Thomas D. Ginefra, Sr. was born in Orange, NJ, on June 2, 1925. His parents were Italian immigrants from Rome, hoping to find life and liberty in the pursuit of happiness in America. Born a twin, his twin brother died at the age of eight months old. Tom grew up with three brothers and one sister.
Always an eager and avid reader, he loved to write short stories as a child. He started writing poetry in high school. He sold newspapers at the age of five years old on Main St. in his hometown of Orange, NJ. Tom sold the newspapers for three cents each and made a penny profit on each one. From 1928 to 1941 there was a severe economic depression that resulted in Tom working at various jobs after school to help his parents meet their daily expenses. At twelve years old he started to caddy at a golf course. At the age of fifteen he was promoted to Caddy Master, overseeing 300 caddies. At seventeen he became an assistant to a golf pro (professional golf teacher).
After seeing a movie called “Pride Of The Marines”, Tom was inspired to become a marine. World war II had begun and in his spirit of patriotism he enlisted in the Marine Corps, after he graduated from high school. Little did he know that the minimum height requirement to join the Marine Corps was 68”. Being 64 ½” tall, the Marine Corp rejected him, flat out. Tom’s mother always told him, “Never be pitied, always be envied”. With determination, doggedly he tried to enlist eight more times with the same result. On the tenth time, as the clerk went to get an application for the next enlistee, Tom wrote 68” in the height slot on his own application and quickly spun it back around. The busy clerk must have thought he had already written in Tom’s height. He handed Tom the application and told him to proceed to the next room. Days later Tom found himself in Paris Island boot camp off the coast of South Carolina. Three months later, after overcoming many obstacles due to the height difference between himself and his other platoon members, he was made a PFC, Private First Class, at the recommendation of his drill instructor. Eighteen months later, he was promoted to sergeant and after two years he became a weather forecaster. In 1945 he wrote his first military poem called ”Of Men” based on the battle of Iwo Jima. The Marine Corps published this poem, telling him they felt it was the finest expression of poetry of World War II.
The war had ended and Tom was discharged from the Marine Corps in 1946, after three years of service. He attended Rutgers University, Newark, NJ, with a goal of becoming a lawyer. After two and a half years at college, as a dean’s list student, he had to quit because his father became ill. Tom went to work full-time to pay the mortgage. Tom, with a gift of being a great salesman, held various sales positions ranging from selling encyclopedias to life insurance. He was ultimately employed by Sears Roebuck for thirty years as their top-notch appliance salesman.
In 1953, at twenty-eight, he married his first girlfriend. Over the next ten years he and his wife, the love of his life, experienced six pregnancies. Unfortunately two of the babies did not live for more than two days. Tom and his wife, Marie, were blessed with four healthy children, two girls and twin boys. From time to time Tom wrote beautiful poetry for his wife. Sadly, Marie passed away after ten years of marriage, leaving Tom as a single father with an eight-week old daughter, 3 year-old twin sons and a 7 year-old daughter. With the help of his wife's mother, he raised his four children. He retired from Sears at the age of 62 and basked in the love and warmth of his eleven grandchildren who affectionately called him “PupPup”.
Tom moved to Brick, NJ and appreciated the preciousness of time and family and grandchildren. He never lost his affinity of reading and writing poetry and prose. Even in his eighties, Tom continued to write meaningful poems.
Thomas D. Ginefra, Sr. died on August 7, 2009, at the age of 84 years old. He is remembered as a kind, fun, intelligent, and generous man who, each and every day, made his family his number one priority.