What do Ricky Schroeder, George Bamberger, Alyssa Milano, Joey Faye and Roy Clark have in common with me? They all grew up in my hometown, Great Kills, in Staten Island, USA. That’s what I discovered when I read the manuscript to Tom Matteo’s latest treasure Staten Island: I Didn’t Know That!
Tom has done his homework. He has unearthed a treasure trove of facts about people, places and things on Staten Island that are fun to read and, at times, surprising. Imagine, the twang of Roy Clark originating on Staten Island! I really didn’t know that.
In his role as Borough Historian, Tom sifted through centuries of information to extract the most interesting material. Then he distilled this research down into a single volume that is a pleasure to read. Those of us who are daring history explorers can always make our way through the voluminous archives at the Staten Island Historical Society to dig up these connections but Tom has put the most exciting stuff within arm’s reach. Making history accessible, creating connections between past and present and celebrating the importance of our heritage are the ingredients that keep history alive. When we can grasp the well-worn threads that weave us all together we can appreciate how we got to where we are and begin to understand where we are going.
As a small town within a big city, Staten Island has produced many historical goodies and become a great place for nurturing fascinating personalities and enterprises. It’s a stone’s throw from Manhattan and yet remains fiercely independent. Its people are savvy and strong minded and yet are happy to live quietly while raising their families. You can dream very big here and then take a short ferry ride to the big city to press your ambition.
Yet many Staten Islanders made their history at home. They built businesses, made fortunes and created institutions here that have lasted for centuries. These pioneers have helped shaped the borough we know today. As you travel through Staten Island, you can still find many of these dreams still standing. In many ways, this book is a guidebook to that greatness.
Staten Island: I Didn’t Know That! left me with one answered question: what can I do as a resident to find myself in this book? Tom, I’m working hard to appear in the next edition.
Staten Island Historical Society
Historic Richmond Town