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January 15, 2010     Post-Gazette
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January 15, 2010

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POST-GAZETTE, JANUARY 15, 2010 Page13 00,['anna -, 00Bahbb00onno iiii i i i When I was six years old, Nanna had a heart attack. It was serious enough to keep her hospitalized for a long period of time. Morn, Aunt Ada (Uncle Nick's first wife) and I would visit her during the day. Babbononno, Uncle Paul and my father would go to see her after work. Uncles Nick and Gino were in the service and could only pray for their mother from afar. When Nanna finally came home, Babbononno virtually stopped playing music at night to be with his wife. Of course, he couldn't give up his day job, so my mother took care of Nanna. At night Babbononno was an atten- tive husband, but Nanna would fall asleep rather early and that left Babbo- nonno with time on his hands. He liked to read and would take the La Gazetta del Massachusetts, The Boston Post and II Progresso and read them from front page to the last. When he would get bored, he would ask me, "Aye, Jenny, wadda dey gud onna da radio?" Even though I was a kid, I was a radio buff. I could tell you the call letters for the Boston stations, their num- bers on the rotary dial, the names of the shows on ra- dio, the days they aired and the time slots they could be heard. Even as a kid I had a good memory. I told Babbo- nonno that Mom and Nanna listened to the Don McNeil Breakfast Club in the morn- ing followed by the Arthur Godfrey Show. During the mid-day hours, there were soap opera serials like Our Gal Sunday, Big Sister, Aunt Jenny's Real Life Stories, The Romance of Helen Trent, One Man's Family, Wendy Warren and the News, John's Other Wife, Just Plain Bill, Young Dr. Malone, Young Widow Brown and Queen for a Day. Babbo- nonno had no interest in these shows as they were mostly for women and he wouldn't be home anyway. When I told my grandfa- ther what was on in the af- ternoon slots, he decided he would get an early start on reading his newspapers. Af- ternoon fifteen minute seri- als were mostly for kids, and of course seeing I was a kid, by John Christoforo ii iii rll iii i iii iii ii I was glued to Babbononno's old arch shaped Philco radio. From about 4:00 o'clock on, I listened to Superman, Tom Mix, The Gene Autry Show, Bobby Benson and the BRB Ranch, and Captain Mid- night. I remember once while listening to Super- man, sponsored by Kellogg's Pep, a long-gone kid's break- fast cereal, Dad came home and discovered he had for- gotten to buy cigarettes. He gave me a quarter and asked me to go get him a pack at the corner store. I waited for the commercial, ran down the 3 flights of stairs to Eutaw Street, ran to the corner of Brooks and Eutaw where Staffier's Vari- ety Store was located, bought Dad his cigarettes, ran back to the house, climbed the 3 flights of stairs, gave the pack of Old Golds to my fa- ther and accomplished all of this before the commercial ended. Late in the afternoon, Dad would get ready to head out to his night time job. He, at the time, was playing bass with a Latin band at the Bradford Roof. After he left for work, Mom would tend to Nanna's needs and that left Babbononno and me to search the radio for pro- grams to listen to. Let's see how many of them you re- member. There is no special order to them nor am I list- ing them according to the nights they were on, be- cause I'm not sure at this point 65 or so years later. Babbononno would let me turn the dial and find shows he would put his approval on: Bulldog Drummond, A Man Called X, Casey Crime Pho- tographer, Chandu the Ma- gician, Charlie Chan, Ellery Queen, Philip Marlowe, Ri- chard Diamond, Mr. District Attorney, Big Town, Bold Venture, The FBI in Peace and War, Gang-busters, Philo Vance, Boston Blackie, Crime Does Not Pay, Martin Kane Private Eye, The Fat Man, The Thin Man, Mr. Keen Tracer of Lost Persons, and Nick Carter Master De- tective. When I would come across the one he liked, he would grab my hand to pre- vent me from turning the dial any longer and say, "Dissa da wunna we listen to." A Nostalgic Remembrance i ii ,i i i If you want to know about EAST BOSTON your first stop should be News Community Calendar Commentary Civic Groups Economic Data History and Much More Visit East Boston's premier public information utility today .... Established 1995 iii iii iii ill iii ii ii i i There were dozens of other shows that I found on the air at any point in the evening and it depended on Babbo- nonno's mood as to what we listened to. The names were Beulah, Sgt. Preston of the Northwest Mounted Police, Don Winslow in the Navy, Dragnet, Duffy's Tavern, The Life of Riley, My Friend Irma, People Are Funny, The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show, Sky King, Stella Dallas, 20 Questions, 64 Dollar Ques- tion, The Voice of Firestone, Topper, The Great Gilder- sleeve, Halls of Ivy, Our Miss Brooks, Meet Corless Ar- cher, The Cisco Kid, Lum and Abner, Henry Aldrich, Topper, The Goldbergs, and Life With Luigi. If my grandfather wanted to stay with comedies, mu- sic or variety shows, there were: Beat the Band, People Are Funny, The Camel Cara- van, Your Hit Parade, Kraft Music Hall, Abbott and Cos- tello, The Bell Telephone Hour, Lux Radio Theater, Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts, The Quiz Kids, It Pays to be Ignorant, Life Be- gins at 80, The Bob Hope Show, The Jimmy Durante Show, Hollywood on the Air, Amos and Andy, A Date With Judy, Baby Snooks, Blondie and Dagwood, Laurel and Hardy, The Judy Canova Show, The Bickersons and the Red Skelton Show. There were also shows that fea- tured the big bands of the day: The Benny Goodman Show, The Artie Shaw Show, The Duke Ellington Show, The Jack Benny Show, The Fred Allen Show, and The Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey Show. Of course, I couldn't stay up as late as Babbo- nonno, but I would argue to hear the rest of a program we were listening to when Mom would notify me that it was past my bed time. I spent my youth using my imagination while listening to radio. Years later, many of the shows I've mentioned made it to early television. When I saw what some of the folks looked like on TV, I was shocked, because with radio, we would conjure up what the stars looked like. Well, those days are gone as are my grandparent's and my folk's generations. But, I wonder how many of you re- member some if not all of the shows I've mentioned. Those were great times that will never come back. Thank God I was around to have had those great experiences of yester-year. Before I close, I want to wish a happy birth- day to an old friend Bob Frissore. I won't tell you how old he is, but he remembers all of the shows I've men- tioned. And, if you've ever attended the Columbus Day parade, you might have seen Bob driving his green and black 1950 Chevy Bel Aire with Tony DeMarco waving from the front seat. Gotta go ... GOD BLESS AMERICA The Socially Set (Continued from Page 9) "Dreamgirls:" stars, left to right: Chester Gregory (James Early}, Syesha Mercado (Deena}, Moya Angela (Effie} and Adrienne Warren (Lorrell) will perform at The Colonial Theatre from February 2-14. Time magazine as the best exhibition of the year. We've recently opened 16igo Manglano-Ovalle's mysteri- ous "Gravity is a Force to be Reckoned With," which sparks serious questions about what it would be like to live in a glass house. Doors to the dance party will open at 7 p.m. for those who would like to grab some dinner or a drink before the party starts. Beverage and bar service will be open at that time, and Lickety Split will offer a range of dinner selections. Dance instruc- tion, arranged by Jacob's Pillow, will begin at 8 p.m. for those who want to learn "the latest moves." Tickets are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office located off Marshall Street in North Adams, open from 11 a.m. to (Photo by Joan Marcus) 5 p.m. Wednesday through Monday. Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413-662-2111 dur- ing Box Office hours or purchased online at www. MASS MoCA, the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the United States, is lo- cated off Marshall Street in North Adams on a 13-acre campus of renovated 19th- century factory buildings. Enjoy! (Be sure to visit Hilda Morrill's gardening Web site, www.bostongardens.eom. In addition to events covered and reported by the columnist, "The Socially Set" is compiled from various other sources such as news and press re- leases, PRNewswire services, etc.) Coping with Winter Doldrums (Continued from Page 6) convivial conversation. He spoke of ice fishing, and cross country skiing with great passion but in the end confessed that he and the majority of his friends expe- rience the sense of mild depression brought on by winter. He joked that the Northern Lights, so often visible in the Icelandic sky just ads to the eeriness of the experience. Bjorn's best advice was to view the win- ter as an opportunity, as op- posed to a cold nuisance. A close friend of ours has lived in Up State New York, where snowfall is mea- sured in feet not inches. Bob has raised a family and had a successful career in academia and has always appeared quite content in his adopted home. So we called him to fred out how he copes with the mountains of snow and endless gray days of winter on Lake Eerie. Bob's answer was brief and succinct, "We go to Florida as often as we can get away". He then explained how he and his wife use a light box to get them through the dark days of winter. Bob went on to say that being home- bound in a snow storm has its advantages in that he and his wife can plan the garden they intend to plant in the spring and they find it a definite "pick-me-up". Feeling comforted with the knowledge that even the experts can't avoid the win- ter doldrums. We phoned a friend in Vermont, a State famous for long cold winters. He confessed to liking the snow but finding the cold to be harder to take as he grows older. Once again his advice was to distract our- selves and not concentrate on the situation. Taking the advice of our friend, we bought tickets to "Shen Yun", a Chinese ex- travaganza that has been coming to Boston in recent years that was playing at the Opera House. We met our cousins for the matinee per- formance. The music, clas- sical Chinese dance and col- orful costumes of the pro- ductions were sensational. For two and a half hours we were transported to a fanci- ful world of myth and story, a welcomed interlude in what has been a cold winter. We stepped out of the the- ater onto Washington Street and were greeted by a cold blast of wind that quickly brought us back to the real- ity of winter in New England. Yet, as we hurried to our car, winter's cold grip seemed to be released and temporarily dulled. The images and color of the performance were playing through our minds. Our friends' advice was well taken, rather than feel con- fined by the cold and gray, plan for the future and do something in spite of it.