Remembering Pop on Veterans Day

Elsie and Paul Bangiola during WWII. She was a nurse, he was a fighter pilot. They met when he was recuperating from combat wounds in 1944. Paul Bangiola later became a state judge and mayor of Morris Plains. Photo courtesy of the Bangiola family
Elsie and Paul Bangiola during WWII. She was a nurse, he was a fighter pilot. They met when he was recuperating from combat wounds in 1944. Paul Bangiola later became a state judge and mayor of Morris Plains. Photo courtesy of the Bangiola family
1

 

By Paul M. Bangiola

Short story.

Wednesday was the eighth anniversary of my father’s death. That morning, Aunt Cecelia, age 96, called to remind me of a Mass in his memory at St. Christopher’s. I asked if she needed a ride, she said no, she’d meet me (she still drives). So my Dad was on my mind. 

GOING STRONG AT 96: Aunt Cecelia. Photo courtesy of the Bangiola family.
GOING STRONG AT 96: Aunt Cecelia. Photo courtesy of the Bangiola family.

Walked to my office across the yard when one of the other lawyers in my office  stopped me in the parking lot as I was just arriving and asked if there was any chance I had a pressure gauge. You know, for checking car tire pressure.

I smiled. “On me?”

He laughed and said no, of course not, but maybe back at the house, back across the yard.

I pictured myself ripping apart my house and car looking for a pressure gauge. I attempted subtlety and nonchalantly suggested a gas station two blocks away could help with both  checking the pressure and inflating the tire if needed.

And, besides, I added, it didn’t look flat to me. He quickly retreated.”No problem.” Phew!

I went into the office, said hello to Kate “The Great” Connolly, my secretary, and started work at my desk. 

FAMILY HEIRLOOM: Rolltop desk built by the late Judge Paul Bangiola. Photo courtesy of the Bangiola family.
FAMILY HEIRLOOM: Rolltop desk built by the late Judge Paul Bangiola. Photo courtesy of the Bangiola family.

For some reason I turned my attention to my father’s old rolltop desk which I also keep in my office. My Dad built the desk himself. I never emptied it of his personal effects. It makes my office a little crowded, but I just like it where it is anyway. 

I smiled as I thought of the miscellaneous items (junk) he kept in the center drawer​. Letter openers, ticket stubs, an old slide rule, nail clippers (toe clipper too!), X-acto knife, and a Loyola Retreat House manual. Even some old Brendan Byrne political buttons. Haven’t  looked in that drawer for a couple of years.  

Anyway, on impulse, I got up, checked the drawer. 

Yup, tire gauge. Told Bob, the lawyer, I could help him after all. My Dad would have loved that. 

Went to the Mass for my Dad with Aunt Cecelia as planned and told her the story afterwards. We both had the same reaction:

Hello to you too, Pop.

Paul M. Bangiola is a Morristown resident and lawyer practicing on Franklin Street. He is a former Morris County Democratic Chairman, municipal prosecutor, and a New Jersey representative in the Electoral College. 

NEED A TIRE GAUGE? It's in here somewhere. Photo courtesy of the Bangiola family.
NEED A TIRE GAUGE? It’s in here somewhere. Photo courtesy of the Bangiola family.
Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2017 MorristownGreen.com

1 COMMENT

  1. Thank you for this heart warming story and wonderful photo of the Bangiolas. I lived in Morris Plains many years ago and still remember the family. Bless them both for their service. Truly our greatest generation.

LEAVE A REPLY