The Italian Firemen

Goombas, known in Japan as Kuribo
Photo Credit: Wiki

New Jersey, with 1,590,225 goombahs, has the second largest number of Italians in the nation. As a child growing up in Bayonne, New Jersey, I once thought the entire country was filled with Italian Catholics. Indeed, most of the residents in my town trace their ancestry from three of the most Catholic countries in Europe. It wasn't until the fifth grade [1953] that I learned that the US was over 80% Protestant.

It was also during the fifth grade that my friend Augie taught me how to count in Italian and in return I taught him to count in Polish. I got the better of the deal since I actually got to use some Italian later in life while I doubt Augie had much occasion to use Polish numbers at all.

I'd like to digress for a moment to note that Protestants fell below 50% recently and are now in a minority position for the first time since American Independence. One of the rewards of following the Protestant Ethic is financial success which leads directly to having fewer children.

In all developed countries, except for immigrants, the birthrate is falling. As more of the population moves into cities, there is little financial incentive to having children. Where only a century ago, it was handy to have a half dozen or more children helping with the chores, milking, plowing or even in urban areas, shining shoes or selling newspapers, young people today find they reach financial success and security much sooner than did their parents and now do not need children to survive economically; so having children is just a bigger headache than a reward.

The United Nations 1998 Population Projection [PDF] calculated that global population will peak near 7.5 billion around 2040 and begin to decline thereafter. However, Muslims continue to have a high birthrate and so, in a few decades after 2040, we can expect the world to be majority Muslim.

On that sad note I offer the following bit of Italian humor:

Italian Firemen

One dark night in the small town of Garfield , New Jersey, a fire started inside the local sausage factory.

In a blink the building was engulfed in flames. The alarm went out to all the fire departments for miles around.

When the first volunteer fire fighters appeared on the scene, the sausage company president rushed to the fire chief and said, "All of our secret sausage recipes are in the vault in the center of the plant.

They must be saved. I will donate $50,000 to the fire department that brings them out and delivers them to me."

But the roaring flames held the firefighters off. Soon more fire departments had to be called in because the situation became desperate.

As the firemen arrived, the president shouted out that the offer to extricate the secret recipes was now $100,000 to the fire department that could save them.

Suddenly from up the road, a lone siren was heard as another fire truck came into sight. It was the fire engine of the nearby Lodi , NJ volunteer fire department composed mainly of Italian firefighters over the age of 65.

To everyone's amazement, the little run-down fire engine, operated by these Italian firefighters, passed fire engines parked outside the plant, and drove straight into the middle of the inferno.

Outside, the other firemen watched in amazement as the Italian old timers jumped off and began to fight the fire with a performance that was as if they were fighting to save their own lives.

Within a short time, the Lodi old timers had extinguished the fire and saved the secret recipes.

The grateful sausage company president joyfully announced that for such a superhuman accomplishment he was upping the reward to $200,000, and walked over to personally thank each of the brave elderly Italian firefighters.

A TV news crew rushed in after capturing the event on film. The 'on camera' reporter asked the Italian fire chief, "What are you going to do with all that money?"

"Wella," said Chief Pasquale De Luccinellavanti, the 70-year-old fire chief, "de fursta tinga we gonnna do isza fixa uppa de brakes on dat fockinna truck!!"

### End of my article ###

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