The Many Hats of Mr. George Shomo
By Pamela Joyce, Director of Social Services
Even with his mask on, you can tell George Shomo is smiling. He is always, without a doubt, donning his New York Yankee baseball cap. This was not always the case. Mr. Shomo has worn many different hats throughout his life.
Mr. Shomo attended elementary school in Sea Bright, middle school in Tinton Falls, and eventually graduated from Monmouth Regional High School in 1964. Mr. Shomo was drafted to the army in 1966 and served in the Vietnam War. Mr. Shomo was a Sargent E5 and earned 2 Bronze Stars.
Mr. Shomo attended Brookdale Community College where he double-majored in Graphic Design and Social Sciences. In 1972, he earned two degrees: An Associate of Science and an Associate of Arts. While at Brookdale, Mr. Shomo dove head-first into the art scene blossoming on campus. Mr. Shomo describes the Sea Bright of his childhood, as “an artsy town. I spent more time outside than inside. I loved nature.” It was while he wandered Sea Bright walking amongst nature that Mr. Shomo began writing prose. He became known in the community as a prolific poet and was sought out by folks to write poems for various occasions and celebrations. At Brookdale, he directed and produced recitals where he would read his poetry and enlist performers to re-enact his poems—“They brought my poems to life.”
Throughout the ’70s, Mr. Shomo was a member of a musical group that used traditional Latin drums. They toured up and down the east coast and often made their own drums.
When asked what his first job was, Mr. Shomo chuckled, “You won’t believe it.” At age 15, Mr. Shomo assisted his neighbor with the care of rats and guinea pigs that he bred and sold to pharmaceutical companies. Mr. Shomo quickly moved on from the rats and guinea pigs and, spent 15 years working at Bendix, where he processed engineering drawings to film and microfilm. He was eventually promoted and oversaw the operations of the facility. Mr. Shomo resigned and relocated briefly to California before returning to Monmouth County.
When asked what job was most rewarding, “The work I am most proud of wasn’t work at all. I found my involvement with Community Organizing to be the most rewarding.” Mr. Shomo became very active in community organizing in Asbury Park and Neptune in his early 20’s. He did this while attending school and working full time. “The more knowledge I gained in college, I applied it to the community.” Mr. Shomo faced aggression and threats to his life during this time. This did not deter him. “My commitment level to the movement continuously grew. I had the faith that nothing could harm me.
When asked what his favorite job was, Mr. Shomo lit up and said, “Bell Labs”, where he began as a Printer Operator. Mr. Shomo moved up the ranks quickly, was sent to the Xerox School in Virginia, and eventually became a Project Manager the Bell Labs printing facility in Murray Hill. Mr. Shomo stated that Bell Labs treated him like a human being; recognized his talent and intelligence; and rewarded him for such. Mr. Shomo also respected the diversity of the company— “It was like an open class at the United Nations”. Mr. Shomo resigned after 7 years with the company and spent the next two years embracing the artist within him, immersing himself in an artist’s lifestyle. This was a carefree and happy time. Alas, one can take the starving artist lifestyle for only so long. So, he re-entered the workforce as a jewelry sales-person at a local company. He was fascinated with the industry and he eventually become a Certified Diamontologist.
Mr. Shomo took his workforce hat off for good at age 62. He has worn his artist hat full time ever since. One will find Mr. Shomo’s apartment walls coming to life with his artwork, and many more works of his art are stacked behind his bookcase waiting to be framed and find their place on his walls. He considers his creativity and artistic talents as a gift that he will continue to pursue for the rest of his life. My art is a vehicle to deliver my message.