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He Lost His Temper and Found His Voice (1943)

This next story is one that took place in Schenectady, NY, which is not far from my home.  Probably about a twenty-five-minute drive away.

It involves a young man named Mario Mastrianni, who was injured while fighting in Tunisia during World War II.  During a devastating bomb explosion, Mastrianni was violently thrown to the ground. When stretcher-bearers came to his aid, he found himself unable to speak—a result of the severe concussion that rendered him voiceless.

At the hospital, Army physicians attempted various methods to restore his ability to speak, but their efforts proved unsuccessful. As a result, Mastrianni was sent back home to Schenectady. Specialists were brought in to examine Mario, but the consensus remained disheartening, and doctors were unable to restore his speech.

Resigned to his fate, he embarked on a journey of learning sign language and secured employment at an electrical plant, communicating with his coworkers using pen and paper.

Then, in July 1943, Mastrianni got into a heated argument with his 16-year-old brother, Tony.  The young man was contemplating abandoning his education to enter the workforce. Overwhelmed by frustration and anger, Mario suddenly blurted out the words, “All right, you support the family, and I’ll stay home and have fun.”

Did you hear what I just heard?  Tony certainly did and he was jumping for joy.  But it took his brother Mario a full minute to comprehend the significance of his utterance—the first spoken words he had articulated in nearly a year and a half. This unexpected turn of events transformed what began as a bitter quarrel into a momentous celebration, witnessed by the entire family and neighbors.

“I just got so boiling mad I had to talk. I guess,” explained Mario. “I had quit school and I didn’t want Tony to make the same mistake.”

Medical professionals were perplexed by Mastrianni’s sudden restoration of speech. All they can surmise is that the veteran’s intense anger somehow triggered a response within his previously paralyzed throat muscles, leading to this miraculous outcome. I did a quick check, and it appears that Mario remained a lifelong Schenectady resident.  He passed away on February 25, 2004, and is buried in Schenectady Memorial Park.  He was 84 years old. His tombstone shows that he was awarded both the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart.

Grave marker for Mario P. Mastrianni. Find-A-Grave image.
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