Figure 1. Leri monument. St. Francesco Cemetery, Eynon, PA. Photo: author.

Two monuments in St. Francesco Cemetery in Eynon, Pennsylvania. Both commemorate Italian immigrants who died young with Italian inscriptions. Both straddle the line between professional and vernacular monuments. The Leri monument (figure 1) is assembled from some professionally made marble bits but seems overall to be home-made from concrete. I suspect that the round recess in the marble ornament over the tablet bearing the inscription once held a little ceramic photograph.

Oh! UBALDO
LERI
ChE NELLA
VERDE ETA
DI 27 ANNI
PERDESTI LA
VITA NELLA
MINIERA IL 7
FEB DE 1919.
LA MOGLIE E
DUÉ FIGLI
DOLENTE
P[ose]. Q[uesto]. M[onumento].

GIROLAMO PANUZZI
BORN APRIL 1 1885
DIED JAN 6 1935

Oh! Ubaldo Leri, you who lost your life in the mine on the 7th of February, 1919. Your grieving wife and two sons erected this monument.

Why the small aitches? If there were but one, I’d write it off as a typo, but having both of the two examples in minuscule seems deliberate. ‘H’ is unsounded in Italian and serves to harden a preceding ‘C’ or ‘G’. Perhaps the cutter felt it to be a mere placeholder and set it apart by putting it in minuscule?

Dolente‘ is a singular participle agreeing with ‘moglie‘. The sons were therefore afterthoughts, and accordingly the ‘P’ is the singular passato remoto, ‘pose‘, rather than the plural ‘posero‘. The first sentence is a touching cri de coeur with its interjection ‘Oh!’ and second-person-singular verb form of direct address. Death in the mines was a daily risk in 1919 in this part of the world. One imagines Panuzzi was interred in the plot and added to the monument in an ad hoc fashion. Leri’s inscription has been picked out in black paint, whereas Panuzzi’s epitaph has merely been painted onto the flat marble. ‘DE 1919’ probably ought to be ‘DI 1919’ or ‘DEL 1919’.

Figure 2. Buselli monument. St. Francesco Cemetery, Eynon, PA. Photo: author.

QUI GIACE
LE FREDDE
SPOGLIE DI
SISTO BUSELLI
—–
DI AN 33 DI ISOLA
FOSSARA P. PERUGIA
DA INFORTUNIO
FU SPINTO IL 15
AP. 1918. ERA UOMO
ONESTO E BUONO
AMATO DA TUTTI
FRATELLO FEDELE
MARITO AMOROSO
PADRE AFFEZIONATO.
LA MOGLIE E FIGLE
INDIMENTICABILE
Q. M. P.

Here lies the cold remains if Sisto Buselli. A native of Isola Fossara in the province of Perugia, at the age of 33 he was killed by misfortune on the 15th day of April, 1918. He was an honest man and good, loved by all, a loyal brother, loving husband, affectionate father. His wife and daughters erected this monument to him, who was unforgettable.

It all sorts out fairly easily except for the ‘indimenticabile‘, which appears to be passive in its meaning: ‘unforgettable’, as opposed to (for example) ‘never forgetting’. To whom does ‘indimenticabile‘ belong, then? Gramatically, it ought to be the wife, but in practice it must be the husband. Perhaps things went a bit haywire due to cramped space.

Published by gsb03632

A college professor living in Scranton, PA

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