Carmine “Toot” Giordano, 101, is the last surviving World War II veteran in Beacon, where he has lived nearly his entire life.

What do you remember about Beacon from your childhood?
There were trolley cars and lots of industry. My father was a jack-of-all-trades who worked in construction and the hat factories. My father and mother also worked in the textile mills over in what they used to call Groveville. My mother made woolens. She must have done so between babies; we were all born about 18 months apart [Giordano had nine siblings who survived into adulthood]. In those days, women worked until they delivered. We lived during the Depression, but we always had a roof over our heads and food to eat. We weren’t on welfare, but there was never that extra buck to do anything. I could never play sports because my family had a large piece of property and there were always chores. When I got older, I played golf and got a hole-in-one on my 91st birthday.

Over the years, have the changes in the city been for the better?
Maybe not better, just different. Things were nice through the 1980s, when a lot of stores closed on Main Street, but it’s good to see the arts and the businesses coming back after Dia turned things around. I drive, I shop, I go to the library. The problem is, you can’t find a parking spot.

What stands out about your World War II experience?
I started out training to be a radio operator on B-25 bombers and went to gunnery school in Wisconsin. They gave you all these aptitude tests and figured out what you would be good at. They told me I had an ear for Morse code. But I got airsick all the time. To keep the pilot from knowing, I threw up into bags and chucked them overboard. As I advanced through the program, I couldn’t hide it anymore and they said: “Give it up, son.” So I spent the rest of the war fixing and maintaining communications equipment. I never went overseas. It would have been nice to see the world. But I wasn’t looking for a fight. We just did what we were told to do.

What’s your take on computers and cell phones?
People today seem to be more self-centered. It’s partly computers and the phones, which have their uses, but tech is a double-edged sword. There’s no privacy anymore. In my day, we never had anyone commit suicide because they didn’t like what someone said about them. I don’t have a computer, but I do have a Tracfone because my grandchildren insisted for emergencies. I hardly use it. I don’t even know how to work the remote control for the TV.

What advice would you give young people facing an uncertain future?
I’m a conservative and I think the country is going down the tubes, but I would say four things: love, compassion, family and forgiveness. If people kept these things in mind, the world would be a better place. It’s so much easier to be petty than the other way around. People get too involved. Keep things simple and use more common sense.

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Marc Ferris is a freelance journalist based in Croton-on-Hudson.