PLATTSBURGH — Dominick Camelo, a second-generation Italian-American, exudes Old World charm.
His ancestors hail from Abruzzo, a province east of Rome.
“Both sides of my family came from Italy,” said Camelo, who lives in Plattsburgh. “I’m all Italian.”
His mother, Mary, was born in New York. Her siblings were born in Italy. Frank Tomasi, his grandfather, came to Tupper Lake, where his name was changed to Perry. Camelo’s mother was the only child to carry the anglicized name.
“Frank eventually got work on the New York Central Railroad,” Camelo said. “He came over first. Eventually, other members of the family came. My mother had one sister and two brothers born in Italy.”
Like his mother, Camelo’s father, Dominick Sr., was the only one among his siblings born in the United States.
“My father was born in Antwerp,” Camelo said. “My father was originally brought up in Utica. There is a large Italian community there. Somehow he wandered up to Tupper Lake and married my mother.”
Camelo grew up in Tupper Lake. He was an altar boy at St. Alphonsus Church when Mass was celebrated in Latin.
During World War II, he was a teletype operator with the U.S. Army Signal Corps.
“I was mostly in the states,” Camelo said. “We were on the way to the Philippine Islands when the war ended.”
His brother, Frank, served in the Korean War. A sister, Florentine, is deceased.
Post-war, Camelo returned to Tupper Lake and was employed at the Sunmount Veterans Hospital. After nine years, he transferred to Plattsburgh Air Force Base. He worked 19 years for Construction Services.
He took a week off before he started a14-year stint with Theodore Stay & Sons.
“I’m 90 years old; I’ve been around the loop a couple of times,” he said.
On June 30, 1951, he wed Helen Marie Finegan at St. Bernard’s Church in Saranac Lake.
“We met after the war through a mutual friend,” Camelo said. “We were married for 60 years. She just died in March.”
Mrs. Camelo was a librarian for many years at the Keeseville Library. She retired from the New York State Department of Labor.
Their progeny include three children: Maureen, Gregory and Kathleen; six grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
“They like to listen to stories about my life,” Camelo said.
Values he instills in them are to be honest and charitable.
His birthday is Aug. 5, and his hobby is snow birding in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
In Plattsburgh, he is a newcomer to the Senior Center.
“I like to attend luncheons down here and meet new friends,” he said. “I exercise at the Wellness Center. I do water aerobics.”
A New York Yankees fan, Joe DiMaggio is his favorite.
“He’s Italian,” Camelo said.