Grandpa emigrated from Sicily – not Italy…Sicily – as an 18-month old in 1929. They ran out of food on the boat and his mom only had a chicken bone for him to suck on. Early experiences like this helped shape him to become the man he is today.
Growing up with five siblings, Grandpa worked all sorts of odd jobs. He dropped out of high school to enlist in the military and serve his country. A few years later, he fought in the Korean War. In 2009, he received an honorary high school degree for his service.
Backing it back up, in 1952, at 22 years old, Grandpa met Grandma when she was just a high school freshman. She was, what, around 14?! Scandalous, I know. In 1957, they married.
Grandpa’s drive and dedication to making an honest living and providing for his family is unparalleled. From his job at DiCamillo’s Bakery, to the grocery store, to the docks in Lewiston and Kimberly Clark, and, last but certainly not least, to Nabisco Shredded Wheat from where he retired. Grandma and Grandpa had five children and now have a small gang of grandchildren and even a great grandchild, with another on the way. As a grandfather, he taught many valuable life lessons, including how many are too many canned clams – yes canned – to eat. My love for garbage picking flourished under his watch and the many times he “dragged” us to flea market after flea market in search of toy guns, real guns, Wyatt Earp memorabilia, and vintage knives, among many other items.
I’m told Grandpa was quite the popular guy throughout his younger years, and today, is no different. He walks the mall with his friends on a regular basis, is constantly working in the yard and tinkering around in the gazebo or the basement, and is a board member at the local senior center. I’m told the ladies still go crazy for those big baby blues!
Recently, he traveled to Washington, D.C., with Senator Ortt’s Honor Flight, and, just this week, he enjoyed a vets-eat-free dinner at the casino with his buddy. I can only hope to live such a rich life – and come home every day to a delicious home-cooked meal.
Thanks, Grandpa, for teaching us life goals – but most importantly, how to live every day to the fullest and with a sense of humor. If I had a gallon of cold milk, I’d celebrate by putting it on the back of your neck when you were least suspecting it!
This story dedicated to veteran Angelo Ciraolo of Niagara Falls, who received his medals from Congressman Brian Higgins on February 27, 2019. Written so beautifully by his granddaughter, Emily.