Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Did you know?: Tony DeMarco

Meet the DeMarcos: Tony and Edna. They are high school sweethearts who have been married for 53 years and are clearly still madly in love. It is heartwarming to be in their company as they continually complement and compliment one another. Two kinder or more positive people you will not meet anywhere.

Tony and Edna were born nine months apart in the same hospital in Brooklyn and lived about ten blocks apart as they grew up. They both share the same memories of beautiful tree lined streets and childrenplaying stickball and other games in the street. It was extremely safe and awonderful place to grow up.

Edna’s dad worked in a Painting Contractor business while her mother was a housewife. Tony’s dad was a World War II veteran who had landed in Normandy and was awarded two Purple Hearts. When he returned from the war, he became a “Man Friday” for a millionaire that he continued to do for many years. Tony’s mother was a housewife but eventually became a sales lady in a dress shop. Edna says she was very pretty and very nice. Quite a compliment from a daughter-in-law.

Edna was 14 when she met Tony and apparently he did not make a good impression as she thought he was obnoxious. Hard to believe, knowing Tony today. They met again on the bus and Tony threw her books out the window so that she had to get off to pick them up. He got off the bus with her and walked her home. At that time, Edna announced to her girlfriend that she thought she liked him and was going to change him. As Edna describes them, Edna and her friends were a little wild while Tony was bit of a nerd. While other kids were listening to Elvis, Tony was listening to Mario Lanza. The joke turned out to be on Edna, as he opened up her appreciation of good music and she found herself attending concerts, operas etc with him (and loving it).

Tony is very gifted singer. While trying out for the high school chorus, his talent was identified and he became a member of the All City Chorus and received scholarships for vocal lessons. He was on the Ted Mack Amateur Hour (for those of us old enough to remember) and he also sang in the Catskills. Tony still has a great voice; although he does not utilize it enough in the opinion of those of us privileged to have heard him sing.

Edna attended vocational school to become a beautician and has been doing that her whole life. While their children, Connie and Bobby, were little, Edna did the hair of the women living in her apartment building.

Tony and Edna were married as teenagers and moved in with Tony’s mother for a year while saving to get their own place. They moved into an apartment in Brooklyn that was a 4th floor walkup. She and the other women in the building were living the life of “June Cleaver” as Tony describes it. The women cooked, took care of their homes and families and loved going to the park where the small children ran through the sprinklers.

After finishing school, Tony worked as a Shipping Clerk and later Shipping Manager. I visualized him sitting behind a desk but soon learned that his job involved loading and unloading trucks filled with boxes of heavy merchandise and worked a second job on the weekends. Edna was concerned that he was working too hard and suggested that he take the NYC police department test. Tony easily passed the written and psychological tests and passed the physical portion in spite of having a double hernia operation just two months prior to the physical test. Tony worked for years in the Bedford Stuyvesant area and was the local policeman we all dream about. Edna pointed out that he had received the “Cop of the Year” award that was given for outstanding and devoted service to the community and he was presented the award at a big gala dinner. This would be extraordinary enough but more so because he was a white cop working in a black neighborhood and it was a different time in our history back then. He went way above what was expected of him and offered many activities for the kids in the neighborhood. Tony was hurt twice while on duty and the second was quite serious. Tony fell off a roof while chasing a burglar and, unfortunately, the burglar landed on top of him. Amazingly, he held on to the burglar, not letting him get away. He was home recuperating for ten months before going back to light desk duty and then just shy of 15 years, left the police department due to his disability from the fall. Thank you Tony and all the police who put their own lives on the line all the time in service to the community.

It is sad when someone has to leave the job that they love and are very good at because of circumstances such as Tony endured. But, Tony is not one to sit back and complain. He started another career (and not his last) and worked for a food service company, ran a cafeteria and managed a vending machine operation with over 850 vending machines throughout the state of New Jersey for about 15 years.

In 1972 they moved to Staten Island. At that time Edna began working at Ultimate Hair Design which was “the place to get your hair done” and women from New Jersey and New York sought it out. Joe Victorio, the owner of the shop was a perfectionist and demanded that his employees live up to his expectations. Edna is a perfectionist herself so it was not as difficult for her as it was for many of the other operators. Edna worked there for 14 years and was co-manager for the last 6 years. Edna managed the 18 employees and the clients and the other manager, Joyce, handled the numbers. The boss would meet Edna in the morning for breakfast before the shop opened to get her input and meet Joyce after the shop closed for wine to get her input. I asked how she missed out on the wine and she said she had to get home to the kids. She left there in 1988 with tears in both her boss and her eyes when she moved to the Poconos. Tony and Edna had become good friends with Joe and he visited them here in the Farms and he ended up buying a home and living in the Farms for the last 5 years of his life.

Edna’s Dad had a trailer in a community north of here which Tony and Edna used to visit. Eventually, they purchased a trailer and enjoyed weekends and vacations there. Both Tony and Edna like houses and used to go looking at houses just for fun when they were up here. They discovered Big Bass Lake and found a lot right on the Lehigh River and Edna fell in love. They purchased it and had a house built there by Kenny Bell, a former Pocono Farms resident and moved in during 1988. Kenny and the DeMarcos became good friends and Kenny would bring them to the Farms for drinks, dinner and affairs. Eventually, they became friends with folks from the Farms and decided that they would prefer to live here because of the social aspect. Tony’s only criterion for a lot was that it did not overlook another house. They ended up with a beautiful lot on the golf course although neither one of them played golf. Tony designed their house himself and Edna came home from work one day to find that he had taken his graph and built a model of his envisioned house. There are very few differences in the actual house from that model. Edna favorite show at the time was Dallas set on the South Fork ranch. Tony told her he was naming their new home, North Spoon and the sign is still there today.

Both Tony and Edna are gifted designers and decorators and their beautiful home is a reflection of that. They were the general contractors and hired subcontractors but did a lot of the inside work themselves. It was a lot of work, but they take great pride in their accomplishment. It took a year to build but made them happy watching the model come to life.

Edna began working at Head First on Rt 940 when they moved to the Poconos and 23 years later is still working there. The salon in Staten Island was large and the operators did not wash hair but had staff to do it. Imagine her surprise when she came here and discovered that she had to wash hair and realized that although she was an accomplished hairdresser, she had not learned how to wash hair. Needless to say, she learned fast. In addition to hairdressing, Edna is licensed in microderm abrasion and facials that she continues to do today.

Tony continued to commute to New Jersey for 12 years but eventually decided that he was giving up too much and left that position and started yet another career. He went to school and got his Real Estate License 14 years ago and continues to sell homes today. He is the happiest when he is selling homes in Pocono Farms whether it is helping new people find their first home in the Farms or helping friends and neighbors buy and sell as they transition from one home to another in the Farms.

Their daughter, Connie, was a supervisor in a brokerage firm in the World Trade Center and moved to Pocono Farms about 9 years ago with her husband Arthur and now her son Robert, daughter-inlaw Kelly and grandchildren Nicole and Christen also live with her. How nice for Tony and Edna to have four generations of their family in our community. Their son, Bobby is a retired Homicide Detective and member of the Joint Federal Taskforce on Terrorism for Homeland Security. He retired after 23 years for private security. He wanted more mobility, so returned to school and graduates this June as a Surgical Tech. He and his wife, Tori (also a retired Police Officer) live in Newburgh, NY.

What do Tony and Edna like most about Pocono Farms? That is an easy answer for them – the people. They feel that there is a sense of community for those who get involved and there is always a helping hand. They were in the unique position of knowing Pocono Farms and some of its residents prior to purchasing here thanks to Kenny Bell. They made the decision to move here because of the people they met and have not regretted that decision for one minute. After about a year, Edna met Gail Brescher and Georgia Wix. They asked if she played golf and she said no and they said they would see her in the fall. That prompted her to take lessons and she joined the 9-hole golf league. The first time out some one mentioned woods and she asked what a wood was. Tony started playing golf because he was married to Edna. He still plays today because he loves Edna.

Both Tony and Edna have given generously of their time to Pocono Farms. Tony served two terms on the Board and has been on virtually every committee over the years. Edna served on and chaired the House Committee for 17 years. She was responsible for many of the decorating upgrades throughout the years as our clubhouse was renovated, the Grill Room built and the new bar built in the dining room. For those of us who have been here long enough to have watched those changes, I can only say thank you Edna for the dramatic upgrades you help initiate to make our club house a source of pride for our community.

Edna is a fabulous cook and prepares dinner every night except Friday when you will see Tony and Edna at the club. Be sure to stop by and say hello to them. Be prepared for smiles and good will. Being in their presence even for a few minutes is uplifting.

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