|¡Señor Bruno Mattei!||
Originally published in the June 2002 edition of The Trumpet
am most grateful to have the opportunity of bringing The Trumpet up to
date on my father, Bruno Mattei. Dad
taught at Tottenville High from, I believe, late 1950 to 1967, where he
also served as grade adviser and later as chairman of the foreign language
department. He began his career at Port Richmond High School in the early
1930’s and after marrying and moving to Brooklyn in 1938 , taught at
Franklin K. Lane and Fort Hamilton before coming to Tottenville. He is
fluent in about five languages and still loves to speak them at every
is going to be 93 in June, still drives, can still do the New York Times
crossword puzzle better than anyone I know, and this past October moved
from Rossmoor to Monroe Village, both located fairly close to each other
in Monroe Township in central New Jersey. While generally in good health
(and excellent for his age!), he did have some problems over the past year
and decided he’d be more comfortable in an assisted living type of
arrangement where they had a medical facility right on site. True to form,
unbeknownst to us he meandered over to Monroe Village one day last fall,
decided he liked it, negotiated a deal and called to tell us he bought a
place there, all totally on his own.
is truly a remarkable individual. He still has his tremendous sense of
humor - he is able to laugh at life, including himself - something that
I’m convinced keeps him young.
He also still has his insatiable thirst for new information, whether through reading or conversation, and is always thinking of others, two other traits that I’m sure have kept him going all these years.
been widowed for the past 38 years or so.
My mother, Julia (who called herself “Jewel”), who incidentally
substitute taught at Tottenville in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s,
was very sadly paralyzed for the last ten years of her life. Dad
retired in 1967 to take better care of her, but she passed away the
following year. A year later
he suffered a very
critical heart attack, which he obviously but miraculously survived, and
five years after that survived a near-drowning incident off
Long Beach Island. About
ten years ago he underwent a very serious aneurysm operation, which
ordinarily they would not perform on a then-83 year old.
Hell, he said, I’m not going to walk around like a time bomb, and
in view of his overall condition and his zest for life, they operated.
It was a success.
spends a lot of time with his family.
I have a sister, Bonnie, who teaches at an elementary school on
Staten Island, and he sees either her family or ours just about every
week. I live not far from him (Lawrenceville) and my son lives in
Plainsboro, even closer, so we get together even more often.
When we do it’s always a ton of laughs, and when we get together
with my sister and her family (she
has two sons and a daughter and I have two daughters and a son)
it’s absolutely hilarious.
Despite all the sadness (which, of course, no family escapes), we have been truly blessed not only to still have my dad with us after all these years, but to have him as a vibrant and humorous force in our family whose company we enjoy tremendously.
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