Anthony Procopio Salvatore Gargagliano
Haiku (written at age 17)
Dancing on purple mountains
Kiss the day good bye.
December 7, 2016: Today I dedicate this poem to Dad who would have loved to watch those butterflies laugh happily and hug whoever was watching with him.
Greeted in the countryside
The big jolly belly
I could never fully wrap myself around
Like hugging the trunk of a long lived sycamore
With blueberry stains still on my finger tips
My sister and I
Exploring acres of imagination
Eradicating smells of ancient-scriptures
Paintings, photos drip down walls
Sweet corn and zucchini days
Nourishment for los nietos
A home on my own street
Warmth of belonging, ancestral enamorment
Roots expand through sediment
is soil, built over generations
sincere and insistent
expressed never articulated
that which expands exponentially
as hands grow callused and soft again
that which heals outside of diagnosis
that which pushes through transparent barricades
that which inspires the lucky witness
beyond art and product to the instance
a constant through another century of chaos
after 93 revolutions around the sun
a pair of perceptive lenses
a perspective aged and fermented
insight into a confusing existence
where we must hold laughter close
and allow our passionate curiosity to illuminate
our very own darkened burrows
the comfort felt
in the existence of my grandfather
has been absorbed
A glass of wine with the oldest man in town
The oldest man I’ve known
my biggest fan
my dear dear friend
The summer after my first year of college, when I was 18, I brought my then girlfriend to meet Grandpa Tony and Grandpa Sonia and spend some time in North Brookfield—a place for me that had always been wrapped in family, warmth, history, art and mystery for me. What I remember from that trip is going to a fancy restaurant in Sturbridge. We were served by a young waitress, Christine, and when grandpa ordered a bottle of wine with 4 glasses, she paused and gave me and my girlfriend an awfully long look.
Tony saw and intervened: “It’s okay; it’s okay. They’re 18; they’re 18.”
I nudged him with my elbow, and loudly whispered in his ear, “Grandpa, it’s 21.”
He didn’t skip a beat, adjusting his earlier assertion, “Oh, okay. They’re 21; they’re 21.”
Needless to say, the waitress didn’t ask for IDs and served us the wine.
After the meal, grandpa called Christine over and asked to speak to her manager. When he came out, Tony said, “I just want to tell you what a great job Christine is doing. You should give her a raise.”
In Three Minutes
In three minutes, I start my run---
In three minutes I look at my parents’ home, search for my dad in the picture window, and see he’s not there.
In three minutes a myriad of moments come flashing through my mind—and they fast-forward and pause, alternately.
In three minutes, Mom says, “I love you, Tony.”
In three minutes, Dad stops breathing.
In three minutes, the peace transforms into a wave of sadness.
In three minutes, my heart aches profoundly as I realize the loss of the force that has been in my life for so many years.
In three minutes, I cry. I think of Sofia, Wes, Seth, and Mom.
In three minutes, I start to smile.
The primary mode in which I knew my grandpa Tony was that of entertaining. I was not alone in this. He was widely known for his bombast, which I have taken on to a degree, especially when it comes to my zealous collecting and telling of jokes. Has there ever been a more social human being than Tony? His eagerness for serious conversation, storytelling, and witty banter was boundless?
At every moment he was ready for an art critique. I would bring my photographs for him. If he liked one, he would say with such warmth and brightness, “Paul, this is wonderful!” A couple years ago I brought a series of documentary street photographs I had made in midtown Manhattan. As we leafed through, I noticed that many of the images commented on the ubiquitous human, purposefully striding, smart phone raised as in salute or battle-readiness. We both realized Tony was unfamiliar with this development. He exclaimed, “Paul, you're bringing the world to me.”
One of the last experiences I had with Tony was early enough in the day that he wasn't yet in full-on entertaining mode. Late in life he was slow to get out of bed. Around 1:00pm, tired of waiting for his company, I went into his bedroom. I gave his shoulder a pat, and left him for a few minutes to shake the cobwebs free. When I returned, he was sitting on the side of the bed. I chided him for failing to make it all the way out. He told me that he had let his eyes close, and he was back exploring his dreamworld. In the dream he was a little boy in a startlingly poor and dangerous city in Italy. He was lost and death was everywhere. He interrupted his recounting to tell me he loved me. Often, sitting at the table in the sun porch, in between stories, he would take up my hand to give it a kiss. He had a vast reserve of tenderness, but that morning he was in a remarkably open and loving state. My wife, Addie joined the two of us shortly thereafter. We must have sat there at the side of the bed talking through his dream and the memories of his life that it rekindled for an hour. I am grateful for that morning, and for all the long years that I had with my loving grandpa.
Shiumin-min and David Block
We have known Tony and Sonia for most of our married life, fifty-two years, and the four of us have spent a lot of good times together: cooking delicious dinners (Italian and Chinese, of course), sharing Christmas Eve seafood (remember those snow crab claws flown up from Florida?), eating fresh corn and vegetables right out of the garden in North Brookfield. Just as important, we also had the opportunity to observe each other's children, Shawn, Carla, Arlen, Emily, Peter, Anya and Ezra, all growing up and becoming the kind of adults anyone would treasure as a friend.
Since moving to Richmond, Virginia, where we are now close to our grandchildren and Anya and John (and a one hour JetBlue non-stop to Boston where Ezra and Jimmy live), we've not been able to see Tony and Sonia as often as we'd like.
Tony was always a good, close friend and an exemplary role model. I think, though, the incident I'd like to recall for you--although seemingly insignificant--is truly representative of him, and is also one that has remained with us for many years.
In addition to those memorable home cooked meals we prepared for one another, we also went out together to many of our "favorite" Italian eateries. After having compared this and that authentic Italian restaurant for many years, Tony invited us to join them at their favorite, Lusardi's, right in their hometown , Larchmont.
Although we drove our car, Tony wouldn't allow me to look for a parking place in the street, insisting that we leave it with the valet, who obviously recognized Tony. No sooner had we entered the door than we were greeted by the host, a good looking, well dressed man with a polished Italian accent who called Tony "Dottore." Later, when the head waiter came to the table and asked for our orders, he also used that same superlative whenever the occasion permitted. The food, the presentation, the service were all perfect, and the entire staff never forgot to remind us, albeit subtly, how lucky we were to be in the company of Tony, Il Dottore.
From our home in Greenwich, the restaurant was less than half an hour away, and we regularly ate dinner there. I think the owners remembered that we were friends of Tony Gargagliano and gave us more attention whenever we showed up. Now it is an eight hour drive, but when we do come north we always try and go and always remember our first visit with Il Dottore, our friend Tony.
Carla's and my mom and dad separated when I was 9 and she was 6. It was only when I was an adult that he told me how unhappy he had been at that time. I suspect that the only reason our parents were able to talk to each other was because of us.
We would spend one Sunday with our dad and the next week Saturday and Sunday. Every Wednesday he came and picked us up in Englewood, N.J., and drove us to dinner, mostly locally, but sometimes back into Manhattan, where he lived until he married Sonia. After dinner, he brought us home and then drove back to the city and returned the rental car. This continued until we both left home.
When he lived in midtown, our most memorable trips were to MOMA. We would go through the galleries and then see movies. That's where I learned to love the Marx Brothers, Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, and Jacques Tati. I still think of the room in the old MOMA that had the Monet Water Lilies as the most contemplative spot in the city, at least for me and probably for my dad also.
The routine didn't change when he married Sonia and acquired two more children, Arlen and Emily. When they moved to Larchmont, the house had a bedroom for me and one for Carla, rooms that were used one night every other week.
He did all of this despite my resistance. I wanted things to be normal, to spend the weekend playing with my friends, perhaps to sneak into his bedroom on Sunday morning to give him the oomph oomph treatment. This consisted of waking him by jumping on his belly, though I'm sure he was never really asleep. It was a tradition, continued by his grand children, only with a bigger target.
It was hard for both of us at the time, but it cemented our relationship. He never allowed me to doubt his love and devotion, which got us through conflicts and kept us close throughout his life.
Uncle Tony was my father's brother. His name was Frank. The oldest brother.
My name is Joseph Gargagliano. I was adopted and arrived in New York from Italy along with my brother Frank in November of 1960. My earliest recollection of uncle Tony was when he would pin me down on the floor and do that funny thing to your tummy with his mouth that made strange noises and tickled so much. Another memory was when he played Santa Claus at Aunt Florence's house.
Several times for unknown reasons I had gone to Arton associates, his ad agency and was awed inspired by the graphic arts and the artists, and the whole coolness of an that sort of thing. I was often given art supplies from Uncle Tony and Aunt Sonia and one Christmas I received a very nice set of oil pencils for Christmas which I'm sure my mother disdained. I do not know for certain, but I believe in my heart of hearts that because of all the wonderful art and work atmosphere, and art supplies I received at such a young age from Uncle Tony, a seed was planted. An artist's seed which to this day is forever bearing fruit.
I wish I had not gone away for such a long time but I would call every few years or so and last May, my wife Carmen, and I made a trip to see uncle Tony and Aunt Sonia. We had very good talks about my mother, grandpa, uncle Joe and Aunt Sonia. What I did not expect was for him to critique my art. I know he tells it like it is and to my surprise he was very complimentary and gave me praises. I really cannot explain how I felt expect it was like getting approval from my own dad. You see, being an artist is a tough life to put it mildly and I made the commitment to do so, no matter what the price. Thanks. Uncle Tony for your inspiration and believing in me. I am forever grateful.
Uncle Tony and his ease of laughter is something I won’t ever forget. This gift of easy laughter, that belonged to all his brothers and sisters and resided in their everyday speaking voices, is now sorely missing from this earth.
Uncle Tony was so quick in his humor (especially raunchy), which brings to mind the time my Dad was telling him in a phone call that he now has a hearing aid, to which Uncle Tony quickly replied ………you have to urinate?
It was so quick a reply, it caused such laughter on both ends of the phone. Classic Uncle Tony.
Uncle Tony also had the gift of unconditional acceptance. After my marriage of almost 20 years fell apart, Uncle Tony telephoned me. I was called to the phone, with my heart pounding, expecting…….I don’t know what, but not what I heard on the other end of the phone. “Ginamarie – this is Uncle Tony – and I wanted to tell you congratulations on finally leaving your husband. You’ll see, it was the best thing that you could have done for yourself. Aunt Sonia and I are behind you 100%.”. This true example of unconditional love and acceptance is something I will remain forever grateful for hearing during such a dark time. And again, classic – classy – Uncle Tony.
John and Judie Zona
We remember the day we met Tony and Sonia like it was yesterday. We were walking by their home and Tony had locked his keys in the car. John came to their rescue and a friendship was born. So I guess that would be our fondest memory because it was the start of many years of friendship. We shared our loved for historical homes, cooking, eating and the love of wine. We enjoyed many dinners of cooking and eating together and Tony’s gift of storytelling. Some of stories were so funny, when you got to hear them more than once, you enjoyed them just as much. Both Sonia and Tony were an inspiration to us and as I have said before, they were a wonderful asset to our community.
Love and miss you Tony.
Christian Gerald Foucher Max
December 1, 2016 Tony, the first time I met him I was a young college whipper snapper from Holy Cross; Arlen had taken me to North Brookfield to meet her parents. Tony, welcoming at the door, said it all with a beam from his soul, heart and mind; his smile and bear hug, later followed with his jovial, convivial, charming, and master raconteur self that I would get to know in the ensuing years. The days in Brookfield were the epitomy of bucolic.
When I think of Tony, I think of that great crackly laugh that would bellow out, the immediate grand smile always there to greet you, the spicy joke on the side, the great hugs, always making everybody feel loved and immediately comfortable in his presence, the love of food and wine! The few times I was lucky enough to have spent quality time conversing with Tony, was enough to have easily perceived the incredible love that he had for his family, friends, and just anybody that came within his realm. The thought of Tony will always bring a huge smile to my face......as he did when I would see him in his Brookfield or New York home. Rest in Peace Tony!
Eve and Harry First
He was one-in-a-million (or maybe more than a million). What a very special and wonderful man Tony was. Harry and I are really sad to learn he is on this earth no more. This is a reminder that we should not allow ourselves to be so caught up in our careers and daily “stuff” that we do not set aside adequate time for nurturing relationships with truly special people, and for that I am very sorry. He was a most loveable person, a very huggable bear of a guy with a great sense of humor and the most joie de vivre of anyone I have ever met. He will be missed.
With love and a heavy heart,
Uncle Tony was my mother’s brother, and he was a storyteller. Sometimes my mother featured in his stories.
My mother was 18. She was serving the boys breakfast; she’d made pancakes. Tony was 11. Frank, their older brother was 19. Joey was 4. The furnace was roaring, and the boys were jeering. “Hey Tony, I can’t even get my fork into this pancake. I’m afraid it’s going to bend it!” “Yeah,” Tony agreed. “I bet if I dropped this thing, it would break my toe.” And so it went for some time, one brother outdoing the other, with the little one giggling. Finally, without a word, my mother picked up all of the plates and, opening the furnace door, dumped their contents into the fire. No one was laughing.
My uncle’s stories weren’t always about his childhood. He often acted out the commercial for Ronzoni spaghetti included in the radio show that he and friends at Cooper Union had invented. After some silly Ronzoni sales patter he would imitate a knock on the door and answer in falsetto, “Who’s-a-there?” and then reply, “It’s-a the mail-a-man with a prezende for you!” Uncle Tony was a performer.
As well as a storyteller, my uncle was a role model. Always drawn to art myself, I admired his success in the business of art. He married a wonderful artist, too, who befriended me. My Aunt Sonia and my uncle took me under their wing and nurtured my own gift of art.
My uncle was a memory maker. Through these memories he will live forever and always be with me. He was, to quote Aunt Sonia, “Delicious.”
I met Tony in 1981 and in the past 35 years we have shared many good times, many great
times, some sad and some bad times. And through it all, through the milestones and miles, Tony was a big personality with generosity and love at his core.
I can’t say whether Tony was always the loving and caring person that he became, but I do know that my children, my wife and I are lucky to have grown up alongside a man who knew how to listen, who knew how to relate, and who loved us completely.
If there are tears to be shed, let them be tears of joy.
When the sadness is heavy, let thoughts of him lighten our hearts.
Here's one , funny now, not so much in the moment it happened!...........North Brookfield, about 15 years ago...My phone rang about 4PM.....virtual blizzard going on outside....''Hello?''.''.Mike, it's Tony''...''TONY!''....Mike, can you help me? We're stuck in the snow.''....''What?''
''Sonia and I are about 20 feet from our door. We can't get up. We are both stuck in the snow.''....with Tony's past sense of humor I asked myself if I was being pranked, but sure enough, when I arrived in their driveway, there were the two of them lying in a deep drift of snow. They had gone shopping in a blizzard and never made it back into the house. I thank God I was home...so after that, Rita and I had a new role as we watched out for our dear friends more closely!.......
I was always drawn to Tony’s enthusiasm and welcoming nature. Tony and Sonia were my first clients. I was about seven years old and had chickens, pets that paid for their own food by laying eggs. Tony and Sonia bought my fresh country eggs, a $1 a dozen, laid by Rhode Island Reds at my home, just down the street from their country home in North Brookfield.
I would watch for their arrival on Friday evenings, usually every other week, when their Volvo station wagon with NY plates was conspicuously present in our central Mass town far from the highways. Then, I would deliver my eggs to them. It was suggested that I give them a “baker’s dozen” each delivery. I asked, “Is Sonia a baker?”
“A baker’s dozen is what you give to show you appreciate them, by being generous in return.”
And so, Tony and Sonia always got a baker’s dozen.
To this day I don’t know all who I met at their house, but whether they were entertaining guests or family, if they were outside and I was walking by, I would stroll into the yard and say hi. Summer afternoons were great for that. I would walk in, shirtless in the summer heat, the country bumpkin kid to complete the “we’re really in the country now!” experience for all the city folks. There was a chance I was chewing a piece of long grass too. That was my style. And Tony had his own un-abashed style! The goatee, the Sherlock Holmes pipe, the red suspenders. Inspired, and finally of age I got a pipe, mine corncob, and some tobacco. It never smelled as sweet as Tony’s pipe. I never did learn his secret.
Their home was always full of mystery and eclectic original art pieces. Tony had the first artwork I had seen that was not image, but word and font only. Word art, definitely a city thing. it played with spelling and placement of Tony’s name, TONY! TO NY. I remember most significantly it said, “Y NOT“ Isn’t that a great question? I thought Tony was so lucky to have such a magical and motivational name.
Tony had this art work in a place of distinction…the entry to his barn. Before man-caves were popular, Tony had a man-barn. Pretty leading edge, there.
Tony would tell stories about the restoration of the barn, and the outhouse that was in the barn, where, allegedly a skull was found in the excavated soil. Perhaps it could have been human? Oh my!
It may seem odd now, but why an outhouse was needed in a barn where cows once just peed on the floor didn’t seem odd at the time. Of course you can’t go in the main house with mud on your shoes.
Tony and Sonia introduced me to group meals with folks who were not your family. We would work Saturday from nine to noon in Sonia’s garden, then at the noon whistle, which really was the town fire alarm sounding daily at noon, we’d wash up and get a feast of a meal afterwards. Eggs, bacon, jam, and croissants! Oh yeah! Kids who would bicker, fight, and hold grudges saw better sides of each other when laughing with Tony. And we sure did love his laugh. He did his magic tricks – most memorable was his magically elastic arm – where he would pull his hand further out of his shirt – his arm growing inches before your very eyes! Then it would retract when he put his arm down, and he could do it again. I stole that one to use myself. And yes, I kept my day job.
As I grew up, I learned more from Tony and Sonia. I was invited to Larchmont for a week, and got to see New York for the first time. It was eye-opening. I visited the UN, Tony’s office, the Hog’s Heaven burger joint down the street, and took a circle line cruise around Manhattan. I recall I, at about age 14, got deep into conversation with two Israeli beauties who had just finished their military service and were on vacation. One was a tank commander. And beautiful. And I turned around in my seat the entire boat ride. Tony would have been proud.
At their home, more good food. Bufala mozzarella on Carr’s water crackers. Years later I would get off the highway any time I was coming home from NJ to MA when passing through Larchmont and find, by determination and a bit of luck, the way from the highway to their house and from there find the way to the deli that sold that cheese. Oh, man, it was the best. In my mind I always compare mozzarella to the good stuff Tony and Sonia shared with me.
And those are some of the ways I enjoyed his company over three baker’s dozen years of friendship.
When I think of Uncle Tony one word comes to me is, “Life”. He always laughed. Told stories to share a moment. Took opportunities to make memories. He made sure you were comfortable, and most of all loved. As I sat back and watched him interact with friends and family I can sense the joy he felt. Especially when he kissed his wife good night.
His love of art and music has always stuck with me. He raised a great family. A family I’m proud to be part of.
I will miss Uncle Tony, but his “Life” will always live on with me.
Irene and Ron Olson
We first met Tony in 1962 when he began to date Sonia, his lovely and adored girlfriend. He was running Arton, living on Third Avenue in Manhattan and was happy to wine and dine Sonia, dance till the wee hours and enjoy being in love. He loved his little kids, Shawn and Carla, loved Sonia and her children Arlen and Emily and also loved life.
Sonia and Tony became engaged and happily danced at our wedding in April 1963. After that they married, merged families, bought a dog and moved to Larchmont NY. Soon a son, Peter, arrived to complete their wonderful family.
Tony loved loving his family and friends. He and Sonia had numerous friends and enjoyed having them and extended family at great holiday gatherings. Easter wasn’t Easter and Christmas wasn’t Christmas without a feast at the Gargaglianos of Larchmont. Music was always playing, wine bottle corks were popped, roasts and turkeys were carved, and joyous togetherness prevailed.
Later a home in North Brookfield was added and the galas were moved to a more rural setting. Tony and Sonia returned to New Rochelle in later years and, you guessed it, being with family and friends continued. So, we once again gather to honor Tony ( and of course Sonia) who both loved to party, party, party.
Enjoy the party and music.
Tony was a big presence in the advertising agencies where I was working. He gave good advice and smoothed the way for art directors. He did really good work. He was invaluable to this rookie girl art director. If I had to choose only a couple of words to describe Tony, they would be good humor. Consistent good humor. He was a good man, and God knows he was funny. If there ever was an angry Tony, I didn’t see him. He gave the best gifts. I still can look around my house (the molas, the copper chafing dish, the Chinese bulb bowl, the perfect wooden spoon I still use daily!) and see Tony and Sonia’s taste and generosity. I can’t tell you how rewarding it was to do a StoryCorps interview of Tony a few years back. I came prepared with 21 questions for him. We got to about question #3, and he was off and running, telling such an entertaining story about his father, I didn’t have to ask any more questions. (I can be heard tittering.) StoryCorps had the good judgement to chose that interview to play on that week’s NPR Friday morning show.
I’m going to miss speaking to him on the phone. He was still giving good advice. And making me laugh.
Back in the very late 60's or early 70's, Uncle Tony took my Dad and me (I don't recall if anyone else was present, but very possibly) to a very nice French restaurant in New York, on 5th Ave.
The place was filled with very well dressed people. Us . . . not so much. As we were waiting for our food we were just talking and having a good time. We ALWAYS had a good time if Uncle Tony was involved. As we continued to wait and talk, he noticed that Dad and I had our elbows on the table. Uncle Tony leaned over to one of us and quietly said, "Take your elbows off the table." “What?” “Well,” he said, “This is a ‘nice’ place.” He explained that everyone was dressed nice and appeared to be high society types; this just wasn't accepted behavior.
Well, of course, after a while we had our elbows back on the table. Dad had accidentally let one of his elbows slip off the table. We kinda chuckled. THEN . . . I said, in a slightly raised voice, HEY PA. Dad said, also in a slightly raised voice, WHAT SON? Then I replied, HEY PA, THAR AIN'T NO ELBOW HOLES IN THIS HERE TABLE! As you can imagine, eyebrows went up and there was "whispering." Uncle Tony gave one of his hearty laughs and said, in his best Kansas accent, “It's okay, folks, they're from KANSAS.” Uncle Tony seldom missed an opportunity to rib us about being from Kansas.
Anyway, Dad said, YEAH SON WE SHORE DO NEED THEM ELBOW HOLES. THEY SHORE DO HEP KEEP THEM ELBOWS FROM SLIPPIN' OFFN THE TABLE!
We continued to talk and laugh. We had a VERY good time and for the next 45 years Uncle Tony would ALWAYS bring up the subject of "elbow holes" whenever he had an opportunity!
He NEVER forgot that incident . . . for the REST OF HIS LIFE!! As a matter of fact, a few years before he passed away, I was trying to come up with a plan to make a small table for him with ELBOW HOLES in it and have it sent to him. I know he would've enjoyed that to no end!!
They broke the mold when they made that man. There will NEVER be another like him! I will miss him terribly for the rest of MY life.
Perhaps Uncle Tony is sitting at a table, in heaven now, with elbow holes in it. I certainly hope so! Then, he can relive and enjoy that day for all eternity; I know he wouldn't mind that AT ALL!!
Rest in peace, my wonderful, one of a kind uncle. I love you—your nephew, Donald.
I cannot remember the first day I started working for Tony & Sonia,the reason being was that I was treated like family the minute I stepped inside the door,Tony always reminding me "mi casa es su casa"..at the end of my shift Tony showed his appreciation with a bear hug & a kiss,and going out the door he would say "I love you,you know"....his love & affection was contagious and I was honored to be part of the Gargagliano family.
Endless time he would say "when are you going to write the book" after i would sit and tell him stories..he himself was never short of a story, my favorite of when & how he met his "sweetheart Sonia" it was romantically magical in my eyes to watch Sonia light up as he told it...his childhood stories were endless and repeated several times but I loved to listen.
It's not death that we fear, it's "that we will be remembered" after we are gone, so in my eyes I will always remember Tony, he was a legend for sure..missed and loved....Norrie (aide)
Ken and Pat Payne
Such terrific memories, from working together, to the wonderful stories and jokes, to picking cherries for Sonia's sumptuous pies. Then there was the effusive joy that he seemed to add to every little life event. But, most of all, the special friendship that he provided will endure with us for the rest of our days.
Ruth & Rocco Campanelli
Ruth and I spent a few wonderful evenings as guests of Sonia and Tony. Talking about advertising, sipping wine and exchanging words of wisdom. Of course the food was served with love and it tasted of it.
The one thought that evening that stuck in my mind till this day went something like this. “Never trust anyone in the Advertising Business.”
Man was he on target. Some day I’ll tell you the story.