Death of a Peasant
March 24, 2016

He looked up from his seat in front of the Municipio to see two men approaching from the eastern road.

He knew it was too early for the peasants to be returning from the fields for the afternoon meal, so his gaze studied the two men as they approached. One was older. Too old to be a field worker, yet his dress and manner indicated he was a poor peasant. The other man was younger but hardly youthful. Both were bent over from years of hard labor. The dust and dirt of the road and fields covered their shoes and clothes.

The two men looked up and saw Francesco leaning against his chair at the doorway. They nodded. The old man removed his cap and spoke softly, with a greeting of respect. The younger man was silent, his eyes cast downward....

"I come to report a death Sir", said the old man. His voice as deep as the limestone quarries of the Madonie.

"Where are you from?", asked the town official.

"Malpasso", returned the old peasant.

Francesco looked across the street to a young lad standing next to the fountain. Calling him over, he motioned the two men to enter the Municipio. He then instructed the boy to find the carrettiere and have him bring his wagon to the town hall.
Stepping inside he seated the two men in chairs against the wall and walked over behind his desk. Opening a drawer he pulled out a faded ledger and opened it to a blank page. With his ink pen in hand, he looked over at the two men sitting.

"Malpasso, huh, ....which family? La Tona, di Geraci or LoDico?, asked the clerk.

The old man, looked across to Francesco, then down to the ledger and said, 'LoDico, ....we found him in the vineyard. He didn't return....". His voice trailed off as he looked to the younger man, who nodded.

"The son of the old man... Cristofaro, yes?" said Francesco. The two men nodded.

"Blessed the old man is long gone, not to witness this", thought Francesco. He remembered the stories of the three campiere families who made the "Bad Pass" safe. They now owned Malpasso.

"His age?" asked the clerk.

The two men, looked at each other, then back at the town official. The older man gazed upward and to the right, thinking. 'He was born the year of the 'terremoto', when the church bell was damaged"..... he reflected.

"1707" thought the clerk......
He dipped his pen in the ink and began....

In the year 1750, on the day 27, of the month August, at the hour 11, before me, Francesco Pasquale Giovecchio, official of the Civil Registration of the town of Blufi, frazione of Petralia Soprana, Province of Palermo, appears......

He looked up at the old man and asked the questions. Then wrote....

Giuseppe Macaluso, age 73, profession contadino, citizen living in the quartiere Malpasso, of the town Blufi.

He paused, lifting his pen and looked up at the younger man. The second peasant, removed his hat, and cleared his voice....
Francesco wrote....

And Calogero di Geraci, age 54, profession contadino, citizen living in the quartiere Malpasso, of the town Blufi. Both of whom declare that on the day 27, of the month August, in the year 1750, at the hour 7, Calogero LoDico, age 43, profession campiere, married to Vincenza di Geraci, died.

"Signore Cerami will be here with the wagon. Bring him back into town. I will fetch the priest to go out to the family", said Francesco to the two men.
As the ink dried, he stood up and motioned to the door. The three men exited the room, back into the bright sun of the Mezzogiorno.