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January 17, 2014     Post-Gazette
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POST-GAZETTE, JANUARY 17, 2014 Page 13 N _9 by John Christoforo 00Babb'00onno A Nostalgic Remembrance People have asked about the place we bought in Florida. Before I get to it, let me give you the thinking the old-timers had when it came to purchases. When Dad bought his first car back in 1927 or 28, Grandpa Christoforo told him he made a stupid investment. He pointed to the house they lived in and told my father that the worth would always go up, where as the worth of the car would go down. Years later, when Babbononno saw the summer place Dad bought in Winthrop, Maine, he said it looked like a good investment and added that any property you buy was al- ways a good investment. We lived in East Boston until Dad thought he could afford a house in the suburbs. Recently, the house sold for 95% more than it cost in the early '60s. This makes me think that both of my grand- fathers were right. Well, as I mentioned, we bought a place in Florida. I was familiar with the de- velopment and always liked the real estate within. Years ago, a trumpet player who worked with Uncle Nick, retired to this development and when we would head to Florida and stay with Uncle Nick and Aunt Dorothy, we would get together with Mel and his wife Gladys for din- ner about once per week. My kids, who were small at the time, loved being with the old folks and the restaurants they picked. Well, Mel and Gladys, like Uncle Nick and Aunt Dorothy are gone, but the memory of their Florida home always lingered. We really didn't have to buy a place. Going back a few years, son Michael attended Lynn University, which is in Boca Raton. The Marriott hotels in Boca have a spe- cial price for the parents of students who attend Lynn and FAU (Florida Atlantic University), both Of which are located in Boca. Loretta and I took advantage of the special rates and became friendly with the manage- ment of the Marriott prop- erty we stayed in. After Mike graduated, we were told that the special price would stay in effect for us and we have been vacationing in a hotel suite with breakfast added in for the same price as a cheap motel in a bad neighborhood. The manager of the hotel knew that I really wanted my own place in Florida and introduced me to a friend who sold real estate. When I mentioned the development I remembered from years earlier, he checked into what was available and told us that one place was on the market. When we looked at it, the owner was there and we discovered that she was an interior designer and the place reflected her talent. I told Loretta to bargain with her through the realtor. We battled her prices for a week or two and she finally relented and met the price Loretta offered. Right after the signing of the papers, we had to head back to Boston. A few days later, I got a call from the realtor. Before the deal could go through, we had to be interviewed by the condo committee. I wanted to do a phone conference type of interview, but they said no. Next, I asked about a Skype interview where we could see each other via our computers. Their comment was, "What's Skype?" The only resolve was to head to Florida and be physically interviewed by the commit- tee or we couldn't buy the place. Guess how many lan- guages I was swearing in. That weekend, we booked a last minute flight going out on Sunday, so we could be interviewed on that Monday morning only to fly back to Boston that Monday night. We checked into the hotel I mentioned above and my friends in management there calmed me down. The next morning, Loretta in a dress and me with a sport jacket shirt and tie, headed for an office at the club house that is in the center of the complex. There they were waiting for us, a group of little old ladies. When they saw my last name on the application in front of them, the spokesperson said, "Oh, isn't that an Italian name. With a stern look on my face, I replied that it was. Then the woman smiled, pointed at her committee and said, we're all Italian. I was so exasperated I threw in, "If I'd known that, I could have sent in a snapshot of myself and a dozen cannoli. They all laughed and signed off on the Christoforo family. At that point, we became prop- erty owners in Delray Beach, Florida. A few weeks later, we headed back to the hotel in Boca Raton. With that as our home base, Loretta and I with some local Florida friends, headed out to buy furniture for the new place. -- FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST -- THE We inherited the living room couch covered in Italian leather and a dining room set also made in Italy, oh, and a patio set for the outside of the place. We needed furniture for the master bedroom, second bedroom, living room, veranda and kitchen. Our friends sug- gested we head for El Dorado, a furniture store that is gigantic. We found most of what we wanted at their closest location. Once the furniture was in, we decided on lamps, mirrors, paintings and wall hangings. Loretta, more practical than I, bought a coffee pot, a toaster oven, dishes, cups, saucers, glasses and a dining set. Whatever else was needed to live with, she bought. I bought tools. When every- thing was in place, we checked out the couch we bought for the second bed- room. It is an Italian leather piece that opens into a bed making the den into a sec- ond bedroom. The second bathroom has a door that leads to this room, making it easy for future company we might have. By the time everything was in place, it was time to come home again. This was the point in time when I had to report to the hospital for the series of operations on the brain tumor I no longer have. Just as the surgical teams were about to dis- charge me from Mass Gen- eral, Loretta asked when I could fly. When I was given a clean bill of health, I was wheeled to a JetBlue gate and we headed south. Once in the new condo, we were greeted by the immediate neighbors who made us feel comfortable. I couldn't wait for them to leave as I wanted to put on a pair of shorts and a tee-shirt. As helpless as I was due to the opera- tions, I began to recuperate a lot faster in the warm sunny Florida climate. Before it was time to come home for Christmas, I stood outside the condo, looked at it and thought about the comments both Grandpa and Babbononno had about a piece of property. I've already told the deans at the colleges I teach at that I am taking the spring semester off, so, in the future, you won't know if I'm writing this column from Boston or Florida. As Loretta puts it, "We're ten minutes from the beach and the same amount of time from a restaurant called Boston's." Until I have enough room to tell you about Boston's, I will leave you with, GOD BLESS AMERICA Small Ads MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS 781-648-5678 ._ . ....- ..  ,..,.,.,.,o,:O.,.ilO.b,e,,t*a'A, Results information, Socially Scene (Continued from Page 9) Share the Love Boston and vote through January 29 th on this "Claude Monet" which is one of many on display at the Museum of Fine Arts. (Photo courtesy of mfa.org) of Fine Arts, Boston invites the public to choose their most loved Impressionist works for a special exhibi- tion, Boston Loves Impression- ism. From January 6t-29 t participants can "Share the Love" at mfa.org/sharethelove and on Facebook by selecting their favorite MFA works from a different themed group each week -- "On the Water," "From the Land" and "Of the People." Offering the public a selec- tion of 50 works from the MFA's Impressionist col- lection, choices include mas- terpieces by Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas and Gustave Caille- botte. The top 30 picks will be displayed in a special exhi- bition opening Valentine's Day weekend in the MFA's Lois and Michael Torf Gal- lery, with the public's "Top 10 Favorites" highlighted by a heart on the wall label. Malcolm Rogers, Ann and Graham Gund Director at the MFA, came up with the idea to let the public select works for an exhibition while the MFA's Sidney and Esther Rabb Gallery of European Impressionism undergoes renovations. The choice is entirely up to votersl Bostonians were among the world's first collectors of Impressionism, a style com- monly derided as "depraved" by Parisian critics of their day. By 1892, when Boston's St. Botolph Club hosted the first non-commercial show of Monet's work held anywhere in the world, local collectors owned so many Monets that at least 20 had to be excluded from the exhibition due to lack of space. The Museum of Fine Arts soon reaped the benefits of Boston's enthusi- asm. The MFA received its first three Monets as a gift in 1906 and today holds the largest collection of this artist's paintings outside Paris. Boston's love of Impression- ism was not limited to Monet. Countless gifts and judicious purchases -- from Degas' Racehorses at Long- champ (1869.), the first work by this artist purchased by any American museum, in 1903, to Caillebotte's Man at His Bath (1884), the MFA's most recent Impres- sionist addition, bought in 2011 -- have made the MFA's Impressionist collection one of the finest in the world. With Boston Loves Impression- ism, the public will be able to enjoy the city's good fortune of having been home to many savvy collectors over the decades. Boston Loves Impressionism will be on view from Febru- ary 14 a to May 26 th in the Museum's Torf Gallery while the Sidney and Esther Rabb Gallery -- the MFA's Euro- pean Impressionism gallery -- undergoes extensive reno- vations. The gallery will reopen on June 4, 2014. Filled with Impressionist and Post-lmpressionist paintings and sculpture, the gallery will provide an in-depth look at avant-garde artists working in France between 1870 and 1900 Get involved Boston and create your own exhibit. From January 6-29 t mfa.org and the Museum's Facebook page will direct fans to vote for their favorite Impression- ist works from the MFA's col- lection. Museum visitors can also access voting through their mobile phones by scan- ning heart-shaped QR codes found throughout the build- ing. Participants may vote once a day. Each week, participants will be served a new selection of works and the 30 top vote getters will earn a spot in the exhi- bition. Then, the top I0 will be part of a finals round of the best works. After voting ends, Museum curators and designers will have just two weeks to install the exhibi- tion and tell the story of Im- pressionism. On Valentine's Day weekend, the exhibi- tion -- and the public's favor- ite Impressionist works -- will be revealed. Fans who cast a vote can print or download an invitation for two to the exhibition. Visit www.mfa.org for a timeline of voting for specific exhibits.