BY DOMENICO CASTAGNA
On October 19th of every year my thoughts are with you, my friend!
Classmate, study, teammate, gamemate, taken away too soon by an atrocious and mocking fate at just 17 years old, due to a moped accident in the center of Ischia.
In all this time I have never forgotten you. Protect your parents from above, who survived so much pain for a long time and, if you can, still watch over me, your school, my family and our Casamicciola!
Hi Cyrus Coppola!
They often ask me why I have never driven. Perhaps the answer dates back more than 40 years ago, to October 19, 1976. It was a gloomy morning, it wasn’t cold, but the rain was annoying. As a young student, I attended lessons at the Liceo Classico of Ischia, then located in the old headquarters, where the lawyers are now. Normal school day, spent between rules of Greek and Latin classics. In the middle of the day I was at the gym. We didn’t feel like playing volleyball, so I and I, my two class mates, Ciro and Giovangiuseppe, climbed onto the Swedish painting and found a place, in one of those wooden rectangles, dangling legs, hands attentive to gripping the bars to stay in equilibrium. We did it often, under the resigned gaze of prof. of physical education, Vito Verde. I remember we talked about football; in the afternoon I had training with Perrone in Forio. Ciro was part of my same team; Giovangiuseppe, on the other hand, loved basketball and tennis. There would have been training in the afternoon, but we didn’t like the rain. Making rounds and rounds of the pitch under water, perhaps without seeing the ball, didn’t excite us. It was therefore peaceful to agree on other commitments. Ciro would come to my house in the afternoon to study. With the coach we would have found an excuse. Giovangiuseppe followed our conversation up to a certain point, then he got off the picture to take a couple of puffs. Ciro and I continued to converse. We arranged for the study; I would translate the Greek passage assigned for the next day, he would work on the algebra. To buy time and maybe not spend all the afternoon hours on books. We would have done so. Meanwhile the rain seemed to have given a break. Ciro had come to school on his moped. He didn’t feel like leaving it in the building’s secure parking lot. He hoped that the bad weather would give some respite, at least at the time of departure. The ringing of the bell warned us of the end of physical education class. We went back to class. The remaining hours passed in the most absolute normality. At 13.30 we went out. The rain had turned to drizzle. Ciro approached, worried about the moped. He didn’t want to leave it there. I suggested that he call his father on the phone, to have him come and pick him up. Maybe he would give me a ride. We were both from Casamicciola, I Perrone, he Piazza Bagni. He had a different plan, Ciro. He wanted me to stand in the back with an umbrella, to protect both of us. The idea did not excite me. He insisted, but I didn’t accept. We said goodbye with the promise to meet in the afternoon at my house to study. I went to the bus stop, while he, under the drizzle, started up his yellow scooter and headed towards Heroes’ Square, waving at me with his right hand. I followed him with my eyes, as long as I could. The rain seemed to want to stop. Franco’s sixteenth century passed, a friend of one of my companions whom he was flirting with, saw me and asked if I wanted a lift to Casamicciola. I accepted without hesitation, a little perplexed when he turned towards San Ciro instead of continuing towards Piazza degli Eroi. He told me that they had diverted traffic due to an accident near Scaglione. We had to take another route. Then there was not yet the sopra(sopra)elevated. We passed near Scaglione, there were people, but we didn’t stop. Behind, the cars were ringing. It was time to go home for lunch. I reached Perrone just when it started raining again, this time with more insistence. And it was like this all afternoon, so I didn’t worry too much about the fact that Ciro hadn’t come to study with me. Among other things, I didn’t have a telephone and therefore he would not have been able to warn me. At 17.30 I remembered my commitment with the Parish group: we had to sing for the Mass of St. Paul, at the Church of the Passionists. Closed the books, a quick snack and then off to the Church. It was then that I knew it. Reading the Manifesto, on the corner of the then Bar Wunderbar. Thus it was that I learned that Ciro was no longer there, that he had had a terrible accident, that he had been crushed between a bus and a truck. You can imagine the rest of the story, you can understand my reaction, my consternation, my disbelief. I didn’t see Ciro on his deathbed, I wanted to remember him as I had known him. Solar, serious, with a lot of love for mathematics. Since then he is my angel; I do not do a thing without invoking their help. I’m part of the jury of the Poetry Prize dedicated to him and there isn’t a year that, on October 19, he doesn’t go to Mass with his family, his splendid parents, until the Lord kept them alive. It will be like this tonight too. Sometimes I think about what his life would have been like. I guess he would have chosen math in college. He was brought. Many of those high school mates are still in contact with me, we often talk about Ciro, sometimes about Giovangiuseppe, the excellent pediatrician, the one who kept us company that day on the Swedish painting. He too left too soon. And now it’s time to go to school. Long day today. I greet everyone at home, I ask my son to be careful of the water on the fire. By the way, he teaches math.
Ciro Coppola was born on November 20, 1959 to Salvatore and Giuseppina Maltempo.
He died on October 19, 1976 at sixteen years, ten months and eleven days in a car accident.
He was a boy of his time. She successfully attended the second year of Liceo Classico, “she loved the Beatles and the Rolling Stones” and the game of football.
Two years before his death, he and a group of friends had founded the “Pro Casamicciola Terme”, a “cultural and sporting” association for a fair use of youth’s free time.
In 1978 the friends of the “Pro Casamicciola Terme”, who have increased over the years, decided to expand the social purposes of the Association also taking care of the economic and tourist promotion of Casamicciola Terme and thought of dedicating a National Poetry Award to Ciro exclusively to high school students, Ciro’s peers, so that his name resounded in every school in Italy and then in Europe as an example of a studious youth fascinated by the expressive tool of the poetic word together with that of Casamicciola Thermal baths on the island of Ischia, the country that gave him birth and where he rests forever in the certainty of the Resurrection.