I didn’t start out as Dr. Joe. Oddly enough, I started out as a child. It was a long winding road in my evolution. Some paths were good and some not. But nevertheless one lives life in a totality of circumstance and experience. I guess you get what you get but really… you get what you reap!
Regardless of circumstance and experience it is the attitude that we bring to life that makes all the difference. I learned a long time ago, “Your attitude affects your attitude.”
I was born on April 12, 1947 in a small coal town in Western Pennsylvania… Uniontown.
By the way, my real name ain’t Dr. Joe. It’s Joseph Mark Puglia. I was named after Joe Alexander, my uncle and idol.
I lived in Uniontown for the first month of my life. My father hoped for greener pastures so the family moved to New York City. We lived in an apartment building which oddly enough my grandmother owned. The address is 715 East 233rd St. Bronx, New York City. We were on the corner of 233rd and White Plains Road. My father bought an Italian Deli and that would be our family business. I had a very happy childhood!
I went to Saint Frances of Rome elementary school on Byron Ave in the Bronx. I became a great student. Other then the C’s and D’s I received in conduct, courtesy, and obeys promptly I received all A’s throughout my elementary career. I was actually the third smartest in the entire school. I was probably more of a smart ass then actually smart.
My life began to change when I entered the 8th grade. There, I met my nemesis, Sister Mary Dolores. She tamed the wildness in me and brought hell down from heaven more then once as she attempted to rehabilitate me. But one thing I learned under her care is that I can be anything I want to and that having a good attitude is supreme.
After I graduated from the 8th grade I attended my dream High School, Mount Saint Michael High School. My heart was in to playing sports. However I was indentured servant so I worked for my dad in the Deli. Each mourning I would rise at 6 AM and walk to the Deli by 7. Once there I would pack the bottles, milk, and bread. I would clean the store and walk a mile to school by 8 AM. My favorite subject in high school was Latin and English. I loved learning about the Romans and translating Caesar’s Gallic Wars. My English teacher, brother Raymond Landry changed my life. He introduced the world of literature to me, and I have never looked back.
In high school I boxed for the Police Athletic League. I was once a contender for the Golden Gloves but lost in the semifinals to a local rival.
Besides working at my father’s Deli I worked at Yankee Stadium, the Polo Grounds, and Shea Stadium. I was a vender. I sold anything and everything, from scorecards to hot dogs. When I turn 18 I became a fabled beer vender.
I graduated from Mount Saint Michael High School in 1965 and headed to the University of Dayton, Ohio. I loved my school and eventually I became the resident director of University Hall an all freshmen dorm.
I graduated from the University in 1969 and immediately joined the Marine Corps. After training I was commissioned a second lieutenant of Marines.