Today is a day of all days!
My Father is 95 years old!
Happy birthday, Dad!
He was born in 1914. World War I was just beginning to fester. His parents, my grandparents, were Italian immigrants. Eventually my Grandfather was able to purchase a 3 story 6 family home. Grandpa’s apartment consisted of 2 bedrooms, a living room and large kitchen. My grandparents raised their 7 children , one of whom was obviously my Father, in that small place.
Dad went through the third year of high school. A major achievment in those days for the offspring of immigrant parents. He then quit school to work. An economic necessity at the time.
He lived through the depression of the 1930s. Met my Mother, fell in love and married, also in the 1930s. And then occurred a major event in his life. He fathered a son! Me! I am moved every time I hear him tell of the excitement of my birth and his having fathered a son.
My Father worked back in those days in a fishing tackle plant. He worked in what was known as the glue room making bamboo fishing rods. Not a very good job. But a job during the depression years.
My parents and I were living in my Grandfather’s house. My parents rented the third floor front apartment. My Grandfather turned out to be a pretty smart guy. When his children became adults and married, they all moved into his 3 story 6 apartment house! Made not only for steady cash flow, but also kept the family together. Family is big in the Italian tradition.
In the summer of 1941, my parents bought a 2 family house in what might be described as a low middle class neighborhood. Utica was a very ethnic community in those days. In fact, it still is. Most cities are.
Anyhow, it was primarily a German/Irish neighborhood. My father was one of the first persons of Italian extraction to move in. It was not easy. An unexpectred discrimination became apparent. It took a few years to work out.
World War II was upon us. My father was turned down for military service. When he was young, he had an infected ear. The doctor tried to clean it out with a scissor. He punctured the eardrum. My father was 4F.
He worked in a defense plant during the war years. Thereafter he became a white collar worker. Something he was very proud of. To go from working with his hands to working with his mind!
It always bothered him that he had not finished high school. So around the time I was about 10, he made arrangements to study at home and took his high school examinations. Passsed them all! That year he donned cap and gown and graduated on stage with the local high school class! A very proud moment in his life! That high school diploma was the equivalent of a college degree, as far as my Father was concerned!
Then my sister Joan was born. My parents had the perfect familly. A son and daughter.
My Father saw his children educated and successful in life. Me as a lawyer and my sister as an international travel agent owning her own business in Tampa.
He also saw his seed multiply. His 2 children produced a combined total of 6 offspring. Those grandchildren produced 14 great grandchildren. And all treat him with love and respect to this day!
Mom is long gone. It has been at least 20 years since she moved on. My father now has a companion/partner/lover he has lived with for the past 10 years. She is good for him and very caring of him. She is also about 30 years younger than Dad. Go, Dad!
He still lives in that same 2 family house he bought back in 1941. Sixty eight years in the same place! The neighborhood continues to be ethnic. Except now it is Bosnian, Russian and Asian. And the homes old and starting to show their age.
There was a time when the house went unlocked and keys were left in the car overnight. Now everything is double locked.
My father talks about selling the house. He is motivated by the economics of running the place. I hope he never does.
His health is generally good. If one reaches 95, their health has to be good!
He is a bit shorter. Osteoporosis. He has a heart valve problem which developed about 2 years ago which has slowed him down. But he still gets out to dinner at least once a week! His mind is terrific. Life is good!
Dad had 6 brothers and sisters. Only one sister is left. Mary. Ninety nine and lives in New York City. It is wild to see the two of them together on the infrequent occasions it is possible.
Enjoy your day, Dad! You have had a good and fruitful life! I am proud of you!