Tony

Age: 81 years
From: New York, USA

Background

“I guess you’d say I started at a young age as a bartender and a waiter in nightclubs and then eventually owned my own restaurants”.

“Yeah, all of a sudden I was a rich kid. Yeah. Rich, overnight…So… I made a lot of money. I don’t know what I did with it all. I spent it I guess. I should have saved a little more. If I had a thought I would have lived this long, I would have saved a bit more. (laughs)”.

“…I think the different ethnic groups. Like where I’m from, where I was born on Thompson St, we had everything there; Portugeste, Negros, Jewish, Italians. By the time I got to the 6th floor where I lived I’d probably eaten in six different houses, all different ethnic foods. By the time my mother got home, she’d say, ‘well are you going to sit down and eat?’ and I’d say, ‘Oh Mum, I’m full!’ and she’d say, ‘what do you mean you’re full?’ And I’d say, ‘Well, I was at this person’s house and this person’s house and they were cooking that person was cooking that’, I’d have a little of this a little of that…”

“…and I was never prejudice, still aren’t. We had everybody living with us. I didn’t know about prejudice until I went to high school”.

What makes you smile?

“Waking me up in the morning and knowing I’m still alive. Walking my dog and talking to my wife. She makes me smile a lot. She makes me laugh a lot”.

Oh yeah, she brought it all out of me, she really did. In the nightclub business. That stays with you, it’s real tough business. A lot of agrivation, a lot of stress. A lot of stress in the nightclubs, the cigar smoke, they were usually dingy places, like all the places in the village, the smoke was there… the air conditioner…. (Willa: so I gave you fresh air)….
5:38 No, you made me smile after that… that was rough… that was rough what we had to do all the time. I didn’t like what I had to do.

Living in a multicultural community; the West Village in New York.

“I think with all the different people, it makes you a better person. You know the hardships that all the different ethnic groups have [gone through]. When a new group of people comes in, there’s a certain prejudice for a few years, then everyone gets used to their way of life. But the village strictly, I think it’s so much easier to get along with, because they go back to their parents and where they came from and the difficulty they had when they came back. It started with the Irish, nobody wanted the Irish here, then the Italians come, nobody wants the Italians, then the Chinese…”

“The first time I learned to play soccer it was with the Portuguese kids on the block… I didn’t know what soccer was”.

“It makes it a comfortable place to live. Everybody wants to move here…”