Photos of Corso Italia by @AhmedAlkoka, text by Caroline Di Giovanni
1. Old Memories
Corso Italia, St. Clair and Dufferin,
Listen to the voices
that claimed this location
for a good many years
in the post-World War Two
We came here for the streets of gold
in America, Canada, wherever we could get in.
We were mostly kids, young men with strong arms,
leaving our villages ruined by warfare.
We came here to work,
our only intention,
to sweat and to save and send money to Mamma
then maybe our brothers and sisters would join us
after that would be time for a sweetheart, and family.
The joke was on us,
streets were not paved with gold
they were not paved at all!
That would be our first labour
With plenty to do, long hours, tough bosses.
But on Sunday morning, ah,
no work on Sunday morning.
That’s the time we go to church
a la chiesa di Santa Chiara
We dress up, we walk with our friends.
this is St. Clair, our street in Toronto.
2. The Veranda Angel
Nonna has an angel! Nonna has an angel!
Oh Ma, do you still have that old thing?
Eh, that’s my angel. She takes good care of my house.
Ma, you know we’ll have to move it when we put the house for sale.
No way you move my angel while I still live here.
But Ma, the real estate says—
No! That’s my angel. She stays right there. She protects the family. You know that.
Okay, okay, Ma, we leave the angel – for now.
3. Summer on the Veranda
White rattan table,
two comfortable chairs
waiting for the first warm days
to go outside, to sit outside
and watch the neighbours
up and down the street.
Buongiorno. Come stai? How are you?
Maria, how’s your son? Still in school?
Your daughter get married yet?
We’re okay, we’re okay.
My son, he moved to Maple.
Looks like everybody moves there now.
Hello. We’re your new next door.
This is Anita, she’s three.
Say hi to the lady, Anita.
Hi, lady. She’s a little shy today.
We just moved in a week ago,
such a friendly neighbourhood.
4. Good House, Prime Location
Detached single-family house,
Four bedrooms, three baths,
Finished basement, renovated kitchen
Walk-out deck with barbeque
Set back from sidewalk,
Steps from the St. Clair 512 streetcar.
Offers to be submitted,
Friday next week.
5. Fire Escape
Who lives here will be ready for
a quick escape from danger
a fire in the kitchen, or
a strange intruder. This place
has seen its share of trouble
in the past. That’s over now,
in the brickwork.
When this house was new
three families fit inside, with
room for the latest newcomer
looking to sacrifice comfort, save,
and send the money back home
to the wife waiting in the village.
A house this big makes history
coming and going,
surviving the various stories
told to the walls and the corners.
6. Fruit for Sale
Always fruit, plenty of fruit!
Buy my fresh oranges, juicy and big.
Come get your mangoes, fresh from the tropics,
blueberries, strawberries, raspberries,
in from Mexico and California!
Anything local, grown in Canada?
Inside we got apples and potatoes,
turnips, carrots, hothouse tomatoes.
For all the rest you’ll have to wait
and hurry back when the peach season comes.
7. Consiglio’s on St. Clair
This is the place to buy espresso makers
stovetop, every size, from 12 cups down to single
and the fancy automatic, too.
This is the kind of pasta maker you learn on,
from your mother and your zia, when you’re 10.
You can find everything here-
But wait. It’s starting to look empty.
What’s going on?
Yeah, there’s a big sale now,
we’re moving to Etobicoke
to a warehouse big enough
to serve the downtown clients and
the families in Woodbridge.
Don’t worry –
there will always be Consiglio’s.
Come and find us when it’s time
to can tomato sauce and roasted peppers.
8. Say Cheese
This is the greatest place ever!
I drove in from Brampton
-from Forest Hill.
This is where I get my gorgonzola
You can have a panino
at a table in the back,
then buy 300 grams
of good prosciutto
to savor at home
And did you notice the photo of Cher?
a souvenir of Moonstruck, on location.
The banners fly from lamp posts all along
Corso Italia, Dufferin and St. Clair.
They greet pedestrians on the sidewalk
Welcome to the street that hosted
The huge celebration of Italy’s World Cup win
in 1982, spontaneous outpouring
of joy and pride and victory and arrival
Hurrah! We are here now, here for the long run.
Come and join the tricolor party,
All are welcome! Ciao!
Corso Italia carries on the name
and the tricolors red, white, and green
appear in store windows of every type.
The times are changing.
means Hello and also means
Farewell, So long, Good bye
See you later, Come again.