As most of you know, I worked for the AT&T Company for a long time.  During the last seven or eight years, my duties were with what was then called the Overseas Department.  Basically this had to do with telecommunications outside of the United States.  It was an assignment that brought a great personal satisfaction.  It involved a lot of traveling.  I always found that the traveling tended to satisfy my curious mind and was really rewarding.

Early in my time in the Overseas Department, I ran across an erudite fellow who had spent his school years in Italy.  His full name was Guy D’Urso.  Not long after I arrived in the Overseas Department, I had a new secretary.  She always referred to Guy as Mr. Dee-ur-so.  The name was pronounced simply as Durso, but this exotic woman, who was very nice, apparently could not put her arms around the name D’Urso.  So he became Mr. Dee-ur-so.

Once I found out that Guy D’Urso had spent the early part of his life in Italy, my curiosity was intrigued.  As many of you know from reading Ezra’s Essays, I spent a good part of the war years of World War II in Italy.  Subsequently my travels often took me to Italy.

Guy grew up in what was called the heel of Italy.  Italy is shaped like a long high heeled boot with the heel being where D’Urso grew up around Bari and Taranto.

As I settled in to my new duties in the Overseas Department, I found that Guy D’ was an engaging fellow.  When I talked about Italy, Guy knew exactly what was being spoken of.  Beyond that, Guy was a well-traveled fellow who had an engaging sense of humor.  So it was that I often found myself wandering over into the engineering department to spend a few minutes with Guy D’Urso.

Now comes a long interruption in the relationship between Guy D’Urso and myself.  When AT&T elected to move its offices to Bedminster, New Jersey, both Guy and I moved where AT&T had sent us.  After a time, specifically in 1984, my long career came to an end and I retired.  One way or another, I found out that Guy D’Urso had eventually taken up residence in Toms River, New Jersey.  By this time, the date on the calendar would read 2012.

As most of you are aware, Hurricane Sandy came ashore in the vicinity of Toms River.  The devastation there was more than merely significant.  Homes were destroyed and futures were lost.  In spite of the fact that retirement in 1984 was in my past, I kept thinking of the number of my friends, including Guy D’Urso, who had settled in Toms River, New Jersey.  And so, after a time, I called Guy D’Urso’s number, which rang repeatedly.  Obviously, there was no one there to answer.  After a couple of weeks I tried the number once more and found myself talking to Guy’s wife.  In a short time, Guy himself was on the phone.  We more or less renewed acquaintances, very much as we had done when we were both working for AT&T.

Now there is one development that took place sometime in the early 1980s.  Guy D’Urso found himself working for a colleague of mine named Bob Newman.  When Newman retired, somewhere around 1980 or 1981, there was of course a going-away party for him.  I was happy to attend that farewell party.  Also attending was a fellow named Earl Schooley,   who had been a vice president of AT&T.  Bob Newman had worked for Earl Schooley and I had known Schooley when both of us worked in St. Louis.  Earl Schooley was a free soul who loved to kid about everything.  During the Newman party festivities, during which I also spoke, there were numerous references to Missouri and particularly to my home town of Clayton, Missouri.  Although Schooley was a native of a town called Bonne Terre, Missouri one way or another he took it upon himself to declare himself also a resident of Clayton, Missouri.

Now as it developed, Guy D’Urso while attending his school duties in Italy had written an essay.  The essay won a prize at a regional competition.

As you may recall, Benito Mussolini was the dictator of Italy for a good number of years.  During those years Mussolini had decided to invade Ethiopia.  In time, he had more or less conquered that country. As it turns out the prize for winning the competition among Guy’s peers was a one week trip to the capital of Ethiopia, called Addis Ababa.  This of course became a subject of conversation in the presentations at the Bob Newman retirement party.  When my time on the speakers’ platform drew to a close, I was to introduce Guy D’Urso, who was the main emcee of that proceeding.  I asked Guy, as I left the speakers’ platform, “If the first prize was a week in Addis Ababa, what was the second prize?”

At that point I walked off the podium and Guy D’Urso was introduced.  Without hesitation, Mr. D’Urso said that the second prize was two weeks in Clayton, Missouri, the home town of both Earl Schooley and myself.  The laughter was uproarious.

Over the years I had forgotten that incident but when Guy mentioned it in our conversation about the hurricane, it all came back to me.  A lot of water has gone over the dam since 1976, when I first met Guy D’Urso.  I am happy to announce that my wife, Miss Chicka, and myself were happy to make contact again with Mr. D’Urso.

For my own part, whenever I had the time I used to wander around the offices of AT&T, frequently dropping in to converse with Guy D’Urso.  He is a brilliant fellow and he has the ability to leave you with a warm feeling and smiles all around.  Men like that are few and far between.  Guy is now 83.  When we had our recent discussions, Guy and I traded war stories about the aging process.  But in both cases, it was done with great good humor and with our saying something along the lines of “What the hell are you going to do about it?”

As always, I emerged from that conversation smiling.  If a man has the ability to make you smile through a conversation, he is a person to be treasured.  And Guy D’Urso is that sort of a person.



December 7, 2012

Essay 721


Kevin’s commentary: Let’s hope that Mr Dee-ur-so can find his way to this site eventually, or at least that he got a copy of this particular essay. It’s always amazing to me how Pop manages to get in touch with so many of his old friends, especially without the use of any web-based networking services like Facebook. Maybe it just seems to me like Pop has reconnected with a lot of his friends when in reality it’s very few, percentage wise, but he just met and befriended a hell of a lot of people over his 90 years. This seems rather more likely.

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