Post War Life for the Monetti's
At Home with Charlie, Lizzie, Charlie and Bill
The Second World War over and no doubt left as to where Charlie wanted to be, routine played a big part in everything the Monetti patriarch did. Like many New Yorkers, Charlie and Lizzie spent their honeymoon in the Catskills, and for good measure, befriended the resort owners. So going forward, the family stayed in the owner’s home, and every October, a smaller turnout appealed to Charlie. Thus, Gramps never relented, and his annual engagement always followed suit. “He would chop wood for the fireplace and play cards all week,” said Bill.
Back in the Bronx on his day off, Thursday was usually card night with the extended family. Charlie built his card playing chops in the navy, but he was eventually surpassed on the shuffle. "Uncle Carl was wonderful, pop was terrific and my brother was extra terrific," said Bill.
The younger Charlie patiently bided his time in hopes of taking the throne when childhood gave way. "He sat and watched and couldn't wait until he was old enough to beat his elders,' said Ada Monetti.
Either way, Aunt Mary, Uncle Carl, Aunt Jo, Aunt Millie and her husband Uncle Jimmy (Baldaino) filled out the roster. The latter was a favorite of Bill. “He was a wonderful man. He loved the family. I remember him talking a bunch of us kids to the beach, he was singing and laughing - such a happy-go-lucky guy,” said Bill. “It’s shame that he died so young."
There were more games than cards, though, and poor Uncle Carl (Stoeppler) was the one who had his luck pushed. Dating their sister Mary, the brothers coalesced for the preeminent Monetti story.
Carl asked for the meatballs, and my recollection, put it on Willie to deliver. The youngest brother picked up one of Mary's meatballs and threw the golf ball sized chop meat at him. "Look at these lunatics," Bill speculated what the incoming uncle may have thought.
All good, life was simplified at home for the Monetti boys. Lizzy got Charlie and Bill off to school, prepared the meals and made extra money by knitting clothes. "She always did the right thing," said Bill.
The dedicated care left her boys plenty of time to make the most of the city streets. Playing stickball, stoop ball, hockey and dragging around a makeshift basketball court, Bill remembered, "growing up in the Bronx was fabulous."
The old ladies who used to have their broomsticks stolen by the stickball players may have disagreed, but Six o'clock sounding the alarm, there was no hesitation among the brothers at the dinner bell.
On the other hand, there was no settling in around the television set. "When TV first came out, Pop said they hadn't perfected it so we're going to wait," Bill recalled.
The Monetti's didn’t actually plug in until a few years later, but Bill had no need to make excuses for his aversion to school. "I used to play hooky all the time," he said.
Bill also had a little help to keep his attendance record up to date and off his father's radar. "The girl that lived next door was an expert forger," Bill joked. "She used to sign my mother's name."
But Bill Monetti brought up the rear when it came to truancy, according to his wife Diane Monetti. "He was in trouble all the time," she said of her future brother in law Charlie Monetti.
Still, Charlie had his priorities straight, according to Bill. "Charlie was taking me to the Yankee game, and grandma said, 'make sure you watch him. Take good care of your brother,'" his mother’s word still ring. “He always did.”
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