Jerry Colangelo had it rough. A boy in a blue-collar world, he often left home with a salt shaker in his pocket. That way, when his stomach growled, he could swipe a tomato from a neighborhood garden and fix himself lunch.

He grew up hard, in a home his grandfather constructed with wood from railroad cars. At age 17, he came home and found his mother battered. He waited patiently for his father to return from a night of drinking.

“I heard my dad pull up, and then he came stumbling up the stairs,” Colangelo said. “And when he hit the top step, I hit him right in the mouth. I warned him to never touch her again. At that moment, he walked out and slept in his car.”

Two years later, his father disappeared from the family.


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