FROM MARCH 2013
I had the privilege of knowing Ray Romano for 25 years. His daughter brought me home to their house in the fall of 1988, after we had met in Avalon, NJ that summer. They lived in a big old three story twin house at the corner or Powell & Fornance Streets, across from Montgomery Hospital and around the corner from Sacred Heart Hospital, in Norristown. There were only two children left living in the house when I met him. The other seven kids had moved out and started their own families. I immediately felt at home. Ray and Cookie welcomed me with open arms. Having come from a small Irish family of five, it was hard to comprehend the craziness of an Italian family of eleven. I knew I was in for quite a ride when Dani told me she had two brothers named Steve and that I could meet her mother in another week when she got out of jail (she did a lot of time for protesting in front of abortion clinics on behalf of unborn children). I married into a more interesting version of the Brady Bunch. Ray had four children with his first wife, including a son named Steve, and after his wife’s death he married Gloria (aka Cookie) who also had a son named Steve from her first marriage. Five kids just weren’t enough. They decided four more would add a little spice to the situation. My wife was the 7th child. Most of this story was gathered second hand from listening to my father-in-law and various family members at gatherings throughout the years, so some of the details might not be exactly right.