2001 Stories and MemoriesDec 31, 2001 Bull in a China Closet
I grew up working in Margiotta Sporting Goods with Charlie, Mike, Pat and Chuckie. So you can imagine the stories I have with all of those characters.
The one that stands out the most is when we were all in the back office and heard the bell go off. All eyes looked at the monitor and in strolled Chuck. Charlie muttered, "Oh no", and boy was he right.
Chuck steamrolled through the store knocking stuff down, messing up the sweatpants case, touching all the camping stuff.It was classic Margiotta mayhem in the making. Mike was yelling at Chuck , Charlie was yelling at Mike. Pat and I were laughing, adding fuel to the fire. And there was Chuck, laughing at the whole situation, knowing he was irritating all. I dont know why, but for a long time whenever that bell went off, I always looked up thinking Chuck was coming and the excitement would start.
It was the type of person Chuck was, he lit up a room when he walked in it. He was so into any conversation you started, he always had advice and always knew something about the subject you were on.
I asked him about his pirahnas one day and he brought me over to his house and fed them goldfish, explaining in great detail about the origin and advantages of owning this fish. He sold me on the idea, I bought a few at this place Chuckie sent me to, only to find out they were illegal in New York.
When i asked Chuck about it, he laughed and said, "What are you worried about...your a cop." I laughed it off and for years afterwards, we talked fish over and over again.
Chuck, I miss you and you will never know just how much people loved you. You will always be a hero to me.
Dec 29, 2001 Chuck... My Personal Body Guard As a Kid
When I was a kid I was always the quiet shy kid that bothered nobody. But as we all know, there was always the bullies around that made your life miserable.
When one of these kids terrorized me I would call Chuck to take care of the dirty work and after he got finished with them, they never bothered you again, fearing Chuck would be around again.
Chuck, thanks for making life a little easier when I was small, I'll miss ya.
Dec 25, 2001 Chuckie As I Know Him
As a kid growing up on Bradley Avenue, I saw Chuck going to school almost everyday. As the years went on, we had many mutual friends and I would run into him from time to time.
One of my memories of Chuck is the time he made sure I got home safe when nobody else cared. Well, I was Eddie’s lil’ sister from Bradley Avenue; everyone looked out for us, especially Chuck.
The years went on and I eventually moved away to Florida. When I came home to visit my brother, I walked into a sports store on Jewett Avenue to get a Jets shirt for Eddie. And there Chuck was to help me again.
That was the last time I saw Chuck and I’m so glad that I did. He was my hero at times when I was growing up. It’s no wonder he went home the same way. I will always remember Chuckie as my hero and now everybody will.
My prayers and spiritual support for all that knew and love him…for I know we will see him again. Given the way he always popped up in my life, I just know that he will be there again to help as he always did.
God blessed all of us with Chuckie Margiotta in our lives one way or another, and I for one will never forget him. Thanks to whoever made this website; it gives those who couldn’t be there a chance to show how we cared.
Nancy Seiler Kirley (sister inlaw of Chuck Mangione)
Dec 24, 2001 The Biggest Thing About Chuck was his Heart
Probably the biggest thing about Chuckie was his heart. Whether it was bringing attention to unsold chances to one of the worthwhile charity raffles, "Did you get your chance yet?", or helping find coverage for a brother with a sudden emergency at home, "You're working today, he'll pay you back later, don't worry", Charlie took charge of the situation to make sure the right thing was done.
The right thing to do when disaster struck the World Trade Center was to get there as fast as possible and help as many people as possible. He rode in with the elite members fo the FDNY as Rescue 5 responded. They were all going to do the right thing and he was right there with them. There is no way to know how many lives he saved that day, but he'd be disappointed that they couldn't save them all.
It waasn't whether he had time to get out as the building crumbled, it was whether he had time to get everyone else out. It took a very big building to end such a big life. Most guys who've worked with him would probably agree, if it had only been a fifty story building, he might have walked out of the rubble.
Dec 24, 2001 Every time I get something to eat, I see Chuck
Many years ago when I was first married and had my first son and daughter, I went to the annual Christmas party at the firehouse up in Harlem. It's always a good party at E37/L40.
I brought my daughter when she was only 2 weeks old. I was standing at the party and Chuck came over and asked my wife if he could hold the baby for her so we could go over and have some food, and maybe a drink or two. This was before he had any kids himself.
It was some sight to see this big burly tough guy cradle my daughter Katie in his arms the way he did. I'll never forget this.
I have a picture of Chuck holding my baby that day, some 14 years ago. And I've had that picture on my refrigerator for 14 Christmases.
Every time I get something to eat or to drink at home I see Chuck, and see how gentle and kind a man he really was.
Dec 24, 2001 His Soft Side
What impressed me most about Chuck was his love for his family. Chuck would always talk about his children Norma Jean and Charlie, who he loved and enjoyed so much. His life revolved around them and everything they did.
I'll never forget the time Chuck spoke about his wife Norma. He said, "You know, Tom I did the right thing marrying her, she's a great girl."
And I replied, "Your right Chuck, anyone who can put up with you must be great."
I had the opportunity to see the soft side in Chuck. One night, as we sat outside Hanley's funeral home so one of the brothers could go in and pay his respects to a friend, we talked about how both of us hated wakes. I told Chuck how I hated this place in particular. My grandmother and many friends were laid out here. Little did I know that an hour after our tour ended my dad would pass away suddenly.
I'll never forget standing in Hanley's seeing Chuck walk in. He was trying to be a tough grizzly bear but the tear running down his cheek gave it all away. He was really a soft teddy bear under it all. He didn't have to say a word, his face said it all.
Dec 24, 2001 Chuck Always Lived Large
The only word to describe Charlie Margiotta's life is BIG. Like the big screen that he graced in many movies, he did everything on a grand scale. "Chuckie the Truckie" didn't just organize a basketball team to help keep the brothers in shape, he organized a league for them to play in. He didn't just plant a few tomato plants at the firehouse for a salad, he turned the whole side yard into a small farm.
He didn't just get a few friends together to play the war games that he had a knack for, he organized a bus trip and cajoled a few undecideds into joining the kind of trip that helps to strengthen the bonds of the brothers in the house.
He didn't do anything small. If you came into the kitchen on a Sunday morning you knew Chuckie was working because there was a coffee ring twice the normal size on the table. The bakery calls it a (fruit and nut thing) uit it will always be known as a Chuckie cake at the firehouse.
You also knew that lunch would be ravioli drowning in sauce from the huge pot that would hold Chuckie meatballs (not little ones). He would start it early, before drill, so it could simmer until it was just right.
His booming voice was the first giveaway of a big personality to those meeting him for the first time. Then you saw that barrel chest that seemed to part the crowd as he sauntered through the room in that oft imitated swagger. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then what do you say about a guy when people imitate someone else imitating him...?
Dec 24, 2001 Chuck's Pit Bull
Many of you know that Chuck loved to play football and was active on the FDNY team. Many of you also know that he used to dress his pit bull in a FDNY football jersey and let that damned dog run lose on the field.
The dog did nothing for us but aggravate Coach Pugie Walsh and bust footballs within its teeth. Not to say what it did to our opponents.
I guess it let them know how tough a guy Chuck was and how tough the FDNY football team really is. Oh yes: When Chuck played we beat that NYPD team.
But there was another side to the man. And that was his love of his family, of his friends, and his community.
Dec 23, 2001 The Fly!
One day I was in the neighborhood and decided to drive up Ingram Avenue. To my delight the Margiotta's were all out and about. I pulled over and the first one down the drive was "Chuck!" He leaned in the window and gave me a kiss, of course. He then asked "where's my buddy?" Meaning Steven.
Whenever he asked me for Steve, there was always this sadness in his eyes. A look that didn't want to come to the surface and never would have been there had my husband been at my side. He always made sure to treat Steven just like he always was, and is.
That is something Chuck was very good at, making sure my husband never felt differently, always was included in "regular" conversations, and finding positive things to talk to him about. He didn't need to hear what was happening to him health wise, that he knew by looking, it was the regular things in life they talked of, the things that Steve looks to talk about. He always made sure Steve knew that Chuck considered him the same man he was before.
But, I must tell you what happened that day. As Chuck and I were talking, Norma Jean came over to the car to tell me about her days in school and what grade she was in, all the normal little girl jabber. Yet, I did not see Charlie. Out of my peripheral vision I saw Chuck's arm moving up and down.
I reached my head out of the car and saw Charlie doing chin-ups on his Daddy's arm, and Chuck not even flinching, in fact, didn't even bother to add this to our conversation!
I said, "Chuck, what's that?" Kidding around, I knew what "that" was, he added, cool as usual, "Oh that, that's a fly!" Went right on with his conversation, never missing a beat.
I was cracking up, that was Chuck. He did fifteen things at once, barely noticing the other, and he did them all well, even making his child feel close to his Daddy while he talked to this lady about her family. Chuck, sure wish I could drive up Ingram Ave right now and see you come down that driveway.
I love you buddy, for sure and always. :)
Dec 23, 2001 A Memory Told to Me...
Right before I went away to college, I went down to my grandparents house, Molly and Charlie were there. I was happy to see them, but the interesting thing was Molly started to tell me stories of Chuck.
She went on for a while and I got a picture of him in my mind. Now, I have certainly met and been with Chuck before, but it wasn't until his Mom that night that I felt I "knew" him in a way I hadn't before.
I am sincerely sorry for his loss, judging from the outpouring of love and the amount of people who miss him, I am also sorry for not having gotten to know him better. I keep him in my prayers, best to all of you who love him.
Dec 22, 2001 Trouble?....Don't worry, I'll call Chuck!
I remember my girls were 4 and 1. Our parakeet had gotten out of it's cage and the girls were afraid that it was going to land on their heads. After a lot of screaming and running around the house, I called my husband. He told me that he could do nothing from where he was but he would call Chuck to help me catch it.
Twenty minutes after I hung up the phone with my husband, I heard a knock on the door. I opened the door to see Chuck standing there with a big fireplace glove on his hand as though he were a falconer. He instucted me to, "Get the children and get out of the house". I did what he said, and sat on the porch.
While I was sitting I heard a lot of noise, things falling, doors slamming, some yelling. I remember laughing to myself as I sat outside because it sounded like he was wrestling an animal his size. It was a parakeet!
Minutes later, Chuck came out and said, "The house is now safe." I thanked him and he left. The next morning my daughter wanted to know why the parakeet was sleeping on the bottom of the cage.
Til this day we're not quite sure if Chuck scared the parakeet to death, squeezed too hard, or if it was just the parakeet's time to go.
I think of Chuck and that glove and I smile everytime.
Dec 21, 2001 No One Could Take a Door Like Chuck
Chuck was a big man. He was a powerful man.
He was a very powerful man.
When the bell went off, each of us was glad that Chuck was with us for the job.
Because nobody fought a fire with more skill, more dedication or more
Chuck's size and strength and dedication meant that he was always working furiously
at every fire no matter what....
No one could take a door like Chuck.
No one could handle the roof saw like Chuck.
And no one could vent a building like Chuck.
You know, Chuck often said things while on the job that a few people mistook as
a bit arrogant.
But his arrogance was really the incredible pride he felt as a fireman and in
what he did for a living.
One of his nost famous sayings was " No one goes deeper than me."
And it's true.
No one rushed into a burning building to stop a fire or
to rescue someone faster than Chuck.
Dec 21, 2001 Pretending to be Brave for Uncle Chuck
I don't want this to go on anymore
I just want this to end
Inside the barriers of my house
Trapped inside the truth
Even in my sleep
There are no survivors
In school and with friends
Pretend happiness gleams
Showing a person that once existed
Hiding behind my outer image
Won't show I'm afraid
But then I break down
Half so insane
half of me can't face the facts
All I want to do
Is just fade away
In blackness the inevitable
Is left unexposed
And the fear disappears
Because the word's left unspoken
And the hurt
Is no longer locked inside
So I just let go
And get taken along
has come for a ride
And my soul Is so empty
While so full of tears
and my mind
Is so full with blankness
has taken its toll
And not thinking
Makes it easier to stand.
When we're so unsure what to believe
but I'm sure
If I wait long enough
I'll wake up
from this unrealistic truth
but until then
I'll just pretend that
I'm not afraid
And I can't think
And I can't speak
Want to offer reassurances
But it won't come out
I'm not sure
I can feel
Dec 21, 2001 Chuck's Gift
Chuck's gift was a lesson, a lesson that will lead to the inspiration we need, to wake us from the doldrums of our day and remind us of the power of life.
This is what he did.
First, he sought his goal. Then he prepared himself for the challenge. No matter what it was. If it was on the football field, if it was hunting, if it was fishing, if it was scuba diving, if it was running into a burning building to save someone's life; he knew the risks and prepared himself. He would study, he would practice, he would check his equipment.
Then, he would put his game face on. We all knew that face. His lips would pursed in a frown, his eyes would become intense, he would stick his chest out and prance around on the balls of his feet. And then he was ready. And in his mind, no matter what had to be done he was going to do it. So, look out.
It was this determination, this commitment to his life that made you feel safe when he was around. It was this commitment to his life, that projected from his presence, like a mountain-it made him seem bigger than life, bigger, than the life of an ordinary man. It made him seem.... well.... as big as.... Chuck.
Because of this unweilding commitment, you knew he would be there, you could count on him. And, we all did (and in an amazing way we still do).
He took our kid's and taught them, he took his time, and gave it to us, he took our work and did it. He didn't give access to this commitment easily, you had to earn it.
He understood the challenges in his life and he dealt with them, but he also challenged us. he challenged our convictions. He would offer, let's say, a slightly controversial position, that would just beg for rebuttal.
At first it wouldn't be easy, he would use all his imposing features (you know he was an actor after all, a bona fide movie star you could say). He'd use this imposing way and you would want to cower and say, "this guy's nuts, I'm not going to argue with him."
However, if you took the challenge and held your convictions, (even if your idea was as full of hot air, as his) a wonderful thing would happen. A big smile would come over his face. A smile that was pure Chuck. As distinctive as the Mona Lisa's (I had to throw that in there, I think he would enjoy something as perverse as comparing his face to the Mona Lisa's, imagine Chuck as a portrait in the Louvre listed in the program as painting #542 titled, "A man who swallowed a canary") he'd have that smile. Then he'd laugh, as if to say, "you got me."
The next wonderful thing that would happen is you would gain his respect and he'd let you know who he really was.
Dec 21, 2001 My Dad
My dad, Charles Margiotta, was the greatest dad ever or shall I say, "In the World". He was always there when I needed him. Not only is he my dad, he was a hero, a fallen firefighter. He did what he had to do to save lives on September 11, 2001. His spirit will always live on.
There are things I am going to miss very much. Things like going upstate and fishing and hiking. I will also miss the long hours I've spent in the car together as a family. I am also going to miss him being up at St. Ritas every weekend, directing the basketball program. I will also miss him being on the sidelines of my soccer, basketball, or softball games yelling at me and pushing me to do harder.
Because of his teaching, I am the athlete I am today. I am going to miss the simple things like him yelling at me because I messed up the computer or him yelling at people on the phone. I am going to miss his calls he used to make from the firehouse, just to check up on us.
Out of all these things I am going to miss the times he and I were in the car by ourselves listening to Bruce Springsteen, Kiss or the Beatles. We would roll down the windows and blast the music really loud and sing our heads off.
These things I will never ever forget because he is with me always at every minute of the day. He will always be on my back pushing me to do harder and go beyond limits. I will always remember my dad as the man who couldn't do more to help people. My dad has touched so many lives and has inspired me to do has he did.
Charles Margiotta was my role model, my dad, and most of all my hero. I love you dad.
Dec 21, 2001 Father....Husband...Son...Brother...Nephew...Cousin...Friend...Hero
The Neilson family would like to thank our friends in New Middleton, and the people across Smith County for their prayers and understanding in such a grievous time.
Chuck and his wife Norma, daughter Norma Jean and son Charlie were just here visiting in August. We rode horses, went fishing, and did country things. He thought we were so lucky to live in such a beautiful place. It was to be the last time we spoke to him.
On Thursday, we had received word that he had been found, but it was not to be. For us, he will remain forever missing.
You cannot kill the spirit of the kind of man he was. He was a big man with a big heart and big dreams. And if he could hit rewind to that moment before he went into that building, he still would have pulled on his gear and charged in.
He would not be comfortable with the label, "hero". He would have told you he was just doing his job.
The Neilson Family
Dec 20, 2001 Chuck for Hire
My company once held a sales promotion in which we gave an ounce of gold to any customer who purchased a copying machine during the three days of this special event. At the end of the period we had to deliver about 25 ounces of gold. As you can imagine we were having a lot of difficulty finding a courier to deliver $10,000 worth of gold to 25 different places. Suddenly it occurred to me that this was a job for Chuck. So I called him and he agreed to do it. When I went back to my business associates and told them that I had hired the courier they were a little suspicious. Who was this guy? What business was he in?
How do you explain Chuck?
My associates told me to call him back and find out how he was insured. So I called. I said "Chuck, on the gold deliveries, you’re insured right?" He replied "I don’t need insurance"
I protested; "Chuck, it’s ten thousand dollars worth of gold! What if something happens?!" Calmly Chuck said "Frank, what good will insurance do me? If the gold is not with me…I must be dead."
I went back and assured my associates that Chuck was insured and of course the deliveries went off without a hitch.
Dec 2001, Chuck in the Shadows
In a bar many years ago, Chuck, Mike, Tommy B. and I were having a few beers. Tommy had an argument with a girl which resulted in both of them throwing their drinks in each others faces. As soon as Tommy soaked the girl with his gin & tonic a couple guys got up from the bar to fight for her.
Our first thought, spoken aloud by Mike, was "where’s Chuck?" I looked behind me and Chuck was standing in a dimly lit corner. As I approached him he held up his hand, like a cop stopping traffic, and without looking at me said "I have seen the altercation, and I am standing in the darkness, waiting to strike from the shadows"