Hi, I am Michael Turello, Jr. who arrived at St. Johns Orphanage in 1948, after two years at the Children’s Center in Manhattan with my brother, Pasquale Turello.
I just checked out your new website and it’s well done. The building looks nothing like I am familiar with. I am assuming the entrance is now facing west, whereas it used to face the beach. Brother August, a rather rotund man, used to reside near the entrance to the Administrative building. Brother Louis (or was it Lewis); Brother Frank; Father Charles are the few names I remember. There was another older priest, Father Joseph, who heard the confessions and said Mass all the time. I do not ever recall Father Charles ever saying Mass. I remember Brother Louis the best, as he was our dorm guardian; a tall, hairy, gentleman, who loved to swim every day at least two miles. He would swim out at least two or three hundred yards, and then turn and head west for a good mile, and then back. We used to try to follow him, but became afraid after reaching the safety of the last buoy. We were good swimmers, but being only 10 years old, we were not strong enough for such a demanding swim. I no longer go swimming and I do miss the ocean; riding the waves; and even sand surfing. We also used to ride our bikes into huge breaking waves, and then had to spend a couple of hours cleaning the bikes and oiling the brakes. We use to love doing wheelies and skidding the bikes on the wet boardwalk.
During the winter months, we used to clam for the bass fisherman and earn a dime or whatever they gave. We even crabbed in Jamaica Bay for blue crab and sometimes would catch soft shell crabs. We would sell them to passersby to get that nickel or dime to buy “cigarettes”.
Brother Louis used to wack me in the butt at least three times a week with his handmade wacking stick for smoking. When I graduated, and had to go to St. Vincent’s for further schooling (High School), I asked Brother Louis how he was able to catch me smoking even though I was a mile away. He replied, “I will show you”., and took me to his room, and showed me the two or three foot long brass telescope he had. He said, he would go on the roof and scan the beach and surrounding areas, and usually would see me on my bike, smoking away. The wacking did no good, for I still smoke up to three packs a day at age 68.
My doctor, has been telling me I have emphysema for the last ten years, and is always wondering why I still do not need oxygen, and have not died in my 40’s.
To let you know how I turned out: After leaving St. Vincent’s in 1953, at 17 years old, I worked for a while in a hero sandwich shop only two blocks from St. Vincent’s for $35.00 a week, working 60 hours and lived in an apartment (ha) that was 5 X 6ft for $45.00 a month. I decided during the summer of 1954, that I was going nowhere, had quit High School, and joined the Air Force on the 9th of September, 1954. During my twenty years in the Air Force, I was stationed in Occupied Germany for six months; France for 30 months; French Morocco (Africa) for 11 months. I had to finish the one year tour at Madrid Spain after the French gave Morocco back to them and they kicked the Air Force out with their atomic weapons and B66 aircraft. I spent two years at Mitchell Field, Hempstead, Long Island, and then went to Japan (near Tokyo) for four years, and then to California near the Mojave desert for another two years. Then got sent off to Saigon, Vietnam for a year, and my last overseas tour was again in Tokyo, Japan for another 5 years. I finished my Air Force career at Beale AFB, California, where I have resided, six miles from the main gate, since 1974. I lived overseas for a total of 14 years, and loved every minute of it, except for Vietnam and Morocco.
So I did not turn out too bad as I am now retired with three retirement incomes; Air Force; Social Security; and AT&T and I still build and fix computers since 1982.
Cannot wait till you put up some the old pictures from 1948 and on and maybe I will find myself in one of them, as I have no pictures of me as a child.
Hopefully, you find my short story interesting