The 80th Birthday
“Youth has no age,” said Pablo Picasso, and he should have known. The artist produced 140 canvases in his late 80s and carried on painting right until the end of his 91 years.
In the Hindu culture, the 80th birthday is a revered date and signifies that a person has seen 1,000 full moons.
We don’t normally do this but when a good friend is celebrating his 80th birthday it’s important for us to pause and say, “Happy Birthday!”
Today, January 8, is Al Contrera’s birthday. Al grew up in Brooklyn, in the Bensonhurst section. He and his friends went on to become founding members of the popular Doo-Wop group, The Mystics, best known for their hit, “Hushabye.”
Al married Florence, (“Lucky”) his high school sweetheart and together they had two remarkable girls, Dina and Christine. Al and “Lucky” were married for 27 years. Sadly, the family lost her in 1995 to cancer.
He went on to pursue a successful career in the engineering and project management industry that took him all around the world.
“All of us are so proud of our dad,” says his daughter, Christine. “Growing up, he taught us to be accountable for our actions and decisions which we have passed on to our children. He’s a great example of what a friend is and what a parent should be, to us and his grandchildren.”
Al is grandpa to Gianna, Nico and Angelo, Dina’s three children. And, grandpa to Christine’s two children, Vanessa and Angela. He’s also a great-grandfather to Mila and Gabriel.
Al is happy to report that another great-grandchild is on the way. “I don’t know if they’re done yet,” he says with a wink.
“All of my kids are outstanding. All of the things that they do never cease to amaze me,” Al says. “I just want to live long enough to see all of them grow up.”
The Contrera clan always likes to get together for fun times and laughter. “We look forward to hanging out with him for years to come. He’s a fun person,” Christine tells SouthFloridaReporter.com
Al always kept his big toe in the music industry and performs all across the country performing for devoted fans of the nostalgic doo-wop era. He currently sings with Emil Stucchio & The Classics, keeping the sounds of the 50’s alive and well.
On a personal note. I met Al in the 1980’s. My mother and I ran a travel agency and we were the very first organizers of an oldies theme cruise. After hearing the Mystics perform at a concert I knew somehow, someway they were going to be on the cruise. And it happened!
I’ll never forget the night I met Al at the Empire Diner in New York City to give him all of the cruise documents for the singers and their wives. I kept my promise.
A New Chapter
I later moved to Florida and we lost touch for many years. When social media arrived on the scene we re-connected via Linkedin.
Fast forward to 2018. Al has led a life filled with unbelievable adventures that no one could ever make up. So what does he do? He writes a book, Hushabye: The Mystics, the Music, and the Mob and reaches out to me to help publicize the book.
A Class Act
Since then our friendship has flourished. Mark and I visit with him when he travels to Florida and have attended numerous oldies shows to see him perform.
What is especially worthwhile in sharing with you is that he is probably SouthFloridaReporter.com’s most devoted fan. When we see him, he tells us how much he loves reading us. He finds our stories extremely interesting and shares them with his family and friends.
Well, now’s our chance to tell him what a great person we think he is.
He’s kind, generous, smart, funny, caring, adventurous, a true gentleman and a really good person. We’re so lucky to have him as a friend!
“Happy 80th birthday!” (Auguri di buon ottantesimo compleanno! in Italian)
Terri and Mark
Since this article was published Al has been inundated with birthday wishes. “I don’t need to win the lottery. I think I already did,” Al tells us.