Forty years have passed and his funeral remains one of the biggest his hometown has ever seen. So big, in fact, that even city hall was closed. And why not, is that not the reward of people who make "names" for themselves?
Of course, the man was "wealthy" despite the fact he lived in a government housing project and only late in life, did he ever have as much as a thousand bucks to his name. Rather, his "wealth" came from the fact that his "word" was as good as gold and that when he knew something, he knew it and when he said he would do something, he did it. I ask: Is there any greater "wealth" than that?
Of course, he was "heroic" as well. Not only did he raise 14 children to be good, kind and decent, he also sent six of his sons off to World War II to become part of "the greatest generation." Yet, when it came time to take a bow for his efforts, characteristically, he would refuse.
In fact, he was so adamant about humility that on the night of perhaps his greatest achievement entering a burning house and pulling his neighbor from it he not only refused to speak about it, he also knocked the camera from the hands of a photographer who insisted on taking the "hero's" picture. To his generation, a man did what was "right" simply because it was "right."
Naturally, anyone who wants to make a "name" for themselves can't ignore children and he didn't. Not only did he amuse any and all with his smile, jokes and kind words, but he also did something else: He demanded they be polite and behave and for this children adored him.
So, for those who saw themselves in Andrew Prutsok's recent column about our "celebrity-drive society," those who want to make a "name" for themselves by "accomplishing" nothing at all, I suggest you earn it the old fashion way, as this man did. In fact, while he made many "names" for himself, for me, it simply was ... "Grandpa."