Bronx Beginnings A Fuel Oil Service History

Early in the 20th Century, and until the 1950s, the oil industry as we know it today did not exist. Homes were heated with coal, and some readers who wish to date themselves may still remember cleaning the ashes and soot out of a furnace or seeing someone else do so.

It was during the heyday of coal, the late 1920s, that a young man named Mauro Romita, an immigrant from a region in Italy called Bari who had arrived in America in 1916 and had worked for the New York-New Haven Railroad for a few years, started an ice and coal delivery business in the very small Castle Hill/Parkchester area of the Bronx. With the beginning of wide-spread home refrigeration, Romita stopped delivering ice, rented a small office on Westchester Square, purchased a six-ton capacity truck, and formed the Pelham Parkway Coal Company in 1928. This company delivered coal to local businesses and homes.

According to Louis Romano, senior vice president of Castle Oil, many people who came to the United States in the early 20th Century from Bari, Italy became involved in the oil industry, and many Italians in the industry today can trace their roots to this region.

Growing with the Industry

In 1930, the business grew to include a secretary and bookkeeper who handled the invoicing and also served as a weighmaster. The company soon included a large room for the sales and accounting departments, a small private office, a scale house, and an old wooden hopper that stored about 100 tons of coal. In 1933 to ‘34, during the height of the Great Depression, the business suffered but Romita managed to avoid bankruptcy and made it through the tough times.

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8 Comments

  • very old guy formaly from bronx on Friday, February 5, 2010 8:29 PM
    i clearly remember a coal delivery truck that had chain drive and i beleave solid tires .. this was 1959
  • I am the son of Charles Perna who worked there for many years
  • I recall the oil tanker terminals in the Bronx, Queens
  • I was a good friend with Lou Romita for many years and wonder if he is still alive.
  • Ralph Maresca (Junior) on Thursday, June 12, 2014 10:55 AM
    If this is the same company**Castle Coal & Oil they were the sponsor of my Little Leage Team of the Castle Hill Little League in 1955
  • Lou Romita died castle sold the company to a new england company and fired almost everyone for charismas 2014 Castle was a great company to work for I should have never quit big mastake
  • Castle was the greatest company I worked there for 35 years & left 7 years ago, the Romita brothers & sister Mary were wonderful people I will never forget them
  • drove for castle oil from 69 thru 74. I remember lou,jack, mike, and Mauro romita. I remember several times the drivers were short on their overtime checks. I remember patty the mechanic and john the tire guy.. eastchester road and waters place was their operation at that time. we had a good crew. mike magro was the shop steward at that time. I remember drivers, paul, ozzie . bobby, and jo.. they were the good ole days.....................