Profile page for Joseph DaMato, 2019 Hall of Fame Honoree

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Joseph D'Amato

portrait of Joseph D'Amato

Joe D’Amato’s 90 years spanned our history from our earliest days in the 1920s. In 1929, D’Amato’s Contracting Company got the contract to build the main road into Rockaway Point, and from there to Breezy Point. Joe D’Amato’s 1968 obituary related that road inspectors from New York City marveled that 38 years later the cement road, notwithstanding its underlying sand base and regular truck and automobile traffic, still maintained its structural integrity and was unblemished by potholes. With a road, of course, came cars, and that called for a service station – built by D’Amato Contracting Company outside of Roxbury, a building which still exists, essentially unchanged, today.

Over time, D’Amato Contracting Company replaced the boardwalks with cement walkways, a multi-year project that expanded as the community expanded. As early summer shacks evolved into more modern bungalows mid-century, concerns for flooding and physical stability created a new venture for D’Amato Contracting – replacing wooden pilings with concrete foundations and often raising bungalows in the process. D’Amato Contracting also undertook the challenging task of moving entire blocks of homes when old Rockaway Point east of Reid Avenue was sold during the tense era leading to the formation of the Coop. As bungalows were relocated into the surviving part of the community, creeks and soggy acres had to be filled in. The Breezy Point Surf Club, was also undergoing its own development as the new club, cabana-topped pilings reaching towards the expanding beach. And, of course, the new club wanted modern amenities — a pool, cafeteria, dancehall, and connecting walkways to match its fancier look — which took a lot of concrete. Here, too, D’Amato Contracting left a very permanent mark.

Physically adding to the community wasn’t the totality of Joe D’Amato’s services though – on an almost daily basis, stuff had to be removed, trash and household waste. While not the most glamorous of jobs, the fact cannot be ducked that it is an unavoidable responsibility, which Joe D’Amato also performed for 47 years before the Coop, with his retirement, provided for our own refuse removal operated by the field department. If we could peer back to the 1920s and 1930s, we would see a younger Joe D’Amato at the head of a team of two large work horses tugging a log clearing debris from the beaches and sand lanes