2011 Shore Issue: The Shore House

For more than 40 years, the Giuntas of West Chester have been going down the Shore together as a family. This time around, somebody crashed the party: our writer

“He didn’t live far away from me at the time, probably like a mile away,” Edsel says. “I was not in a safe situation. I needed to get out of the house a lot, so I was at their house a lot. I remember one time I ran from my house up to his house, no shorts, just boxers on. I knew where the house key was. I went upstairs crying. Ten years old! And I said, ‘Please don’t tell your parents what happened to me. I just need to sleep the night here.’”

What was going on?

“A bad older sibling—we’ll leave it at that,” Matt jumps in.

“He just, he beat the fuck out of me, what else,” Edsel says. There is a pause. “That’s the PG-13 version of what happened. I tried to live there, but it got so bad. I’ll never forget, I went to bed one night, I was, like, 12. I slept with a kitchen knife, and I swear I said to myself, ‘If this fucker comes—’” He realizes Matt is holding the baby. “Sorry. ‘If this sucker comes, I’m gonna turn around and stab him in his heart.’ I woke up the next morning with the knife on my chest, and I knew I had to get out.”

Stacey is crying.

Len Giunta took Edsel in. He wasn’t officially adopted, never changed his name.

“I always tell Stacey that I don’t know where I would be without them,” says Edsel, who’s now a bank loan officer. “I have buddies I grew up with who are all screwed up. But the beach, to me—nobody’s in control. We’re just here together as a family. This trip always reminds me of how fortunate we all are. We’re not a typical family.”

Matt has been wanting to say something. “He changed our life as much as we changed his. Edsel made us—I’m gonna start crying—he taught us to be less spoiled and appreciate what we have and—”

He starts breaking down. “My college essay, it was all on him. Half the places I got into, I probably shouldn’t have, but my paper was about him.”

Monday morning, Jenna and Stacey are out early riding bikes. Jenna, a triathlete, ends up doing 25 miles. At the beach at 11:30, Andy walks over the dune, and the family is stunned. Carol grabs a camera to capture the rare moment. That night, the dinner is a bigger party than ever, expanded to include neighbors and in-laws.

Tuesday morning, the Giunta men pull together enough friends to golf in three foursomes at Avalon Country Club. And Tuesday night, the siblings decide to bend tradition and do the dinner honoring their parents at home instead of a restaurant. At this dinner, Andy is usually called upon to make a little toast, which, according to Matt, goes something like, “Love is love is love.”

The moment arrives, and Andy raises a glass and makes his speech. Nothing poetic or over-the-top, just a short and sweet toast to family, to a great week. It’s a good toast—what would you want to change?

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  • g

    Every year I receive the Jersey Shore / Lawyer issue and I wonder why I continue to subscribe. It took 10 minutes to page through the entire magazine. Why a multi-page article on the Family Giunta? I couldn’t bear to read more than a paragraph. Who is this family and why should I care? Come on Philly Mag. There must be stories out there with far more substance than you are providing.

  • rosie

    Wow! A story about a family that is able to afford to rent a couple of shore houses for $10,000 a week!! I don’t know if I’m more interested in this story or the fact that this story was approved to be printed??? Who came up with this idea and who approved for it to be published? Who cares? Not me!

  • Taara

    I loved everything about the Giuntas!! In a time when we are all doing our own thing, we forget about being a family. And if for only one week in August they can get together & do all the corny stuff(which I love coming from a family of 7)….then do it. God Bless your next 40 years!!