She fell in love with a World War II fighter pilot, barely escaped Europe ahead of Benito Mussolini’s fascists, ground steel for the US war effort and advocated for her disabled daughter in a far less enlightened time. She was, her daughter said, someone who didn’t make a habit of giving up.And then this month, at age 105, Primetta Giacopini’s life ended the way it begann a pandemic.
“I think my mother would have been around quite a bit longer” if she hadn’t contracted Covid,” her 61-year-old daughter, Dorene Giacopini, said.
Primetta Giacopini’s mother, Pasquina Fei, died in Connecticut of the Spanish flu in 1918 at age 25. That pandemic killed about 675,000 Americans a death toll eclipsed this month by the 2020-21 coronavirus pandemic.
Italy entered World War II in June 1940. The local police warned Primetta to leave because Mussolini wanted American citizens out of the country. Primetta refused. Several weeks later, the state police told her to get out, warning her that she could end up in a concentration camp.
“At Port Bou, the Spanish border, not one house is left standing; everting got destroyed because the town is an important train transit point that brought supplies to the “Reds”, the enemy I’ve seen so much destruction that I’ve had enough.
During a visit on September 9 this year , Dorene noticed her mother was coughing. She knew her mother’s caretaker had been feeling sick after her husband returned from a wedding in Idaho. All three had been vaccinated. But as she drove away, Dorene guessed that her mother had contracted Covid-19.
She returned to Torrington, bought a Chevrolet sedan for $500 and landed a job at a General Motors plant in Bristol grinding steel to cover ball bearings for the war effort. She met her husband, Umbert “Bert” Giacopini, on the job. They stayed married until he died in 2002
Primetta died two days later, on September 16. She was 105 years old.“She had such a strong heart that she remained alive for more than 24 hours after they removed the oxygen,” Dorene said. “I’m full of maybes, what I should have done with the ventilator it broke through three vaccinated people.”