Gertude & John Arduino
Time spent in the company of wise and wonderful people is time well spent. Such was my good fortune when I visited with longtime local residents John and Gertrude Arduino in their comfortable Grove Street home.
With its shiny vintage wood moldings, treasured possessions and the warmth that enveloped me as I entered, the house and its owners immediately made me feel welcome. In short order I realized that these humble, good people, while detailing their various activities, were working very hard at trying not to impress me with their myriad accomplishments….but I was impressed nonetheless. Giving back to the community they love is so much a part of who they are, that taking credit for any of their efforts is uncharted territory.
John Arduino and Gertrude Bracchitta Arduino grew up in the same Cortland Street neighborhood several doors apart. The Arduino family of four brothers and two sisters later moved to Storm Street but maintained the deli they owned at the Cortland Street location. The Bracchittas relocated a few blocks away to Orchard Street which some of us recollect existed prior to the development of the downtown area. With the families living in such close proximity, there was the sense that John and Gertrude, although 7 years apart in age, always knew one another. Both graduated from what was then Tarrytown’s Washington Irving High School. With the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and the subsequent declaration of war, John was called into military service in the South Pacific. Upon his safe return he spent two years on the General Motors assembly line and then began a career in the Tarrytown National Bank and Trust Company. In 1946 John began volunteering at local fire department Phenix Hose Co.#2 and served as President for many years. Today, he remains as Treasurer and member of the Board of Directors as well as holding the distinction of being the eldest member of the company with almost 60 years of service. Gertrude, after receiving her degree from S.U.N.Y. New Paltz in 1949, began a teaching career in the Public Schools of the Tarrytowns that spanned 42 years. She later earned a Master’s Degree with a specialty in Early Childhood Education and Developmental Reading and served as assistant to the principal. She and John were married in 1950 in the small yet magnificent church of the Immaculate Conception originally located on College Avenue, razed for urban renewal and presently located in the former St. Mark’s on North Broadway. The Arduinos remain active parishioners in both Immaculate Conception and Transfiguration parishes. Their three children, Dominick, Janet and Eugene, graduated from Sleepy Hollow High School. Grandchildren Sean, Sarah, Scott and Aren are the joy of their lives and have given Gertrude and John the opportunity to “see life for a second time…through their young and growing hearts and eyes.”
In 1999 at the age of 78, John retired from the Sunnyside Federal Savings and Loan after 20 years. In the years prior to his reentering the banking business (1959-1979) John and his brothers operated Arduino’s Off-Broadway Deli on Main Street. I have previously expounded in this publication on the integral part that a first-rate deli plays in suburban life. As for me personally, the roast beef, swiss and fried onions at the E&E deli on Broadway is heaven sent. Many longtime Tarrytowners remember the italian combo at Arduino’s dripping with oil and vinegar, but like the E&E Deli of today, we also recall the camaraderie to be found there. My friend, Bob “Scaboo” Naylor, was a corrections officer at the County Jail. One day he spotted a local resident in his charge who found himself on the wrong side of the law. In the midst of his despair the inmate said that he savored the memory of Arduino’s Deli. My friend Bob, anonymously because it was against regulations, left an Arduino’s combo wedge on his bunk the next day. It was simply one Tarrytowner taking care of another. Arduino’s Off-Broadway was a gathering place to meet friends and catch up on the state of the village on any given day. It remains a nostalgic part of Tarrytown’s history thanks to John and his family.
For the active couple, volunteering began long before they retired. John was a member of the Village Board of Trustees and as recreation commissioner was involved in the purchase of the first village-owned ballfield and playground as well as the Pennybridge School building. Their parishes have long counted them among their most active parishioners. Gertrude is a lector and Eucharistic minister as well as former Director and Secretary of the Lay Carmelites, Tabor Chapter, in Transfiguration Parish. What strikes me as most significant while recounting the many leadership roles the Arduinos play in this community, is that they are filling such a broad spectrum of community needs. Both are now involved in the Tarrytown Seniors, holding varied posts, and were instrumental in planning construction of the current Senior Center. Gertrude also sits on the Board of Municipal Housing, is a Literacy Volunteer, and enjoys private tutoring. She also leads book discussions, instituted computer classes at the Tarrytown Senior Center and is currently working on a project to introduce ESL classes for young mothers and other interested adults. Gertrude was also instrumental in launching an Intergenerational Scholarship Fund for students who serve their community. The Arduinos, with the expressed purpose of honoring their heritage, are involved in many Italian-American organizations, and Gertrude, in thanksgiving to her parents for sharing the love of the language and its culture, has taught Italian at the Senior Center. As if her activities don’t keep her busy enough… Gertrude tap dances…TAP DANCES!…I love it!!
The Arduinos are passionate on the subjects of home, roots, the necessity of being grounded, and contributing each day to making life and community fulfilling for all. Westchester County Senior Programs and Services recently honored the couple by electing them to their Hall of Fame. We are so fortunate to be blessed by the good works of these people who give to this community not out of boredom or ego but out of love and the satisfaction of a job well done. So, while Westchester County salutes their service, so do we all honor them. Thank you Gertrude and John for sharing your energy and talent to enrich our lives. May your example inspire us all to serve.