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