The Unofficial Mayor of Middletown
Meet Steve DeVito! He has been working at the New Monmouth Post Office for over 30 years. While I was there interviewing Steve one afternoon, two of his regular customers walked in — Steve greets them cheerfully by name and they shout back with an enthusiastic, “Hi, Steve, how are you doing today!.” I get the feeling that Steve knows the name of almost everyone who enters that Post Office….and they know him! They always know that he will brighten their day with a wide smile and a hearty greeting. When not working at the Post Office, he is a professional guitarist.
A Rock Star in Our Midst
Music has been Steve’s passion since all his life. After graduating high school in 1982, he started a band, The Secret Syde. They cut a couple of records and hit the road. He started working for the post office after that, but always playing music along the way. Steve plays guitar, mandolin and lap steel. When I asked if he also sings he said, “I sing backups. I never wanted to be that guy, you know, I wanted to be the ‘but that guy‘ — that guy is great, but that guy over there!! — that’s me!”
He currently plays with the Steve Reilly Band. They play rock, blues and country. They play locally — so check out the link and follow them on Facebook for their next gig.
Just for Fun:
Q: What are your favorite bands
A: “My inspiration were the British bands — the Yardbirds, Led Zepplin, The Rolling Stones. I love the 60’s alternative pop stuff — The Chocolate Watchband or The Standells. They were referred to as the 60’s “garage bands.” I love the Smithereens are another one of my favorite local bands.
Q: What are the two characteristics that made you successful?
A: “Things that my dad and my mom and my brother, Chris taught me. My younger brother Chris, he’s my hero, and he’s disabled. He’s amazing, his philosophy of life is that he loves everybody and tries to be a really good person. He would look you right in the eye and say, “You can’t have good days all the time!” — and he’s right. My dad, Auggie was a real charitable person, he started a basketball program for handicapped back in the 70’s and it is still going strong after his passing.” He was a very, very generous man — he was larger than life.
Q: What is your favorite restaurant in Middletown, and what do you love there?
A: “That’s a tough question because there’s so many great ones around here. I used to play every Friday at Salt Creek, I love it there. I like Bahrs Landing in Highlands, the Dublin House and Matata Asian Cuisine is phenomenal. I also love Livoti’s, they do catering and provide free catering for veterans’ last Thanksgiving.
Q: How long have you lived or worked in Middletown?
A: “I grew up in Long Branch and moved to Middletown where I lived for 15 years. I am now in Toms River. But I’ve been in this post office for 32 years.”
Q: Who is the most interesting person you’ve met here in Middletown?
A: “I find something interesting in everyone. But I would say David Sheinhartz. He’s a World War II veteran. He is 95! He and his wife, Sibby, still come in to the Post Office. He is amazing!
And a gentleman by the name of Tom Gallagher, who has since passed away and was one of the first people in the Peace Corp. This man literally stopped the war when he was in the Peace Corp. Both of these men are the most interesting people I have ever met. Whenever you would speak to them, it’s gripping and you hang on every word.”
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?
A: “Italy or Ireland.”
Q: What is your favorite movie?
A: “There’s too many good ones. I love Forrest Gump and love Castaway. But when I was a kid, I was fascinated with Billy Jack. There’s a couple of great lines in that movie.”
Q: What advice would you give people?
A: “Let somebody go in front of you in Shoprite! Just try to courteous and to be nice. Hold the door for somebody, give that person the extra dollar they need so they can go buy a cup of coffee. I was think about my brother, Chris and ask myself, ‘What would he do?’ ”
Q: What is something on your bucket list?
A: “Playing a concert at Madison’s Garden would be great.”
Q: What current or former local business makes you the most nostalgic about Middletown?
A: “I know they are a chain, but I miss the Friendly’s on Rte. 35. They used to have a busboy named Jerry. He is special. He lives in a group home up the street and I still see him every so often. But whenever I went into Friendly’s, Jerry was there and he would say ‘hi’ and he knows everybody’s name. I miss Friendly’s because of Jerry.”
Q: What is your favorite thing or something unique about Middletown?
A: “Definitely the Clown.”
Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?
A: “I would probably be still working in 5 years because I’m young. In 10 years, I hope to still be playing music.”
Q: What is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
A: “A lot of people don’t know that I tour with my band all over the place.”