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A Eulogy for a Hero

Robert Di Domizio, 78, died Dec. 18 and was buried Dec. 22 at Lansdale Cemetery

I’m not saying my grandfather had anything to do with it, but the Eagles won big on the night of his death.

There was a man that recently died that was given the moniker of “Mr. Lansdale”; that’s a false claim. If anyone was Mr. Lansdale it was person who was Lansdale before Lansdale was Lansdale.

He wasn’t just Mr. Lansdale because of North Penn School Board and Lansdale Borough Council and Lansdale tax collector; there was Precision Rebuilding on Sixth Street. There was the Sons of Italy, Little Vets. The corner of Fifth and Towamencin was a deli, not a pub. He used to work at a gas station at West Main and Cannon, now

And you could never miss Bob – just look for the Air Force baseball hat. Because, I don’t know if you heard, but Bob was in the Air Force.

He also knew the best way to get anywhere, be it Lansdale or Pennsylvania or the Eastern Seaboard. Tell him where you were going, boom. Here comes the map from under his desk. He was a human GPS.

He could get to the from across town in 3 minutes. On a Friday. At rush hour.

One thing that Bob was: an individual. He was himself.

He was proof that you can proud of who you are and where you come from.

He taught me humility.

Then, there was the non-public Bob. The one who taught me how to drive and took me for my driver’s exam at Dublin.

He once told me to “Goose It” at the traffic light at Church and Hancock.

Goose it? When I first heard that, I slammed on my brakes.

Goose it? I’m looking for a goose.

“What the heck is goose it?”

He said it meant “go,” as in beat the yellow light.

I said, “Just say ‘Go!’”

I would later find out he wanted to teach his grandkids to drive, so that any subsequent and future traffic violations would be on him.

I remember him pulling my tooth when I was five years old, in the bathroom at my old house on Derstine Road. He did it by taking his bitter, Marlboro Light-stained fingers and sticking them in my mouth, grabbing the tooth and pulling it out.

He taught me courage.

I find a lot of myself in my grandfather.

I flutter my eyelashes really fast, seldomly, when making a point.

Sometimes, I’ll do his three-finger thing when I talk. You sort of make devil horns with your pointer and pinky, and turn the pinky 90 degrees. Then stick your thumb up. So now, your hand is pointing in three directions. And you have to rotate a bit when you’re making a point in your discussion.

It must be a Maiorano thing, because I remember my great-Uncle Lou doing the same thing.

He also had a trick knee. I don’t have one yet, but I’m working on it. He must have had some kind of surgery on it when he was younger, and it made the knee sensitive. It was like some kind of parlor trick for the grandkids.

You’d get him at the right moment, and he’d jerk his leg away and start snickering. Sometimes, he’d get a block in before you could get to the knee.

Whenever he was concentrating on something, or fixing something, there was the soundtrack to it all – the humming. He would just hum along with what he was doing. One time I asked him what he was humming, and he said it was a serenade for his wife.

Yes, I too, hum.

I have also hunted with my grandfather. His method was wake up early, hunt for two hours, and go sleep in the truck.

I always envied it, until I got to do it with him once. It was one of the best hunting experiences ever.

He taught me how to drive a motorboat on Lake Beltzville. I would take it up to the dam and back again. I’ll always have that lake and the cabin house to remember him by.

He taught me to enjoy life.

Bob also liked to incorporate jokes into his daily life.

He’d ask for a glass of iced tea. You’d pour it, but you wouldn’t get it right to the top.

“What? I ask for half a glass?”

And he was always telling jokes, or forwarding me jokes in email. Most of them were inappropriate yet humorous.

He taught me humor.

And there was always something being done in the house: the carpets are taken up to expose the hardwood floor and the front entrance went from a carport to a dining room to a newer dining room.

You go over one day and the basement’s redone, and there’s siding on the shed, and the pool’s gone, and the deck is restained.

This past summer, we spent a good two days fixing overhead lights in the family room, with numerous trips to Lowe’s and Ace Hardware.

And, I can say, those lights will NEVER, EVER go out.

If not mistaken, even the porch at 5 Bucks, the name we gave to the hunting cabin in White Haven, got built pretty quick.

God created the world in six days; Bob would have done it in one.

As you know, when he wanted something done, it couldn’t wait. It had to be done now.

But he still couldn’t find “Save” on his laptop.

And might I mention, whenever it came to working on something, you always, always had to go get a tool for him.

You had to find a tool inside another tool inside a toolbox … inside another toolbox. And it was always in the back of the Bronco.

He taught me to be successful and ambitious.

Working in Lansdale at The Reporter, I would always go by and have lunch with him. It was usually cheesesteak or Italian hoagie from

Or maybe it was dinner and it was Mom-Mom’s spaghetti.

And for drink – orange soda.

And it never failed – every time, there was the green hot peppers and his little dish of salt for dipping.

And the man knew how to make a perfect salad. Just the right touch of oil, vinegar and salt. And just Romaine lettuce.

On the day after his death, I made a salad. And it was immaculate. Perfect vinegar. Perfect oil. Just the right amount of salt.

He taught me to really love the food you’re eating.

When he quit tax collector, he was bored. However, he still had his grandkids, his wife, and his sons … and he had his “Bonanza” and his “Rifleman” and “Have Gun Will Travel” and whatever John Wayne was in. And maybe an army movie, for good measure.

I’ll miss watching those shows with him, but you can be sure, I’m a new fan of Westerns.

Let’s not forget genealogy. The man was a historian. Books and folders and folders and books and pages tracing our lineage back to primordial ooze. He did for his side of the family, his wife’s side of the family and even friends.

He taught me to be passionate about what you love.

I’m upset that he will not be at my wedding in body; he was so proud of me. More importantly, he was very proud of my father. He told me so.

We all have faults, but he always believed in me and my dad – the first born of the first born.

To me, my grandfather was immortal. He would never die.

That’s, of course, not true. He will live on in my heart, in my soul, in every member of my family’s heart and soul, in everything I do, everything I work on, everything that is me.

Pop-Pop, I hope you liked Nana and Dionino and your brothers Frank and Silvino welcoming you.

And I truly hope you’re helping God fix something up there.

And I’ll continue to help others fix things down here.

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