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January 22, 2010     Post-Gazette
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January 22, 2010

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. . , POST-GAZETTE, JANUARY 22, 2010 Page13 00N"anna 00abb00honno i ii ii Lots of changes began tak- ing place after WWII. Dad was subbing for the bass player in Guy Lombardo's Orchestra. He and my mother headed for New York. When they returned, they brought a new invention home, something called a ballpoint pen. Before this point in time, everyone wrote with a fountain pen. Fountain pens had replaced the quill pens in the 1800s and nor ballpoint pens were going to challenge the arrow head tipped bladder filled with ink pens of the first half of the 20 t" century. Dad bought two pens, paying $15 ,for one pen and $8 for the other. Back then, that was a lot of money, but he had to have the new inven- tion. Years later, when bail- point pens became common- place, I inherited the ones that were bought in New York. I know I have one of them stored someplace in the cellar. Of course, the old timers didn't buy into the new in- vention. Babbononno stayed with his trusty fountain pen to write with. Grandpa Christoforo would dress to go out and always put his trusty fat orange Mt. Blanc fountain pen in the breast pocket of his suit jacket. Many of the old timers did the same thing to show the world that they could write ... Grandpa couldn't. When Mom and Dad re- turned from New York, Dad talked about another inven- tion that was the rage in New York City, something called television. I guess the year was 1947, because that's the year that TV came out there. People ran out to buy sets to watch the few live programs that were broad- cast on the 2 networks that were there at the beginning, NBC and Dumont. There were a couple of manufac- turers that were into supply- ing the public with radios and ventured into the un- known as a gamble. They began manufacturing TV sets. Philco was one of the first companies to come out with a TV set for the general pub- lic. Dumont was another, then General Electric, Ad- miral, and RCA. They were followed by several new com- panies that started up due to the new invention. Dad raved about the TV he had seen. It was about two feet square with a 9 inch screen and all kinds of knobs to con- trol the picture: vertical, by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance i i I i i i horizontal, brightness, con- trast, channel selection and off-on with volume control. He claimed that once the sets were turned on and the tubes warmed up, a picture showed up and you could ac- tually watch the news, a baseball game or people per- forming in front of the cam- eras at a studio. He was hooked. By this point in time, we lived at 74 Eutaw Street, on the top floor, or the pent- house, the term used by my folks in reference to the five- room fiat. The three decker was owned by Ralph and Grace Manfredonia. The 3- decker had belonged to Grace's parents, but they were gone and she and Ralph were the landlords. Ralph and Grace weren't just landlords. Dad had grown up with Ralph and Mom with Grace. They had known each other from the old neighbor- hoods that they all came from many years earlier. As a result, we spent a lot of time with them at their house on Monmouth Street, which was parallel to Eutaw. We even had a hole in the fence that divided the two back yards to shorten the time needed to get from one house to another. They had 3 kids roughly my age and it was like extended family. On many an occasion, Dad and Ralph talked about the new invention that Dad had seen in New York. In 1948, TV hit Boston and Ralph Manfredonia was one of the first people in the neighborhood to buy a TV set. As a result, we were at their house a couple of nights per week watching whatever was broadcast. During the late afternoon, we kids watched shows for the young folks, Kukla, Fran and Ollie, or Lucky Pup. Both were puppet shows designed for kids our age. The suc- cess of these shows led to the most famous and long-lived of the afternoon kid's shows, Howdy Doody. On Thursday evenings, we kids were glued to the 9 inch screen watching Don Winslow in the Navy, a spin-off from ra- dio. Dad worked most eve- nings, especially weekend nights. Mom and I would head to the Manfredonia house. She and Grace would have coffee and chat while Ralph and us kids would watch the Gillette Cavalcade of Sports featuring Friday night fights from New York. This routine lasted for a year. In 1949, Dad came I home with a TV set one af- ternoon. He and his brother- in-law, my uncle, Jim DelloRusso, mounted the three flights of stairs carry a big heavy box. They opened it in the living room and placed the largest TV I ever saw on an end table. The set was a Philco with a curved top and had a gigantic 12 inch picture tube. Once the TV was plugged in, Uncle Jim set up a ladder, opened up a skylight door that led to the roof and climbed out with something that looked like a bunch of metal poles. He assembled the poles with one vertical and two or three in horizontal positions. The contraption, which they called an antenna, was fas- tened to a tall chimney and had wires connected to the vertical pole that Jim ran down the side of the house to one of the living room windows. When the end of the main wire was brought inside and connected to the back of the TV set, Dad ad- justed the picture, and yelled up to his brother-in-law, who was now joined by Ralph Manfredonia. Each command from my father caused the two men to turn the contraption, rotating it until Dad had a clear picture. When this was accomplished, they fastened the antenna to the chimney so it wouldn't move, and we were ready to watch our new giant TV. Dad brought out a bottle of Seagrams VO and poured drinks for Uncle Jim and Ralph. For the next hour, the three men marveled over the new TV, the great recep- tion and how our family was only the second in the neigh- borhood to have a TV. Our house now became the catch-all for neighborhood kids in the afternoon and for the adults during the eve- nings. A couple of years later, the family bought a set for Nanna and Babbononno for an anniversary present. Nanna always thought the people on the screen could see her and nothing anyone would say could change her mind. That's the way it was at the beginning of the post WWll inventions and we haven't stopped since. GOD BLESS AMERICA Remember Your Loved Ones -- FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST -- THE MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS 781-648-5678 The Post-Gozette accepts memorials throughout the year Please call 617-22 7-8929 and ask for Lisa The Socially Set (Continued from Page 9) Milton residents Annie Madden, left, and Isabel Floyd, students at the Pierce School, show off their new books. (Photo by Roger Farrington) Emmy Whitney and Bennie and Flash Wiley, just to name a very few. ..... Looking ahead: We are all invited to enjoy an "Out- door Living Extravaganza" on Saturday, April 24 at the Four Points Sheraton, Route 1, in Norwood, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Gardening Seminar is sponsored by Proven Win- ners, whose noted experts will teach participants about creative new ways to use color, the easiest ways to grow plant varieties, and how to put together excep- tional plant containers -- plus much more. P. Allen Smith, The Today Show's gardening expert, will be on hand to share fun and practical advice; and later we can join him for book signings and photos. Other noted speakers in- clude Kerry Meyer, Tim Wood and Amanda Thomsen. Participants will be treated to a goody bag of ex- citing gifts, including a very special plant. In addition to lunch, beverages and snacks, there will be oppor- tunities to win prizes. We are told that even our non-gardening friends will enjoy this relaxed and enter- taining look at "what's new in outdoor decor," Proven Winners style. To register or for more information, including the speakers' bios, please visit and click on "Outdoor Living Extravaganza." Enjoy! (Be sure to visit Hilda Morrill's gardening Web site, 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.) 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 FleOl MyBakery Perch VFrA ORI.ANDO SINOPOI.I Ist Generation Italian-American Vita Orlando Sinopoli Shares with us a delightful recollection of her memories as a child growing up in Boston's "Little Italy" and a collection of Italian family recipes from the homeland. Great as Gifts FROM MY BAKERY PERCH available on AMAZON. COM and in local bookstores -- ask for Hard cover #1-4010-9805-3 ISBN Soft Cover #1-4010-9804-5 ISBN