Written by Chuck Parr
I grew up in the same area of upstate New York as Dick Biondi. It was known as the Triple Cities. Endicott - Johnson City - Binghamton. Home to Rod Serling. Where IBM was born in 1914. A place of many shoe factories during the first half of the last century.
I was born around the year that Dick ventured off on his long and lustrous Radio Rock&Roll career. I never met Dick until decades later at one of his location broadcasts in my current hometown of St Charles IL.
The area where Dick and I grew up was a magnet for Italians and Slavic and Ukrainian immigrants at the turn of the last century. Many came to work the shoe factories Hard work. Good work. Dirty work. Stinking work tanning animal hides. Cutting, trimming, polishing. A company who treated employees like family, Endicott Johnson ( EJ Shoes) was founded there. They provided very nice leisure facilities for their employees to enjoy on their Sunday day off. Swimming pools. Carousels. Band Shells. Ball Parks. Good housing. Company picnics. It was idyllic when the factories boomed through the 1950s.
People who grew up there learned a certain ethic - treat people right. Be fair. Work hard. Get paid fairly for your work.
Along the main thoroughfares of the towns where EJ factories were located the company erected large Arches that reminded employees each day that they lived and worked in an area that was known as the "Home of the Square Deal".
Those were the kind of people I grew up with. Who I went to school with. Who I worked with on summer jobs. Hard working fair minded and good humored.
Rolling the calendar Back to the summer of 1969, I was working in a well known restaurant in the triple cities , The Endwell House, earning college money for my sophomore year.
The summer weekend of Woodstock I was washing pots & pans and dishes and scrubbing kitchen floors and cleaning grease traps in a kitchen run by a strong minded woman named "Rosie". She was a firm but fair woman. When she told you to do something you did it and never asked why or delayed. She was robust when she laughed. She was silent when angry and burned a hole right through you. She taught me all the useful Italian swear words and expressions I still use til today.
We heard about Woodstock. Saw the TV pictures. Heard the radio news. We even knew some people who trekked that weekend. They all got wet and muddy and high. We joked ..."what fools!" We knew the better place to be that weekend was making people nice meals and catering to people enjoying their evening out or during a weekend brunch.
Rosie Biondi knew how to work hard ...how to be fair ...how to laugh ...how manage a kitchen ...how to raise a good son cut from the same cloth! SHE WAS THE REAL DEAL!