Friday, March 15, 2013

Personal Deaf History Piece: My Deaf Stepdad With His Hearing Brother

(Sam Savino, my beloved Deaf stepdad, (pictured on the right) was chatting with his hearing brother, Joe, as they were discussing Sam's school days.) 1966

Quietest Bar in Town ls One of the Busiest 


Happy people are flocking to what is probably the quietest bar-restaurant in the city. The patrons are deaf -mutes who have found a home away from home because of the open-heartedness of a rugged ex-sailor.

Joe Savino has opened the doors of his doors of his Imperial Cafe to them. It has become a Friday night ritual to gather at 603 Second Ave, at 33rd St., to eat, drink and laugh.

Joe Speaks Their Language
Except for the silence, an outsider might never guess that these patrons were mute. And Joe, who has mastered the finger language and the latest techniques of lip-reading, is the center of their gaiety.

This ex-sailor, who was decorated for bravery during the Normandy invastion, became interested in the problems of the deaf many years ago. A personal tragedy helped him gain an understanding of their silent world.

Joe's kid brother, Sam, is a deaf-mute. When Sam was a year old, an attack of diphtheria left him deaf.

Excelled As Athlete
This, however, did not deter the ctherwise robust boy from starr-ing on the gridiron. He was named to an all-city and all-state teams while playing for St. Joseph's Home for the Deaf, Bronx, and the New York School for the Deaf in White Plains.

Running and passing from his halfback slot, he was among the schoolboy scoring leaders.
The popular youngster also was outstanding in baseball and basketball. After graduation, he became an unofficial good will ambassador and spokesman for his friends.

Sign Language Speeches
 Sam, 28, has traveled extensively, attending conventions and making speeches to deaf-mute groups in sign language. Now in the construction business, his man avocation is finding good jobs for fellow mutes. And big brother, Joe, 38, is always lending a hand. Joe's restaurant has become a meeting place for them to make contacts.

Acts as Interpreter
Joe is always ready to act as a go-between, interpreting sign language to prospective employers. He has found many jobs this way, particularly in the printing, trucking and construction fields. When deaf-mute visitors arrive !n New York, they usually held for the Imperial, where host Joe is ready to help them meet Sam and other friends.

"We may have the quietest bar in town," Joe likes to joke, "lt's also the busiest."

correction: It was 1962, not 1966.