‘I think everyone has a gift, and no matter what, you should always do your gift. Maybe you won’t make it big, but at least you will make it big in your heart and your own mind.’
“At 12 years old, I taught myself how to play piano. I always loved music. In the ninth grade, I played keyboard and sang in my first band, Blitzkrieg. At around 19, I was playing at local Long Island clubs and bars constantly. I was the manager of the band and kept us very busy because I wanted to pursue music while I was still young. My brother and I used to paint cars in a garage, so I worked as a teacher’s aide in an auto body class while playing in a group called The Teachers. When I was playing in clubs, my life got a little crazy. There was alcohol and the atmosphere was wild. I did things that I regret, but two things remained a constant: music and my association with the Lord.
The Christian music got me out of the clubs, and my love for my wife encouraged me to work for a living.
“In my mid-20s, I began teaching myself chords on the guitar. My friend and I would write Christian songs, just two guitars and singing harmony. The Christian music got me out of the clubs, and my love for my wife encouraged me to work for a living. I started working with electronic factories which kept me employed for more than 20 years, at the tail end of which I saw the business fall apart. I was laid off at least five times from different jobs. My two beautiful daughters were young, so I was always working part-time jobs after work to support my family, but I was still playing music. I went to Alabama’s Civic Center with a gospel group and played to 500 people.
“At 49, I was out of work for eight months. I was really persistent in applying to work with the LIRR. I had to pass rigorous tests, including an electronics test and a physical. I was 50, so it wasn’t easy. It was challenging to learn the entire signaling system after not having been in school in 30 years. Now I’ve been a signalman for 17 years, and I’ve also been serving the Lord at churches and playing Christian music for almost 40 years. I’ve grown from it because it helps me to try to be a better human being in a world that sees a lot of unkind people. I think everyone has a gift, and no matter what, you should always do your gift. Maybe you won’t make it big, but at least you will make it big in your heart and your own mind.”