Thursday, February 2, 2012

Meet My Father Romeo Anthony

Today's prompt is "Tell us about your dad."

This is going to be more difficult than yesterday's post.

     Romeo Anthony was born on July 9, 1922.  Adamo and Johanna were his parents.  He had one brother and 4 sisters.  Typical of an Italian family, as the youngest son, he was adored by his father and spoiled by his mother, older brother and sisters.
    He joined the Air Force and served his country for four years.  He was stationed in India during WWII.
     Typical of his generation, he was "the man of the house".   My mom was responsible for the housework, cooking, and taking care of the children.  Dinner was on the table at 5:30 and he was served first. 
     He worked in construction.  It was not easy work, nor was it steady.  I remember him coming home cold and dogged tired on freezing winter days. 
     When he would get frustrated with us, one of his favorite sayings was: "I shoulda raised chickens instead of kids.  At least I coulda sold the eggs."
     Even though he said it in jest, I suspect there might have been a hint of his true feelings in his little joke.  Perhaps marriage to my mom and father of six was not the life he really wanted.
     He was a strict father, especially with his daughters.  As long as we lived under his roof, our curfew remained 11:00 p.m.
     The list of things we were not allowed to do was long.   Even though we would beg and plead, dating was out of the question until we were 17.  I have to say, as the oldest, I always obeyed the rules.  Well almost always.  
     My sister would try to get over on our father.  She would make plans to go out and not say anything until her friends were outside blowing the horn for her to come out.  That worked for the first and second time.  But the third time, as she tried to breeze past my father and rush out the door, he stopped her.  "Sorry, I told you to ask first.  You are not going anywhere, young lady." I remember how upset she was.
      One side of my father was that he had a uncontrollable temper.  I have been scarred mentally and physically by his violent outbursts.   He had little respect for my mother and no respect for their marriage.
     His addiction was gambling.  He lived within driving distance of Atlantic City.  He lost what little  he and my mother had, including their house, to the slots.     
     The other side of my father was that he could be a charmer.  He appeared to be a confident and gregarious individual.
     Surprisingly enough, I could talk to him about anything.   He was supportive of me when I was going through a difficult time in my marriage.  Interestingly, I did feel loved by him.       
     When he was diagnosed with incurable brain cancer, he bravely accepted the fact that he had only a short time left.
      I particularly remember an incident which happened a few weeks before my father passed away.  He wrapped his arms around my son Joey, who was 15 years old at the time, and began to cry.  He told Joey that he was going to miss him so very much.  I thought about that many times during Joey's illness.
     He told each of us that he had no regrets in his life and that he really did love my mother, his children and grandchildren.
     Romeo died 21 years ago on December 2, 1990.  He was a complex man with many sides.  I have many memories of him, some not so pleasant.  But I do have some good memories, because after all he was my Dad.
Here is today's entry from Anna's Diary
Sat February 2 1929
Met Jean, Edythe, Peggy, Marie at Bambs.  Lunched at Dolly Madison. Shopped.  Baby, Jean and myself for supper at Uncle Sam.  His Birthday.  Had a wonderful meal. Stuffed



  1. Hmmmm - I wonder what kind of a life you dad did imagine for himself.  I think it was hard for people of that generation to look outside the social norms.  He got married and had six kids b/c that's what you did.  He worked at whatever job he cold get b/c that's what you did.  He gambled and knew uncontrollable anger b/c that can be a consequence of doing what you are mandated to do rather than what you might want to do - tough times.  And he left good things in his life too - a daughter like you and connections to the next generations.  Life is indeed complex.

  2. Oh, those house rules.  I have three sons and no daughters, so I have a skewed perspective.  All Annie and I ever did, as far as the boys being out late, was hope that the values we instilled in them surfaced often enough, to keep them safe.  With two fire-fighters, and an organic vegetable farmer, we feel that the community contributor element, is especially well-covered. Thanks for a glimpse into what your father was like.  I am always amazed at your ability to portray the members of your family so well.

  3. I was hoping that my post would convey my father's internal struggles.  Thank you for noticing that. 
    I think he imagined himself a life of a King :)By the time his grandchildren came along, my father had mellowed considerably.  They only knew a loving grandpa.  

  4. Thank you.  How proud you must be to have raised sons who give back to the community in such an important way.