Lock port. For some a place a place to settle. Start a family. Careers. For others, it is a place of departure.
Gone from, but never forgotten.
Lou Rosati, a retired pathology doctor, resides in Mesa, Arizona, but has never forgotten the Lockport he knew in the 1940s and 1950s. He has written two non-fiction books about Lockport and is preparing currently a novel featuring a fictional Lockport as a new home for a much-beleaguered Italian immigrant.
Rosati isn’t Arizona’s only transplant, however. He’s next door to another Lockport native who left town for the heat of Phoenix, but also can’t get Lockport out of his head.
“I was working in Buffalo, I had just graduated from Buff State, and my dad was living in Arizona and invited me over for summer vacation,” Joe DiPastena said. “I had just had one of those long winters, like the one you have now, and it was blue skies…I came back, gave my two weeks notice and came back and I’ve been here for over 30 years. “
After visiting his hometown again in 2019, DiPastena was inspired to create 12 posters about Lockport.
And the rest is history.
DiPastena said Rosati contacted him and purchased one of his posters. Then, when Rosati finished writing his book A Boy in Abruzzo, he contacted DiPastena again to do the cover.
Abruzzo is a region of Italy, where the family line of Rosati and DiPastena originated.
“As far as this story is concerned, it is based on a real event (during World War II),” Rosati said. “…It begins in the last three months of 1943 in Abruzzo and resumes 10 years later in the United States and Canada. … It is a novel in three parts. … There are just a lot of memories and ideas that I mixed up. … Italian culture, food.
Other links between the two Lockportians have also been discovered. Rosati had known DiPastena’s older brother, Floyd, and were best friends from high school. He said it was a good time to be alive and in the city.
“Lockport has been phenomenal,” Rosati said. “When I was a kid, it was wonderful. Downtown was the heart of the city. If you wanted to see someone, you just had to walk down Main Street. When I was growing up, it was first the West End, then we moved to Niagara Street and that’s where I spent all my middle school and high school years.
Rosati thought DiPastena captured what he remembered about his hometown while writing his novel, he knew he was the one for him.
“I liked his work when I saw him in the Union-Sun & Journal, that’s how I knew he was here,” Rosati said. “So I said, ‘Look at this! He captured some of the things we all remember! The iconic images of Lockport!’ and so I bought a poster based on that. … When I had this idea, I knew I had to do a cover for my book. I thought of Joe. I told him what it was about and he offered three or four options. … I like the cover because you look at the cover and it tells you what the story is about.
Rosati’s other books are called “Men of Steel” and “My Winning Season”. DiPastena artwork can be found at 705market.com.