Friday, June 17, 2011

Celebrating Fathers

June is a month for many things—the end of school and subsequent start of summer, weddings, and fathers. For this Father’s Day, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum would like to celebrate by highlighting one of the dads who lived at 97 Orchard Street, Adolfo Baldizzi.

Adolfo Baldizzi
Adolfo Baldizzi came to New York from Italy in 1923. His wife, Rosaria, soon followed. A cabinet maker, he came to America hoping to make it big in the land of opportunity. Adolfo lived at 97 Orchard Street with his family during the depression era. His daughter, Josephine, remembered her father finding odd jobs to support the family during difficult times—he fixed doors, windows, and made furniture. “He had hands of gold, he really was a very good worker,” she said.
When Adolfo wasn’t working to help provide for the family, he took his children, Josephine and Johnny, to the theater to see Flash Gordon, The Three Stooges and Charlie Chaplin films. Occasionally he would take them to a diner around the corner for a 5¢ root beer. Though he could not read, he taught his children how to play cards and helped Josephine with her math homework. He encouraged her to finish high school, though Rosaria wanted her to work to supplement the family income. Josephine did finish her education, and worked in an office for many years.

Even when there was very little money, Adolfo made sure that the apartment at 97 Orchard Street was cozy. For Christmas, he made a tree out of things people threw in the garbage, and fixed it to the wall. He used old cheese boxes as planters for morning glories to brighten the windows. He loved riddles, music, and Westerns. During a time of great economic hardship, he and Rosaria both worked to ensure that their family was taken care of, and that their children would have a promising future in America.

So this Father’s Day, don’t forget to call up your dad, grandfather, or father figure and let him know how much he means to you—thank him for the root beers, card games, and riddles.

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum would like to wish all fathers a very happy Father’s Day!

--Posted by Tenement Museum Intern Kathryn Barnard

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.