Joe Aliberti Shares His Personal Journey of Hardship and Triumph in New Nonfiction
Inspired by his grandson’s interest in the Aliberti family history, “Joey” chronicles the everyday experiences of Joe’s Italian-American family and his own entertaining exploits from childhood. As a child living in Davenport, Calif., Joe struggled through the grief of losing his mother and typical traumas of growing up. His memories evoke the ways in which the great and small dilemmas of his life were intertwined. He writes:
Speaking of teasing there was another incident around this time that caused teasing for years. I used to go home for lunch, and on one occasion, I made a sandwich of leftover soup meat. Well leftover soup meat is very dry. My dad used to make a spread made out of olive oil, garlic, anchovies and chopped parsley. So, I used this spread on my sandwich. When I went back to the classroom after lunch my teacher, who was only about 15 feet away, blurted out, “Joey, what did you eat for lunch”. By the look on her face, I knew that the garlic smell was pretty potent. So I told her what I had eaten. Out of all this came a new nickname, Garlic Head, and as a result of this there were a few fist fights.
I handled all the teasing pretty well. The one thing that I didn’t handle so well and that really hurt was the fact that I had no Mom. We would be playing at the school yard, and most of the moms would call their kids home for dinner or lunch, and they would leave and that would leave me all alone. I would walk up to my house all alone, and sometimes it would hit me that no Mom ever called for me. I shed quite a few tears that no one ever knew about. No one knew but me, how much it hurt.
Despite his tough beginnings, his early life in Davenport taught Joe the value of hard work and determination. Joe would later go on to suffer greater hardships. As part of his success, the loss of his wife was one of the hardest and most depressing times in his life. Joe would later go on to suffer greater hardships with the loss of his daughter, stepson and grandson. Throughout all of these tragedies, Joe remained steadfast in his ability to see the positive. He became one of the most respected and best general contractors in the county. His legacy will be shown in the buildings he built all over Santa Cruz, including a 52 unit motel, restaurants, strip mall centers and mini storages; his name is inscribed on a plaque in a city park dedicated to the Italian community. His memoir, “Joey” serves not only as a testament to the contemporary American dream, but also to the strength and optimism it takes to endure great loss. Inspiring and deeply moving, “Joey” is sure to be appreciated by all members of the Aliberti family and loved by readers of all ages.
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