“My father was a very giving person. He was also very active in the community. Giving and being charitable was an important part of our family life. We learned it at a very young age just from being around the dinner table. We always had more people eating at our dinner table every Sunday night than I could count,” remembers Anthony Eaderesto, president of Rico’s Clothing in Center Moriches.
Eaderesto’s father, Americo, best known as Rico, was born in 1916 in New Haven, CT while his mother was visiting family in the United States. “When he was two years old,” said Eaderesto, “he returned home to the family farm which was just outside of Naples, Italy. One of 13 children, my grandfather told him, ‘You’re not going to be a farmer, you’re going to be a tailor.’ So, at nine years old, he was sent to school to be a tailor. He stayed in Italy until he was 16 and then, in 1932, he came to the States with three dollars in his pocket and stayed with his aunts and cousins in Connecticut. He worked at a few different jobs and worked in a dry cleaners but each job he had kept him around the clothing business.”
At the start of World War II, Rico enlisted and was stationed in Camp Upton, where the Brookhaven National Laboratory is now located. “He was in charge of handing out the uniforms because he knew about clothing and sizing,” Eaderesto said. “He was in the service for seven years and in 1941 he met my mother, Josephine, at a USO dance. They got married in 1942. My mother was born in 1920 in Center Moriches, where she lived her whole life. Her mother, Marie Cherone, was born in Center Moriches in 1898 where she grew up as well.”
Eaderesto, one of six children, said his father was a hardworking man. “After the war, he went to work at a dry cleaners in Patchogue and saved his money. In 1954, he bought the building next door, which used to be a movie theater. He started a dry cleaners and he set up a concession stand and put suits on the little stand to sell. He would also go out to the East End, Greenport and Montauk, and go door-to-door and do ‘dollar down, dollar a week’ out of a truck with my brothers. He’d go into the city on Sundays and buy the suits, clean them, and fix them because most of them were used. And that’s how it really all started. Then, in 1962, the first real storefront for Rico’s Clothing opened.”
“Even though my dad worked 16-hour days, I knew as a kid that I’d get to see him and he’d be home on Sundays,” Eaderesto said. “Sundays were our family days. We would rest, eat, play ball, eat some more, and just relax as a family. My father would sit at the head of the table. I looked up to him. I knew I wanted to have a family and be able to sit at the head of the table with my own family and children and grandchildren. We’ve kept the traditions in the family. It’s really important to us.”
Married since 1984, he and his wife, Lisa have four children, Amanda, Rico, Alexa, and Adrianna and have two grandchildren, with one on the way. However, Eaderesto sees the store’s staff members as part of his extended family. His son, Rico, has been working in the store since he was 16. Many of the staff members have been there for more than two decades, with one worker, Pat Mondi, being with the store for 35 years.
Eaderesto strives to continue family traditions, live up to his father’s standards, and continue his father’s work and generosity within the community. “Everyone knew my father,” Eaderesto said. “I was told that one day my father was in the store and saw these three young African American teenagers walk by in just short sleeve t-shirts and it was very cold outside. He told one of his helpers to go get the boys and bring them in. A shipment of quilted jackets had just come in and were being unboxed. He took a few of the jackets out, put them on the boys, and sent them on their way.”
Rico also organized the first fundraising golf outing at Rock Hill Country Club to help local people in need. Upon his passing in 1985, the family started the Rico Memorial Foundation to honor his memory. Through the foundation, the Eaderestos have continued the golf outing, Eaderesto noted.
“We’ve been able to give monies to 10 different local food pantries, helped families or individuals who have had some sort of catastrophic event happen in their lives, given college scholarships, donated to the Lustgarten Foundation, Hope House Ministries, the Heart Association, and even drama clubs and local sports. Basically, anywhere we see a need.”