Somebody asked me (Anthony Crosby) the other day if it was always my dream to be a blogger when I grew up. Ok, honestly, nobody has ever asked me that. However, for the sake of this introduction, go with it. To answer that question, I would say “no.” One reason is that “blogging” wasn’t even a word when I was young, and the second reason is that my dream was to get involved with film! Writing scripts for television shows, directing blockbuster Hollywood movie; that was my goal! I would even force my siblings into helping me recreate the original Star Wars movie in my backyard with toys and bad acting. Yes, I was a total nerd. However, alas, seeing my name on the silver screen didn’t exactly come to be. That is fine! It’s all right because the next best thing to working in Tinsel Town is being able to sit down and hear the story of someone whose life could be produced into a major motion picture! That was the case, this week, as I sat down with Elko County Commissioner, Delmo Andreozzi. The word “fascinating” probably came out of my mouth a dozen times throughout our interview, and our conversation indeed was. So, without further ado, let me share what Mr. Andreozzi had to say.
“If I was going to say something that would be the title of “me” it would be I am the sum of my better parts: my faith, my family, my friends, my community and my life experiences.” Mr. Andreozzi kicked off our talk by stating. “Both my mom and dad are deaf, so my first language was in fact sign language. I didn’t even know how to really talk for a while because my first language was sign language. My dad was born in a place called Alazon, which was between Deeth and Wells. His dad was a railroad section farmer. Alazon doesn’t even exist anymore; it’s been swallowed up by the sagebrush. He was very independent and loved Elko county. My mom was born in Utah; she was always very much taken care of by her family. In those days, when people had disabilities they were sent to special schools; they weren’t integrated into the school system like they are these days. So, both my folks went to the Ogden School for the Deaf and Blind in Ogden, Utah. My father hated it. It was like being in a reformatory; he couldn’t leave. He couldn’t do anything, and my mom was frightened and scared. They were two completely different personalities. Their relationship started when they met on a blind date, hit it off, and my adventurous dad decided to settle down finally. They got married and exactly one year later, three hundred sixty-five days to the T, I was born. Everything was going along well; my dad worked as a cobbler (someone who works on shoes), and he was an expert. People brought shoes to him from all over the place. However, between the leather dust and carrying bad debt, he ended up closing up that job and became a mechanic for the state of Nevada. He could tune an engine just by watching the water vibrate in a glass.
“One day, my dad was at work at the state shop changing a tire, and the nut that holds the tire on the machine blew off and hit him in the head. So, he had a massive head injury; he was in a coma, and they didn’t expect him to live. I remember my mom asking me to check with the doctors to see what was going on; they said he had 50/50 chance of living, but if he lives he would probably be a vegetable. I was five years old at the time and had no idea what that meant; would he be corn? Despite all of that, miraculously he lived! However, he lived the rest of his life with significant brain damage. This community, which loved my family so much, had fundraisers up the wazoo; they raised enough money to pay off our house! However, my mom was raised so sheltered and was never really super educated, so at the age of seven, I became the little adult.”
Wow, what an eventful childhood. How did all of this affect you as you continued to grow and mature? “We were very poor, so I started selling newspapers to put money on the table. I scrounged up enough money to buy twenty-five newspapers (they cost seven cents a piece, and I could sell them for fifteen cents a piece). The first day I went out and did not make my money back. So, I got together enough money to go back out again. Now, all the other newspaper salesmen had “turf,” and this one kid came up to me and told me he was going to give me a piece of his turf. He gave me the Commercial Hotel; that was established as my turf. Eventually, I got to the point where I was selling three hundred and twenty-five papers a day in a town of five thousand people six days a week. In those days, that was a lot of money! I had assumed this role as a father figure in my household. Down the road, we eventually did get a settlement from the accident, and I didn’t need to work as much anymore.”
“When I was fourteen years old, I was asleep in my house and woke up to a big crash coming from outside. I didn’t know what it was. I thought it could be dog knocking over a trash can, so I didn’t pay too much attention to it. However, my sister came in and told me that there was someone out there. I looked out the window, and it was big, giant of a man, and he was trying to break into our house. He had a big rock, and he was trying to beat the front door knob off. So, I did the only thing I knew how to do, I grabbed my dad’s rifle, I loaded it, and I stood in the living room with the cocked gun pointing at the front door. I was prepared to shoot that person. However, pretty soon the noise stopped and not long after the cops arrived. After that happened, I got violently sick. So, the next part of my life became all about taking care of my family; I didn’t really care about school. I took that rifle and walked up and down the halls of my house every night and during the day. When I was supposed to be at school, I was sleeping. I got to the point where I was failing school…I didn’t care. My priority was my family.”
“A friend of mine encouraged me to try out for the Choraliers. I was suspicious about it but was always told I had a gift for singing, despite growing up in a deaf house. We never listened to music; we didn’t even have a doorbell. I tried out, made the group and flourished. The Choraliers helped me express myself through the musical gifts God had given me and express myself as a human being. So, I graduated high school with a full music scholarship to The University of Reno. I went there for a year…the first time I was wasn’t a little adult, which lead to a lot of “social fun.” However, it was very difficult on my family for me to be away, so I decided to come back and work for the City.”
“I started at the very bottom at the landfill as an operator. I worked for the street department, park department, golf course, I did them all. Eventually, I worked my way up through the ranks to become the assistant city manager. I had been encouraged to run for office for a long time. I thought about it; prayed about it and decided to run. I was elected, but I never wanted to have a big head. I just wanted to do the best that I can. Before I was sworn in I went to my church and went to the cemetery where my dad and my sister (who had passed from leukemia at the age of thirty-one) were at rest; I asked God not necessarily to help me be right all the time but to have the courage always to do what I thought was right.”
Again, your story is fascinating, Delmo. Where do you think your heart for our area is with your journey in mind? “Throughout that whole time, I was always very involved with the community and giving back. Volunteerism and people are what makes a community a home; that’s the essence of what I believe. I’ve always just had this deep love for Elko and Elko County. I’ve never been able to leave, outside of that one year when I went to college. I am so invested here, and I believe the community is invested in me. I remember growing up here and listening to people say that Elko was in the middle of nowhere. No! Elko is in the middle of everything! It’s the center of opportunity! I absolutely believe that. Elko is in an exciting time in our evolution here. Many things are very positive here. That doesn’t mean there aren’t areas for improvement, but there’s a lot of things to look around and be extremely grateful for in this community. I think there’s real authenticity here; people are real. What you see is what you get. I bleed this community, and I appreciate and value the confidence and trust I have from so many people around here. I don’t take any of that lightly or for granted. I wake up every day feeling blessed.”
Great words! I’m thankful we have someone with this thinking placing his fingerprints on our town. Anything else you’ve been thinking about, Delmo, as we bring this conversation to a close? “I want to thank you (Anthony) for this day because I haven’t really stopped to think about this (his story and experiences) in a long time, and I think it’s important. In fact, the other day, I made a list of county objectives and today after preparing for this interview; I went back to those notes remembering sometimes we need to look back to recognize our accomplishments, learn from our past, and use both those things to help guide us where we’re going.”
Thank you, Delmo! That’s what Anthony Around Town is all about! Not only sharing the stories of locals with their peers but also reminding us of the significance of slowing down and thinking about our journeys and how impactful they are to ourselves and our community!
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See you around, Elko!