When he was just a boy growing up in Italy, Mario Trimoglie said his father told him that in America, dreams could come true.
And at 14, Trimoglie took that advice with him as his family emigrated to Queens from Italy in the early 1960s.
Even though he stopped attending school in the fifth-grade to help his family pay the bills, Trimoglie taught himself to read and write with the dream of one day becoming a professional author. Nearly 50 years later, the now 63-year-old Trimoglie lives in a humble Flushing home with three published books and at least another three in the works.
“Against all odds, my dream came true,” said Trimoglie, a retired Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus driver. “This kind of story can only happen in America.”
Over the last 20 years, Trimoglie would drive his city bus throughout Queens and along Bell Boulevard in Bayside, relieving the daily stress of the job by dreaming up stories. The more he worked, the more stories he would create, until he eventually started jotting them down.
Trimoglie has had three children’s books published, including one entitled “The Story of Ocos: King of the Sky, Master of the Water,” which focuses on Ocos the duck, who wishes he were an eagle. What seems to be a simple and friendly story on the surface, Trimoglie said, actually encapsulates a deeper message of courage, love and bravery.
“Like Ocos, we are who we are,” Trimoglie said. “We can all be heroes.”
Trimoglie’s books are now available at Barnes & Noble and on amazon.com, where more than half of his profits are donated to both the St. Jude’s Hospital for Children and UNICEF to benefit children in need.
But getting to that point of seeing his work published was a long and testing road, Trimoglie said. After teaching himself to read and write, Trimoglie would create several drafts of his work and revise them with help from an English tutor. He then researched hundreds of children’s book publishers and mailed his work out to many of them, sometimes as many as 30 at a time — mostly to no avail.
But with patience and persistence, Trimoglie said his dreams had come true, and he wanted the world to know.
“People do not dream enough today. They wish,” Trimoglie said. “No wishes come true without magic. But dreams do come true. Martin Luther King Jr. never said, ‘I have a wish.’”
Looking forward, Trimoglie said he still had one more dream he would like to see come to fruition: a game show he has created and started pitching to major networks in which the contestants are viewers watching at home, who call in by telephone.
The author also said he would continue writing and working to act as an example to any naysayers who — amid a heated political election cycle as the country prepares to decide its next president — might have doubts about America’s opportunity.
“America has never changed. People have changed,” Trimoglie said. “People have risked their lives to come here, and still do. America still offers you your dreams as long as you do not give up on them.”
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.