Dad got naturalized as a citizen in 1956. (He never got his green card — thanks to the private bill, in a little over two years, Dad went from the brink of deportation to citizenship. It’s the same benefit he would have gotten for his Korean War service if he’d qualified for HR 4233, which he missed by 12 days.)
Dad’s post-citizenship life is an entire other lifetime, so I won’t try to cover it all right now. Instead, I’ll focus on three objects that appear in Every Day Is a Holiday: A hat, a Mustang, and a lamp.
As stated in the movie, after college (as a 30-something freshman), Dad went to medical school in Bologna, Italy. There’s a festival for matriculating students, where everyone wears hats that they decorate with personal items and embroidered patches that they can buy from vendors.
On the back of Dad’s hat is a patch that reads, “Gli errori del medico sono ricoperti dalla terra”, or “The errors of the doctor are covered by dirt.”
Above it is a personalized souvenir badge from the Chicago Board of Trade Observatory, June 28, 1947, from his days at electrical school.
Here’s a skeleton with the legend, “Era mio cliente,” or “This was my patient.”
On the side, you can see the insignia of the 25th Infantry Division (“Tropic Lightning”), a bandage, a kangaroo, medicinal bottles, and a patch with an bearded old man that reads, “Saro laureato,” essentially saying, “This is me when I graduate.”
We learned about my Dad’s black VW Beetle in the movie, but we only caught a glimpse of his second car: a black 1969 Mustang, which he bought when he was living and working in New York after medical school. He says he was basically convinced to buy it by a friend (he’s never really been a car guy), and bought it outright.
My sister and I only knew of this as my Mom’s car, which she would cart us around in, which meant baking, sticking agony in the summer thanks to its black vinyl interior. It was also a sight to see this tiny woman behind the wheel of a V-8 sports car. It would have been more impressive if it weren’t for the lengths of gray duct tape that ran down the entire right side of the car, from when my Dad sideswiped a NYC garbage truck and never got it fixed.
In fact, he basically stopped taking good care of the car after it kept getting broken into in the 1970s Bronx. (Someone had popped the trunk lock, so instead of a key, we used a screwdriver poked through the hole where the lock used to be to open the latch.)
The Mustang was eventually sold — for a song — to a boyfriend of our neighbor’s daughter.
The lamp was a retirement gift from co-workers at the Veterans Administration hospital where he spent most of his career. Dad worked in rehabilitation medicine, helping veterans recovering from amputations, injuries, and disabilities. It was one of the ways he felt he could pay back the Americans who’d helped to liberate him from the POW camp.
For diabetics and other patients with reduced sensation in their feet, amputation was an all-too-frequent result of not taking proper care of feet. (Small abrasions can lead to large ulcers, infection, and gangrene which leads to amputation — and it can mostly be prevented by keeping an eye on the feet. Dad was always big on preventative medicine.)
Next post: I wrap up this little series by wishing my father a Happy Father’s Day.
All photos in this post are screencaps from the film, Every Day Is a Holiday, and come from my father’s scrapbook. We’re working on digitizing and archiving all of them, including the captions he meticulously wrote in the margins.
In the meantime, learn how to buy a copy of Every Day Is a Holiday on DVD, where you can also sign up to be notified when the film becomes available on premium streaming services and other events.