The family tree grew in Queens

By Philip Newman

Owning a house with a tree on the property thrilled Mario Cuomo’s immigrant father and inspired the late governor to write a book for children about the peril facing a tall blue spruce in their front yard.

“Papa told Mario that having a house with a yard and a tree to call your own was his very special dream,” Cuomo wrote in “The Blue Spruce. ““Papa was excited about moving his family to their new home, after living behind the grocery store (in South Jamaica) for many years and sharing his dream with them,”

Cuomo added, “He told us we would have an entire house for ourselves.”

The former governor said he and his father loved the blue spruce that grew in the front yard of their new house in Holliswood. The tree flourished.

But one evening a windstorm emerged from black clouds and Mario watched anxiously as the blue spruce fought against the winds.

Finally, the tree fell, uprooted by the destructive winds.

Papa was undaunted by this threat to his dream.

“Get the rope,” Papa told Mario and other family members as he prepared to rescue the tree. “She’s gonna grow again.”

The family worked to dig a new hole and uprighted the blue spruce.

Mario Cuomo occasionally told the story, reproducing his father’s Italian accent, on his Sunday evening radio show during which the then-governor answered questions from listeners.

After telling the blue spruce story on one radio show, Cuomo said, “I drove by the house in Holliswood a couple of weeks ago and the blue spruce must be nearly 60 feet high.”

The book received widespread acclaim from many reviewers, including one who described “The Blue Spruce” for children 6 to 8, as “a story that children will love and parents will love reading.”

Others called it a story about the value of hard work, belief in your dreams and the importance of persistence.

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