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Life’s Moments: In Italian, a Witch is Called ‘La Strega’


EAN Columnist

Author John Coscette

The long nose, the clawing hands, the black garment and of course the cackling of a sinister laugh… a scary sight to behold. It started off when I was a child, quite possibly from catching a glimpse of The Wizard of Oz. In Italy they called her La Strega but here in America she is commonly known as a witch and she can scare the life out of someone!

Now I remember the story of Hansel and Gretel. The witch that wanted to cook the children and eat them. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs taught me to never take an apple from an old lady. The comics in the newspapers had Broom Hilda and if you have ever taken a walk in New York’s Central Park, you can find a witch near Bethesda Terrace. How many of us will ever forget Ann Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West… to me, the scariest of them all! As I got older, I saw a movie called “House on Haunted Hill” and there was one scene of this “witch-like” old hag that made me jump out of my chair! It stands to reason why many children and adults are spooked by witches.

I used witches to my favor, many times with my children. I remember when my children would be playing outside at night and I wanted them to come in. “Come on Dad, do we have to come in now?” they would cry in displeasure. “Nah, you guys can stay out there and play, just let me know when the witchy comes.” I would advise them. They would abruptly stop playing and make a quick dash towards the door. All the while I would be looking up in the night sky, in search for their impending doom.

My grandchildren get a scare when I see them venturing into places they shouldn’t. Their parents begin to get up, in effort to watch their children. I whisper to the parents “I got it,” as I perform my grandpa duties. I walk to the stairs and find these little rug rats, slowly climbing on all fours towards the top. “Hey! What are you going up those steps for?” I asked them as they crawled. “Poppy, we just want to go play up there,” they reply to me with their toddler voices. Of course, I want them to explore and I say enthusiastically “Yeah, go ahead. Have fun up there. The parents look at me with shocked looks upon their faces. I then add this warning to my grandchildren. “Just watch out for the witchy in the closet.” They turn their faces towards me and then look up towards the bedroom door where they were heading. I laugh as they start to crawl back down the steps stating that they never really wanted to explore the room upstairs anyway.

Fall starts today, September 22nd, and when that coolness begins to blow and the days become shorter, you have to be on your guard. The sun starts to set and you look up towards that orange autumn moon hanging in the sky. You see a silhouette of a something, flying in the night sky. Is it a flock of geese, a plane, or are your eyes playing tricks on you? Better run inside before the witchy get you!

John Coscette is a native New Yorker now living in the south. He arrived in Prattville with his family around 15 years ago and has taken that time to keep up his skills in Italian cooking, but also learn some of the rich culture of the South, including the food. His stories of growing up, and his take on life in general, are genuine and heart felt. We will be sharing his columns from time to time, and believe you will truly enjoy them. We welcome reader’s submissions! You can email them to Sarah Stephens at