Interesting Letter


Interesting Letter
May 18, 2004

When I, Bob Meli, first started researching people on the Wall Unit, I sent a letter to
James La Barbera and he replied with general information on his service an then within the letter, he wrote about this incident of a Tom Meli dying of
spinal meningitis.
After telling my dad that the Tom Meli mentioned was his first cousin, it was Sal Meli’s brother who had died. My father told me that only his father, mother, and Sal Meli’s father and mother viewed the body privately because of the fear of the
spinal meningitis disease.

            My dad and Sal both were not completely convinced he was properly diagnosed and may have died of complications after having fallen on ice and hitting his head a month or so before.  He complained about his head hurting, but was never checked out and then he passed suddenly.  

Here is the edited letter below from James La Barbera telling the events only days before of Sal Meli’s brother, Tom Meli’s death:

            I was born in New Milford and lived there about 29 years. 
My brother still lives in
New Milford.  He was the mayor some years ago and did much for the community while in office.  The ball field was named in his honor.
            I graduated from Hackensack High School in 1945.  One of my friends and classmates was named Tom Meli, who could have been related to your father.  I would like to relate an incident of what happened to my friend and classmate
Tom Meli.  As I was going to lunch on a Friday afternoon, Tom approached me and told me he had gone to the nurses office and said he went to the head of the line and told the nurse that he didn’t feel good.  She told him he had to go to the end of the line waiting to see her.  He walked out of school and then told me he was going home.  On Monday morning at school, we found out that Tom had died over the weekend and had spinal meningitis. The same thing happened to a girl in my class named Mildred Sparling not long after.

Thank you for your participation in this project.


James C. La Barbera