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Jersey Born and Bred

My parents grew up not far from each other in small suburban towns in New Jersey. My father was born in Chicago in 1959. His family was living there at the time due to his father’s job working for the wall street journal. My father was the fourth child in his family, and after his birth the Fusco family moved to Essex Fells New Jersey, as his father accepted a job working for his father’s construction company. This company built many roads in Montclair and Newark New Jersey. My father and his five siblings (four boys and one girl) were typical kids who grew up in the 70’s. They enjoyed partying, going to concerts, playing sports, and lived a life that had little parent involvement. My father’s background consisted of a mother who was fully Irish and a father who was part Irish and part Italian. His father’s mother was Irish and moved from outside of Toronto to New Jersey in the 1920’s. His father was raised as an only child in Montclair. After his childhood, he graduated from the University of Virginia where he had played soccer. My father’s mother grew up in Chicago (may have been part of the reason why his father took the job there in the 50’s). The reason for her family’s migration to this city was most likely because of an Irish contingent that had existed there at the time. My grandmother went to Northwestern University because it was close to her home. After my father’s childhood in Essex Fells, New Jersey, he traveled out west to the University of Arizona to go to college. A few of his brothers were already going to school out there, so it made sense for my dad to go to the same school. After graduating, my father moved back east to New York City while two of his brothers stayed (and still remain) in Arizona. The reason why my father migrated back east after college was because he studied finance and economics in school and wanted to work on wall street, which he ended up doing and has been successful ever since. He met my mother in New York City and together they decided to move to New Jersey because it was an easier environment to raise children than the city atmosphere.

My mother’s background was similar to my father’s in that she spent most of her life in New Jersey and New York City. Her parents were married for many years and when they divorced, her mother moved to Princeton while her father remained in Ridgewood where she had spent her childhood. Both of her parents were made up of English, German, Irish and Scottish backgrounds. Both of her parents also grew up in New Jersey. After graduating from Ridgewood High School, my mother’s father went to Lehigh University. My mother’s mother went to Centenary College in New Jersey. My mother was one of four children in her family. She and her siblings moved with their mother to Princeton after their parents got divorced. She spent her high school days going to Princeton Day School and then went on to graduate from the University of Vermont.
My parents actually knew each other growing up because their parents were friends. My mother was best friends with my dad’s younger sister, but did not know my dad well at all because he was five years older. While my dad was off in Arizona, my mom was still in high school. Later on in life, when my mom graduated from college and started a career in New York, my dad called her out of the blue asking her to go with him to a black tie event that he needed a date for. They dated for a year and a half, and my dad, as American as baseball, proposed to my mom on Valentines Day.

Both my mother and father’s families have been in New Jersey for generations. Any migration that occurred was caused by job offers in different places or marriage issues. Because of the different backgrounds of my parents’ grandparents, and beyond, I like to think of myself as a melting pot of ethnicities. My first move will be up to Massachusetts to attend Amherst College, and I’m excited to explore that part of the country!

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