8. Popular and Admired

TWO YEARS OF COURTSHIP passed. The people of Farindola had known that the merry songster could be serious when he put his mind to something. The people also now noticed that the self-disciplined young woman apparently had one weakness.

But everyone knew that Serafino was the lighthearted one in the relationship. At 25, he was the swarthy young swain with the chiseled cleft chin and the monumental handlebar moustache so full and thick that it was never worth the trouble shaving it. His lazy right eye often drifted outward, softening his fiercely masculine looks. He found it difficult to look people straight in the eye, and they found it difficult to look him straight in the eye. He couldn’t take himself or others too seriously. He was popular.

Everyone knew that Maria was the stabilizing force. She was built nearly as solidly as Serafino and stood about an inch taller. She was the type of woman who might be called both beautiful and handsome. Her pursed lips and rounded cheeks were framed by a formidable forehead. Her gray eyes were soft and gentle, but her eyelids seemed permanently saddled with responsibility. Even when she smiled, her eyebrows refused to rise along with the sides of her mouth. Even in moments of joy, she remained attentive to dangers and tended to the work that needed to be done. She was known for taking care of business and for being mature beyond her 18 years. She was admired.

As a couple, Serafino and Maria embodied the hopes of Farindola. He was the oldest son in a family of seven children. She was the oldest of ten children. When they wed in the village church in September 1911 in front of their surviving parents, his six siblings, her nine siblings, and nearly the entire populace of Farindola, Serafino and Maria knew that the future of the village rested on their shoulders.