Orphan, high school dropout, soldier, union man, artist, great-grandfather turns 95
NoC World News
This August, Thomas Joseph “Tom” Lazare will celebrate his 95th birthday. Born unto the town of Darby, Pennsylvania, a poor suburb of South Philly, Tom was orphaned at the age of eleven after his neer do well father, a French Jew, skipped town when he was two and, nearly a decade later, his mother, Agnes, a sickly Catholic woman who had raised Tom by helping run a boarding house in an undesirable Delaware County neighbourhood, died of tuberculosis.
He was adopted by the O’Donnell family, a sprawling Irish Catholic clan of marginally employed elevator-lift operators who, even at the heights of the Roaring Twenties, were experiencing hard times. After struggling his way through a rigid Catholic school education, Tom dropped out of school after the eighth grade to take a full-time job. What had begun as a way to support his budding interest in tobacco had grown by age fifteen into full-time work, the salary at times supporting, along with his tobacco habit, the entire unemployed O’Donnell family.