Father vs. Father: Two Traditions Square Off

Tony Gargagliano and Cathie Campbell spoke about the elder Gargagliano in New York.

Tony Gargagliano and Cathie Campbell spoke about the elder Gargagliano in New York. StoryCorps hide caption

itoggle caption StoryCorps

Tony Gargagliano's father came to New York from Italy as a teenager in 1908. But he held on to many of his Old World ways — much to the aggravation — and the delight — of his son.

As Tony recently told his friend Cathie Campbell, his father, Paul Gargagliano, never warmed up to the idea of him working as an artist. Paul was used to hard, honest work — as a goat-herder in Italy, and then as a tailor in New York City — not making pictures.

"Look at the bum," his father would say, "draw and paint dirty pictures, all the nude women. He's a bum."

When Paul Gargagliano was 84, he visited his son one day, and the two talked about Paul's third wife. She had left her husband to go to Italy, and her return looked doubtful.

"I told her, 'You go on,'" Tony recalled his father saying. "'You no find me when you get back.'"

"You know, you could get an annulment, dad," Tony said.

So, father and son went to see the monsignor, the head of the church, to discuss the matter.

But the elder Gargagliano and the monsignor had trouble understanding each other — after all, it began with Paul Gargagliano stating, "You know, father, it's not natural for a man to be without a woman."

In the end, much of the conversation found its way through Tony.

"Before I knew it, I was translating English into English," he recalled.

"Tell your father that the Church does not move very quickly," the monsignor said.

"I am in no hurry," Tony's father said.

"Did he ever do it?" Campbell asked Tony about his father's annulment.

"No," he answered. "She wrote him a love letter, and he sent her the money to come back."

Produced for 'Morning Edition' by Michael Garofalo. The senior producer for StoryCorps is Sarah Kramer.

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