Dot Romano Campi and Kim Campi talked about their family at StoryCorps in New York City.
Dot Romano Campi and Kim Campi talked about their family at StoryCorps in New York City. StoryCorps
Dot Romano was a divorcee raising her daughter, Mona, when she met Ronnie Campi in the early 1960s.
He was a widower with five children.
"A friend that I work with said to me, 'Oh, Dot, you gotta meet this great guy, just recently widowed and he's lonely ...' And I said, 'OK,' " the 80-year-old explained to Campi's daughter Kim at StoryCorps in New York City.
"And so we met. And I don't know how it came about, but he said he was looking for a mother for his five kids. I said, 'Don't look at me. What do I want with five more kids?' But I fell hard and deep. And several people said to me, 'You're marrying this guy and he has five kids — what are you crazy?' And I said, 'Well, I love him so much, I'll learn to love those kids.' And then as the marriage progressed, I used to tell him quite often, 'You know, Ronnie, you're lucky you had these kids, 'cause I never would have stayed here without them,' " Romano Campi says.
Kim and her brother David used to call Dot "Lady" in the early days.
Courtesy of the Campi family
The nine Campi kids surround Dot and Ronnie in this family photo.
The nine Campi kids surround Dot and Ronnie in this family photo. Courtesy of the Campi family
"And one of the cutest things is that you used to say: 'You know, Lady, my mother had red shoes,'" Romano Campi recalls.
But that changed once they all became a family.
"We have the five Campi kids, I had one daughter, and then we had three together," Romano Campi says. "And I remember always saying I want to be a mother not a stepmother. So that's why we didn't say, 'Well that's your mom and that's your dad.' You know, it's: 'This is my brother, this is my sister, this is my mother, and this is my father.' And just recently someone said to me that they love coming to my house and looking at those nine pictures over the piano. And they would say, 'Which one is yours, which ones are Ronnie's, and which ones are the ones you had together?' And I gotta tell you, a lot of people don't know where one family starts and the other one ends."
And while Romano Campi wishes she could have made her first marriage a success, she says, "When I think about that, I think, gee, all I would have is Mona. And look what I have now."
Ronnie Campi died in 1999.