Nick Pacalo

Nick's Dad's Army Discharge Papers (Front)

Nick Pacalo’s father first came to the United States from Romania early in the 20th century.  Nick’s mother told him that the family came to the U.S. in search of economic opportunity.  As farmers in a poor country, they were struggling.  He was drafted into the U.S. Army during World War I, even as his brothers were serving on the opposite side in the Romanian army.  Because he served in the army, he was granted citizenship.

Nick's Mother's Passport (with 1st son John) 1929

In the 1920s, he returned to his hometown of Fagaras in search of a wife.  They married in Romania and had their first son, but then Pacalo’s father returned to the U.S., found a job at the Campbell Works, and sent for his family.  They had five children, most born in Campbell, where Nick grew up, first on 10th Street and later on Gordon Street.  While he remembers spending time at the Romanian Hall down the street, the neighbors came from many different backgrounds, and everyone getting along well.

Nick's Family

While the Pacalos belonged to the Romanian church, they often found it difficult to attend, because the church was located so far from their house.  They did participate in some holiday traditions, such as enjoying Romanian food and visiting the homes of other Romanians to serenade them with traditional songs.

The Pacalo family spoke Romanian in their home, which was sometimes embarrassing but often useful for Nick.  He remembers asking his mother to speak English when friends came to visit, since they didn’t understand Romanian.  But he also recalls moments when understanding Romanian was an advantage.

For a while after high school, Nick worked at Youngstown Sheet and Tube to help pay for college.  He met his wife, Rose, at Youngstown University.  She comes from an Italian background, but they say that their families accepted their marrying with no problem.

Nick & Rose Married Dec. 26, 1955

Captain Pacalo, Pilot in U.S. Nav

One summer during college, the mill went on strike, so Nick joined the Navy and trained to be a pilot.  In the early 1970s, while stationed at the Pentagon, he and Rose had the opportunity to visit Romania on a tour.  His knowledge of the language came in handy, making it possible for him to visit his mother’s hometown and meet some of his relatives there.

Romanian Visit, Nick & Rose w/ his aunt and her husband

Later, he was interviewed as a possible translator for President Nixon’s trip to Romania, but another military man was chosen.  Nick thinks that he may not have sold himself well enough in the interview, and he regrets the missed opportunity to fly on Air Force One and travel with the President.  But he did visit Romania again, this time with two of his children.

Read the complete transcript of Nick Pacalo’s interview with Mary Ellen Wilcox.

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