BLOOMFIELD, NJ — One son remembers his father as a good man who did not break any rules while another son remembers that his father bought his twin brother an automobile and he had to buy his own. A daughter remembers that her father made sure she and her sister received good education, but another daughter said her father was no father to her at all. With Father’s Day this coming Sunday, eight residents at Job Haines Home sat down and spoke about their fathers, recalling men, born at the beginning of the 20th century, who shaped their lives.
We start with Richard DiIorio, whose father’s name was Diadato.
“In Italian, that means god-given,” DiIorio said. “That’s what we understood. His American name was Teddy. He worked on Henderson Street, in Jersey City, down by the water. He worked for U. S. Gypsum. They made roofing material.”
Born in Italy, his father came to America “from the old country.”
“He had four kids, two boys and two girls,” DiIoro continued. “He was a hard worker, a good man. He didn’t break any rules and followed the law to the letter. He stayed out of trouble and made us stay out of trouble.”
The father was not a big man while his sons were six-footers.
“He was shorter than we were and we used to kid him about it,” DiIorio said.
His father did not play favorites with his children. If he had a favorite, he never showed it.
“He treated us all equally,” DiIorio said.
James Glinski’s father was a stationary engineer who worked in boiler rooms, first as a Merchant Marine and then at Rutgers University. He grew up in Saugus, Mass.
“He graduated from Saugus High School in 1930,” Glinski said. “Then he went to Nantucket Merchant Marine Academy. He smoked and had heart trouble. He’d have heart attacks and not tell anyone. He had a heart attack and went to the hospital and died.”
This was in 1984. He was 72 when he died.
“He was very nice,” Glinski said. “I didn’t get along with him and I feel bad because he was very nice. It think it was my fault. I was temperamental at the time.”
Glinski’s mother would stick up for her son and sometimes this caused the parents to argue. Glinski always got along well with his mother. But his father was supportive of him and kept him out of trouble.
“I forged something and he straightened it out,” he said. “I tried forging an inspection sticker for the car. A temporary one to a permanent one. It was obvious. It was painted a different color, blue instead of green.”
Glinski said his change of heart toward his father started when his father accompanied him to a VA Hospital for an appointment. Glinski was told by staff members that it was very nice of his father to come with him.
“I should have had my change of heart sooner,” he said. “When he went to the VA Hospital with me, it was soon afterward that he died. I think it was 1981 or ‘82 that we went to the hospital and they said it was very nice.”
If his father were alive today, Glinski would talk to him about Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, places he has visited, but his father never did.
“I walked on the beach on Hilton Head Island,” Glinski said. “It was a nice experience.”
He said he would like to tell his father about that.
“He’d bring things up, too,” Glinski said. “When I was talking to him, things related to what I was talking about.”
Another resident at Job Haines Home, Albert Tulp, sitting next to Glinski and listening in, said to Glinski that his father was paying attention to him. Glinski agreed.
Tulp also spoke about his father whose name was Harry. He worked as the postmaster in Stockholm, NJ.
“He was in World War I, in the Army,” Tulp said. “Then he went into the service in World War II, in the Navy.”
Between the wars, his father worked construction jobs. But he also worked at a rubber mill, in Butler. One time he found his work clothes smeared with lamp black by some bullies. He quit the job and joined the Navy just at the start of the war. Tulp said his father was strict and did not let his children get away with anything. The family lived on a chicken farm in Stockholm.
“He had five boys,” Tulp said. “We had 3,000 chickens raising eggs. He bought me and my twin brother boxing gloves and we’d play JoeLouis on the neighbor’s lawn.”
His father received chicks from Montgomery Ward and with the eggs they produced, he developed a good egg route.
“He was never in a club where they had drinking because his father was an alcoholic,” Tulp said. “My father didn’t smoke or drink.”
Tulp said his father met his future wife, Tulp’s mother, because he was taking violin lessons from her mother. Both women were musically talented and Tulp’s mother loved playing the piano, organ or violin more than anything.
As Tulp recalled, she was going out with a dentist when her mother died. After the dentist saw that the woman he was seeing would rather play the piano than do housework, he broke up with her.
“My father stepped right in because he knew the family already,” Tulp said.
But once they were married and his father saw the unwashed dishes, Tulp remembers him throwing unwashed glasses against the wall.
“I guess he had a temper,” Tulp said. “He killed a cat with a shovel. I remember that. People would drop a cat off and then you’d have a whole bunch of them.”
Another thing Tulp remembered about his father was that he purchased a Studebaker automobile for his twin brother, but Tulp had to buy his own.
Patricia Spahle also spoke about her father, Samuel. He grew up in Maryland, in the Chesapeake Bay area, on a farm.
“My grandfather had a tomato farm, but my father didn’t want to be a farmer,” Spahle said. That’s why he came up to New Jersey. He wanted to be in the commercial arts. Years ago, they had all those billboards on the highway. He did all that kind of work.”
Her father designed and painted these billboards.
“My sister was very artistic, not me,” she said. “She’s a dress designer.”
She said her father was a patient man and never got angry.
“He never hollered at us. He didn’t have to. He worked a lot. We grew up in East Orange.”
The business for which her father worked was located in Belmar. He lived to 91.
“He was never sickly,” she said. “But later on in his life, he developed dementia. He was a six-footer and slender all his life. Never gained weight. He liked eating. He told us to save our money, we’d need it later on. He wasn’t a spendthrift by any means.”
Claire Graziano had something to say about her father, too. His name was Joseph Zitelli and he was born in Turin, Italy. He came to America when he was about 20, first living in Bergenfield and then West Englewood.
“He was a cobbler,” Graziano said. “He repaired shoes and soled new ones. He had his own business and my brother, Paul, worked with him.”
She recalled that her father repaired shoes for a convent in Sparkill, NY, and worked very hard to support his family.
“He had eight daughers and one son,” she said, “and spoke English fluently. My father was a very proud man and very possessive of his family. He was very affectionate and very stern, especially with his daughters, guarding his flock.”
Graziano said he loved to smoke Corona cigars and for Father’s Day, he would get a box which he kept on the mantle over the fireplace.
“That was his favorite spot,” she said. “When he wanted a cigar, he’d go there.”
Her father died at 98. As he was getting older, his children thought it best if he went to a senior facility, but he was staunchly opposed to this. Graziano remembered getting a phone call from her brother who said their father was giving him trouble. She went to see what was happening. When she arrived, she found him patting the head of Prince, his dog.
“If you’re here to take me away,” her father said, “get the hell out of here!”
“It was quite a drama,” she said.
Another time she went to visit him and the dog jumped on the table to protect him until her father told Prince to get down. And when prospective suitors came around, Graziano said her father really gave them the third-degree.
“The guys were afraid to come over,” she said. “But he was a wonderful father and lived for his family.”
Patricia Ford’s father was Frank Ford. He grew up in Newark and so did she.
“He wasn’t much of a father,” she said. “He left my mother with four girls to raise on her own. It happens”
Her father died of alcoholism. He had cirrhosis of the liver.
“But I have a fellow in my life that I consider a dad. He’s my pastor right here. His name is Pastor John Esposito.”
She said an ideal father is someone who would take the time and sit with you and pray with you. “Someone with encouragement to help you,” she said. “My mother was the opposite of my father. She did all that. She was the inspiration in my life.”
Charlotte and Mary Angela Kunst, who are sisters, are residents at Job Haines Home. Their father was named Gerhard. He was born in Germany, attended Heidelberg University and emigrated to America in 1912 when he was 16.
“He wasn’t here very long when he went into the Army for World War I,” Charlotte said.
Their father returned from the war and began work as an accountant for a medical supply business, working in Indiana and New York.
“The Depression came and the company went out of business,” Charlotte said. “My parents decided to stay in the New York area where there was more opportunity.”
The family lived in Nutley and their father worked as an accountant for Curtiss-Wright, eventually retired from there.
“He played the viola with the NJ Symphony Orchestra,” she said. “It was very small at the time. We’re going back to the ‘40s.”
Their father practiced constantly at home and his last concert with the orchestra was at Newark Symphony Hall. It had rehearsed for the performance, but it was to accompany Victor Borge, a popular comedian/musician.
“My father said the rehearsal was a waste of time,” Charlotte said. “Victor Borge did whatever he wanted.”
Their father was very kind, but very strict, and as was often the case, the girls were treated differently from the boys.
“We were expected to act properly,” Charlotte said of herself and Mary Angela. “His attitude toward my brother was totally different than me and my sister. Years ago, that’s how it was. My brother Tom, he and my father were very good friends.”
But their father believed girls should be educated, too.
“I graduated from high school in 1943 and from Caldwell College in 1947,” Charlotte said. “We were going to get an education. There was no question about it.”
Charlotte majored in biology and was employed by Hoffmann-La Roche. She eventually worked in advertising. Mary Angela became a registered nurse and the director of two nursing schools.
One time after Charlotte was married with her husband in military service, in North Carolina, she received a telegram from him inviting her and her sister to come down. Her husband had a friend he wanted Mary Angela to meet, too.
“I was so excited,” Charlotte said.
She told her mother. When she told her father, he ripped up the telegram and threw it on the floor.
“No daughters of mine are going to North Carolina to meet soldiers,” he said.
Charlotte said she picked up the pieces of paper and went upstairs and cried on a bed.
“But he was a wonderful father,” she said. “You get over it. Life goes on.”