Joseph Piskadlo

Joseph Piskadlo
World Trade Center

Hello, Is Joe There?

That old question: Should she call him? Rosemary was only 19. Joe was 21.

Here's how she decided:

Money? You're kidding. Joseph Piskadlo was an apprentice carpenter. But to a German-born Polish-Czech Brooklyn girl, no problem. He would develop. She was sure.

Values? Now you're talking. Mr. Piskadlo grew up in an immigrant family himself, in St. Stanislaus parish on East Seventh Street in Manhattan (where his mother, Maria, still lives). Born in Zagan, Poland. Roman Catholic and solid as an oak.

Future? Mr. Piskadlo was already loyal to the carpenters' union (later, he would work at ABM Industries, as a shop carpenter in the north tower). She figured this man could provide for — who knows, three kids? — through college. He could set down a new floor in her family's Poconos retreat.

He could build furniture (at their North Arlington, N.J., home, as fate had it). They'd go to Pulaski Day parades. And every Easter, she figured, they would keep to the tradition of blessing Easter baskets. She had a feeling.

They had been paired up at a wedding in September 1974, as usher and bridesmaid. A month later, she had her costume ready for a Halloween party: the krakowianka, a classic dancing outfit of white apron, black vest, sequins and ribbons of red, yellow and blue, everything set — but a date.

Call him and — who knows? — Rosemary Mlcoch might wind up as Mrs. Piskadlo. Might. Just might. That feeling. She called. "The rest," said Mrs. Piskadlo, "is history."

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on September 8, 2002.

Joseph Piskadlo, 48, survived '93 bomb

When Rosemary Piskadlo mentioned in passing one day about five years ago that she needed a new sewing box, she wasn't even sure her husband, Joseph, was listening. She made the comment once, and that was that. There was no more talk of a sewing box.

But on the next Valentine's Day, Mr. Piskadlo, a carpenter by trade, surprised her with one he had made in secret in his workshop at the World Trade Center. It was a beauty -- a rich, lustrous wooden box with enough frills and flourishes to pass for a small chest of drawers.

"You can't move around our house without seeing something beautiful he made with his own hands," Rosemary Piskadlo said. "But the sewing box really touched me. It wasn't something I was expecting. It's just something he heard me mention once."

Mr. Piskadlo, 48, of North Arlington was working in the South Tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. His foreman had sent him to do a job on the 107th floor. He had reached the 103rd by the time the first hijacked plane slammed into the North Tower. He had radio contact with his foreman after the collision, but has not been heard from since.

Born in Poland, Mr. Piskadlo moved to the United States when he was 9, settling on Manhattan's Lower East Side. In 1976, he married Rosemary Mlcoch, whom he had met at the wedding of a mutual friend. They lived in Queens before moving to North Arlington 14 years ago.

Mr. Piskadlo was a member of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters Local No. 157 of New York and had been employed by American Building Maintenance Industries for 30 years. He had worked at the World Trade Center for the past 10 years.

He was in the building in 1993, when a car bomb was set off by terrorists in the parking garage. The explosion was very near the locker room where he and other carpenters would have been if they hadn't been held up in a meeting that day, Rosemary Piskadlo said. He called home about 90 minutes after the explosion that day to let his wife know he was okay and to warn her that she wouldn't see him for a while. He spent the next four days in the city helping to repair the building.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Piskadlo is survived by three children -- Brian Joseph, 23; Laura Maria, 21, and Steven John, 18, all of North Arlington; and two brothers, John of Lyndhurst and Edward of Virginia.

"He had a fabulous sense of humor," Rosemary Piskadlo said. "He had a quick wit and a one-liner for everything. There wasn't a day went by that we didn't have a good laugh together."

Profile by Tom Feeney published in THE STAR-LEDGER.

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