By Joshua Resnek
During a lifetime spent building successful businesses and making friends and maintaining loyalties in the city where he grew up, Frank Mastrocola, Sr. stood out as a leader.
From modest circumstances, he rose out of the Everett experience during the 1930’s and 1940’s and when he returned from the war, formed for himself and his family a great life.
Into his ninth decade, he had been weakening during the past few months. On January 12, Mr. Mastrocola, Sr. died at the Cohen Florence Estates in Chelsea where he had been living since December.
He was 92.
Mr. Mastrocola, Sr. was one of seven children of Rocco and Maria (Fortunato) Mastrocola, who came here in 1912.
Like many of the Italians who immigrated to Everett during the second decade of the Twentieth Century, he was from Orsogna, Abruzee, from a region known for its rich earth and small farms.
Mr. Mastrocola, Sr. was no farmer.
During the early years in the city, his father was self-employed, working as a brick mason and he owned a dump truck. He relied upon his sons to help him out with his work.
Mr. Mastrocola, Sr. worked by his father’s side as he came of age.
Like his father before him, Mr. Mastrocola, Sr. grew strong and agile. He was never afraid to work and in fact, thrived upon work.
The family lived in a small single family home on Parlin Street near the tracks. By the beginning of the Depression, his father moved the growing family to Ferry Street, into a small home across the street from Mandolese’s Bakery which is no longer there.
This is where he grew up.
Mr. Mastrocola, Sr. was at the middle of the family brood. He had 3 brothers and 2 sisters.
As a young man he was a laborer and an athlete. By the time he was attending Everett High School, he was 6’ 1”, 235, with perfect teeth, a great smile and a huge personality. He cut quite a figure on the Everett landscape of this era.
He played football on the 1943 EHS team where he was a standout fullback.
It was during this time that he met and fell in love with Gloria Pierotti, with whom he shared 69 years of marriage and who survives him.
Their love for one another survived the war, as he left high school in 1944 to join the US Marines.
She waited for him. They married when he got back in 1945.
The war years helped to give shape and form to Mr. Mastrocola, Sr.’s patriotism and love of nation, community and family.
As a member of the Marines First Division, he was in the vanguard of the Okinawa Invasion, and was involved in heavy combat that led to thousands of wounded and almost 2,000 dead, with his own platoon virtually decimated during his time on the island.
In a horrific and ironic occurrence, he was watching the invasion of the island from his transport ship before hitting the beach and saw the landing craft carrying his Marine brother, Peter, blown up by a Japanese Kamikazee fighter.
According to Frank Mastrocola, Jr., the family never got over the death of their son and brother.
“From the time I was a little boy, I remember a candle always lit in front of a picture of him that stood in the shadows of my grandfather’s living room,” he recalled.
At the end of the war, now married, Mr. Mastrocola, Sr. began his own family and at the same time, went head first into business.
He worked briefly for the United Shoe Company repairing machines. Then he began cleaning old range oil stoves that were used by thousands to cook and to heat their homes in Everett during the early 1950’s.
Then he bought a used tank truck and delivered range oil with it as people were still using coal at this time and the changing marketplace for fossil fuels gave him an opportunity.
He began converting coal burning furnaces to oil burning furnaces – and according to his son Frank, Jr. “that’s how he got started on his way to success.”
Now the family was living in a three decker on Avon Street.
Mr. Mastrocola, Sr. expanded his oil operation and worked it day and night.
“Within ten years, he had gotten it done,” said Frank, Jr. “He was driving around in a Cadillac, built a brand new home on Belmont Park. He was 35 and riding high.”
At this time, Everett had about 25 independent oil companies.
As Mr. Mastrocola, Sr. got more involved in the city and its organizations, the more customers came to him for his company to service their furnaces and to fill their tanks.
With the power of his personality and hard work, his oil business flourished.
By the 1970’s, Master Fuel numbered 1,000 accounts.
“He was getting so successful that he could send out one of his trucks filled to the top and empty it just on Birch Street in a long line of two and three decker homes. It was unbelievable and he loved it,” recalled Frank, Jr.
At the age of 54, in 1979, he sold the company to Atlas Oil and retired.
“He didn’t know what to plug himself into,” said Frank ,Jr. That’s when Mr. Mastrocola, Sr. founded a travel agency, which was also a success and which he owned and ran for ten years.
During the 1980’s, he ran for mayor twice, and lost twice.
“He never could have made it as a politician because he never wanted to say no to anyone,” said Frank, Jr.
He said his father was not the doting Dad. “My father was at his best with us at our summer home in Dennisport,” he added. “There we had him to ourselves. Otherwise, he was always working or involved with local clubs.”
His greatest love was the Knights of Columbus which he headed for many years.
He recalled his father as being behind his children in every way. “He wanted all of us to be educated,” recalled Frank, Jr. “I don’t care if you make pizza for a living,” he used to say to us. “Just make the best damn pizza you can and be happy,” he always added, according to his son.
Mr. Mastrocola, Sr. was waked from Rocco’s Tuesday afternoon.
He was interred in the mausoleum at Woodlawn Cemetery Wednesday following a funeral Mass at the Immaculate Conception Church.
In keeping with his last wishes, contributions in his memory should be sent to the E-Club of Everett.