Silvana said her entire family, including her father Paul and Uncle Carmine, were born in Italy, where the sports-loving Carmine played soccer and “was into weightlifting,” Silvana said.
But Italy “was in terrible shape” after World War II and the family gradually moved to the Joliet area and became part of a large Italian community on Joliet’ east side, she said.
Carmine attended classes at Joliet Township High School (now Joliet Central High School), where he also took English classes at night, and he found work at the Joliet Ammunition Plant.
The car accident delayed Carmine’s high school graduation. He had surgery in Chicago an went to a clinic in Peoria to recover, Silvana said. Over the next year, Paul drove to Peoria each week to bring Carmine home for the weekends, she added.
“For whatever reason, he was meant to live a long life,” Silvana said. “It was just a miracle that had to be. In the late 1950s we that happened, they did not have the technology and everything. Today, they could help people a lot more. I’m not saying they could make you walk, but they could do a lot, especially for a young person.”
Carmine even learned to drive shortly after the accident and earned his driver’s license, Silvana said.
When he recovered, Carmine returned to school and graduated from Joliet Township High School in 1958.
He then attended the University of Illinois at a time when schools were not typically handicapped accessible, Silvana said.
Carmine graduated with a business degree in 1963 and then returned to school for a teaching degree, Silvana said.
“When he graduated, he had a hard time finding a job,” Silvana said. “I imagine part of it was being a paraplegic back then. People didn’t know how to deal with people l like that. The doctor told him he would live to be 30, if he was lucky. That was the life expectancy they gave him.”
Or, as Silvana said Carmine once quipped, “The world is not ready for a man in a wheelchair.”
Carmine taught sixth grade at Indian Trail Middle School in Plainfield for a couple years and then went to work for Paul at Corsetti Structural Steel, she said.
“Some of his students came to his wake and said how he affected them and say how much he helped them at a critical stage in their life,” Silvana said. “There was not a person who did not say he was kind, generous and a gentleman. He had a good rapport with children.”