“Even the shadows appeared to be dead to the admiration that I still remained alive”
-Dante Alighieri

My Grandfather had a notorious reputation. Just like any other gypsy during the Prelude of the Second World war, he was a thief. He was a happy man, even though he was always struggling for money, but he was glad they were all together. Bartolomeo Di Salvatore had what my grandmother’s colleagues would call an “Erudite appeal.” The man loved learning, and he was very good at it. He used to say that he was born in a day of a disaster, and he might probably die in the middle of a disaster. Bartolomeo Di Salvatore was born in May 31, 1911. The same day that the Titanic sank. He knew how to read, and write, and he was also very good at math; even though, he never went to school. He was one meter and eight centimetres tall, skinny with a couple of golden teeth. This man was very difficult to intimidate, and even though he feared many things, no one could ever know. His job was a very interesting one. During the day, he used to read hands, and tell fortunes. At night, he used to steal horses and jewellery from the dead corpses that he had excavated in near-by cemeteries. I never lived the life that he lived, and he ensured that I never should. I never thought on thanking him for what he did for all of us. This man gave us the opportunity to go to school and get educated.

His biggest worry was his family. “I only fear death if it is inflicted on my loved ones.” In the other hand his brother Giacomo di Salvatore, was a bit cowardly and quite the opposite of my grandfather. While Bartolomeo is out working, Giacomo was at home, complaining about his situation. Bartolomeo always knew that hard work not always pays off, but intelligence always does; which is what Carol S. Dweck defines in her book Mindset to be a man with a growth mindset. Here we have two men, one year apart one another. Giacomo believes that his situation would never change because he does not have what it takes; while, at the same time, Bartolomeo believes that anything can be achieved as long as you put all your mind and body into it. However, these men did share the similar thought that men are men’s worst enemy.

On June 10, 1940. The kingdom of Italy enters the war. The race for safety begins.

Bartolomeo was twenty-nine years old. With a pregnant wife, and two children in hand he rushed his family to reach the nearest caravan that will take them to safety. Bartolomeo always wanted to be respected for the things he knew, not feared for the things he had done. The nearest caravan was on the way to Lisbon, Portugal. From there the passenger will take a boat that would take them to Panama, Central America. My grandfather accompanied his family and the caravan in their pilgrimage to safety. Two days later they found themselves crossing the river Loir into the city of Montoire, Nazi Occupied France. The caravan was forced to stop by an army of passing soldiers. Almost four-thousand five-hundred men walked in the opposite direction. The Capitan of the Brigade asked the people for any information about the nazi posts, it was the French Resistance. Bartolomeo grabbed a pencil and paper, and drew a map of every crossing, street, buildings and construction zones with impeccable detail. This man had actually memorised the entire trajectory from their genesis up to their arrival to France. There was no doubt that Bartolomeo Di Salvatore was needed for war.

“people with growth mindset are also constantly monitoring what’s going on.” (Dweck 319)

The man had to choose: or either go to war with these men, or ensure his family survives. He chose family. After lying to the captain of the French Resistance brigade, the man was able to continue on moving, and after what just happened, he was in full command of the entire caravan. The arrival to the Spanish border was bittersweet. A country that one year before was battling with a civil war, was a safer place to be. Hidden in luggage he took out a box. In the box he had almost Fifteen thousand U.S. Dollars worth of jewellery. “Promise me that you’ll send the children to school, and you’ll incorporate yourself to the society. Promise me that you will change the direction of our family, and you will make a better future for yourself and the girls.” His wife turned pale.

Bartolomeo Di Salvatore chose war once his family was safe. He made it possible for all of them and the family to survive and to get educated. The first person to ever graduate from school was my grandmother. The education continued and as of today, I had never felt so thankful to come from a family of people who did not have an education, but not because they did not wanted it, but because they could not have it. My grandfather’s words resound in the mind of every single member of our family; To educate ourselves, to be men of good, to be men of God. The factor that made this man able to achieve things in life was to never give up, and the belief that there is no such thing as a superior man. He had a growth mindset, and the more he knew, the more he wanted to know. And even thought he never went to a classroom as a student, he ensured that the following generations were not denied the gift of knowledge.

Note: Photographies are added in order to simply add a visual feeling to the stories. They are unrelated.


Dweck, Carol S. Mindset. London: Robinson, an Imprint of Constable & Robinson, 2017. Print.


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