an application, filled in the information required, with my signature as Elvira S. Oliver. Lo and Behold! The passport was declined because the government agent could not identify me as a citizen of the United States.. I readily submitted a copy of my birth certificate....and now with the passport in hand, I spent two weeks exploring Tahiti and New Zealand.

Tahiti was absolutely a new and beautiful world. One of my highlights there was seeing Marlon Brando, the Hollywood heart-throb. He was basking in the sunshine on the beach in front of his home, with his beautiful Tahitian wife.

I fell in love with New Zealand, especially Christ Church, even though I had two life-challenging experiences. I never did see so many beautiful children with such rosy, rosy cheeks. However, I remember a city by the name of Rotorura; but I'm not sure if I'm spelling it correctly, or even if it was the place where we tourists were caught in a gale out in a small glass-enclosed boat. Our bold and brave Captain managed to steer the ship (with ten frightened would-be-sailors) towards land on which we were able to embark. With feet on solid ground, but surrounded by many trees, we sat on the trunks of trees, and chatted away. The Captain assured us that we would be found....and no longer frightened, we waited four or five hours to be rescued. I still have vivid pictures in my memory of rescuers in their bright yellow rain-gear, chopping and sawing fallen-down trees to reach us.....and later, arriving back at our hotel, mid great cheers of joy and celebration....and, best of all, to a sumptuous dinner.

The other frightful incident was on a tour to a city that was buried for some years by an earthquake, but still had tops of buried trees growing above ground. There was an area where tourists, if they wished , could venture down into the underground via a stair-well.....and, of course. I became the leader of the band. Down the steps I gingerly ventured, with eight or ten other followers, one behind the other. Several minutes passed when my breathing became constrained. I sat on the step to rest, looked up, and realized that I was alone in this semi-darkened pit....and further, that I had a loss of energy. When the bus was about to leave, the driver noticed that one passenger was missing...and on roll-call, who would it be but yours truly. Lucky for me, the tourist behind me remembered that I was continuing downward when he and his wife became tired and called-it-a-day. Labouring with my breathing, I barely was able to respond YES to the voice from heaven-above: "Elvira Oliver, are you down there?" The driver encouraged me to take one-step at a time, rest, and continue....and "as you rise, your breathing will get better". Gosh!, I wish I could remember the city. Perhaps somewhere in my treasure chest is the answer, or perhaps Eric Shackle will once more come to my rescue to prove I'm not making up these stories.

I have such fond memories of Christ Church and the beautiful people I met there. I would like to tell you about them; I have the will but lack energy. I will just have to wait and see, as time goes by.

The second time I used the name Concetta was in 1984 on a passport for the two trips to Italy; the first in mid-January when I was invited to vacation at the home of Filomena and Gerardo Sperduto. They were cousins from Italy who became citizens of the United States , I believe, sometime in the sixties. They had just purchased a condo in Avellino in order to vacation there and continue to be a part of the Sperduto family throughout Italy and Switzerland. I met many, many cousins...hundreds of them, previously unknown to me. I was there one month and every day was a feast day. They would call each other on the telephone (upon my arrival at one's house) and excitedly say: "Venite, venite; la Americana e qui. (Come over, come over; the Anerican is here.) I felt like I was a celebrity. In August of the same year, I was invited to be a guest at the wedding of a second-generation cousin. I found myself being transported back into my childhood and into my Italian culture. I joyfully responded to Elvira (el-vee-ra).....and each time my name flowed from the lips of my cousins, I heard the whispering voices of my Mother and Father in the breeze.

From Memories to:

Did you Know..................

Our eyes are always the same size from birth.

The brass family of instruments includes the trumpet, trombone, tuba, cornet, flugelhorn, French horn, saxhorn. and sousaphone. While they are usually made of brass today, in the past they were made of wood, horn and glass.

Five years ago: The first successful cloning of human embryo.

Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world.

Every year in the United States, 625 people are struck by lightening.

There are no poisonous snakes in Maine.

In Britain's House of Commons, the government and opposition sides of the House are separated by two red lines. The distance between the lines is two swords' lengths, a reminder of just how seriously the British used to take their politics.


  1. Hi Elvira. I lived in Christchurch and attended Christchurch Boys' High School in the 1930s, and was a cadet (cub) reporter on the city's daily newspaper, "The Press" before WWII. It's a delightful city, with wonderful views of the snow-covered Southern Alps.

    I'm sorry I can't check where your other Nw Zealand adventures occurred, as I've lived in Australia since 1937.

    Perhaps some Kiwi (New Zealand) bloggers will help you out.

    Your blog is getting better every week!

    Best wishes from Sydney.

  2. Elvira

    I hope you don't mind, but I put a few blogging friends wise to your blog a few days ago.

    Eric is right. The posts get better and better. Looking forward to the next.

  3. Hi Elvira,

    I am from Christchurch, and I would love to read your memories of the time you spent here in the 1960s to my mother, who grew up here and was a student here then.

    Best wishes,

  4. Hi Elvira,

    Great stories. I live in Auckland, New Zealand. There is a buried Maori village (named Te Wairoa) near the city of Rotorua New Zealand. It was buried in the Tarawera eruption of 1886 and is still mostly buried today (but open as a tourist attraction). Could this be the place you remember?

  5. Hi Manukau
    I'm quite sure it was Te Wairoa. Sounds familiar and IT IS near Rotorua. I have fond memories of New Zealand and all the wonderful people I met there, especially of a young man on R&R, from a U.S. base in the South Pole, whose home was in Alpine, Texas. Will write about him soon. Many thanks to you & to Eric