When you stop by our store, you’ll notice we have set aside some space that we have called The Carmine Rossi Reading Room. If you’ve been to some of the big-box bookstores recently, you have probably seen people sitting in a similar space, sipping on a Frappuccino and pretending to read Dostoyevsky while listening to Tchaikovsky through their earbuds. Now, don’t get us wrong, if Russian literature and music are your thing, you’re more than welcome to enjoy them while sipping a specialty drink in our reading room. That being said, when we created The Carmine Rossi Reading Room, we had a wider vision in mind for how the space might be used. Our hope is that over time, this area will become a space where members of the community can meet for all kinds of reasons. In addition to serving as a traditional reading room, we also envision this as a meeting space for community organizations, business people, writing groups, students, book clubs, tutoring teams, and any other group who would find the space useful. Our hope is for the space to develop into what sociologists call a “third place,” which is briefly introduced here.
The Carmine Rossi Reading Room was named in memory and honor of the late Carmine Rossi (1914-1999). Carmine was the grandfather of the owner’s wife, and is the man after whom the owner’s second son is named. Carmine’s parents were first-generation immigrants who came to the United States from Abruzzo, Italy, in the early years of the 20th century. After arriving in the States, Carmine’s parents settled in Aliquippa, where they worked as farmers and raised their growing family of seven children. In many ways, Carmine typified the mythic immigrant mentality that is often associated with “the greatest generation.” Carmine was raised in Aliquippa and grew up helping on the family farm. Though he quit school around 7th grade, Carmine possessed an uncanny desire and ability to learn and create.
As a young man, Carmine Rossi took a job working on the P&LE Railroad, where he worked for nearly 10 years as a member of the track gang, a group of laborers responsible for laying and maintaining an extensive system of rails. In 1941, Carmine began work at J&L Steel, where he spent 35 years as a seamless tube thread operator. While at J&L, Carmine was a firsthand observer to some of Aliquippa’s most iconic moments, among them the formation of America’s first unions and President John F. Kennedy’s ride down Franklin Avenue. Even while working full time at the steel mills, Carmine took on many odd jobs throughout the community, most of which involved home renovation and building projects. Along the way, Carmine managed to save enough money to build his family’s home, which he did with his own hands and without the help of a single power tool. Along with his dedicated wife Erma, Carmine raised four boys, each of whom learned in his own way to value and emulate Carmine’s resourceful, creative, and tenacious work ethic.
Carmine’s third son, Clarence Rossi, is the father-in-law of the owner of eQuip Books. Clarence spent much of his young life working throughout Aliquippa alongside his father, during which time Clarence was first introduced to many of the skills and dispositions that we hope to exemplify and transmit at eQuip Books. The Carmine Rossi Reading Room was named in honor of Clarence’s father as a way of thanking Clarence for the tireless and creative work he did renovating the building in which eQuip Books is housed. After working forty or more hours per week at his job as a manufacturing engineer at Eaton Corporation, Clarence spent long nights and weekends working to ready the store for opening. Over the course of the fifteen-month renovation, Clarence logged somewhere around 1000 hours working on the building, devoting untold personal resources as well as his considerable talents to the completion of the space. It is in Carmine’s honor and in thanks to Clarence that we have created The Carmine Rossi Reading Room.