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Anthony Valente (1929-2007)

I don't have many family history stories about my uncle Anthony Valente. And maybe you need to have known these people to be able to picture these things happening, and why they are memorable, although I do think they illustrate how life was in those days. Anthony was the seventh child, the fourth son of Giovanni Valente and Nunziata DiRenzo. And he was truly in a class by himself (sui generis).

One night when he was a boy, his sister Esther Valente remembered, Tony decided to run away from home (This was on Berkley Street in Camden). He left a note addressed "To whom it may concern", and climbed out the bedroom window. A short while later there was a knock on the front door. His mother opened the door and there in the doorway stood a policeman. "Do you know where your son is?" "Yes, he's upstairs sleeping." No, he was standing behind the policeman who had brought him home. The policeman had brought him back from Admiral Wilson Blvd. in Camden.

In those days children found jobs to do to earn some money both for themselves and to help their families. Tony sold "Yum-yum", an Italian water ice, and called out to customers in a loud voice, "Yum-yum". Esther remembers her brother shouting "Yum-yum. Yum-yum" in his sleep. (There were many children and not many rooms in those days.)

One day Tony drove his mother from Camden to Washington, D.C., to visit her daughter Angie who lived there, but the car broke down. Anthony wanted to put his mother, to whom America was still in most ways a foreign land, on a bus going south, but she said, "No, Tony, I'm staying with you."

Tony had blonde hair when he was a boy, the only child in the family to. "I remember his blonde hair, and that he always had a screw driver in his hand; he was always fixing something," his sister Vittoria said.

One day in summer when he was visiting his older sister Millie, Tony was cleaning up her yard and taking care of the lawn for her. When he finished for the day, he tramped dirt onto Millie's new rugs. She said to me about her brother, "Tony don't complicate my life," but then she added, "He means well."

When their mother asked the other children to do things they complained, but then they did them. Whereas with Tony it was just the opposite: he would answer, "Okay, Mom", but then he wouldn't do the things.

It was cold in the house in winter, and Tony's sister Vittoria, who used wrap herself in a blanket, would call to her younger brother. What did she want? She wanted him to turn the page of her book for her. This would make her brother Tony angry. (But this is a story about Vittoria, and about the house at 337 Berkley Street heated by the single coal oven in its living room. The bedrooms upstairs were cold and one was too cold to sleep in.)

Related page: Giovanni Valente and his son Nicholas, in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, about 1965. Anthony's oldest brother and their father.


The URL of this Web page: https://www.roangelo.net/valente/anthvale.html
Last revised: 13 January 2018 : 2018-01-13 by Robert [Wesley] Angelo.

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