Vinci Paul Soddu left his birthplace of Brooklyn, New York when he was ten years old to go to Hopewell, Virginia where a childhood friend of his father's had moved to years before and had acquired several pieces of real estate. We moved into a large apartment behind a large empty store. Next door was a ten-car garage, and all the aforementioned property was in dire need of my father's talent of carpentry and general handyman services. We opened a confectionery in the store and a carpentry and cabinet shop in the ten-car garage. Elementary school was only a half a block away. The school also afforded the entire neighborhood with an excellent baseball and football field and a gathering place for all the local children. Life was fun but after a few years it became boring after life in the big city. At sixteen I quit high school and I decided I wanted some excitement in my life, so Miami Beach, Florida here I come!
My first job was behind a lunch counter in a drug store on Collins Avenue. I was happy with the excitement of the beach and the people who were on vacation, but I yearned for a better paying job with a little more prestige so I applied for a job as assistant manager at the busiest drive-in restaurant on the 79th Street causeway that links Miami Beach to Miami.
After two years at Colonel Jim's Drive-in as the assistant manager I met my future wife, Marion Lee, who was from a small town in South Carolina. We eloped and went back to Hopewell where I worked at the trade my father had taught me, carpentry and general construction. We had begun a family; we had our first child, Angela, followed by Mario Vinci, my first and only son. Uncle Sam chose
this inopportune time to send me my greetings.
The year was 1955 and we were at war in Korea. I spent the next two years in Colorado Springs as a ski trooper in mountain-cold weather troops. I enjoyed everything about the Army except being away from my wife and children.
After my discharge on January 16, 1957 we moved to Baltimore, Maryland and I went to work for General Motors, Chevrolet Division, working on an assembly line. The Army taught me the value of an education and with the aid of the GI Bill I enrolled at the University of Baltimore. I worked full time for GM and I attended college full time for three and a half years. I never missed a day of work or school.
As a result of my education I was promoted to foreman with a considerable raise in pay. The GI Bill would only