The Saga of an All-American Family
Once upon a time there were three D’Amore brothers – Amanto Primo, Adanto Secundo, and Arcangelo Terzo. From their names, you might think they were Italian, but you would be wrong. It’s true that Amanto and Adanto were born in Italy to an Italian mother, Maria D’Amore. Their father, Domenico D’Amore, was born and raised in Italy, too. But before his sons were born, he had become an American citizen. Because of that, all three boys were American citizens from birth.
Domenico had come to the United States in 1901, when he was 20 years old. With only two years of education, he worked hard to earn a living. He returned to Italy to marry his best friend’s sister. By the time Amanto was born on October 15, 1909, he was back working on the railroad in Montana. It was a month before he found out he had a son. He continued going back and forth to Italy. Their second son Adanto was born in 1912.
Domenico was finally able to bring his family to America in 1919. By that time, he had settled in Youngstown and was working for Republic Steel. Amanto was just nine years old when the family arrived on the ship named Guiseppe Verde.
“I went to school three grades in Italy,” Amanto said. “I came here for fourth grade without knowing any English. I went to Lincoln School and then the Rayen School. I spent my senior year at East High School. Ours was the first class to graduate from there.”
Amanto was the first of the three D’Amores to go to Ohio State University to become a doctor. He and his brothers were all star members of the fencing team. All three earned army reserve commissions through the Reserve Officers Training Corps. Amanto was 25 years old when he completed his internship at Providence Hospital in Detroit in 1934.
The Depression was lingering on. Amanto wanted to practice in the Youngstown area, but jobs were hard to find, even for doctors.
“They didn’t want me at Sharon General,” Amanto said. “As I was going back towards Youngstown on Route 62, I came through this little town, Masury. The postman told me they needed a doctor because doctors from Sharon didn’t want to go there. So I started a practice there.”
It was tough going because nobody had any money.
“Most of the people were on welfare,” he said, “so I didn’t bill my patients. They would pay me whatever they could afford. One family paid me two plucked chickens for attending the birth of their baby. And I was happy with that.”
Nevertheless, he gradually managed to save enough to have a house built that could serve as his office and his residence. But in 1941, Dr. D’Amore was called to active duty. Because he was Masury’s only doctor, the people there circulated a petition to keep him there. But it did no good.
“I thought I would be gone about a year,” he said. “But they sent me to Australia to help organize a hospital.”
It wasn’t easy. The equipment that was arriving was all mixed up. A big box labeled “Lead-lined Chest X-ray Protector” for x-ray technicians might contain an arm splint. They had to buy equipment from the Australians. Amanto also served in the Philippines and New Guinea, sometimes living in tents.
After the war, Amanto returned to his practice in Masury.
“I liked family practice,” he said. “I made house calls, delivered babies at home, I did everything. I was the school doctor.”
Being so busy, Dr. D’Amore had no time to even think about dating. But his life changed completely when he met Florence Shutrump at the dedication of St. Bernadette’s new rectory. Her father John was one of the sons in Charles Shutrump and Sons Contractors. The firm was a major contractor that built St. Columba Cathedral, S, Christine Church, Cardinal Mooney High School, and other major construction projects in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York – including St. Bernadette Church in Masury.
The Shutrumps came to the dedication of St. Bernadette’s new rectory. The pastor of the parish, Fr. Bresnyak, was Amanto’s best friend. He introduced Amanto to Florence.
“It was love at first sight,” Amanto said. “Fr. Bresnyak took me to her house in Youngstown. I was nervous, waiting. She was on a date and came back. She had a ring on her finger. I had to ask my mother which hand you wear an engagement ring on. She didn’t know. So I wrote Florence a letter to ask for a date.”
Few things in life can be as dangerous as love at first sight, since it is often based on mere appearances. But in the case of Amanto and Florence, it was a match made in heaven.
Born in 1926, Florence had grown up with her sister Ruth in Youngstown. When she was seven, her mother contracted tuberculosis. Her father sent her mother to Arizona, along with Florence and her Ruth, hoping she could recover there. Unfortunately, she didn’t.
“Dad was building the state insane institution in Rome, New York,” Florence said, “It took two or three years to build it. After my mother died we came back to Youngstown. My mother’s sister, Hildegard, had been taking care of us while mother was sick. We moved to Rome for a while, and my father married her there.”
When the work in Rome was finished, the family moved back to Youngstown. Florence went to St. Joseph’s school, then to Ursuline, graduating in 1944. After that, she went to St. Mary of the Springs College in Columbus, Ohio. Her degree in art and home economics got her a one-year job at Ursuline teaching those subjects. Then she managed a family-owned apartment complex in Warren, Ohio.
Then Dr. Amanto D’Amore came into her life. They were married on May 5, 1951, and settled in Masury to live the rich, full life of the small-town family doctor.
Dr. D’Amore would make house calls anywhere, as far away as Youngstown and Farrell.
“Anybody who took a chance with me, I would help,” he said.
“He didn’t have any nurses or anything,” Florence said. “He took care of everything himself. He worked night and day. If we were outside working in the garden and someone needed something, he would stop and take care of him. When the flu was going around, I would make a list of everyone he would have to make house calls to. Many times if he went to a house to deliver a baby, they would bring their other children to him – this one’s got a cold, this one has a sore throat, this one got a cut. They would get him to take care of all of them on the one call.”
He didn’t only have a lot of patients to take care of. He also had his own large family. He and Florence raised eight children.
“He wasn’t the type of doctor that went out on the golf course,” Florence said. “He was always around to help with homework and whatever. I was the same way, cooking and showing them how to do all kinds of stuff.”
Florence also kept busy. For 31 years she managed the apartment complex in Warren for 31 years.
“My dad said you can quit anytime,” she said. “But I kept doing it. It wasn’t that hard. I still have a couple of rentals that I manage.”
Dr. D’Amore retired on August 15, 1995, exactly 61 years from the day he hung out his shingle.
For his 90th birthday, his kids put together a large loose-leaf album of photos, newspaper clippings, and personal tributes. Jonathan D’Amore, the first-born son of Amanto’s and Florence’s first-born son David, summed up the love and respect their eight children, 21 grandchildren and one great-grandchild have for them: “For nearly 22 years I’ve seen in you, in your smiles and in your words, what it is to be a husband, a father, a grandfather. Your ninety years have taught me to be a man. . . . I hope my years will show me to be, like you, Primo D’Amore: a man proud of his name, tender with his family, and in love with life.”
Amanto gives much credit for his long life to his wife Florence: “She’s how come I’m still alive and fairly healthy at age 98.”
That’s the story of Amanto Primo, the first son of Domenico D’Amore. The other two sons also had rich, full lives of service.
Dr. Adanto Secundo was captured during the fall of the Philippines and spent most of World War II as a prisoner of war in Japan. He stayed in the army after the war and became one of the first doctors to belong to a parachute unit. He pioneered the development of airborne field hospitals. Rising to the rank of Colonel, he later served as commander of the hospital at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.
Dr. Arcangelo Terzo served in Europe during World War II. He participated in the Battle of the Bulge and served as a psychiatrist at the Nurnberg trials. He had a private practice as a psychoanalyst in Washington, DC, until he passed away at age 65.
Theirs is truly the saga, from beginning to present, of an all-American family.
Excerpted from Lives of Quiet Inspiration, Volume 3, by Joe Zentis. Hermtage, PA: Green Street Press, 2009