The story of via Jenner told by the keepers of memory

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Antonio Bertoncini

There is no charm of the Champs Elysées, there is not even a Romanesque cathedral, but for those who live there, and especially for those who have lived there, it is the most beautiful neighborhood in the world. A suburban street, a neighborhood of public housing built by the Iacp in the southern stretch of via Evasio Colli and little else: but in via Jenner there is a lot of humanity, the mixed one of poor Parmesan and people from the South, equally poor, who have come here in search of fortune, there is a time of life that is not forgotten for those who arrived here in the sixties.

It is the little-celebrated, little-known, little-told city that contains the lives of those Parmesans who, during the years of the economic boom, moved to these popular buildings, giving life to a microcosm of solidarity. To save this heritage of memories, Musei Urbani, in collaboration with the Movement Study Center, has started a collection of testimonies and interviews on the history of this small but populous street, in order to compose a portrait of it and return it to the city. And there was an immediate feeling.

Many are the people who for a couple of hours crowded the two gazebos of the interviews, conducted by historians Sofia Bacchini and Latino Taddei. Just enough time for an informal greeting by the councilor for the Participation Nicoletta Paci, then in a few minutes, between regrets of the good weather that was and anathemas towards today’s bad customs, it was a flood of «Amarcord».

Starting with Mariolina, one of the oldest, who has lived in this street since she was little more than the countryside, to get to her sisters Nicoletta and Ilaria, who now live outside Parma, but came on purpose to witness the happy years of childhood. They arrived here in ’68, they lived at number 79, in a quiet street: the courtyard was their second home, they went to the oratory more to play than to pray and there was no shortage of a film in the parish cinema. «We stole cherries from the farmers – remember the two sisters – who ran after us to punish us. Rope, ball and hide and seek were our games. We spent a wonderful childhood, and thanks to social media today we are talking with some old friends ».

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The older ones, Lucia and Carla, still live here. For them too the neighborhood was beautiful, “even though we worked for seven thousand lire a month, but today it is a completely different story: we forget the solidarity of the past, the neighborhood is dirty and needs maintenance, which there was with Iacp, but no longer with Acer ».

And it is not always easy to relate to new neighbors, with different cultures, who have come from all over the world. The other gazebo is even more lively, the one that by chance has become a group of men. There are even those – this is the case of Nicola Maestri – who wrote a book about via Jenner. The boys of the sixties remember when the doors were open on the landing, the battles with the “ferocious” guardian Millica, the maestro Mosconi who let them vent with the ball to have them less distracted in class, the Feste dell’Unità, an unmissable event there where the road ends.

Different origins, but common destinies: all were poor and all went on credit to the shopkeeper on the corner who marked the shopping on the book. And they also remember the few who ended up badly, the one who arrived drunk driving the truck, the ice cream maker with a scooter and cans of cream and chocolate, the one who sold “fresh frogs” and above all many kicks to the ball, which united different boys, those same boys who went up to the third floor of the building under construction and threw themselves on the pile of sand of the construction site.

Here the Communists were in charge, with the «Rossi» section and the «Marchesi» club, with Billy and Maestri who every Sunday sold hundreds of units door to door: many bought them, few read them. But it worked like that, it was good for everyone. It is a time that does not come back, but it is right to remember because history is made up of many small stories.

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