Bad News on the Doorstep
Bad News on the Doorstep
inspired by a true story
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“The Greatest Generation” was in full bloom during the enigmatic decade of the fifties. In northern New Jersey, The Newark Star Ledger on the doorstep every morning was bringing changing news as that pastoral period came to an end.


A blue-collar ethnic family saga evolves that takes you on an epic journey through unfulfilled dreams, with spiritual forks in every road.  In the shadows lurk glamorous alternatives of gangland activities and the allure of the entertainment business. But it was a legendary high school football game that truly signaled winds of change would be rushing in. An outstanding athlete and young man, Frank Bonaducci made a decision in that rivalry that would affect people’s lives forever. Surrounding him is his family, as well as a menagerie of unforgettable characters—from Bloomfield Avenue in Newark, to the Silver Lake section of Belleville, to Nutley’s Park Oval. They roam the pages of this touching story, teaching life-long lessons. Their roles craft a tapestry of life, creating a yearning in our hearts for these days gone by. Every one should have an uncle like "Petee 5 Corners" and an Aunt Bella who danced across imaginary stages as "Bella LaStarr".


Each chapter reads like a short story that will touch your heart and soul. The book depicts frustrations of coming of age and traditional rights of passage that honor family traditions . . . more than the family members themselves. It won’t take long to learn . . . that when you look back, . . . you should glance, not stare.


In his first novel, Joseph Rocco Cervasio escorts us through New Jersey’s fabled Essex County in a way that will make Bad News on the Door Step . . . the good news you are seeking. A demanded public speaker, Cervasio has tested throughout the country the stories that have evolved into the tales of this fiction. And you will react the same way his audiences have over the years--you’ll laugh and cry and say, . . . "no way". Writing with compassion and spiritual discernment that penetrate the wonder of these times, Cervasio takes you from 1959 to the present. From an Italian American feast during New Years Eve at Grandpa Joe’s, to the end zone of a football field, to Rahway State Prison, to a hot autumn afternoon at the Five Corners of Fifth Street and Bloomfield Avenue, to the glamor of Havana; you are bound to find a familiar character or even family member, . . . particularly if you are from Jersey!


When Buddy Holley, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper crashed in a snow-covered cornfield in Iowa on February 3, 1959, they became the final ingredient to launch the Bonaducci family into a trek every reader will cherish. Witness the battle between self-sacrifice and selfish lusts, as the kingdoms of modest middle class living and mob affiliation collide headon.


Ten years in the making, Bad News on the Door Step is a labor of love that introduces Joseph Rocco Cervasio as a consumate storyteller, passionate about changing people’s lives for the better.

Marietta summoned Donna and Jo-Jo to help with the kitchen cleanup. They never refused. Football Saturdays were always Frank’s days, and they were happy to be a part of it by helping to get the kitchen back in shape for their mother.


While Rocky finally had a chance to read the sports page, Frank sat by him at the kitchen table to finish his orange juice.


Jo-Jo seemed to have more nervous energy than usual as he washed the dishes. Then he burst out, “Listen, Frankie, when we played the Nutley Midgets in that All-Star game a couple of weeks ago, the Oval was soaked. It was terrible up the middle. It’ll be tough for Gino between the tackles today. Pal, it’s your day today. Bounce to the outside quick and hug the sidelines. It’ll be drier. Today, you end up big, Frankie.”


Donna completed her Saturday game day chores by placing her big brother’s gym bag next to the stairs leading out the backyard door. Marietta had folded Frank’s infrequently used black leather motorcycle jacket over one of the chairs.


It was time to leave for Clearman Field where the Bellboys dressed for their games. First Frank hugged Donna, and then his mother.


“I’ll be praying for you,” murmured Marietta.


Jo-Jo proudly received a kiss on his head from Frank.


Everyone now turned to Rocky. They were waiting for his perspective, knowing that he would share advice that would be salted with experiences from the streets of Newark, New Jersey to the sands of Iwo Jima. On this final Saturday game day for Frank, his father did not disappoint: “Frankie and Gino are gonna make history today,” said Rocky. “It’ll be Frankie’s greatest moment ever. Just play each play likes it’s your last, Daddy. Enjoy every moment. Don’t think of yourself. Forget the other games. Forget college. Just focus on each play. Remember, ‘Bonaducci’ means ‘good leader’ in the Italian. Be a leader today by doin’ everything you can to help your teammates. You’re not on Eniwetok in the South Pacific. No injury should take you off the field of battle. You’re playin’ the great American game of football, not fightin’ hand-to-hand combat. This game will get you the best education in the world. Your grandfather will be in the stands. Uncle Pete will be in the end zone with his friends. Mommy and Daddy will be there, Aunt Bella, Aunt Pinky, Uncle Jimmy Quinn, Uncle Caesar, and all the rest of your aunts, uncles, and cousins. Daddy, don’t let one guy take you down. Keep your knees high. Stay up. Don’t go down. Block for Gino and don’t let anybody get behind you on defense. Have no regrets at the end of the game. Leave it all on the field, Daddy.”


Frank hung on every word. Rocky was addressing him as “Daddy”.


Little did Rocky realize how accurate his first comment was on making “history”. From that day, Frank Bonaducci and Gino Babula would be linked inextricably forever, whenever Belleville and Nutley football would be discussed. Those who cherished the value of the cross-town rivalry would never forget this early December game in 1958, and Frank’s name in particular would be immortalized and caste in bronze. In future years the uninformed would comment, “But it was only a high school football game.” They would fail to comprehend that in some families, a high school football game is all they have.


Rocky shook Frank’s hand. Uncle Pete’s pre-game meal was now officially over. It was time to go.

Joseph Rocco Cervasio has spent over thirty years in the resort industry as a corporate executive, strategic coach, leadership development expert, and entrepreneur. A demanded public speaker, he has tested the stories that have evolved into the tales of this fiction on audiences around the country. And you’ll react the same way: “You must be kidding!” Based upon these responses, he decided to write Bad News on the Doorstep..


"It seems Jersey gets their attention, and when the characters appear with all their color and charm, the listener is ready to learn. They laugh and cry, and sometimes I get emotional, too. But most of the time, we achieve our objective: We make some history in our business and change a few lives."


In his first novel, Joe escorts us through New Jersey’s fabled Essex County in a way that will make Bad News on the Doorstep…the good news you’re seeking.


Except for his years at Cornell, Cervasio has never moved from New Jersey where he lives with his wife, Maria.


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