Letters to ...

Stumbling on happiness in The Mirror

... and a lovely poem to one's father

from Bill Girolamo of Melrose

March 2, 2006           
To: melrose@media.mit.edu    

I stumbled on your site while perusing the Melrose Remax site. I wandered off the tried and true path of real-estate and stumbled over a Victorian walk through Melrose Highlands. As I walked, I clicked on several links and then came to a site that continued to show great photos of home of days gone by in Melrose.

Intrigued when I noticed a "home page" link, I continued my internet journey through poems, filled with vivid images and stories of happiness, joy and aging (which even the young will not escape) and then there was Dr. Al Mandrachia's Alexandra. The name Mandrachia raised my brows, as it took me back to my Everett roots, where I was born. I was brought into this world by Dr. Al Mandrachia at the Whidden Memorial Hospital many years ago, and wondered for a brief moment if it could be the same doctor?

I've discovered a gem of a site, and will spend more time walking the paths of Silver haired folks who, like my dad and mom saw more in their life times than anyone will ever see.

My compliments to you on such a wonderful site, and I'll leave a poem of mine in the email, and although I am not quite all "Silver Haired" just yet, as every year passes, I find that I too will be of the ranks of "Silver" in the next few years to come!

This below was a tribute to my dad who is currently 86 years old and living just beyond the Wyoming Cemetery in Malden. He was born in January of 1920, served in the CCC's in New Hampshire building roads under the Teddy Roosevelt Era,[editor's note: Franklin Roosevelt, more than likely]  served in WWII as a medic and shortly after the war returned home to continue his longshore man career on the East Boston Waterfront and then, married and became a father. With a short time left on his GI Bill, he returned to school, got his GED and then graduated from BU and became a teacher in Everett Ma. I am one of seven of his (and my mom's) children.

Bill Girolamo
Melrose Ma

Fathers day June 17th 2001

”When Father’s Were Soldiers”

It’s been a long time
Since that first one was born
Early that winter,
The cold and day’s long
When Fathers were soldiers
Coming home from war
And gentleness was something
That they rarely saw

But time it was with them
If they came home again
To start a new family
And be with old friends.
Talkin of old times
Before World War Two
And children appeared
Needed many a shoe.

A little white house
And a new born child
Hard times were plenty
But days soon got mild
And all of a sudden
Then there were three
Only God knew
What was meant to be

A father so blessed
So strong and to give
All that he could
To provide and to live
For three hungry children
To nurture and love
Became the objective
With help from above

Long shoreman docks
Grew painful with grain
A GI bill would send him
To school once again
It was such a tough time
To learn all things new
Challenges were many
Obligations were too

He struggled right through
Kept many late nights
Studies were stressful
The end now in sight
A teacher he’d be
With many a child
Enriching his days
His life reconciled

New days ahead
In store for us all
We waited with patience
Though summer and fall
And moving men came
The winter snows flew
But some how we managed
And we all pulled through

A new little home
Way up high on a hill
All new surroundings
O what a thrill!
Three children playing
In a new found land
Sculpting out snow forts
And digging in sand

A green Chevrolet
Appeared early one morn
It got pushed a lot
But it had a good horn
It gave him great pleasure
To be able to do
Visits to Nonna’s
And get Christmas trees too

We sat in the back
While in the old A&P
He talked to friend Al
Till quarter to three
But we saw his smile
And ducked all our heads
And before we knew it
We were all being fed.

The kingdom grew smaller
When He saw the day
We knew it was changing
But we had no say
A brother of fairness
Came home to us all
We couldn’t quite figure
Why he was so small

His life grew more troubled
But he managed to stay
Calm and collected
As he’d always say
The challenges grew
The family now four
In our tight quarters
Would there be more

Time just moved on
With three now in school
Learning and living
His Golden Rule
We had to be good
Or else we’d be dead
With a stern look on his face
We heard what he said

Now four loving children
All tucked in our beds
When we woke in the morning
Still under our spreads
We knew there was something
Happening here
And peered in the bedroom
Mom disappeared

He waited with patience
Another gift from above
A blessing of heaven
The gift of his love
He took it in stride
And was now a man
Blessed with two daughters
He had quite a clan

A teaching profession
And now there were five
He didn’t quite know
How we would survive
But he kept us all warm
And he kept us all fed
And we always had
A roof over our head

His teaching continued
With many a child
Passing through doorways
The days growing mild
When all of a sudden
It happened once more
Home came another
A brother for sure

Church on Sundays
A black and white Ford
Sure came in handy
When he prayed to the Lord
Yes his life was blessed
He had more than could bear
Of heartaches and troubles
We gave him his share

Time seemed to stand still
As he watched us all grow
Trying to make ends meet
He just didn’t know
But with prudence and patience
He learned that he could
And he took to investing
And found it was good

Off too Highschool
His first child went
On busses and trains
The money well spent
The next ones that followed
He saw it was good
The father’s discussion
He said that THEY should.

So off they all went
From his watchful eye
Never a tear fell
No he’d never cry
As his children went off
The changing of times
He knew it was coming
Gone, the nursery rhymes…

The others that followed
Brought home their school pleasures
And gave him the smiles
A good father treasures
But in their own time
They too would grow
And the love and affection
He surely would know

Working the way
That he only knew how
With the family growing
Not taking the bow
He moved forward in time
Life now in change
A new life was born
My how it was strange

Time in a bottle
Was not of this day
A new page was turning
And he made his way
Knowing the time
Was now or was never
He was quite a man
So smart and so clever

The house now too small
No room for a bed
He listend at night
To the words in his head
He rolled up his shirtsleeves
And many a night
Laid out the plans
He knew it was right

So off he went
Tilting at dreams
Of castles in clouds
Or so it seems
But working with patience
He found us a home
That his family could live in
From which we would roam

And up way on high
As he made his way
The proud man of his years
Would come home and say
This is my castle
But I’ve got lots to do
And summers were short
And the days were few

He managed to make it
A place safe and warm
From up in the high rooms
He heard all the songs
Music was playing
Singing so loud
He could look out the window
And almost touch clouds

College and children
What a great mix
Pulling rabbits from hats
He did lots of tricks
Some how he managed
To make it all fit
The magician he was
He’d just never quit

The family now grown
All out on their own
He looks back in time
All the love he had shown
Has come once again
Right to his door
He never expected
He never was sure

The days are all his now
To do as he please
But the good Lord above
Sees him down on his knees
Getting his blessings
From the man up above
Bestowing his kindness
Of spirit and love

When fathers were soldiers
Coming back from war
They never knew
What their life would be for
They returned so humble
Thankful for the day
Their lives were so cherished
Their hearts torn and frayed

But onward they marched
To the life and the tune
And picked up the pieces
And looked to the moon
The man in this story
Is humble and proud
And is a great man
We all say it loud

This father our soldier
We give him our arm
And pray that each day
God keeps him from harm
We know that this soldier
Has given his life
To his loving family
And his loving wife.

Bill girolamo 6/15/01

This was my Father's day Present To my dad -- a long but easy read. My dad, a young longshoreman on the docks of East Boston, who could not be in the "holds" of ships anymore because of the grain dust and allergies, so he had three years remaining on the GI bill and with three little children, went back to school (BU) after being out of high school without a diploma and did four years of "PRE MED" in three years with three kids while still working on the waterfront. He used to say to us "you'll either grow up good, or you'll grow up dead" ... so that’s what that means and the first three born went to Cathedral High School in Boston. So, that's some history for "His Story".

Here ya go!  My sis (older) could not believe it, she said I captured everyone's lives in this one............

April 7, 2006

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