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A Potato Saved My Family

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Family Story

A Potato Saved My Family During WWll in Southern Italy, my grandfather saved the family with a potato in his pocket. Food was scarce and most of the villagers had eaten what they had. Cultivating the land and preserving food gave the family our sustenance. My grandfather was resourceful, having planted potatoes at the furthest corner of the farm and a second patch up the mountainside along the route of where the sheep grazed. This was a place where my uncles, who were shepherds, could find them. It was far enough up and outside the field of vision that it wasn’t visible to any foragers. It was a trade-based economy at that point in time. My great grandmother always kept a cellar of dried fruit to have in the winter months and to trade for other goods, but her resourceful efforts were eventually drained in wartime. T he Germans arrived in Calabria and stationed themselves above the village. The war was nearing an end and the soldiers were hungry, weary, and out of food. They raided the farms along the mountainside on the way to our small village. Very quickly, the villagers learned that farmers who resisted giving up their resources resulted in their deaths. When the Germans arrived at our family farm, they took the last goat and threatened my grandfather that it wasn’t enough, gesturing to all the soldiers stationed above. Ready for the invasion, he pulled a singular potato from his pocket and gestured them to follow him. He guided the soldiers to the hidden potato patch at the furthest edge of the “campo" and began digging out the potatoes. Appeased, these potatoes spared our families potential demise at the hands of the solders. Afterward, my uncles would secretly fill their pockets with potatoes while seemingly herding sheep bringing them down the mountain, keeping the family fed. American forces later dropped boxes of care packages in the Southern Italian landscape, which contributed to surviving the desperate times until the war’s end. My grandmother had a reverence for the potato; it not only spared her family’s lives, but was a healing force of energy which she implemented in the new world. As a child playing on the floor, my father tripped while holding a teapot of scalding tea and scorched my stomach. Immediately, my grandmother began cutting potatoes and layering them on the burn. The majestic potatoes drew out the heat and miraculously I felt relief from the pain. I was healed with no trace of scar and was gratefully left with an imprint of the power of nature’s healing energy.


1 Step

Cut one potato into thin slices. Apply directly to skin to soothe a burn or draw out an infection.


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