Two Brothers Remember Lives Spent With Liberty | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Two Brothers Remember Lives Spent With Liberty

Play associated audio

Brothers Paul and James Bizzaro, both in their 80s, spent their childhoods living in a house right behind the Statue of Liberty. Their family moved to the same small island in New York Harbor as Lady Liberty 75 years ago this summer, not long after their father, also James, became a guard at the statue.

When the Bizzaros moved to what's now called Liberty Island in 1937, Paul was 8 and James was 6.

"Half of the island was for the visitors. The half that we lived in, we had that whole half to us," says James.

"But we were allowed to do whatever we wanted, so we used to go up to the torch," Paul remembers.

"And if you shook enough, the whole arm would shake," James says.

The boys shook it once when their mother was walking up. "She never went up again," Paul says.

"We used to go on the ferry to go to school, and I remember Sister Alphonsus Marie -- she was tough, like a truck driver," James says. "She was mean. But she was always talking about the island, so I invited her to come to the statue, and we climbed the head, and she says, 'Oh!' She says, 'This is the closest I'm going to get to heaven.' But she never treated me any better or any different."

In 1944, the family moved back to Brooklyn, where they had lived before moving to the island, though their father still commuted to the statue.

"And the way a person knows every corner of his house, he knew every corner of that Statue of Liberty," says James. Their father retired in 1971 after 36 years there. He had been a guard for about a year, then began working in maintenance, and eventually became the maintenance supervisor.

"When he retired, it took 11 men to replace him. He was the man that kept the statue lit. The lights, they never went out when he worked," Paul says.

Audio produced for Morning Edition by Anita Rao with Eve Claxton.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

WAMU 88.5

Audiences Get A Modern Look At A 19th Century Opera

Opera as seen through the lens of Google Glass? Wolf Trap is giving audiences the chance to mix technology with Bizet’s classic "Carmen" this month.
NPR

Can You Trust That Organic Label On Imported Food?

A new book claims the organic label can't be trusted, especially on food that's imported. Yet there is a global system for verifying the authenticity of organic food, and it mostly seems to work.
NPR

Insurance For Fake Identities The Latest Skirmish Over Obamacare

Republicans say a sting in which false identities were used to sign up for health care has revealed a major problem. Democrats question the premise that people would try to steal insurance.
NPR

A Plan To Untangle Our Digital Lives After We're Gone

In the digital age, our online accounts don't die with us. A proposed law might determine what does happen to them. But the tech industry warns the measure could threaten the privacy of the deceased.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.