Columbus Sailed The Ocean Blue!
And discovered America! And he was Italian! Everybody knows that, right?
Wrong, o history revisionists. Here, in my own words, is what actually happened:
Cristoforo Colombo (AKA Columbus) lived in Genoa. Which at the time was not Italy as we know it. He noticed that if he walked around the city in a circle from the west side, he would wind up on the east side at some point. Mamma Mia! This could work on the Ocean Blue. If you sailed a ship west, you would show up in the east. That’s where the spices are, the kind that you put in food so it’s hard to tell how old it is. The food, not the spices.
So he pitches the idea to the Genoese government, Genoa being a seafaring nation. We could make some money here.
Genoa says No, Che Pazzo. You’ll fall off the Earth.
Colombo heads to Spain, another seafaring nation, taking the West Is East idea with him. Long story short, Their Catholic Majesties Ferdinand of Castile and Isabella of Aragon like it. They buy in. He gets three ships (extra credit if you remember the names) and sails approximately west from Spain. Bring back spice.
Instead of falling into the abyss, Colombo and his men bump into…..well, it must be India. What else could it be?
Now we know it was one of those lush Caribbean islands. But then, nobody knew. So India.
No spice. But the weather is great. He claims it for Spain. All of it.
To summarize: an ex-pat from Genoa, a state in Italy, sailed under the auspices of Spain to an island somewhere well south of the large North American landmass. He had no idea where he was. His native land had brushed him off. Spain adopted him, bankrolled the operation, and then owned the New World.
With apologies to my Italian ancestors, it was a Spanish thing.
So anyway, half a millennium later, North America marks October 12 (or 13, if you want a three-day weekend) with Italian themed parades and mattress sales. To tell the truth, neither of these means Discovered America. Come on.
In Philadelphia, hundreds of miles from Colombo’s landing place, we have a monument to Columbus, as he is now known, touting his discovery. It’s on the riverfront. Why Philadelphia? He didn’t sail up the Delaware.
Even worse, to take the myth a step further, the city was convinced to change the name of the wide thoroughfare that borders the river from Delaware Avenue to Columbus Boulevard.
The Native American Indian tribes in the area were the Delawares. Not the Columbuses. How insensitive…. They were here, he was not. Ever. So what’s the honor? Why?
I’ll never understand and I’ll never say Columbus Boulevard, either! My personal defiance.
Enjoy your holiday, Americans all! Go to a nice Italian parade, buy a mattress, honor the lost Genoese mercenary who gave us the day off! Accuracy need not count! Most of all, have a little chuckle on me!
One last thing…
My fellow North Americans in Canada and Mexico….do you also get the day off, have Italian parades, and buy mattresses? Just wondered.
One more last thing….
My Irish ancestors were here first.