In the grand scheme of things, sixty years is not a very long time. With the explosion of technology, however, that amount of time encompasses seismic shifts in the American cultural landscape. The 1950’s in our country were a much simpler, more naive time than we know today. And in the big and small cities alike, neighborhoods were ethnically defined: Italian, Irish, Polish, etc. This ingrained a deep sense of pride in ancestry and the close-knit feeling of extended families.
Highlighting the importance of family and the feeling inspired by his large, loving Italian brood, Tom DePaoli captures the experiences of growing up in a different era and its effects on those fortunate enough to have grown up in it. Today our children are surrounded by video games, iPods, and personal computers, devices that remove them from our world and isolate them from friends and family. For the author, his family, and his friends, the only gadget they really had was their enthusiasm for sports and the limitless terrain of their imagination. Playing baseball in little league, football and baseball in the sandlot, and escaping to the nearby woods for adventure, they relied on experiencing life with one another rather than doing so alone through modern technology. Including colorful depictions of his mother, father, Uncle Pat, Aunt Bert, and a list of family that seems endless, this collection of short reminiscences boils over with the feelings of loyalty, closeness, and love borne of a generation whose values are seemingly lost in the never ending march of technological progress.
DePaoli’s vivid picture of his extended Italian family is a homage to a bygone era when brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents—everyone lived in the same neighborhood and were indeed a village raising the children. Engrossing and full of life, Growing Up Italian in the 50’s or How Most of Us Became Good Wise Guys: A Growing Up Memories Book is an ode to a time that was, indeed, the “Good Old Days.
I requested to review this book because I wanted a glimpse into what "the good ole days" were like. The author does an amazing job of bringing the reader into the era, making me wish that things were that "simple" again. (As I'm sitting here writing a blog post LOL) I loved how the author brought you into his world, exposing his life in a way that most would not even think of doing. My favorite part of the book was the pictures that were provided. As they say...A picture is worth a thousand words :)
Tom DePaoli was raised in the small town of Royersford, Pennsylvania, where he was surrounded by a large Italian family. He went to the Sacred Heart Grade School, and became involved with many neighborhood sports, including baseball and football. He had a very normal childhood experience, playing with local friends daily, exploring nearby woods and holding the title of classroom mischief-maker. Some of his greatest accomplishments include batting .333 in little league, getting a perfect score on all of his final exams in third grade, lighting his grandpa’s pipe the most out of all the grand kids and setting a family record of being confined to his room by his parents for two weeks. DePaoli later received four university degrees, including his PhD, and retired as a captain in the Navy Reserve. He currently teaches at Marian University in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.