I stood in front of the headstone which read ‘Rita Rocca Nee Tomlin (15/6/1942 - 21/10/2020)’ and thought, ‘Is this all there is? Her name on a headstone with mine to follow.’I remembered a warm May Day in 1948, when we both kneeled at the same altar waiting for a priest to give us our first taste of Jesus.She, in her white dress, was wondering if the day would yield enough for a new doll and pram, while I wondered if mine would yield enough for roller skates and maybe a new football.I recalled the honeymoon in Jersey in 1963, Miss World at the Royal Albert Hall in 1980, and the ball that followed at the Savoy Hotel.I said, “Sorry girl, I can’t give you a Taj Mahal, but I will write a book, which will hopefully make us more than just names on a tombstone.”
A great read.
Rocca tells how his Italian father came to Dublin in 1922 to help restore the bomb damaged GPO.
Of family visits to Italy and of his time spent on many merchant ships.
The book ‘Memories of the way we were’ is a fantastic read. It tells of the story of growing up in a warm Irish Italian family in Glasnevin, north Dublin, and the many travels of Don (Rocca) during family visits and in his role as a radio officer with the royal merchant navy.
Don’s memory and detail of events are excellent and his natural writing style leaves you enjoying every minute of this book.’
A thoroughly delightful and interesting read. A story filled with warm and evocative memories of a middle-class Italian Irish family, commencing with the arrival- in Dublin in 1922- of the emigrant patriarch of the clan, Egidio Rocca, from northern Italy, a most resourceful and innovative man, highly skilled in the expertise of fine marble craftsmanship, about whom the author writes of with justifiable pride.
We are treated to colorful and affectionate tales of the large family growing up in Dublin in the ’40s and ’50s and regaled with highlights of memorable trips by land and sea back to the ‘old country’, where the returning poor emigrant of the ’20s; by now, a fairly successful businessman and family is greeted with great joy and festivity at the birthplace farmhouse in Parma.
From his many years, serving as a ship’s radio officer, the reader is provided with a treasure-trove of entertaining, heart-warming, and enjoyable stories and anecdotes from both on board and on shore leave.
The maritime aficionado and indeed, the seasoned world traveler is richly catered for with
abundant and informative minutiae; as the author recalls in splendid detail his circumnavigation of the Earth. during his many sea-going years.
The ardent romantic reader is also catered for; as lingering quietly in the background is the beloved and glamorous Rita; the author’s childhood sweetheart and wife for life.
MEMORIES of The Way We Were treats us to a cornucopia of wonderful recollections; which allows us to enjoy a rare glimpse into a window of the past. The book is an appropriate tribute to the amazing memory of the (now) octogenarian writer.
Take a bow.
(Life hon. member, NUJ)
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