Bob Farina's life journey began in New York City in the 1940s. The grandson of Italian immigrants, Bob was raised in the burgeoning and fast-changing neighborhoods of the Brooklyn and Queens boroughs. America's post-war economic and societal transformations had a significant role in shaping the city, these neighborhoods, the people who lived in them, and on Bob's formative years and experiences.
Starting with his close relationship with his parents and grandparents as a child, I Didn't Always Like Calamari looks back on the poignant memories and touchstones of this time that were so significant and impressionable, Bob easily recalls them in vivid detail decades later.
Beginning with regular family dinners and gatherings, always featuring his grandmother's favorite Italian recipes that are described in mouth-watering detail, moving through his early school years, Bob re-counts the dedicated work ethic demonstrated by all of the adults in his life – another formative value he inherited. Moving up through middle school and then Catholic high school in Brooklyn, readers are taken through a mind's reel of unique, and often endearingly funny, coming-of-age experiences, but many of which may have a ring of familiarity to readers who grew up in a similar time and place.
Stickball in the city streets, a first dance party, running afoul of the teaching Franciscan brothers, and other vignettes at once both commonplace and profound, this is a vivid recollection of the times, the values, and the changes Bob lived through and up to his high school years.
The dawn of that most tumultuous decade, the '60s, brings more life-altering challenges and
experiences to Bob as well. Starting with his college years at St. John's University in Queens, NY, and there meeting his wife-to-be, Bob takes readers on a tour of a time in his life that is at once joyous and heart-wrenching. Faced with choices that will define the rest of his life, Bob opens his heart and his mind, parsing out what it means to understand and navigate the difference between living your own life while trying to understand and respect the feelings of those who have sacrificed a great deal to give you the opportunity to make that life. In the course of that struggle, drawing on the values instilled him by his family and upbringing, Bob shows how he came to terms with the evolving reality of altered relationships with his family and the joy he found daily in the promise of his own new family and professional career.
From there, Bob shares his family's growth, personal challenges, triumphs, tragedies, and joys all the way through the present day, including the wide network of friends whose company he and his wife have enjoyed for many years. I Didn't Always Like Calamari is one man's clear-eyed account of a life well-lived and a recollection of the experiences that shaped him.