Wednesday, June 2, 2010

We Miss You

I just seem to find myself coming back to this blog periodically, I am not sure if anyone else also revisits these entries, but since I do keep coming back, I decided it was time for another posting.

It has now been just over 4 months since Dad has died and there are still times when I miss him just as fiercely as the day he died. Last weekend was memorial day weekend, which was one of his favorite holidays. Even as a devout Catholic who actively worshiped, Memorial Day and Thanksgiving were his favorites. I think that this is because of the memories of the activities of those holidays, both really centered around friends and family gathering together.

There are so many times when something small might happen, some personal or professional milestone reached, some disappointment or some interesting sporting event or national event occurs that I still nearly find myself reaching for the phone, because these are all times that would have prompted a phone call to Dad in the past. (Or if I thought there was any opportunity to get a bet on a game I knew we would both be watching)

I think that part of writing this posting is my way of "calling" him to tell him about the trip we made to Blairsville this weekend. Calling him to tell him all the details of the visit, as I would whenever I got home from visiting Mom after she died.

MJ, her son Sam and I took a trip out to Blairsville on Monday, Memorial Day, to visit with Dad and Mom. The Blairsville Cemetery posts flags on the site where each veteran of any conflict is buried, and it was important to Dad that when he joined that honored gathering that his site should also display a flag for his service. So we were disappointed when we got to the grave site and saw no flag marking his plot. Thinking that perhaps we could rectify the situation for next year, I phoned the cemetery office and left a message on the answering machine about the missing flag. Having forgotten to tell them something in the message I phoned back to leave another, and was surprised when someone answered. Long story short, 10 minutes later Dad had a WWII marker and flag on his plot.

We also took a nostalgic tour around town, reminiscing of the backyard adventures at Gus and Adele's and at Grandma's house. Driving by MJ and John's house, and past the house on Brown street, although neither MJ nor I could remember which house was the one they lived in. We drove past Gus' store and the Asper Building 1928, built the same year Mom was born.

We spent a couple of hours at the grave site, catching them up, with one of the major highlights being Brother Joe wrecking his boat on a rock within hours of having it put into the lake for the season. I believe he was laughing at me as he was told that as we were driving to the cemetery down the main street of town within 30 minutes of the start of the parade, I drove by slowly, waving like the mayor to all the people who were gathering, many of whom laughed and waved back. (Nephew Sam was trying his best to hide in the back seat.)

Some of the parade came all the way into the cemetery and as it approached, we walked out to the entrance to watch the veterans group march by for the ceremony that was being held in the cemetery. We watched very little of the actual ceremony and went back to the grave site before the mayor began his speech.

Of course the ride home had to include lunch at Clems, and the BBQ was as wonderful as always, thank Sis for buying lunch!!!

So Pap Pap, that was the highlight of my Memorial Day that I just wanted to share with you. I Love You and miss you terribly, but we are helping each other get by. We many times call each other during those times when we would have been calling you. I will talk to you again soon.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Dad's obituary

Although this obituary doesn't begin to describe dad's life and loves. it's a start. The rest we hope to fill in with your stories. Thanks in advance for your comments and know how much we love reading them. For the technologically challenged, just hit comment below this or any of the posts and write. We will compile all of these into a book that his children and grandchildren will treasure. If you want your comments to appear in the program we are creating for the funeral, please post them before Tuesday night. Otherwise take as much time as you need.

Note that the formal service on the 29th starts at 11:30 contrary to a previous post, but other details re hotels etc are accurate. Another hotel recommendation is the Fairfield Inn & Suites , 2215 N. Atherton St.

Joseph Tocci, 84, of State College, died January 21, 2010 surrounded by friends and family at the Forbes Hospice in Pittsburgh, PA. He was born July 16, 1925 in Ridgewood, Queens, NY; son of the late Joseph Nicholas and Julia Martin Tocci.

On August 16, 1952, he married the love of his life, Dolores Asper, with whom he shared 54 years of marriage. She preceded him in death on May 3, 2007.

Joe graduated from Grover Cleveland High School in Ridgewood, Queens, NY in 1943. Upon graduation from High School he enlisted and served in the U. S. Navy from July 15, 1943 to March 12, 1946, and during World War II he served on the Aircraft Carrier USS Card in anti-submarine duty in the North Atlantic. He earned the American, Asiatic, Victory and European Theatre Medals.

Upon his honorable discharge, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Human Development at Penn State University in 1950 on the GI Bill. While studying at Penn State, he co-captained the Penn State basketball team and is listed as one of the 50 greatest basketball players in Penn State History. Also while on the Varsity baseball squad, he was named all Eastern All-Star second baseman in the 1949 and 1950 seasons. In 1958 he earned a Master of Education degree at Penn State University. He went on to complete a thirty credit, sixth year certificate program at Bridgeport University in Bridgeport Conn.

Joe Tocci served as a Physical Education Instructor and freshman basketball coach at Penn State from 1950 – 1951. In 1951 through 1953 coach Tocci taught Phys Ed, Social Studies and coached at Blairsville High School. From 1953 to 1963 he taught Phys Ed and served as a coach at Mansfield High School. Returning to State College in 1963, he taught Phys Ed and served as an assistant basketball coach at Penn State University until 1968. In 1968 he moved his family to Trumbull Ct, where he coached basketball, golf, cross country and tennis, and taught Phys Ed. He led several teams to compete in their respective state championships. In 1986, he and his wife Dolores retired to State College. Coach Tocci’s continued relationships, some spanning over 50 years, with former teammates, players and students is an example of the impact he made on people’s lives.

Joe was a devout Catholic and belonged to Our Lady of Victory Church in State College. He was a most enthusiastic supporter of Penn State athletics, and was an active member of the Penn State Nittany Lion Club.

Surviving are his daughter M. J. Tocci and her husband Jonathan Rest of Pittsburgh, two sons, Joseph Michael Tocci and his wife Susan of Belmont, MA and Timothy John Tocci of Pittsburgh, four grandchildren, Sam, Zoe, Catherine and Joey, and one sister Dorothy Tocci and life long family friend Margaret Wigiser of Hobe Sound. FL.

A memorial mass will be celebrated at 11:30 a.m. on January 29th, 2010 at Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church, 820 Westerly Parkway, State College with Msgr Lockard as Celebrant. Family and friends will be received one hour prior to the memorial mass. Graveside services and burial will be in Blairsville Cemetery, Blairsville, PA at 1 p.m. on January 30th, where he will be buried alongside his beloved wife Dolores.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory may be made to Forbes Hospice, 115 S. Neville Street, Pittsburgh Pa, 15213

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The buzzer finally sounded

Yes, the buzzer finally sounded and dad left this game for good. He died peacefully in his sleep this morning when Tim and I were in the hallway outside his room. He was determined to go when we none of his children were there and he outsmarted us again.

MJ and Jonathan and family will be receiving guests at home on Sunday January 24th from 12-4 followed by a private service on Sunday night. Their address is 1130 North Negley Ave. Pittsburgh

The funeral will be at Our Lady of Victory Church located at 820 Westerly Parkway State College on Friday January 29th at 11:00 am. A lunch reception will follow at the church and all are welcome to attend. The phone number of the church is 814-237-7832. Dad will be buried in Blairsville on Saturday January 30th at 1:00 (specifics to follow). We recommend the Ramada Inn located at 1450 South Atherton St. State College 814-238-3001

In lieu of flowers, we ask that you make a donation to Forbes Hospice in memory of Joseph Tocci. The address is 115 South Neville Street,Pittsburgh, Pa. 15213. They took extraordinary care of all of us

As much as we love your cards, we encourage you to contribute your comments to the blog- it's our archive of dad's life and we love to hear all about how you know him and remember him. We invite your stories and thoughts.

More to come.....

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

We are in overtime and what a game it has been!

The fourth quarter just ended, and the game is going into overtime. The first 3 periods were an amazing ride, with career, family and friends. The last quarter began with the home team controlling the ball, moving home to friends and familiar surroundings in Boalsburg and State College, with good health and active retirement. The team had adequate income to support the modest life they chose. Days were filled with golf, dining and plenty of Penn State sporting activities to attend. Children and grandchildren visited often, but never often enough.

Near the end of the last quarter, the opposing team started to control the ball. One of the critical players on the home team was fouled and as a result began having difficulty getting up and down the court. The point guard was able to keep the team in the game, while at the same time never leaving the side of his injured teammate. It took amazing fortitude and devotion to achieve this, but when the quarter closed he could move ahead knowing he gave all he had to give… becoming a fixture at her side and providing both physical and emotional nourishment day after day, year after year, affording his partner the deserved dignity that was so important to them both.

As we head into overtime, while the opposing team can be compassionate, they are also undefeated. Eventually the brackets require us all to meet them, and we might measure ourselves by how well we embraced, enjoyed and appreciated the competition even knowing the end game. This player was a class act every minute of every period.

Wait! What’s going on here??? That player and life partner he lived with all those years is now playing on the other team! As he guards her, like he always has done, she whispers to him that he has had such a great performance during regulation, at the end of the game he will be drafted by the undefeated squad, where they will be teammates again.

So while many of us will miss you, others are looking forward to playing together with you again where you certainly belong, in that eternal Hall of Fame you so believed in all your life.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

St Peter and the coach

MJ reporting from hospice where dad is comfortable,mostly quiet but still able to deliver the occasional pithy remark. Brother Joe arrived this morning. Cousins are all around us so just picture: dice and card games, arguments over rules, arguments over sports, politics and whatever else might inspire a debate, tons of food including leftovers from our Arabic food feast last night- (delete that, I forgot Joe arrived) and endless stories about the lifetimes of experiences that have made these bonds between us so strong. Dad is in his element as we honor his contribution to who we all became and how connected we are to each other. We stand on the shoulders of giants- Hospice is an amazing place, with just the right mix of medical, spiritual, soothing, straight talk and extraordinary people.

A story from cousin Jackie who claims the privilege of being the cousin who has known dad the longest- ...."I find myself recalling Uncle Joe as our Civics Teacher so long ago... how much everyone in the class admired him and how proud I was that he was "going with" my Aunt Dolores ( alias Trouble maker, aka DoDo)

Just the fact that these little moments are still vivid reminds me of what a quality guy he is and always will be. Uncle Joe is beyond special... I guess I just adore him.
Stay strong and love him as you always do. You have an army of cousins at your side.

As we closed up dad's house I found this yellowed newspaper clipping that has been on his dresser for as long as I can remember:

The coach knocked on the Pearly Gate
His face was scarred and old
He stood before the man of fate
For admission to the fold
"What have you done" St. Peter asked
"To gain admission here?"
"I've been a basketball coach" he said,
"For many and many a year
The Pearly Gate swung open wide
St. Peter touched the bell,
'Come in and choose your harp,' he said
"You've had your share of hell".

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Only his wit bounced back this time

Dad was fairly incoherent last night but for a few moments- which, as always, included some humor. Dad tried to get up out of bed and told Tim it was "none of his business" where he was going. He held our hands tight, and we know that he knew we were with him How can you help but want just a few more weeks of good times, one more piece of advice, one more ball game to watch to Pittsburgh and goodbye to Happy Valley for now.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Hospice and the journey to get there

The dad parade will journey from State College to Pittsburgh this Saturday on roads well traveled by us all. This is the reverse of the journey dad made in 1953 from Blairsville to points east on his way to make his mark on the world. He will go past Blairsville where he met the love of his life, the Windmill where he and mom had their wedding breakfast- Carbones where fights over the check at big family gatherings were legendary, Deans Diner and several golf courses where the real stories stay with the players- as they should.

No chariots were available on short notice so an ambulance was the next best thing. Tim and I will follow him absorbing all the memories as we pass. Dad is on his way to Forbes Hospice- address is 115 South Neville Street/ 15213. It's a wonderful place that is down the road from Tim and my house, on the bus route home from school for Sam, through a tunnel for Teri and Tom and an easier plane ride for everyone else. We are expecting a "pile of cousins" to use John Robert's expression this weekend and are so grateful for the emotional reinforcements. Most thankful to cousin Teri for guiding us through this difficult decision with her usual wisdom and heart. Today is a sad day dad is diminished but we reach to find the many reasons to celebrate how blessed we continue to be.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

"Joe Tocci appreciation night everywhere"

There was not a lot new to report for the blog today. Dad spent most of the day sleeping, waking for extended periods only during meal times, and today only for breakfast and supper. He was given a transfusion to rejuvenate his platelets as his counts were getting too low.

Dad received a letter the other day which truly reflects the way he has touched the lives of those around him and I would like to share just a few parts of it. The letter was written by one of the young men dad touched in his life, and although this is one man's story, I believe it could easily have also come from hundreds of others who would reflect the same experiences and emotions. As I have not asked the author for permission to publish this letter, he will remain nameless.

"Dear Joe

….Joe Tocci, my first soccer coach, my basketball coach and my baseball coach. Welcome to senior high school, I will lead you through.

From the very first time you spoke to me, even before high school, your opinion mattered. "Nice game!" you said to me after a small fry basketball game. I never forgot that. ….

I expect there have been "Joe Tocci" Appreciation nights wherever you've been and left or retired. I would have led the applause and been proud to have been one of your disciples. I even spent one season as a basketball coach during my final year of teaching. What'll I do?? Only what I remember Joe Tocci did with me and many of my friends that experienced successful careers emulating what you taught us. ……

…. Your faith in me at age 14 strengthened me for life.

God Bless you Joe Tocci. YOU MATTERED!"

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The fraternity caper

Good evening friends and family.

I am learning that every day now can bring surprises. As you all who have been following this blog are aware, those surprises can be ones that bring either tears of joy or tears of sadness, and sometimes both.

MJ wrote yesterday of the tough development of the last several days. Thankfully today we had a better day. With a full day and a half of IV fluids under his belt and and his blood sugar better under control and his UTI being treated, he was able to bounce back a bit today.

He ate 3 good meals today, better than he has eaten in more than a week, and I was able to have good conversations with him during those meal times. Right after lunch today, I asked him if he wanted to go through his mail which I brought up to the hospital with me. Since he did not have his 60 year old letter opener which he always uses to open his mail, he asked if I would open the envelopes for him. Of course being the dutiful (and trusting) son, I readily agreed to help out. After we finished going through all of his mail, half of which was junk mail and the other half bills, he informed me that who ever opens a bill is responsible for paying that bill.

Needless to say, tomorrow I will be bringing the letter opener to the hospital with me, and I will not be opening any more of his mail.

And now for one more short blast from the past.

Back during his college basketball days, the team had to practice at 6 pm, and therefore had their dinner at 4 pm. After a couple hours of practice, as you can imagine, he would come back to the Frat house pretty hungry. It was his habit upon returning to check to see if there was anything left over in the kitchen for a snack before going to bed. One evening he Lou Lamie and John Morgan found a treasure upon their return from practice. In the kitchen was a whole roast beef, estimated to be around 6 lb., still warm fin the oven. The three of them polished off the whole thing in one sitting.

The next afternoon at lunch, there was a delay in the food being served. After a short while, the cook came out to make an announcement.

"Todays lunch menu has been changed. Lunch today will now be gravy bread, as the roast we had planned on serving has gone missing."

Thanks today for the visits from local State College friends, and thanks to all for your prayers and well wishes.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Dad is failing fast; the cousins are coming

Right now: Dad is in the hospital in room 204 of Mount Nittany Hospital- room phone is 814-231-7205. Tim is with him and dad has been mostly sleeping since Tim arrived this afternoon. No news yet on when he will be discharged.

Dad began to deteriorate last Thursday and by Sunday he was so weak that he needed mom's wheelchair to get to the bathroom. He was very confused and had developed a Parkinson like shake to his hands. Turns out that he had a very elevated blood sugar (from chemo etc), a UTI and he was extremely dehydrated. We pray dad will bounce back as far as this veteran hoopster can bounce these days. On the not such good news side, the doctors are telling us that dad can't go home without 24 hour care and that it's time to call in hospice. Joe, Tim, Sue, Jonathan and I will be making some decisions about his care as soon as brother Joe returns from China on Friday.

Quintessential dad: In these past few days dad has been mumbling to himself and without warning he would laugh out loud. Seemed like he had a private joke going on that was keeping him amused. As I was getting ready to leave the hospital last night, after a harrowing day, I propped up his bed and told him there would be an extra charge for this service. He didn't miss a beat and said "There's a urine sample over there- why don't you take that instead". Yes, he seems to be fading away but his humor continues to lead the charge.

Very bright moments: At the time when I needed it most- a call came from niece Michele in Spain offering international love and encouragement. Calls from Anita, Tom and Teri and visit on Sunday morning from Avis Filkins to help me through the decision to take dad to the hospital all very much appreciated. Dad reads all the cards he gets, or we read them to him and he enjoys every ounce of support he is getting.

Grandson Sam was extraordinarily devoted to his pap pap all weekend- bathed him, helped him in every way he could with an inner strength far beyond his years. Sam turned 15 today, but did some major growing up this weekend. Thanks to Sue, Jonathan and Kimberly for the constant support and to my amazing brothers for their wit and their wisdom.

We are looking forward to visits from Anita, Jamileh and David this weekend. There are some things dad just doesn't want to do anymore that concern me-like going to church or watching sports on t.v. Being with friends and family keeps him smiling.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Life after College

Upon birth, I was fortunate enough to solely inherit my Dad’s striking good looks and razor sharp wit. I would however in a second give it all up for half of his massive heart. The getting and giving of love in bonding family and friendships and the respect he has garnered during his rich life is remarkable.

Tuning back in to the history channel, we have had a glimpse of Dad’s spectacular career at Penn State. Upon graduation as a Physical Education Major and history Minor, he was asked to coach the PSU Freshman Team. Shortly thereafter due to the Korean War, enrollment in the sports programs waned. With just a JV and Varsity squad surviving, Dad had to look for employment elseware, which lead him to a Head Coaching and teaching job in Blairsville, and unbenounced to him right into the heart of Asper country. These two years in Blairsville would change his life forever.

One fine day, while visiting a local establishment, which some refer to as a luncheonette and others a saloon; he was introduced to a fellow by the name of Mickey Asper, a warm, intelligent and outgoing member of the feared Asper clan. As the only son of 7, Mickey’s responsibility was to take care of his 6 sisters.

Being an engineer, Mickey had done the math and determined that since 3 of the sisters were already married, if he could get one more out of the house it would mean 30% more shunk & eggs and his own room, even if in the basement. Anne and Lena spent a considerable amount of time cooking, cleaning, and keeping up the house. Then there was that young pretty one Dolores, who danced and played volleyball all day. “Yes, as much as I love my youngest sister, this one is expendable” he thought to himself while scooping up undercooked fried egg yolks with Syrian Bread and analyzing the racing forms. Sister Helen had just given birth of John Robert, and this was the perfect opportunity to get the unsuspecting new basketball coach over the house. Dolores and Joe’s eyes met, sparks flew, and shortly after that the two were married.

The exact circumstances surrounding the timing of the first child are not completely clear. Daughter MJ was born inside of the normal human gestation period. Some of the more pious family members considered Immaculate Conception, but after meeting MJ this was quickly ruled out in favor of spontaneous combustion or the more traditional Big Bang theory.

Shortly after MJ’s birth, Dad was invited to take a coaching job in the booming metropolis of Mansfield PA. Upon the conclusion of intense negotiations, his wife agreed to accompany him. They also decided to bring MJ.

Shortly after, while living in an apartment, their dreams came true. Son Joey was born.

As the family could not afford a bassinet for their newest and most precious son, a neighbor loaned the family a rolling Toolbox which provided a comfortable tray on top and afforded easy locking and storage when no sitter was available. As a result at a young age this charming and intelligent boy showed above average maturity and inclination towards the accumulation of hand tools. Many of those tools were voluntarily donated from his father’s collection.

A few years later, another child appeared in the apartment. There does not seem to be any photographic evidence of Dolores carrying this child, and he immediately was slotted into one of the bunk beds, since at 6 months old he was 5’4”. The new addition completely disrupted the family, and required a move to the fist Tocci home in the suburbs 500 yards out of town on the base of Pickle Hill.

Coming attractions…those fab five players from Mansfield High…

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A True Fish Tale

Hello all. Joey here, with a special thanks to Lee Schlisler on providing some great history on their PSU playing days. For those of you that don’t know Lee and Family, they have been and continue to be great friends of the Tocci’s, as are many of the Stare college extended family. Lee is a Penn State historian and a terrific storyteller. Many times we have listened to Lee’s recollections, with wife Lois aptly listening with rolling eyes as she may have heard one or two of his stories before. Seriously though, for us they never get old.

Speaking of stories, there was once a fishing tournament held at Lee’s cabin and trained fish pond near State College. The teams were Lee and Dad, and because of my technical advantage I was given a handicap. Tim and I were partnered together.

To further equalize the competition, Lee and Dad went out on the pond in a fully outfitted Boston Whaler, with radar, fish finders and depth charges. Timmy and I were in a dugout canoe, wound hemp for line, using old fish bones as hooks.

The competition was fast and furious, with fish jumping across the bow, winds howling, lines tangling and arms straining. Into the last minutes, the tournament was tied, and just as the siren sounded, Dad hooked into a Lunker. The crowd (Lois and Dolores) were going wild as he fought the monster, with Tim and I cheering on the fish at every leap. Well Dad and Lee landed that fish, and looked at us like they just won the NCAA final 4. A photo of that moment was silk screened into T-Shirts that the Champions still wear on occasion.

More to follow…

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Radiation done and the climb is steep

Dad graduated from radiation today finishing his last treatment. Unclear whether there will be any future treatments. Radiation has left dad exhausted and somewhat confused at times. According to the oncologist, both the confusion and exhaustion may last a while and are predictable outcomes of radiation. Brother Tim has coordinated visits from the physical therapist, occupational therapist, several home health care personnel all in between doctors appointments, reading the Centre Daily Times front to back, adding safety bars to the bathroom and keeping the frig full. Somehow he has managed to get dad to eat eggs and boost for breakfast and something reasonably substantial for dinner. Don't know how he did it but we are relieved that dad is eating more. Medication to increase his appetite and stamina have been added to the long list of pill popping that is dad's daily regiment.

Brother Joe has taken care of all dad's legal affairs which involved some very difficult documents and decisions. We are all clear on dad's desires moving forward thanks to Joe and Tim's extraordinary efforts and care. We are all using this opportunity to get our affairs in order. It's amazing how easy it is to let this category of planning go. Turns out Joe and Sue's will only mentioned Catherine and "any other children". Callie, the dog, is claiming to be the only other qualifier.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Little Joe Tocci and the Dixie Classic

Hello to all you followers of the Joe Tocci Blog. Tim reporting today from State College with the latest Pap Pap update and in following the steps of my brother Joe, a little piece of history which today was provided by Lee Schisler who provided me an article, portions of which I will share later in this post.

Today was a long and tiring day for Joe. The Dr expects this trend to continue and his fatigue to get worse through his last 3 radiation treatments before it starts to get better. Some of his fatigue could be due to these treatments and we are hoping that he will get a little bit of energy back once the treatments end on Wednesday. More accurately, it will be a couple of weeks after the treatments are complete before we should hope to see some recovery of his stamina. For those of you who are so inclined, your prayers are encouraged and appreciated.

During the Occupational Therapists visit today I learned that Dad uses a towel bar to assist him in standing. This information made me realize that there are a few things that can be done to make the house a little safer for Dad. Unfortunately these enhancements require tools, which I was having trouble locating in Dad's house. Rumor is that Dad used to have an extensive tool box but brother Joe systematically depleted the collection on his visits over the years.

Reaching out to our local support group of the great friends Dad has here in State College, I asked Lee Schlisler if he had a drill. He was so kind to bring over to the house not only the drill, but an article for me to share with all of you from the Raleigh NC News and Observer dated December 30, 1949, where the Penn State basketball team was playing in the Dixie Classic.

Without further ado:

"Penn State Enters Finals, 46-41
That Pesky Guy, Again:
Lions Defeat Mountaineers

Little Joe Tocci and his big Penn State teammates last night advanced to the finals of the Dixie Classic against State's Wolfpack with a well-executed 46-41 victory over West Virginia in a real thriller played before 9,000 excited fans in the Coliseum.
Tocci, a five-foot seven-inch ball hawk and floor leader, provided the inspiration and the punch as the Nittany Lions eliminated their old-time rivals from the championship bracket of this colorful basketball tournament.
They Like Him
The crowd took the spectacular Tocci to its heart as he again was the most valuable man in a Penn State cast which has surprised the experts with its great game tournament play.
the little fellow broke the back of the rugged Mountaineers with his ball thefts and clever passing which set up the field goals which decided the issue.
The Lions, the last of the four intersectional teams to be invited to the first Dixie Classic, thus will throw their zone defense against State's Wolfpack tonight for the tourney title. Penn State defeated Duke 51-48 in the opening round with Tocci again providing the spark.
Lamie, a hard driver, broke the field goal famine for the Pennsylvanians with a pair of buckets. The first came after a sensational bit of work by the colorful Tocci, and the other was after a hard drive for the goal.
The Mountaineers managed to stay ahead until only a minute and 20 seconds remained in the period. Two spectacular baskets by Tocci put the Lions to within four points of the Mountaineers, and then Schisler, Lamie and Costa tied the score at 17-17.
Penn State, held to a 17 all half-time count by the favored West Virginians, was lead by forward Joe Tocci, at five-seven and weighing only 150 pounds, the smallest player in the tournament. He contributed nine vital points and some valuable floor play. "

And in another article on the same Dixie Classic Tournament:

"...Penn State turned to a little fellow with a big knack for leadership and outstanding play for its upset of the Mountaineers.
Pint-sized Joe Tocci, the tournament's smallest player, at 5-7, literally worked himself into exhaustion with a brand of play which swept the much l=bigger opponents off their collective feet.
Tocci scored nine points but that was far from his important contributions. His mere presence turned the tide for the Lions........Stealing the ball time and again and driving forth with blazing speed, Tocci had the Mountaineers reeling on the ropes when the final gun saw his club ahead by 46-41.
The little fellow was lost amid a forest of taller timber but managed always to fight his way clear. His passes were uncanny and at times even fooled his own mates. Along with Tocci as star was driving Lou Lamie whose 10 were high for the game winners,. Marty Costa, Lee Schisler, and Jack Storer utilized their tremendous heights in controlling rebounds."

As a side note to this article and this blog, that "pint-sized" "little fellow" was drafted into the NBA by the Minneapolis Lakers.

And finally, that "pint-sized" "little fellow" has the biggest heart of anyone I have ever known and is the man that I most respect and admire in this world.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

More on the Life and Times

Early 1930’s in the midst of that other great depression, mother Julia, a ravishing redhead from New Jersey, looked out at her son (known only as Pap at that time) hitching a free ride on the back of the Ice truck thru the streets of Brooklyn. “That boys gonna make something of himself” she whispered. If she only knew.

Just a few short years later, Pap attended his first year of Boys High, doing the 1:30 to 5:30 shift in an overcrowded school. This schedule prohibited him from playing baseball, so in the next year he transferred from Boys High to Grover Cleveland, where he would play baseball and Basketball, taking the elevated train to school and home after practice, a long day.

Upon Graduation, Pap followed his Brother Louis into the Navy. It was a necessary choice, as the other option on his 18th birthday would have been being drafted into the Army. This decision proved fortuitous, as it both paved the way for his adopted son to attend the naval academy, and his stringent training as an electricians mate. His eventual abandonment of that career path was a shock to his family, but most likely prevented a few for him.

Shortly after his discharge, he moved in with his older sister Dorothy, and contemplated his future. With his longtime interest in Physical Education, encouragement from his sister, and personel drive, he applied for and attended Mohawk College in upstate NY, where he played ball and completed his 2 year degree. When I asked him what motivated a kid from Brooklyn to pursue a college education at that time when most of his friends were content to find hourly work in the city, he attributed it to his experience in the Navy, seeing how so many of his shipmates lacked any formal education, and that he wanted to have the same opportunities of the officers on Board. This and the GI Bill paved the way for this future Penn State Alum.

This week I was able to finally get a bet on a football game with Pap Pap. He had Ohio State, and I Oregon. The bet began even for one US Dollar. Once Ohio State took the lead, he mumbled something about out $2 bet. Needless to say at the end of the day, Pap Pap was again on the right side of the bet. When he woke up yesterday, he asked me when I intended to pay him for our $25 bet. We need to go back to Boston now while I still retain title to my home.

Susan, Joey, Catherine and I sadly say goodbye to Pap Pap for now, knowing he is in good hands with MJ, Timmy, and his wonderful friends here.

Ta Ta for now…


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Facts and Fiction Tocci Style

Morning Friends and Family

Joey here on a beautuful Saturday Morning in SC. Going thru some papers of my best friend today and though I would share some interesting facts.

Wife Dolores Lorraine Asper was officially born on August 23, 1928. These facts in both name and date have often been disputed.

A smudge on the birth certificate of oldest daughter MJ Tocci actually masked the fact that she is 4 years older than her brother Joey.

Youngest son Timmy, at 6' 1" is confirmed to have been adopted.

Pap Pap was born July 16, 1925 to Joseph Tocci and Julia (Martin) Tocci, while living at 757 Freshpond Road, Ridgewood, NY. Pap Paps dad was 38 at the time. mother 32. Mom passed away within a few years of Dad's birth.

On July 15,1943, a day before his 18th birthday, he enlisted with his brother Louis into the US Navy, where he saw action in WWII on board the aircraft carrier USS Card . Honorably discharged as an Electricians Mate on March 12th, 1946, the training he received in the millitary shaped his carreer in acknowledging the trades were not for him.

More to follow as this scrappy second baseman, point guard and history buff went on to search for an alternative career and the love of his life Dolores.

Love and Hugs....