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…