Greatest Generation: Joseph Camporeale

By Janelle, Rio Vista High School

Joseph Camporeale #1

Joseph Camporeale was born in Brooklyn, New York, in May of 1926. He lived in Brooklyn for 20 years before moving to Long Island. His dad had immigrated to the United States from Italy at the age of 17. He had a younger sister, who was four years younger than himself, and a step brother who had lost his mother when he was young. He lived in a six family house and only three of them were related. He had six cousins, uncles, and aunts. The house that he was living in was spacious. He grew up on the streets. In his school there was no gym and no sports.  The Italian Mafia was ever present.

During the depression Joseph remembers lots of unemployment. Wages were down, but his dad was never out of work; as a cabinet maker he made $20 a week. Apartment rents were going for about $20-$25 a month, 25 cents could feed a family of four, and $1.00 bought 5 gallons of milk.

During World War II, Joseph was stationed in Guam and was in the naval construction battalion, also known as the Seabees. He went in after the Marines and built bases and airfields to help them move on to Japan. He was there for 2 years and was only 18 at the time. Most of his friends looked forward to enlisting. He also said that the draft gave you a choice. After the war he had no job. The government gave him $20 a week for the year following his discharge. He sailed on ships as a cook for two years after the war.

Joseph Camporeale #2During the cold war Joseph feared another war. He remembers how the Russians were very dominant, and how it was on the news almost all the time. At the time of the first moonwalk he was working for an insurance company. He said that “it was a very exciting time for us. The moonwalk made us look good to the Russians.” The assassination of J.F.K. was a shock to him. He heard about it on the way home from work. Joseph admired J.F.K. as a great leader. During the Vietnam War he said that there was a lot of resistance towards it. He never really understood it. When Martin Luther King was assassinated Joseph felt very strongly towards it. When Martin Luther King had started the civil rights movement Joseph felt as though the country was going to improve. In the 50’s Joseph was working and raising a family; he had two sons. In the 60’s he was still working and raising a family.

The greatest inventions of the past 300 years according to Joseph were the T.V., the radio, and the 10 inch table monitor. Along with the establishment of the United States economy.

Joseph’s advice to our generation is to advance your knowledge, to devote your self to improving yourself, to develop a strong family, and to work, work, work.

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