Good Morning
Good Morning

Remembrances of Dad for Father's Day

Harry Vitolo, with his daughter, Diane Sciacchitano of

Harry Vitolo, with his daughter, Diane Sciacchitano of North Massapequa, in Florida, 2006. Diane says her dad taught her "to have patience, fortitude and optimism." Credit: Paul SCIACCHITANO

Dad's day off was reserved for doing things around the house that were put on hold until he could get to them. In past generations, Dad was the sole breadwinner and the one who made decisions on special plans suggested by Mom. Those plans often played an important role in the cherished memories we have of Dad. For Act 2 readers who share their stories here, being with Dad on his day off meant spending time together fishing, sharing unusual breakfasts, taking in a Broadway show to help heal a young daughter's heart, walking down the aisle and more.

Happy Father's Day to all dads who are celebrated and remembered with love. -- Gwen Young, Act 2 editor

Hooked on fishing

When I was a little girl, my father taught me to fish. He would pack up the car and take my mother, brother and me to Hempstead Harbor in Roslyn, where we would fish off the pier for hours.

Fish were plentiful in the waters of Long Island. He taught me how to bait the hook and cast the line. It was so exciting when I felt the tug of the line and saw the red and white bobber pop up and down. I would slowly reel in the line and watch as the fish flapped back and forth. Dad would swoop in beside me, scoop up my catch with his net and drop the fish into the bucket of water. At the end of the day I walked behind him and helped load the fishing poles and his green tackle box into the trunk of the car. We would do this every summer for as long as I could remember.

As I grew older, our fishing trips ended, but when my brother and I started our own families, we resumed our fishing trips with Dad. We would pack up our cars and children and head to Centre Island Beach in Bayville. There, Dad would spend most of his time untangling all the fishing lines and setting them up so we could all take turns fishing. We brought lunch and ate at the beach, spending the entire day together.

Now we were able to see fishing from a different perspective. As adults, we could see how wonderful Dad was at teaching a life lesson. It wasn't all about baiting the line and reeling in the fish. It was about spending time together as a family; it was talking about things we wouldn't talk about if we were just sitting around the house. It was enjoying the beautiful water and all the scenery around us. It was watching our father share something with his grandchildren and teaching them the art of fishing.

We watched our children in awe as they caught fish. It became our summertime ritual. It didn't matter how busy we were, we made time to relax and go fishing with Dad.

He passed away in April 2013 and our summer fishing trips with Dad would again come to an end. We will always have the memories he created for us.

We will continue our fishing trips, and as we arrive at the beach, we will take out the poles and the green tackle box and hopefully we'll be able to untangle the fishing lines and set up the poles so we can all take turns fishing. --Teresa Passaretti, Garden City

Dad's day off

My dad, Andrew Solomito, always seemed to work Saturday. Whether it was at Tool Crafters, Jameson Plastics or during his tenure at Grumman, if overtime was available, Dad volunteered. When the weather was warm and on those rare occasions when there was no Saturday overtime, Dad worked with Mom's brother, who was a landscaper. Once he even worked for a contractor who built the modern, A-frame house on Central Avenue between Bethpage and Farmingdale.

By trade, Dad was a tool and dye maker. I never knew what that was when I was young, but thought it had to be important because his bosses seemed to need him to get a job done. His experience in construction came as a result of his building the house we lived in, and as far as landscaping, well, we had a large yard with lots of grass.

When there was a celebration on a Saturday, Dad would be home by 3:45, jump in the shower, hurry to get dressed and then be out the door in time to get to wherever we were going.

So it was with hesitation that my fiance and I planned our wedding for noon on Saturday, Aug. 7, 1982. We knew we did not want to get married on what has now become popular -- Friday evening. Too many in our family lived at a distance and to get to Bethpage on a Friday evening in the summer was asking too much of people who had worked all day. Sunday night was an issue in the reverse -- a long distance in summer traffic along with having to get up for work the next morning.

Saturday it was. I needn't have worried. Dad was all smiles. Working was not even a consideration. He was going to walk his only child, his daughter, down the aisle on her wedding day.

At noon that day, I put my hand into the rough hand of the man who was a tool and dye maker, worked on the Lunar Landing Module, built houses and mowed lawns. We walked down the aisle together and later danced to "Daddy's Little Girl."

Who could have had a better day off with Dad than that! --Jo Solomito Haslam,Bethpage

A bond for life

The year was 1944 and I was 10 years old. A sadness fell on my life with the death of my mother. Mama and I were inseparable, and Daddy was the strong, redheaded, freckle-faced man who picked me up in his arms every day after work and said, "How are you today, Toots?"

Without Mama's presence, I was feeling lonely, unhappy and lost. One day Daddy said we were going on a date -- just him and me. He took me to a Broadway play titled "I Remember Mama." The play made me aware of remembering all the little details of my dear sweet Mama. Daddy made me feel special, and we bonded for life. He became my mother, father and hero.

I have shared this story with my three daughters and have given each of them their very own special time. --Anne Skidmore,Wantagh

Fish for breakfast

One of my fondest memories of my Norwegian father was the breakfasts we shared when I was growing up. My mother would shudder as we took out a bowl of fish or shrimp from the refrigerator, sit down with a loaf of bread and listen to my father tell stories of his adventures during World War II.

Many years later, my father and I, along with my daughter, took a trip to Norway, where I found my roots and also the comradeship of a family that routinely ate seafood for breakfast. We would sit in the cheerful Norwegian kitchen, painted a lovely blue, and peel our shrimp, served with the heads on.

I was pleasantly surprised when my daughter and I flew on to Paris on a Scandinavian airline and were served smoked salmon for breakfast on the plane. My daughter didn't share my glee, but she is only one-quarter Norwegian and would prefer her eggs and bacon.

As for me, my cupboard is stocked with cans of sardines in case I can't get out to the market. --Andrea Dahle Sinnott,East Meadow

The dish on Dad

My dad took me to the movies on "Dish Night." A free dish was given each week. Also, I won bingo -- $5! It was Depression days. Those nights together with Dad meant so much to a little girl. --Evelyn Scollon,Central Islip

A good egg

Dad was a milkman and was never home in the mornings except on Sundays, when he would make the best Spanish omelet I have ever tasted.

However, more than the food was the fun time we spent together at the kitchen table, along with my mom, my two brothers and, very often, my uncle.

My dad died at the age of 48 from an infection while recuperating from routine surgery. That was in 1964. Yet the memory of those Sunday morning breakfasts are so vivid.

I am grown with my own children and grandchildren today, and wish they had the opportunity to know him. --Valerie Libasci, Levittown

Weekend at the beach

In 1940, when I was 8 years old, my father surprised the family by renting a bungalow on Rockaway Beach. He had rented the rooms for three weeks, but my father could join us for only one week, the length of his vacation.

He did, however, take the train on Fridays to spend the full weekend with us.

On our last weekend, my mother gave me permission to go alone to the beach and wait for my father. As he had on previous Fridays, my father arrived from the train, changed into his black wool swimming suit immediately and walked the block to the beach where I waited for him.

Straggling mothers and children called to each other, their voices echoing over the near-empty beach. I watched workers in white uniforms stabbing papers and empty Cracker Jack boxes. There was a scattering of fathers carrying sleeping babies, and older children who snapped outstretched blankets, freeing sand to the wind. They called out, summoning those younger ones who were reluctant to abandon their search for pink and alabaster seashells.

Then, I heard a voice shouting, "Sis, Sis." I turned and saw my father was calling to me, a glint of fading sun lighting his sandy-colored hair. In my child's heart I was sure that everyone on the beach had stopped to watch him, heard him call my name and knew that I was his daughter.

Suddenly, he raced forward like a winning steed leaving the post, arms outstretched above his head, hands meeting. As he reached the water's edge, his body, in a magnificent arc, sliced into an oncoming wave and he disappeared beneath it. When he surfaced, it was with arms still raised like a great sea god. It seemed to me that time and sound stood still.

He is gone now, but the picture from that summer will always be with me. -- Helen Dunphy-Spataro, Kings Park

A smile and a joke

As sure as Mom was the love of my dad's life, he would tell me that I was his "sunshine." Being an only child for almost 12 years earned me the undivided attention of both my parents. My dad was a blue-collar worker, humble and unassuming. At the young age of 7 or 8, I knew Dad was special.

At family functions my cousins wanted to hang around "Uncle Harry" just to talk or have a game of catch.

On the home front, projects that went hand in hand with being a homeowner was Dad's forte. I never felt neglected while he toiled at his workbench or spent his day off, repairing, painting or whatever needed his attention. He enlisted my help, and working along side him never felt like a chore. He was the only person I ever knew who actually made cleaning out the garage or pulling weeds into an adventure.

While bonding, Dad shared his philosophy in life by example. He taught me how to have patience, fortitude and optimism. Most important, he said, always hang on to my sense of humor.

In his later years, when his health was failing, he always had a smile and a corny joke to go along with it. I have been told I am just like my dad, a chip off the old block. I proudly accept that moniker. --Diane Sciacchitano, North Massapequa

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