The Second Time Around
by Cate Murway
“There are those who’d bet
Love comes but once - and yet, I’m oh so glad we met… the second time around”.
The shofar and its tones, like the Law of Moses, must be preserved unaltered.
Wanita Louise [Ball] Petrino sounded the ram’s horn.
This electrifying sound resonates as no words can and never fails
to affect those who hear it for the first time.
Alan Joseph Vogenberg, the treasurer and caretaker
of the Bristol Jewish Center carefully placed it
in the tabernacle.
Wanita donated her cherished piece to the historic, intimate, and vibrant BJC congregation.
Wanita Louise was named for both her parents, Juanita “Peggy” Charlotte [Wood] and Wesley Louis Ball and she was born in Woodbury, NJ.
Wesley was born in Oklahoma in the summer of 1910 and Peggy was born in Missouri.
They met when Wesley took a room in Peggy’s grandmother’s boarding house in Kansas City.
“My dad had a natural engineering mind and he did not even finish the 6th grade.”
He even helped her with calculus and she was able to succeed in a subject she disliked. “The state of Texas said I had to have it to get my degree.”
Wanita returned to college at the University of Houston and graduated with a B.S. in engineering in 1977. Wanita’s dad still only introduced her as, “This is my daughter. She is a Nurse.”
“Music was my thing”. She started out on the piano, played bass drum and then the clarinet. She learned how to keep her bottom lip curled and firm on the mouthpiece, possibly the reason she was able to sound the shofar. She also did some singing.
Her dad was a steel fabricator in civilian defense work, making the storage tanks for oil refineries and shipyards during WWII. He worked at the Hammond Iron Works that became the Pittsburgh-Des Moines (PDM) after the 1950's.
They moved around quite a bit.
In January 1950, her family relocated to the township and in the spring of 1951, they moved into the Borough and she attended classes in historic Bristol on the Delaware.
She met Dominick Peles “Spike” Petrino, BHS ’54/East Stroudsburg
in the fall of 1952.
“I was in the 8th grade and he was a Junior.
He made me laugh! He made me laugh!”
Dominick called Wanita’s mother, introduced himself and asked to take Wanita out on a date.
“When he showed up for our first date, his sister and her husband were in the car!”
They dated for two years.
Dominick taught Wanita how to shift the gears in his car, so they were able to sit closer together, and she learned to drive.
Her first car was a full sized 1951 black Buick Century, the first GM production automobile capable of reaching a speed of 100 mph.
She remembers that they shared tomato pie then, “Donnie [Petolillo] wasn’t even born!” and confirmed that they still go to “Cesare’s Italian Specialties Ristorante” for pizza now.
Again, her family packed up and moved and Wanita graduated in 1957 from West End H.S. in Birmingham, AL. She trained to become an LPN at the University Hospital.
She moved to Houston, TX, married and had two children. Her son, Mark Rothkop is still in Houston and teaches the requisite classes for licensing for people to own and carry concealed weapons, where it is legal for law-abiding Texans.
RN Deena Futris works in case management and she and her husband reside in Athens, GA.
They have presented her with 4 grandsons and 1 granddaughter who was literally her 60th birthday present, born right on Wanita’s July 6th birthday.
Wanita was raised Methodist but found through studying her family genealogy, that her English maternal great grandmother was Jewish. “I was Jewish by blood.”
Wanita started attending the Orthodox synagogue while she was in Houston.
When her son, Mark was very small, they attended shul for the High Holidays and a great Uncle led the religious services.
Snow-white haired Abram Geller was a “very striking man”, wearing all white, with a kittle [ceremonial robe] and prayer shawl trimmed in silver.
Mark, not very quietly, asked, “Mommy, is that God?”
Mark decided that he wanted to blow the shofar when he was old enough. So, when he was old enough, Uncle Abram bought him a shofar.
The Shofar, a well-known symbol of Rosh Hashanah, is one of the earliest
instruments made from the horn of a ram or other kosher animal used in Jewish music.
Her children are not practicing Judaism.
This is the shofar Wanita has donated to the Bristol Jewish Center.
Her high school sweetheart, “Spike” Petrino was the ninth of eleven children born to Irene [D’Ambrosio] and painter, James, also dubbed “Spike”, Petrino. His sister, Sally Ann and brother, Fred who formerly worked in the Paterson Parchment Paper Mill, still reside in Bristol Borough.
Dominick was the undefeated 112# class LBC wrestling champ for 2 years, still proud of his 14-0 record during High School.
“I was too short for anything else and not heavy enough for football!”
The late Mr. Harold William Ferguson, “Father of Wrestling” was the math teacher/wrestling coach. He died Dec. 7, 2010, in Brookville, PA at the age of 88.
Mr. Ferguson started the wrestling program at Bristol High School and was instrumental in forming the Lower Bucks County Wrestling League and Dominick was one of his first athletes.
Dominick walked to school, and walked to work as a stock boy at Accardi’s Market on Beaver Dam Road, and walked to visit Wanita, and then they walked to Cesare’s for pizza. He easily maintained his 112# wrestling weight!
Favorite spots to “nosh” were the popular neighborhood pharmacies, including Harry Straus’ Cut Rate Patent Medicines on 407 Mill Street. Then, of course, for special treats, there was O’Boyle’s hand-dipped ice cream. “Any flavor”, confirmed Dominick.
Wanita had moved away, graduated and had gotten married.
USMC E-3 Dominick also married and served in postwar Okinawa from 1957-1963. He supplied and loaded ammunition in Beirut during the 1958 Lebanon crisis, caused by political and religious tensions in the country. Lebanese Muslims pushed the government to join the newly created United Arab Republic, while the Christians wanted to keep Lebanon aligned with Western powers. This included a U.S. military intervention, leading to the easing of tensions when President Eisenhower responded by authorizing Operation Blue Bat on July 15, 1958.
Wanita worked in the O.R. in the University Hospital in Birmingham, AL, and then in The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, one of the nation's original three comprehensive cancer centers established by the National Cancer Act of 1971.
The years passed and at times life was unkind.
“Makes you think perhaps that love, like youth, is wasted on the young.”
“My present husband was my high school sweetheart. I was trying to call a number in Cleveland, OH. I have a degree in civil engineering but I am dyslexic when it comes to numbers. “
She was trying to reach a friend also called Dominic with an area code of 216.
The number was the same as Dominick Petrino’s but his area code was 215.
His high school quote, “Little said is soonest minded.”
They were both in “bad situations”, kept in touch and they reconnected.
“Feelings we thought were dead and buried in 1955 were not even in ill health!”
“Who can say, what brought us to this miracle we’ve found”
Beshert is a Yiddish term that expresses how soul mates are “meant to be together.”
Bliss didn’t come just automatically (it’s not predestined) and they keep making the right choices, and being together is the right choice!
Her birthstone is ruby and the ruby is said to open one's heart to love.
“Love is lovelier, the second time around. Just as wonderful, with both feet on the ground.”
Dominick and Wanita married in 1991 and again were together in Bristol.
“When my classmates found out I was back, it was like I had never left. I helped plan the reunion and marched with the BHS Alumni Band in the parade.”
“Like a friendly home the second time you call”
Dominick retired ten years later from his job as “utility man” at the now closed American Can Company in Morrisville. They relocated to AL until 2008 to help her then ill, late sister, Bonita.
They have now resided in the Grundy Towers for almost 2 years where Wanita has served as the President of the Grundy Towers Council.
Dominick currently “helps” at his nephew’s car repair station, Lenny Monk’s Auto Service.
“Love is lovelier the second time around.”
Italicized lyrics, “Second Time Around” by Frank Sinatra
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