Medoro PALLONE

Medoro was born in Sgurgola (province of Frosinone, Italy) on 1892 January 10th, probably in his parents' house in via del Calvario, being third of eight sons of Camillo Pallone, a 34-years-old blacksmith from a family native of Morolo (also in the province of Frosinone) and of Lorenza Posta, a 25-years-old housewife, daughter of the notary Raffaele and of Maria Perfetti. Lorenza lost her father when she was six years old, and her mother when she was eight, so she grew up under the wardship of her uncle don Domenico Posta, who belonged to a noble family of Sgurgola, the counts Posta della Posta.
Medoro attended primary schools in Sgurgola, his teacher was a very cultivated and vigorous priest, who stimulated his intelligence and gave him a very advanced school preparation, almost at a secondary school level.
The priest tried to convince Medoro to enter the Seminary, to pursue his studies, since he was intelligent and bright; he tried to convince Medoro's father, explaining that at the end of the studies the young man would not be forced to become a priest, but Camillo didn't agree, luckily for all the descendants.
Camillo was a socialist, he used to wear a necktie à la Lavalliére, his father Francesco died in jail because he had given a policeman a punch. Camillo was a blacksmith, as his father and his brothers Antonio were; he also had a sister, Candida, who lived with her husband in another village of Ciociaria (the region of Frosinone). Between the sons of Camillo only Guido became a blacksmith.
As all his male brothers Medoro studied a musical instrument, the clarinet.
Come tutti i fratelli maschi Medoro studiava uno strumento musicale, il clarinetto.
At the age of
16 years (in 1908) Medoro went to Rome to prepare himself to become an engine-driver, having his apprenticeship at "Officine Tabanelli" workshop in via Prenestina and attending night school.
In Rome he dwelt by his uncle Gerolamo Posta (nicknamed "Momo"), brother of his mother Lorenza and, besides preparing his "masterpiece", a piece or a tool to be made to clear the competition for engine-drivers, he read books and went to the Opera. Even his brother
Ennio, lived in Rome and succeeded in being an engine-driver, even if, being anarchist, he was continuously transferred in several provinces of Italy.
Medoro could not become an engine-driver because in 1912, at the age of twenty, he was forced to leave to serve in the army. He was assigned to the grenadiers, but the farewell party before leaving made him reach his detachment one day late, and as a punishment he was sent to the 1
st Heavy Artillery regiment, in Alessandria and then in Casale Monferrato (province of Alessandria, Piedmont), and this probably saved his life, since in the imminent Great War the grenadiers underwent much more losses than artillerymen. In the following years Medoro recalled the big chill as he was on guard in Casale Monferrato.

As Medoro was on the point to complete the three years of conscription, the Great War broke out and he was sent to the front, that he reached holding the rank of sergeant.
Medoro fought on Asiago plateau (amongst other places in Luserna), by Piave river, on Montello hills, in Vittorio Veneto, he took part in the seizure of
Gorizia and in Caporetto defeat: he used to describe this battle as a betrayal of the Generals.
We can read on his
matriculation sheet that he had a mention in dispatches saying: "He showed a commendable valour in digging up, together with other soldiers, and under intense fire of the enemy artillery, three of his comrades who had been swept away by the ruins produced by the burst of a 240 grenade - Gorizia 1917 May 17th - Ord. Berm. N°249 - Granted with Cross for war merit, by determination of the 13th Army Corps, the 1918 July 2nd". On 30th October 1918 he was decorated with the War Merit Cross.
During the war a very sensitive mare was assigned to him, and saved his life many times: once they had to cross a river, but the mare refused to go ahead and, shortly after, the place where they had to cross was hitted by a great number of bombs.
After the war, demobilized with the rank of warrant-officier, he came back to Sgurgola disheartened and traumatized, resolved to see no more wars; the fascist movement started to show itself, and Medoro at the beginning watched it with curiosity, then he realized the bullying the fascists made against workers and opposers, and begun to associate with Sgurgolan anti-fascists who lived in Rome (amongst the others the Pompi brothers), and so he became an anti-fascist.

He was also appointed correspondent from Sgurgola of the daily newspaper "Il Mondo" founded by the antifascist leader Giovanni Amendola and shut down by the fascists in 1926.
He opened a grocery on the main street of Sgurgola, and married Adele, also known as Adelina, the nineteen-old daughter of small landowners of the village. The pair went and dwell in a house owned by the Pallone grandparents on Muraglione square (named "piazza dell'Arringo"). Medoro restructured the house adding it a floor. The pair gave birth to four daughters: Maria Gabriella, Vezia, Ena and, several years later, Maria Raffaella.
For his participation in Communist movement Medoro was "reduced from the rank of warrant-officier for his public manifestations of subversive opinions, propaganda or intrigues and direct or indirect participation to association or manifestations hostile to the fundamental institutions of the state, by Royal Decree of 1925 November 27th" as can be read on his
matriculation sheet.
Medoro made his anti-fascist choice evident when he didn't go to vote the 1929 "plebiscite", elections with just one register, refusing also to leave the voting-paper blank. He always tried to avoid any clash with the fascists, but one day a fascist procession passed on the main road, and overtook him in front of his grocery with his hat on; when a fascist enjoined him: "take off your hat", Medoro stood with folded arms and his hat on; the fascist didn't dare to attack him.
Soon he was forced to close the store because, being anti-fascist, he was overloaded with taxes; moreover he couldn't do other jobs because he wasn't a member of the fascist party; then he started to dedicate himself to rational
bee-keeping, bringing himself up to date with the newest books on the topics and purchasing the best and and most modern equipments (for instance he ordered from a firm of Turin the Dadant-Blatt beehives).
His activity was seen with skepticism by the villagers, who practised a primitive bee-keeping, based on the destruction of the beehives at every honey-extraction and who thought it was impossible to make money with "wasp shit".

Medoro's beehives were placed both in Sacco river valley, at Villa Magna, near the ruins of a Roman imperial villa, both in other villages of the region, for instance at Anagni, near the railway station, and at Isola Liri. He also raised queen bees in the garden of his parents' house, in via del Calvario at Sgurgola, where he planted officinal herbs and fruitful trees besides a path, to supply the bees pollen.
He bought a car and, associated with his cousin Elia, he travelled around the region to examine his beehives (to check the condition of the apiaries, supply rescue feeding and to extract honey). He sold honey to the firms Tassi and Ambrosia. In the best years he produced up to 3000 kgs of honey, having good profits, which the fascists attributed to the "Russian gold".
Medoro also bred chicken and laying hens in his land named Capuani, below via del Calvario, always with rational breeding methods, and modern equipments, like the incubator; on the same land he also bred pigs, of Perugina breed, whose meat was then processed by Adele to make salamis and sausages.
For his anti-fascists activities and ideas he was periodically arrested with some pretext on the occasion of public solemnities or when the king or Mussolini passed in the outskirts; he was usually secluded in a detention room in Sgurgola or Anagni, Frosinone, Piglio and Acuto, together with common prisoners, in awful hygienic conditions, and amongst parasites..
For example, on the occasion of the wedding on January 8
th, 1930 between Prince Umberto of Savoy (the King-to-be Umberto II) and Princess Marie José of Belgium, Medoro "being included in the list of people dangerous in political line to be arrested in certain circumstances" was arrested on December 28th, 1929 for measures "on the occasion of August Wedding" and released on January 11th, 1930.
He was usually released after two or three days, but he had to be on the alert; he was often secluded also in Rome's jail, Regina Coeli, where many Communist prisoners gave lessons of politics and Communist teaching, and where Medoro knew many Communist Party leaders. In Rome's jail the detention conditions for him were some better than in country jails, the political prisoners gathered together and the jailers respected them, even if however Medoro did not appreciate them.
The political activity of Medoro was centered on the attempt to reconstitute the Communist Party, for this goal he met many persons; one day one of them, a man from Sgurgola who lived in Rome, betrayed him and accused him, besides of subversive activities, even of planning a dynamite attack to BPD (Bombrini Parodi Delfino) bomb factory at Colleferro (province of Rome); the delation drove thirty persons of Sgurgola in jail.
Medoro was tried by a special court, and during the trial the informer retracted the accusation, so the fascists punished him and beat the soles of his feet with small sacks filled with sand, so they didn't leave any mark on him.
In spite of the spy's retractation, Medoro on February 19th 1938 was anyway sentenced to one year of confinement at San Nicola, an island of Tremiti archipelago, off the Apulia coast, where he found many other confined anti-fascists; as he disembarked they already knew everything about him and, knowing his skills, they made him director of mess.
In San Nicola the internees slept in a dormitory, drunk water unloaded from a tanker, and had a small daily allowance (named "mazzetta") to buy food and cigarettes; on the island it was impossible to find vegetables and the quality of the meat which was available was very low, therefore Medoro, in order to vary the meals and to save money, started to buy fish from the islander fishermen, mainly dentexes, which passed by the shore in very thick shoals.
Medoro and his brother Guido (they were always arrested together) were allowed to come back home from the confinement for few days, because their father Camillo had an ictus.
As they arrived in Sgurgola, looking very slim and darkened by the sun, they were led by the police through the village, with a suite of kids, happy for the novelty. The two brothers had to sleep together by the Medoro parents-in-law, the Corsi family, and an escort of two policemen slept in the next room. By day they could go by their parents, in via del Calvario, always followed by the policemen, and they could meet their relatives.
Medoro's parents-in-law, Giuseppe and Domenica Corsi (even bearing the same surname they weren't relatives: the family name "Corsi" is still very common in Sgurgola) although not being openly antifascist, didn't like to withstand fascist abuses: when they tried to compel Giuseppe to consign "to the homeland" the
iron railing in front of their house (on the present via Amendola) in order to reuse its iron for war purposes, the man replied with a vehement refusal.
Medoro's parents lived in via del Calvario until their death. Camillo died in 1941, and until the age of eighty (more or less the same period in which his sons were confined) he worked in his smithery, in front of his house (today the number 19 of via del Calvario), but then Medoro convinced him to stop (Medoro used to called his father "tata", using an old-fashioned way, previous to the adoption of the term "papà").
At the end of the leave Medoro and Guido went back to the Tremiti, and then, at the end of the term, back to Sgurgola. After his coming back Medoro was kept under police surveillance, and so he couldn't meet more than two persons, but the most part of the people of Sgurgola avoided even to say him hullo, even if then they sent him somebody to apologize for this, justifying themselves with the fear of reprisals for themselves and their children.
Even his letters were opened and read and, when he wrote his brother Gustavo in the USA, he used he used a coded language, avoiding to quote the real names of the persons, but defining them as "the son of …", followed by the nickname (in dialect) of his father or his mother.
Medoro underwent continuous perquisitions of the police in his house, who could not recognize the subversive books he owned, and instead sequestrated innocuous books or directly critical towards Communism, as a book on Soviet jails.
The policemen, on the occasion of controls and perquisitions, usually had a polite behaviour. In spite of this, one day the warrant-officier of Sgurgola police station interrogated Medoro, and receiving sarcastic replies, in his report defined Medoro's manners as "cynical and repulsive", that reminded greatly the "haughty and arrogant manners", the terms that a prefect used to define Sandro Pertini's behaviour before the fascist special court for the defence of the State.
One day his daughter Vezia, being a child, was caressed by a policeman, and reacted saying him: "you, with your filthy hat, you imprisoned my father" (the policeman wore the classic three-cornered hat).
On 1940 June 10th Italy came into war beside nazi Germany, and against United Kingdom and France; Medoro understood this was the end of Mussolini, since attacking United Kingdom sooner or later will have involved United States, with their huge military strength.
During the Second World War Medoro stood in Sgurgola and wasn't arrested anymore, even if he ran a big risk when a fascist of Sgurgola went at the Wermacht officier who commanded the antiaircraft battery installed by the railway station and gave him the list of the anti-fascists of Sgurgola, where the name of Medoro was at the first place, but the officier tore up the list in his face.
One day he went to Rome with his daughter Gabriella to buy her a watch as a present for clearing the final examination of the lycée; that night they went for dinner in a restaurant in via dello Scalo di San Lorenzo, with some Communist comrades, like Aurelio Caratelli (once exiled in France) and Guido Pompi. After one or two days, 1943 July 18th, that quarter was destroyed by the well known bombing of San Lorenzo. In the quarter there were the railwaymen's houses, and between them there were many people from Sgurgola.
Sgurgola wasn't directly involved in any bombing, but his inhabitants saw and heard the cannon-shots of the artillery pass over their heads, they saw the allied bombers pass, and saw the fighters shot down (and took part in saving the allied pilots from the Germans).
Moreover the Germans made repeated combing out operations to capture every man fit for the job to be sent and dig trenches at Cassino, but Medoro and his relatives always succeeded to escape, running away on the fields below the village and then climbing the mountain, after passing below San Giovanni church.
One day the Germans came in the house to comb out and found only Gabriella, who drove them in any room of the house; the soldiers found the bed unmade and asked where the men were, and as she answered they were in the fields to work, the chief commented: "Italians nichts working!". Medoro in the meanwhile observed with anxiety the scene from the mountain.
Eventually Sgurgola was freed by Moroccan and French troops; in the village nobody knew the rapes and other violent act made by the Moroccans in the southern Ciociaria, and the rough manners used by the French officiers to deal with them were judged as manifestations of the worst colonialism.
Anyway lthe liberating troops destroyed Medoro's beehives, so that he was left without means of maintenance, and just after many years he could get a trifling sum as a compensation of war damages, even if he had tried in any manner to assert his own rights.
Having lost the only source of earnings, the family got along as they could, for instance baking bread to be sold by retail, and Adele also worked come as a cook. His daughter Ena was forced to abandon the university studies at the Architecture faculty, while Gabriella could get a Social worker diploma only thanks to a scholarship.
At the end of the war many anti-fascists of Sgurgola planned to be revenged against the fascists for the persecutions underwent during the fascist dictature, but Medoro succeeded to rein them in, arguing: "we are not like them" and anyway remarking that noone of the anti-fascists had been killed.
Medoro was elected provincial deputy, the province seat was provisionally Fiuggi, since Frosinone was destroyed. Moreover he engaged himself in the peasants unions, like
Federterra, and Alleanza Contadina and, as an acknowledgment for his engagement, a reclamation canal in Isola Liri was named after him.
He was also active in the Frosinone Communist Party Federation. Medoro was an impassioned and effective public speaker, and was also active in making political meetings in the province. The Communist Party leaders decided to stand him as a candidate for the Chamber of deputies, but after communicating him this statement, they changed their mind and the candidature faded away. Medoro remained until his deat ha
member of the Communist Party and of ANPPIA (Italian National Association of Antifascist Victims of Political Persecution).
Being atheist Medoro did not made christen his daughters and, as they grew up, they made it secretly, of their own initiative or under pressure and attendance of relatives. The family didn't use to celebrate any religious solemnity, and they laughed at the strange habits of the village's bigots.
When the war ended, since Camillo died in 1941, the Pallone brothers distributed their father's estates, and the house at Muraglione was allotted Gustavo, the brother emigrated in America, who demanded it at any cost and, as he got it, he sold it to a Sgurgola woman emigrated in the United States, who wanted to come back home.
Being left homeless, Medoro was forced to adapt his father's smithery, where he lived until his death.
His father Camillo used to smoke just one or two cigars a day, but Medoro was a heavy smoker of filterless cigarettes; one day, by a badly extinguished butt, he set fire on a straw hut built in the land that his wife had inherited in La Cesa, near the neighbouring village of Morolo.

Smoking provoked Medoro a lung tumor; on 1966 October 13th, at the age of 74, he was suddenly taken ill, his daughter Gabriella rushed from Rome and took care of calling an ambulance to hospitalize him in Rome, since the village's doctor wasn't there.
During the ambulance trip, with no doctor on board, Medoro had a respiratory crisis, so the ambulance tried to reach at least
Colleferro hospital, which was closer, but Medoro got there lifeless. Two days later Medoro was buried in Sgurgola cemetary (see the news on l'Unità). The Communist Party cell of Sgurgola, then renamed basic unit of the Left Democrats, were named after him.


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Medoro Pallone's genealogic tree

page last updated: 2016 June 10th