Seor Bruno Mattei!

By Arthur Mattei

Originally published in the June 2002 edition of The Trumpet


I 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 1930s 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 opportunity. 

Dad 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 hed 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. 

Dad is truly a remarkable individual. He still has his tremendous sense of humor - he is able to laugh at life, including himself - something that Im 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 Im sure have kept him going all these years.

Dads 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 1940s and early 1950s,  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, Im 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. 

Dad 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 its 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)  its 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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