HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. – Rose Alito, the 90-year-old mother of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, Monday leaned forward in an easy chair in the living room of the home her family has occupied for more than five decades and proudly walked through her son’s life.

While thumbing through scrapbooks, she told reporter after reporter of his childhood and devotion to his family.

No, she said, she would not discuss her son’s views on national issues. No, she did not have a message for Democrats who might question his nomination.

Then came a question about abortion.

“He is against abortion,” Rose Alito replied quickly. “We both are.”

She said her son “still carries his Roman Catholic values with him. He is a very ordinary person, very conservative.”

Less than half an hour later, she received a phone call from her son.

“Oh Sam, there are people all over the house and in front of the house,” Rose Alito said excitedly. There was no exchange of pleasantries. On the other end, Alito was apparently telling his mother not to say anything further and to order reporters out of the house.

“I hope I did not do anything wrong,” she replied. “Now I’m upset. Call me back later, Sam.”

At that point, a shaken Rose Alito began urging reporters to leave, and shut the door.

The phone call abruptly ended what had been a whirlwind morning for the woman who helped mold the man President Bush wants as the next associate justice of the Supreme Court.

“I cannot be prouder of him,” Rose Alito said. “I am happy I am healthy enough to see this.”

Rose Alito and the late Samuel Alito Sr. raised their son and his younger sister Rosemary Alito, an attorney, in the two-story red brick home on a tree-lined side street.

“I said to myself these children are going to be the smartest children in Hamilton Township, that was my goal,” said Rose Alito, a retired educator. “I encouraged them to do all kinds of activities, to do things that are helpful. They just grew up normally. I was proud of my children from the day they were born. They are good children and they enjoy succeeding.”

Asked if she would travel to Washington to see her son sworn in, she replied, “Wouldn’t that be wonderful, no fights,” a reference to the nomination gauntlet he faces.

Rose Alito said she speaks with her son by phone almost daily and he and his family visit frequently.

She said her son enjoyed playing baseball – he is an avid Phillies fan – and can play the piano and the trumpet.

“I know President Bush feels very comfortable with Sam,” she said. “He works hard and he likes to do a good job, he has always been that way.”

The scrapbooks are filled with Sam Alito’s early life: a Trenton Evening Times photo of the 5-year-old boy with his mother and sister when Family Weekly accepted a story he submitted, Little League photos, high school athletic letters in track and baseball. There are also acceptance letters to Princeton University, and Harvard, Brown and Yale law schools.

Family photos also cover the walls. A section in the dining room is dedicated to the memory of Alito’s father, who died about two decades ago. There are photos and a proclamation from the New Jersey Legislature after the elder Alito retired as the first director of the bipartisan state Office of Legislative Services. And there is a framed copy of the eulogy the son delivered at his father’s funeral.

“It would have been happier if his father was here,” Rose Alito said. “He and his father were very close. This would have been something. He’d be going crazy.”

PH END HESTER

(Tom Hester is a staff writer for The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. He can be contacted at thester(at)starledger.com.)

AP-NY-10-31-05 2011EST


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