52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #2 – Alfonse Falcone – King (of the family, malapropisms, and the bad joke.)

Alfonse Falcone at a New Haven hockey game 
This week’s topic was somewhat difficult – King? I wasn’t sure who in our family best fit that title. I decided my step-father, Alfonse (Alphonse) Falcone best fit the bill. “Alfie” entered my life when he met my mother shortly after her divorce in 1962. My father had left my mother with four little girls to raise, ranging in age from 7 (me) to 1. As my mother (Doris Lichtenthal) told me, “Once we (she and Al) met we were inseparable.” By 1968, they had a son, had married and set about raising my sisters and brother, along with Al’s three children from his previous marriage. In my opinion. Alfie was a “king” of a man- a lesser man would never have taken on such a challenge.

Alfonse Falcone was born in New Haven, Connecticut on June 7, 1927. His parents, Michael Falcone and Vera Stella Falcone were immigrants from Italy. (Michael in 1913 and Vera in 1901.) The family had little money but instilled a work ethic common for that time. Alfie often spoke about the many jobs he had growing up, such as selling newspapers and shining shoes. He told us he had no middle name because he was born during the Depression and his parents couldn’t afford one.
Alfie went to Prince Street School in New Haven, and graduated from Hillhouse High School. He then studied business at Larson College, which later became Quinnipiac College in Hamden, CT.

1945 Hillhouse Yearbook

Al’s humor and charm served him well during his life-long career as a tire salesman. His humor could have earned him the title “King of the Bad Joke.”
“I was on a diet for two weeks. Guess how much I lost.” (Answer: 14 days)
Alfie also had a tendency to purposely misuse words (in the style of the late comedian, Norm Crosby.) For decades, he called my best friend Doreen, Chlorine.
Active in New Haven area hockey his entire life, Al was quoted once as saying, “Nothing beats hockey.” Perhaps the only thing that did beat hockey for him was his family.

Sundays and summer vacations were spent with all eight children packed into the Country Squire station wagon (no seat belts!) , going to the YMCA, the beach or some other destination. When not traveling, we spent Sundays visiting family members or some other family activity.
One of our favorite family activities going out to eat. It wasn’t a family dinner unless we ended up embarrassed by something Alfie did. You could bet your paycheck on an exchange like this:
          Waitress: Would you like Italian or French dressing on your salad?
          Alfie: Yes
We were banned from several local restaurants after Alfie argued about the bills.  Good thing they never came after him for stealing items from the table. (We have quite a collection of mugs, salt and pepper shakers, even a large candy container that served as the restaurant’s dessert menu!)
He was also “king of the kitchen” often to my mother’s displeasure. The entire cook-top would be a mess after whatever he was cooking (on high) had boiled over. He put Paul Masson sherry in EVERYTHING! (Who feeds little kids scrambled eggs soaked with sherry?) He adorned salad (with his secret dressing: ketchup and mayonnaise) with a wilted celery cross. There was always a “surprise” buried
beneath the ice cream in your sundae – usually some slightly expired pastry from the Entenmann’s outlet.

Alfie at the stove – He always had a handkerchief hanging from his pocket.

Alfie would do anything, for anyone. As long as it suited him.  He had a way of getting whatever it was he wanted – plans could have been made for weeks, but if Al wanted it done differently, he would come up with some crazy reasoning and then say,
“But, it would be so much easier for everyone!”
Once we had children, we found it easier just to take whatever it was he offered (soda, candy, chips…) rather than get into an argument over the health merits of his snack choices. No one could leave his home empty-handed. Ever.  
He absolutely adored his grandchildren. It was often difficult to determine who was acting more immaturely, Pop-Pop or the children. Sadly, Alfie passed away before his 11thgrandchild, Elliot was born.  

Alphonse, Alfonse, Sunny, Al, Dad, Alfie, Poppers, Papa, Pop-Pop – to us you be will always be the “KING” of our family. 
I could write an entire blog post about why Alfie was wearing this outfit.
Suffice to say, this picture exemplifies his “larger-than-life” personality!

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