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A Window and a Wartime Sky

Sara Magalotti

December 2, 2012

WWII in Europe. The city of Rome was being bombed regularly by American planes, so there were no street lights and all windows were either painted over or darkened with very heavy curtains and shutters. One good thing came of it: the night sky was dark, dressed in black velvet with twinkling jewels. I was six years old and in love with science. A couple of times a week, on clear nights, my polymath father turned out the lights in the dining room, opened the window and sat me on the wide marble windowsill, then showed me the constellations, told me about galaxies and planets and stars and distant suns, stopping only when the bombing sirens wailed. I was hooked for life! The astronomy lessons had to stop when my father became ill, and I could no longer look at the night sky and dream because the Germans had taken over the city and forbade us to open the window shutters because snipers were shooting at them from apartment windows. My father passed away a couple of months after the Americans entered the city, but my interest in the stars never waned.


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