by Cate Murway
“Love is a canvas furnished by Nature and embroidered by imagination.”
Voltaire [pen name of François-Marie Arouet 1694-1778].
Music has a tremendous power for bringing people together, a bridge for connecting with others. With so many forces in this world driving wedges between people, it's crucial to preserve those things that help us experience our common humanity.
“Garyoke”, with the incredible performances of Gary A. Tosti, BHS ’68, Severino “Sonny” Mosco, BHS ’72, accompanied by Maria Louise “Mary” [Simons] Lucas, BHS ’72, entranced the recreation room full of seniors at the Grundy Towers on 205 Pond Street last Thursday evening. Music can minister peace.
They may forget the melodies but they will never forget how Gary and Sonny and Mary made them feel.
No tired, yawn-inducing sounds, but an intense variety of tunes including nostalgic and upbeat selections, pulsed with an inherent ability to generate an emotional response in almost every listener. The years apparently melted away and their eyes sparkled as the fingers and toes, with shoes or not, tapped to the beat!
Each song is chosen with care. Many of their most favorite vintage pieces are connected with their most cherished memories.
Their performance and the memories that are aroused linger far beyond the time that the audience actually spends listening.
“These senior citizens love live music. We always have a blast,” Gary has stated.
Many of the elderly residents grew up in the depression and a time when drought turned the land into a dust bowl.
Through the eloquence of the songs, a plethora of more pleasant memories are awakened. Many voiced that they again could feel the happiness of their childhood or the thrill of their first love. They shared that they experienced a sense of comfort when they were reminded of the times when their families were still together. Some were even able to return the poignancy that they felt while living through important world events.
Their minds and hearts melded as they rocked to the rhythm that the talented “Garyoke” performers provided.
“Garyoke” is the former Mayor Tosti who served 4 consecutive terms from 1986-2001, perhaps the only Bristol Mayor to have accomplished this feat.
Spec. 4 Gary Anthony and his twin, Spec. 4 Edward J., both Army/ Vietnam veterans, are the youngest of 10 children in a family where traditions of caring and sharing were a way of life taught by example. Gary was named for the film actor Frank James “Gary” Cooper and Edward for "Banjo Eyes", Eddie Cantor.
His dad, Richard, a quality control Kaiser aircraft mechanic, also served as Mayor and had the distinguished honor of being recognized at a luncheon served in the dining room of the Margaret R. Grundy Memorial Museum. His mom, Josephine worked on an electronics assembly line and still prepared a hot meal for her family every night. She cooked elaborately delectable breakfasts, sometimes Gary’s favorite, blueberry pancakes, every Saturday morning even after they were grown and married with a family of their own. As a young girl, she worked long hours in the Grundy Textile Mills.
After graduation, Gary worked in the Fairless Steel Mill until he was drafted in 1970.
It was while he was in Vietnam that he taught himself to play the guitar. He wrote to the local storeowner, Jerry Plavin asking for music books and he was sent 12 at no charge.
Historic Bristol on the Delaware has always traditionally been a caring community.
Gary composed some music of his own and then joined the bands, “Split Second” and the “Crystals” when he returned home.
A passionate goal was always to revere the Tosti name and its potent traditions. He chose to keep the family name in the town politics when he ran for Mayor.
Gary and his wife, Barbara [Hoover] have one son Gary Vincent who occasionally joined him on singing engagements, but after a very short time, the senior Tosti suggested that his son “stay with repairing heaters”.
His graduating class obviously knew Gary very well when they dictated his senior line:
“Thou are a marvelous, witty fellow.”
Gary and Barbara have 5 grandchildren and some have already displayed that they are aspiring entertainers.
Singing partner, Sonny Mosco, one of the BHS Reunion committee members, grew up on Garden Street listening to the older guys’ playful yet passionate style while they sang doo-wop tunes under the RR tunnel.
Music surrounded him.
His dad, John Mosco, a Lockheed aircraft mechanic, could play almost any instrument. He performed with the local clothier, John Cocci and his band at the Keystone Hotel dinner club. Sonny has especially fond memories of his dad playing, "Way Marie" on the piano.
The Cocci Band music included songs from the Italian American singers, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Mario Lanza and they were broadcast on local radio stations.
Marcella Mosco was “just a good mom, no singing!”
Baseball/football athlete, Sonny has been “singing forever”.
His BHS senior tribute stated, “So vast is he in art and so great in human wit”.
He and Gary connected about 5 years ago. He was listening to Gary perform at a Saint Ann Club show, was persuaded to sing a Neil Diamond song and Gary asked him to join him at his gigs. Sonny has always considered himself “more of a crooner”.
Gary firmly stated, “Sonny has an outstanding voice and is one of the most gifted singers I’ve ever heard!”
As a youth, Sonny “Bristol Stomped” to the Dovell’s music at the Edgely Fire Hall and mastered more steps at the Bishop Egan dances run by Craig Whitaker of WTTM.
The beat goes on. His 9-month-old grandson, Carter Fox attends many of his doo-wop shows now.
His best friend since the 8th grade, Mary Lucas,
joins he and Gary on occasion.
Sonny said, “She’s like my little sister.
Her husband [Nelson “Butch” Lucas, BHS ‘67]
is a lucky man”.
Mary loves to sing the late country music singer Patsy Cline’s
songs, especially her signature piece, “Crazy”,
written by Willie Nelson.
Mary’s true favorites are the oldies and
her voice emits a rich tone that is very emotionally expressive.
“They [Gary and Sonny] were shocked when they heard me sing.”
Mary is a BHS Reunion committee member and has been ardently reminding everyone about the second Open Class Reunion on Nov. 27 at The Regency Room on Swain & Mifflin Streets.
Her yearbook quote, “ Without confidence, there is no friendship.”
Gary added, “Mary is not only a good human being inside, she is sincere, good hearted and she sings with feeling.”
The “Garyoke” entertainers have wonderful talent and a creative ability with a style of their own.
Their message through music can give much needed inspiration and encouragement and display kindness.
Too much of the world finds it easy to ignore seniors – the “has-beens of yesteryear” when in actuality, these “seasoned citizens” still have so much to offer!
‘Garyoke” performs every other month on a Tuesday for the seniors at the Grundy Towers.
“They have a good time; that’s all that matters.”
“Everyone is the age of their heart.” Guatemalan Proverb
Resident Laura Bertha [Ulissi] Mancini just celebrated her 90th birthday in September with a surprise party given by her children, Gail, Peter, Jr. and Carol. She remembers years past when she danced with her late husband, Peter, Sr., a driver for Cattani Beverages. He was the President and an original 5th Ward Association member.
Laura’s positive attitude keeps her place of memory as beautiful as she is.
Gary escorted her to the stage and seated her in front of himself
and sang a song just for her.
“So before we go much further girl can I trust you with my heart?”
[Can I Trust You With My Heart by Travis Tritt]
“If for one night I made it special for them, it makes my life complete,” confirmed Gary Tosti.
Another resident, Mary [Liberatore] Nepa, St. Ann Commercial School ’38 was raised on Lincoln Avenue by her Aunt Theresa and Uncle Anthony Valentino during the time when Warren G. Harding was President. Her late husband Albert Nepa was a manufacturer for the American Standard Company and Mary was a dressmaker for the Peerlis Dress Shoppe.
Catherine [Potochney] Simons, the “Polish Princess” according to her shirt, is the President of the Grundy Towers Council. She actually worked with Gary Tosti’s mother, Josephine at Philco Electronics and she thinks “Garyoke” is “Some Kind of Wonderful!”
“He’s fantastic!” Catherine is responsible for booking the entertainment venues.
There are many calendar blocks with “Garyoke” for future events.
Music enthralls all generations.
“Never lose sight of the fact that old age needs so little but needs that little so much.” Margaret Willour
Recommend a “Spotlight”. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Galzerano Funeral Home
Severino “Sonny” Mosco, age 59, of Bristol, PA,
passed away on Monday, July 2, 2012,
at University of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia.
Born and raised in Bristol Borough, he was a well-known area
entertainer and will be best remembered for singing Doo-wop;
especially for the Bristol Borough Summer Doo-wop in the Park. In his youth, Sonny played baseball and softball, and still enjoyed being a fan of the Philly sports teams; especially the Eagles. He was the organizer of the Bristol High School “all inclusive” reunions, and also a member of the St. Ann’s Athletic Association. Sonny had a one-of-a-kind infectious personality which caused people to want to be around him. He enjoyed fast cars, especially Corvettes, beautiful women, and good friends; but his passion was his family. He will be greatly missed by his daughter Danielle Fox and her partner Renee of Hatfield, PA; his sons Dan Mosco of Bristol Borough and John Mosco of Levittown; his step-children John Dunham of Levittown and Christina Dunham of Bristol Borough; his sisters Gail Costantini of Levittown and Jonette Ruszin and her husband John of Bristol Borough; and his brothers John Mosco of Sellersville and Frank Mosco of Bristol Borough. Sonny will also be missed by his loving grandson Carter, whom he adored. He is also survived by his aunt Natalie Mosco; and many cousins, nieces, and nephews. Relatives and friends are invited to celebrate his life on Friday, 6-9pm, at Galzerano Funeral Home, 3500 Bristol-Oxford Valley Road in Levittown. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions in Sonny’s name be made to the Gift of life Donor Program, 401 North 3rd Street, Phila., PA 19123.