Alumni Stories

Mario C. “Landy”

I want to thank all the guys at Jack’s hotel who are doing a great job at keeping the alumni and “Echoes of the Home” going. Now that you have a website it will make it easy to connect with long lost brothers.  I feel like my Bro. Joe is still writing his news and my Bro. Paul is always checking to make sure Joe is not betting on the ponies. This is an inside joke with Joe and Fr. Paul. I don’t know if any of the guys in the Fifth Div. Remember when we, the Fourth Div., whipped the heck out of them playing football. That was when Bro. Frank Springman was in charge of the 4th and Bro. Henry had the Fifth, back in the 40’s. 

Fr. Paul, thank you and also the members for their prayers while I was hospitalized. You can reach me at  keep in touch  Mario C. “Landy”

Alumni Stories

Michael Turello, Jr.

Hi, I am Michael Turello, Jr. who arrived at St. Johns Orphanage in 1948, after two years at the Children’s Center in Manhattan with my brother, Pasquale Turello.
I just checked out your new website and it’s well done. The building looks nothing like I am familiar with.  I am assuming the entrance is now facing west, whereas it used to face the beach. Brother August, a rather rotund man, used to reside near the entrance to the Administrative building. Brother Louis (or was it Lewis); Brother Frank; Father Charles are the few names I remember. There was another older priest, Father Joseph, who heard the confessions and said Mass all the time.  I do not ever recall Father Charles ever saying Mass. I remember Brother Louis the best, as he was our dorm guardian; a tall, hairy, gentleman, who loved to swim every day at least two miles.  He would swim out at least two or three hundred yards, and then turn and head west for a good mile, and then back.  We used to try to follow him, but became afraid after reaching the safety of the last buoy.  We were good swimmers, but being only 10 years old, we were not strong enough for such a demanding swim.  I no longer go swimming and I do miss the ocean; riding the waves; and even sand surfing.   We also used to ride our bikes into huge breaking waves, and then had to spend a couple of hours cleaning the bikes and oiling the brakes.  We use to love doing wheelies and skidding the bikes on the wet boardwalk. 
During the winter months, we used to clam for the bass fisherman and earn a dime or whatever they gave.  We even crabbed in Jamaica Bay for blue crab and sometimes would catch soft shell crabs.  We would sell them to passersby to get that nickel or dime to buy “cigarettes”.
Brother Louis used to wack me in the butt at least three times a week with his handmade wacking stick for smoking.  When I graduated, and had to go to St. Vincent’s for further schooling (High School), I asked Brother Louis how he was able to catch me smoking even though I was a mile away.  He replied, “I will show you”., and took me to his room, and showed me the two or three foot long brass telescope he had.  He said, he would go on the roof and scan the beach and surrounding areas, and usually would see me on my bike, smoking away.  The wacking did no good, for I still smoke up to three packs a day at age 68.
My doctor, has been telling me I have emphysema for the last ten years, and is always wondering why I still do not need oxygen, and have not died in my 40’s. 
To let you know how I turned out:  After leaving St. Vincent’s in 1953, at 17 years old, I worked for a while in a hero sandwich shop only two blocks from St. Vincent’s for $35.00 a week, working 60 hours and lived in an apartment (ha) that was 5 X 6ft for $45.00 a month.  I decided during the summer of 1954, that I was going nowhere, had quit High School, and joined the Air Force on the 9th of September, 1954.  During my twenty years in the Air Force, I was stationed in Occupied Germany for six months; France for 30 months; French Morocco (Africa) for 11 months.  I had to finish the one year tour at Madrid Spain after the French gave Morocco back to them and they kicked the Air Force out with their atomic weapons and B66 aircraft.  I spent two years at Mitchell Field, Hempstead, Long Island, and then went to Japan  (near Tokyo) for four years, and then to California near the Mojave desert for another two years.  Then got sent off to Saigon, Vietnam for a year, and my last overseas tour was again in Tokyo, Japan for another 5 years.  I finished my Air Force career at Beale AFB, California, where I have resided, six miles from the main gate, since 1974. I lived overseas for a total of 14 years, and loved every minute of it, except for Vietnam and Morocco.
So I did not turn out too bad as I am now retired with three retirement incomes; Air Force; Social Security; and AT&T and I still build and fix computers since 1982.
Cannot wait till you put up some the old pictures from 1948 and on and maybe I will find myself in one of them, as I have no pictures of me as a child.
Hopefully, you find my short story interesting

Alumni Stories

Steve Rizzo

Thanks to Steve Rizzo for repairing and repainting the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary that highlights our garden. It is beautiful and hopefully alumni who visit St. John’s will stop and take a look.

Alumni Stories

Vito Belmonte

Remember Vito Belmonte who died August 19th. May he rest in God’s peace. Our prayers and sympathies to the whole family.

Alumni Stories

Dom Ferrara

Hi Brother Tom, Hope all is well with all of you. Here are some pictures from the 1950’s. Maybe someone will know some of them. Hope to hear from you soon.

Alumni Stories

Luis Agront

I remember as though it were yesterday. For the pageant, all of the chairs were lined up and staff and boys were seated and standing on the sides. One time, we had an open mike for expressing the love and unity that St. John’s has, especially for the holidays. One by one the kids were called up to receive their gifts. I remember helping Brother Tom sort out the jeans into the right sizes. Some things you never forget. I’m glad about that.

Luis Agront

Alumni Stories

Wilmer Apolo

From Brother Tom:

I have been in contact with Wilmer Apolo. From the report and pictures below, it’s been an exciting and dangerous time for Wilmer. In the photograph, Wilmer is the third from the right. As you can see, he is not the tallest man in the group. However, he’s got to be one of the best. I think you will find his account interesting.

Brother Tom

I will start by saying hello to everyone that knows me and prays for me.  Thank you for your prayers. God is by my side and listening and watching me.  I’ve been here 6 months now, and we have about 6 to 7 months left.  I can’t wait until I see Germany again, and be back with my family. 
It is the scariest experience of my life being here in Iraq.  Our job is to find and destroy IED’S (improvised explosive devices), what reporters call Roadside Bombs.  Our vehicle at the time consisted of five guys, SSG McKinney; my squad leader, SGT Rie; Alpha Team Leader, SGT Gibson; Bravo Team Leader; SPC Channey, the driver and myself.  I love doing what I do; it’s a cool job.  Every time we get one or find one, we sure get happy because we have just saved someone’s life.  Insurgents (bad guys) like to hide IED’S almost everywhere in the road.  Sometimes we can see it and sometimes we don’t see it.  Just the other night, an IED hit my vehicle. It was a long night after that for me.  It took us by surprise. Most of the time we can see it.  This road was a new route for us and Insurgents in that area like to hide IED’S using different methods.  I can’t say much about it, but the IED that hit our vehicle was under the road.  It looked like a regular road; nothing wrong, just a normal road.   The IED went off on the rear left side of the vehicle.  I am the gunner of the vehicle and that IED went off right underneath where I sit.  It took us for a trip and almost flipped our vehicle over to the front and moved it to the right a little.

It took a while for the vehicle to come down from the blast, at least that’s how it seemed to me.  My Bravo Team Leader (SGT Gibson) and myself were out of breath, and I was moaning in pain. My Bravo Team Leader was having trouble breathing.  Our situation wasn’t serious, so we were okay, but I kept moaning in pain. My Alpha Team Leader noticed my left foot was bleeding and they started to take my boot and sock off to see what was wrong with my foot.  They bandaged it up to stop the bleeding.  SGT Gibson and myself were casualty evacuated for more evaluations.  I was told I have a hole on my foot the size of a dime and a depth ½ inch deep.  I was scared because of the pain. I thought my leg was broken but God took care of us and I still have my leg today.  SGT Gibson is on painkillers for his back.  The rest of the guys in the vehicle are fine, just some bruises. They are okay and working as I write this to you.  It will be at least a month or two before I start to work again, and I can’t wait to go out again.
I don’t know if you remember I told you I might re-enlist and then it was a 50/50. I wasn’t sure yet.  Yes, I am going to re-enlist. I am just waiting for September, and I will re-enlist for 4 years.  Hopefully I will get to stay in Germany. My family and I love it there. 

Editor’s Note: Wilmer would be delighted to hear from you. Please support him with a letter.
PFC Apolo, Wilmer
B.CO 54th IN BN
APO AE 09396

Wilmer Apolo sent this latest picture of him convalescing with some of his buddies. I would also like to submit his email address for those who find it easier to communicate by email: I’m sure he would appreciate any mail of any kind but email is the fastest and easiest to send.

Alumni Stories

Mario Briceno

Students get paid for internship experience

NEW YORK — You probably know high school or college students who’ve done internships, but now have one that many young people find fascinating, playing video games.

Mario Briceno, a senior at the High School for Arts and Business in Queens has landed his ideal internship. “I’m an intern, but I’m working but it doesn’t really feel like a job. I’m just playing video games,” he said.

Scott Price is the mentor for Mario’s internship says interns are especially valuable when there’s a stumbling block in a game that’s in development. “We’ll try to bring everybody into it, and solve it and if they’ve played some game that we normally wouldn’t see, that may be the perfect solution,” he said.

Mario’s internship is one of about 50 sponsored by the non-profit center for arts education. Its career development program places high schoolers in arts-related businesses throughout the city, including broadcasting, Music, Theatre and more.

“It again opens their eyes to many career opportunities that are available. They may have been interesting in marketing, but through the program they learned there’s marketing opportunities in fashion or in architecture,” said Kellie Burton with the Center of Arts Education.

Interns earn about $35 a week. But they learn that arts-related businesses in the city are a $13 billion a year industry.

You can go to online to check out the video featuring Mario.

Alumni Stories

Joseph Paul Zwintozeki

Hello, I thought I’d add to your Alumni Bulletin Board.  My uncle, Joseph Paul Zwintozeki passed away 09 Sept. 2001 in Alexandria, VA.  Burial was in the Quantico National Cemetery. He had served in the US Navy and was employed by several Federal Agencies throughout his career.

Joseph was a resident there from 10/29/1929 and left on 11/1/1935.  His parents, my grandparents, were Polish immigrants and both had passed away by about 1928.  Joseph was the youngest of three boys and I have to imagine that his brothers were having a very difficult time surviving on the streets of Brooklyn themselves.

My father was the oldest of the boys and I never knew Joseph or the middle brother, sad to say.  It’s only because of an attempt by me to outline a family tree in the last few years that I’ve learned a little about my family. From what I’ve seen so far, I’d have to say that Joseph was certainly the most successful of the three boys and I’m more than ready to attribute a portion of that success to St. John’s. So, thank you, thank you, thank you for caring for my uncle Joseph.

Very best regards,

Lea S. Head

Alumni Stories

Elmer Dunsky

Blessed be our God! Our Brother, Elmer Dunsky, has been called to an everlasting dwelling place with the saints, in the 91st year of his age and the 73rd year of his religious profession. He died on the 20th of September in Cupertino, California. Let us thank God for the gift of his life; let us thank Mary our Mother for the gift of his perseverance. Together, let us pray that he may rest in the peace of Christ.

Bro. Elmer Dunsky, SM
May He rest in God’s peace.

Bro. Elmer Dunsky is the last of the pioneer Marianist Staff who came to St. John’s back in 1937. He died on September 20, 2008. Those pioneers left us a legacy – activity, faith, individuality, personhood, responsible freedom. These values were spelled out in great sports teams, a band, personal clothing and a locker to keep our belongings safe, etc. We were offered faith, hope, and love. It meant a future, despite the difficulties we may have experienced in our lives. We were grateful people and appreciated what was done for us. We were handed a legacy. Legacies cannot be hoarded. They are passed on from generation to generation. That is our task now – to share the values we learned at St. John’s with our families, our neighbors, and our new residents at St. John’s.