2017-05-03 / Columnists

Local puts life story into poetry

by Tyler Buesching

Onofrio “Pete” Gisonda of Massapequa released his debut book, For Pete’s Sake…Go Figure, a memoir of short stories from throughout his life .

Gisonda, 84, has lived in Massapequa since 1953. With more than eight decades of life experiences, he decided to chronicle 35 occurrences that left a lasting impression on him. From spending a childhood day at Coney Island, to his recollection of being mugged in Brooklyn, the book tells the story of an everyday man with an interesting past.

“There were many older people with a lot of stories to tell [in Massapequa] and if they don’t put them into writing, they will be lost,” Gisonda said. “I went to the library and I just wrote.”

Gisonda’s parents bought their Massapequa home when he was 21 and serving in the military during the Korean War. After his discharge from the service, he returned to Massapequa and has been an active member of the community ever since.

When the Gisondas first moved to Massapequa, Broadway was a dirt road and the railroad platform was ground level. Gisonda’s father was a construction worker who helped elevate the platform to the level it is today.

Massapequa was far less populated than it is today, Gisonda said. “There wasn’t much of anything, just trees and some construction on residential homes. Even the post office wasn’t there yet.”

Gisonda recalls many of the sites and businesses from his youth, many of which are not in business anymore. He enjoyed going to Jolly Rogers with his children, which was a fast food restaurant next to an amusement park at the intersection of Hempstead Turnpike and Hicksville Road. The space is now occupied by a strip mall. He also frequented Sunrise Village Inn, a German restaurant and beer garden, on the south side of Sunrise Highway in Bellmore.

The various construction developments, former businesses and depictions of old Massapequa are immortalized in Gisonda’s writing, and can be further explored in For Pete’s Sake.

Gisonda still lives in the same Massapequa home that his parents bought. He raised two daughters, Claire and Tonia, both Plainedge graduates who also received degrees from Hofstra University.

He is a strong community member and is involved in many local organizations. He is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, American Legion, Sons of Liberty, and Amvets. He is a charter member of both the local and national AARP, a postal supervisor and on the Plainedge school board. He is currently 27 years into retirement following four decades of service with the U.S. Post Office.

Gisonda urges young Massapequans to become as educated as possible. “The most important thing is to make school enjoyable…whatever you do, continue in school.”

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