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Remembering Dino: The life and times of a Schenectady character

Remembering Dino: The life and times of a Schenectady character

Elvis fan and genial hipster mourned
Remembering Dino: The life and times of a Schenectady character
Joe Glickman, left, and his longtime friend Dino De Cherro pose during a Halloween party at J.J. Rafferty's in Latham in 2014.
Photographer: Joe Glickman

For Albany's Joe Glickman, it's now or never to share memories of Dino De Cherro.

Glickman is sharing now: He's remembering De Cherro, a longtime friend who passed away New Year's Eve at age 76.

Longtime Schenectadians also may remember De Cherro, a genial hipster and longtime city resident who loved the music and movies of Elvis Presley. De Cherro, who took every chance to show off his fashion and dance styles, discussed his philosophies of life and the world in small advertising "boxes" that appeared in the pages of The Daily Gazette.

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The De Cherro-recorded song, "It's Only Me," was Dino's theme song, as his friends all knew. The title also showed up in De Cherro's ad boxes.

Funeral services for De Cherro will be held Saturday from 1 until 3 p.m. at New Comer Cremations & Funerals, 343 New Karner Road, Colonie. A celebration of De Cherro's life will follow.

Glickman recently posted a lengthy tribute to De Cherro on social media platform Facebook. He has given The Gazette permission to run portions of the salute. The newspaper has added the subheads -- titles from Presley songs -- that precede each excerpt.

Glickman said De Cherro made regular appearances at concerts and dance events around the Capital Region.

Born in Albany to Charles and Faye Puglise, De Cherro attended Bishop Gibbons High School and worked as a mail room clerk for the state Department of Labor during the 1970s.

Glickman said De Cherro later worked various odd jobs while writing the humor columns that appeared in The Gazette.

"Dino always dressed to impress, sporting a pompadour hairdo, elaborate flashy jackets, sometimes adorned with sequins, and over-sized, custom-made rings," Glickman wrote. "His look was a throwback to a lost era gone by, like a living time capsule. That, coupled with his quirky personality, left Dino frequently misunderstood and labeled 'eccentric' by some that encountered him, but embraced by most for his warm, respectful and welcoming demeanor."

Excerpts from Glickman's tribute follow:

'A Little Less Conversation'

"Dino was highly intelligent and loved to engage in good conversation. And no subject was too taboo. Sitting at a nearby diner booth, you could expect to hear Dino conversing about anything ranging from current affairs, religion and politics to aliens, subatomic particles and finding a cure for the aging process. He would even take on an opposing viewpoint, if just for the sake of good debate."

'Don't Be Cruel'

"He disliked being addressed as 'Mister' or 'Sir,' claiming it made him feel old. When asked what his age was, he would cleverly dodge the question like a polished politician."

'Can't Help Falling in Love'

"'An affliction for beautiful girls' was how Dino once described his 'condition' to me. He never turned down the chance at stealing a few kisses with his suitors or gal friends in the local photo booth. But at heart, he was a true romantic. He valued a person's inner beauty most of all. He wrote one love song after another, reserving hope that someday he would find a companion that, according to him, had 'unique compatibility.' Though that dream never came to fruition, he treasured the friendships he made and encouraged keeping in touch as much as possible, welcoming friends to 'call at any hour, day or night' if they needed someone to talk to."

'Just Because'

* "Dino never liked saying 'Goodbye' as he felt it was 'too final' and for years ended every phone call with 'So long for now only,' until recently adopting 'La Paloma' -- the title of his favorite song of all-time -- as his new greeting and closer."

'Burning Love'

"He was a Halloween fanatic, decorating the outside of his home year-round with gargoyles and goblins that he collected, much to the amusement of passers-by, perhaps not so much his neighbors. All the more, it fell during his favorite season, as he enjoyed taking in the crisp, autumn air and the 'light-jacket weather.' Dino loved attending costume parties, as well, attempting to blend in but somehow always managing to stand out."

'Tell Me Why'

"'I'm Elvis' #1 Fan,' is what Dino used to say. After being turned on to Presley's music as a teenager, he adopted Elvis' hairstyle and maintained it to the very end, in the face of changing times. But as much as he admired emulating the fashion sense of his musical idol, Dino did so in tribute, not for imitation's sake. He was not an impersonator and encouraged performers to make their own versions of Elvis' songs."

'Spinout'

"He acquired copies of all 31 of Presley's movies and would have marathon viewings of every film at least a few times annually on his old projection television set reserved solely for Elvis flicks. Dino would randomly offer a reward for a colorized version of the movie 'King Creole' even though he knew it didn't exist.

'Wear My Ring Around Your Neck'

"Before Elvis' untimely death in 1977, Dino managed to see him in concert 13 times and relished the day he met him backstage, where he claimed Elvis generously gave him a wrestler's ring off of his finger. Asked about what it meant to him, in true Dino fashion he responded, 'Elvis also gave cars away. I would've preferred a car.'"

'Rags to Riches'

"As imaginative as he was creative, the wheels continued to spin as Dino worked on ideas and inventions that had the potential to make him the next millionaire. In 1988, he premiered his 'Dino D-Lite' fashion-ware that featured outfits and shoes with strobing lights. With the exception of the prototype that he proudly wore out, it never saw the light of day."

'Teddy Bear'

"He had a big heart for children, and enjoyed their innocent nature. He felt compassion for those afflicted with debilitating diseases, and donated a percentage of profits from his record sales to charities for Cerebral Palsy, performing on local telethons. Dino would give the shirt off his back, and even his jacket, for someone in need, like he did for a lost child one winter at the Victorian Streetwalk in Saratoga Springs. He stayed with that boy until he found his parents. Dino's heart was rich, even though he was not. That, too, was Dino."

Contact Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected]

 

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