Thursday, February 11, 2016

End of The Triggering Town connections and active reading. From Mike Lohre

Dear students and fellow poets,

I tried to do a little research and internet work to give me a sense of place and time for Richard Hugo's book.  I was struck by how important it was for him to go back to Italy, even 20 years later, to try to find places and memories that he could not escape.  In some ways the trip is a metaphor for writing.

Here's some fun stuff about Italy, the times, the food, drinks and the cantinas he spoke of as now being lost to globalization.

Popular songs during the war:  Benny Goodman song "Don't Be That Way"  original Stardust by Hoagy Carmichael  Stardust later made popular by Nat King Cole

Food and drinks they spoke of having in Italy

Pasta e fagioli, meaning "pasta and beans", is a traditional meatless Italian dish, with peasant roots.  Now in vogue in all social classes.
See website for more on this popular plum brandy.



Troppo tensione.  Troppo miseria. Troppo fame. means "Too much fear.  Too much misery.  Too much hunger."

come mio fratello means "like a brother"

Places and Maps


Huge stone church in Cerignola.


From the 460th Bomb Group historian, writing about Spinazzola:
"Records show that Spinazzola existed as far back as the third century B.C. It was situated along the Roman road known as the Appian Way, which extended from Rome to the port city of Brindisi on the southern Italian coast. Opened in 321 B.C.,this road was built to connect Rome with the southern provinces of the peninsula, with Africa and the East. One could travel from Rome to Brindisi in 13/14 days. It is probable that most who served with the 460th Bomb Group (H) were unaware that the narrow, dusty tree-lined road that ran along the north side of the 460th air base was so historically significant."
Seattle and Boeing. Where the Admiral lived.

This was Boeing Plant 2 and the company actually built it to look like a village from the air to keep it from getting bombed.

B-17 Flying Fortress, the most famous product of these Boeing wartime plants.
From Boeing website: "Companies around the country coordinated their war efforts. B-17s were built at Boeing, Douglas Aircraft and Lockheed Aircraft factories. As American men went to war, women built airplanes. Thousands of women, symbolized by "Rosie the Riveter," took up the slack in the workforce, both at Boeing and at the Douglas Aircraft Co. At Boeing, they helped boost production from 60 planes per month in 1942 to an astounding 362 planes per month by March 1944 -- at one point the Seattle plant rolled out 16 planes in 24 hours. A total of 12,731 B-17s were produced around the country; of these Boeing built 6,981."


  1. I already had a rough idea of how great Italy was, but to be fair, I usually only think of the leaning tower of Pisa. There is so much to Italy I didn't realize until now. Thank you for opening my eyes to the detail.

  2. I find it astounding that the Seattle plant rolled out 16 planes in 24 hours. That's crazy. I've always been interested in Italy and I found all this new information very interesting.

  3. Considering Italy is on my bucket list of places to visit, I thought all this information was really interesting to read through. One thing that really got my attention was when the Boeing Plant 2 was built, it looked more like a village. I thought this was very smart because I never would have thought to build it as a village so the chances were more slim of not getting bombed.

  4. I never really knew that much about Italy. I didn't know the culture and a whole lot about the the history either. Its interesting to read about these things and how they relate to the story. This is great context and really made things interesting.

  5. I knew a little about Italy from previous readings and even classes from high school, but I love this information. What I like was the plant for the Boeings. I never realize how big an airplane is until I'm near one, so I guess I never assumed the plant to build them would be any different. I wonder if anyone ever got lost while roaming the grounds?

  6. This is super cool. It's funny, because I was just talking with my mother about my trip to Italy next year, so this just kind of fits the theme for the day, I guess. I think I'm with a mass majority when I say that those bomb planes are nifty. I knew that the women built planes during WWII, but I had no idea how many and in what timeframe. That's so crazy. It was incredibly clever of the Boeing Plant 2 builders to make the plant look like a village, too. Sneaky.

  7. What I found the most helpful were the links to the songs. I really loved listening to all of them and trying to put myself in the shoes of Hugo as much as possible. I also thoroughly enjoyed exploring all of the research you did. It made his story come to life even more.


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