Thomas D’Alessio was a well-loved neighbor and friend to people in Gowanus. He was also a veteran of the Normandy invasion of France during World War II and a person remembered for his good deeds and upbeat attitude.
D’Alessio was also known as “Tommy the Mayor” and loved to tell stories about his life, and buy ice cream for kids in the neighborhood. According to D’Alessio’s son, pop stayed optimistic even after he was run over by a drunk driver, an even which left him with damaged legs. He always put a positive spin on stories about the Great Depression and the history of the Brooklyn that he loved.
“The people on his block got a much better appreciation of the neighborhood through his stories” said his daughter Marie D’Alessio.
Mr. D’Alessio lived on Sackett Street for 91 years, until he died in 2008. Now his neighbors want to remember and honor him by renaming part of the street after him.
They have already petitioned the city for the renaming, but they are full of worry that a curious visitor passing through the street might decide to “Google” the new street name, and will be shocked to find that the street is named after a New Jersey sheriff who was caught and imprisoned after he spent campaign funds on real estate and vacations during the 1990s. Unfortunately, Googling the name “Thomas D’Alessio” brings up a different person than the Sackett Street neighbor and war vet. Due to the high news interest of the sheriff’s crimes, the New Jersey “Thomas D’Alessio” trumps the Brooklyn “Thomas D’Alessio” and comes out on top of the Google results. Making for much confusion, and embarrassment for the Gowanus neighbors and Brooklyn’s D’Alessio’s family, they are trying to resolve the dilemma.
One simple way to relieve the confusion is to make sure that the middle initial is included in the street sign. The petition to the city for the new street name requests that the street be called “Thomas A. D’Alessio Way.”
D’Alessio’s daughter believes this should resolve any internet confusion, especially since the jailed D’Alessio’s middle initial happens to be the letter ‘J’. Yes, that’s J for jail.
“People on the block will know it’s him” D’Alessio’s daughter said.