Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Astoria around 1940

Leow's theater on Steinway Street


Today I'm 77! Imagine that! I never thought I would live this long. And believe me it's been a long 77 years. See those pictures above. That's what it was like in those "old days." Unbelievable memories come flashing across my mind as I look at them. That wonderful trolley that went up and down Steinway Street and then over the Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan for a nickel. One memory that sticks in my mind is when my mother took me to St. John's Hospital on the trolley, with my head wrapped in a towel of blood after some kid had smashed it.
And the famous Loews movie house where imitation clouds and twinkling stars hovered over the audience watching the latest hit movies. It cost 12 cents to get in, a quarter for adults.

My Godfather, Joe Loscalzo, had a store on Steinway St. He sold GE products. I hung out there alot, after my father died at an early age. "Uncle Joe" was good to me, like a second father. We were very poor in those days. My mother worked as a waitress and we (sister Barbara and brother Joseph) lived in a one bedroom basement apartment. The only heat we had was a wood/coal stove in the kitchen which we cooked on too. Mom used to send me down to the rail road tracks to pick up any coal I found that had fallen off the trains. We also had a wood-shed where the wood for the stove was kept. One day the stove went up in flames and was destroyed. Because we had no telephone, I had the honor of running to the corner and pulling the fire-alarm. To me that was a thrill as the fire engines raced to our apartment and I pointed out to them where to go.

Shortly after that I got real sick with rheumatic fever and a heart problem. I spent a long time in hospitals and convalescent homes (I almost died with 107 degree temperature) and missed a lot a school. When I finally came home, I wasn't allowed to do much especially sports. I wanted to be a boy scout in the worse way and they finally let me join but I couldn't go hiking with the other scouts. I was sent to a special school for sickly kids (P.S. 152) and when I went to High School, I was given an elevator pass so I didn't have to climb the stairs. When I made my Confirmation, I was in a wheel-chair and was wheeled out in front of the Bishop, anointed, and then taken back into the sacristy. Strange stuff!

My life changed when I was 17. I joined the Navy! At first they wouldn't accept me because of my medical record but a few months later I tried again and was accepted. They must have been desperate for men! So, 4 years in the Navy, at sea, on Aircraft Carriers (first the Bennington and the the Leyte) made a man of me. I advanced to a Petty Officer and was put in charge of a group of sailors. Finally I was honorably discharged at the end of 1957.

From then on it was work, work and work! I had many different types of jobs but the one that I loved the most was as a motorcycle news courier for WNEW channel 5 News in NYC. I was totally involved in the production of the 10 pm news hour, from getting the film processed and equipment upkeep, to actually helping to plan the news items that were to be shown. I also assisted at the news assignment desk, answered phones and pulled news copy off the teletype. I was an all-around johnny. One day I was called into the big bosses office and told they were letting me go. It seems that I was making too much money for their budget! I was given a gold watch, put on the noon live show, and given a Chinese dinner.

So my life changed again! By this time I had married (Marianne, may she rest in peace+) and we had 2 children, a new home on Long Island and no job! So I started a business from home selling Italian cookies. And also started going to church! So, little did I know that the Lord was planning out my life and preparing me for a lot of trials and sufferings, but through it all, a strong and orthodox Faith!

I could go on here with many pages but so as not to bore you, let me say that after these trials and sufferings, Jesus and Mary called me to the Holy Diaconate. That's a whole story all by itself, and one day, I may tell you about the trials and sufferings.

Now I am retired from work and spending my days in a "spiritual desert", as one friend called it. My life now is Daily Mass, prayer, blogging, and helping out at the local parish. Marianne, my dear wife of 52 years, passed on to the Lord on Aug. 9th, 2013. We had four children (Antonette, John, James, and Elizabeth), who have given us nine grandchildren and one step-grandchild. We also had two still-born babies whom I baptized and are now in Heaven. I entrust and bind all my children and grandchidren to the Immaculate Heart of Mary!
God bless us all!
Deacon John Giglio