Cigars, Newspapers, and Rings is a coffee blend we created in honor of Leon's Grandpa Andrew Fontana for Father's Day. A man who enjoyed the simple pleasures in life, was a dedicated worker, and a nurturing father with an upbeat attitude no matter what. This blend is a celebration of all nurturing and tender fathers and father figures in this world. We want to also take a moment to celebrate black fathers and black mothers taking on double roles and the hard work they have to protect their children from a system that time and time again has told them they do not matter. We love you and see you.
Grandpa Fontana is the youngest boy on the bottom left.
Click here to order this special Father's Day blend and Father's Day Box Sets.
A note from Leon on where the name of this coffee comes from, Father's Day, Mom and Grandpa Andy.
As a kid, my mom was my mother and father figure. My biological father was a drunk and an abuser and thankfully my mom took us out of that situation at an early age. My mom is such a powerful force that we never missed the love, support, shelter that having a dad would have provided regardless of how scrappy our car or jeans were. I admire my mom so much, everything she did to keep us taken care of and setting us on a path for health, through all the challenges she faced.
I credit her raw single mom honest determination with so much of who I am, including my ability to be an entrepreneur.
She was more than enough, and yet as I grew and even today I sometimes think of what my life would have been like with a father. Over the years I have had a few men make a deep impact on me. One of them was Grandpa Andy Fontana. Grandpa was a good man. I can't think of one qualification to that statement. He worked diligently in a seemingly thankless job his whole life and every day when he came home from work as the country club locker room attendant at the Woodcrest Club in Syosset, NY, he was upbeat, coming in the door with that same Italian-American warm greeting, hollering "hi-ya" to the whole house, whoever might be there. I wish I had a recording of that sound.
Thinking about it now, I think Grandpa may have enjoyed his job at the Woodcrest Club more than we suspect. He'd show me the rings he had bought from his customers, black onyx, a diamond ring, a gold ring, valuing them, then later passing them on to family. Not too long before grandma died, I remember him telling me he wanted to learn Yiddish, having learned a little around the club. Somehow, Grandpa came home with curiosity and a good mood every day after his drive back to Smithtown. He'd get home from work, light up a cigar, and read the paper in his lazyboy chair. He was a gentle man who took care of his nails, was simply honest, and had a kind smile. I don't think I ever heard him shout. I spent a lot of time with Grandpa and Grandma until 1982 when Grandma died when I was 9. Grandpa then moved in with my mom, sister, and me for several months before moving to Florida. After that, I only saw him a good handful of times. In many ways, it's sad how so many of our families have spread so far apart over the last 50 years. Thinking about Grandpa, I wish the time I spent later on in college, then living in Europe, then later working to carve out a career hadn't drawn my attention so much away from family. This father's day, I'm thinking about Grandpa Andy, the smell of his cigars, thinking of his Black Onyx ring that I still have, and his diamond that is on Areli's wedding ring. Grandpa, I still like reading the paper over looking at the phone.
To fit in, Grandpa and many of his siblings were not allowed to speak Sicilian even though his mother didn't speak English. In my idealized version of what it means to be Italian, we learned the language of love, greetings, hugs, kisses and warmth from the Italian side, Grandpa, then my mother. In some ways, I love him more because I can see how much my mom loves and misses him. Thank you Grandpa Andy for being such a good man. When I think of you, I think of the words pride, work, kindness, honesty, and dignity, things we all need and deserve. We all miss you Grandpa and I am grateful that I have mom, the best father I have ever known.
I hope each of you, in drinking this coffee, will think of the people who have been father figures to you, who have nurtured and shaped you and reach out to acknowledge them on this special day and time.
Grandpa Andy on the left with Uncle Joe.
Note. I'd add Mom's picture, but she doesn't like her picture to be on the internet.