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January 29, 2010     Post-Gazette
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POST-GAZETTE, JANUARY 29, 2010 Page13 abbb onno The minute the snow falls, the plows begin to roam the streets in Boston and all of the surrounding suburbs, clearing the main streets and most of the side streets. When I was a young kid liv- ing on Eutaw Street, Dad was one of the few people who owned a car. As time went on, there was a problem that developed. Everyone began buying cars and at night, they were parked bumper to bumper as close as possible to those East Boston three deckers we lived in. During the snow storms, the plows were indiscriminate. They cleaned the streets with the snow both covering and blocking the parked cars. As a result, we had to dig our- selves out. When we did, we created spaces that had to be protected from poachers, in- vaders and interlopers. Your shoveled parking space had to be declared yours, your pri- vate property. There were a couple of ways to protect your parking space. The most common method was to leave an old chair or two in the middle. If that wasn't possible, an ash barrel would do, or may- be two barrels with a two by four sitting horizontally from one to the other. Every- one in the neighborhood knew whose barrels or chairs were out there to protect the spots and they respected the unwritten rule, "You don't take someone's shoveled parking space." Dad had to drive to work both day and night and when he or we dug his car out, an old barrel and a broken chair were placed in the spot and everyone knew that you didn't park in that spot. Dad would leave the shoveled out spot each weekday morning and head for the Sumner Tunnel. I would put the chair and barrel in the open space before I went to school. When he returned in the afternoon, his spot would be waiting for him. A short nap, dinner and a change of clothes later, Dad would lug his bass violin down the three flights of stairs, situate the instrument in his car, pull out of the spot and I would, once again, place his markers out. If anyone not knowing the routine tried to park in Dad's spot, neighborhood spotters would inform the rogue that they couldn't park there. Ev- eryone respected this un- written rule of winter park- ing, that is, until a new fam- ily moved in next door. They weren't from the neighbor- by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance II I I III I hood and were told about the parking situation. This didn't phase the man who headed up the family. He, finding a parking space with identify- ing chairs or barrels protect- ing them, would remove them and take the parking space. He was told not to con- tinue this practice in a nice way, not once, but three times. He claimed that if the spaces were vacated, they were up for grabs. After the third time, the men in the neighborhood told him that he had been warned. He laughed it off. A couple of times, anticipat- ing Dad's return home, Babbononno would stand in the spot puffing on a stogie. If this renegade tried to park there, my grandfather didn't move. I heard Babbononno yelling at the guy in Italian one afternoon and ran out- side to see what was going on. I had to explain to my grandfather that the man wasn't Italian and had no idea what he was saying. He switched to fractured English and yelled, "Dissa spot she reserva foh mi genero, my son-a-law. You no canna parka la machina, you carra in dissa place." The neighbor started to give my diminutive grandfather an argument, but he stood his ground and the man pulled away. Well, the spot was saved for my father and he was told of the incident when he re- turned home later that after- noon. A couple of hours later, he was dressed in his tuxedo and headed on his way to play with his band. I put the bar- riers out, as usual, and headed back upstairs. Later that night, when Dad arrived home, that neighbor's car was in Dad's spot and he had to drive around the neighbor- hood for an hour or so until he found a spot to park in that was not reserved. I heard him coming up the stairs as did everyone else in the house as he was swearing in several languages. The next morning, the neighbor got in his car, pulled out of the spot and never made it to the middle of the street. The car's en- gine started clanking, made a large popping sound and stalled. The man tried to restart it but to no avail. No one would help him and he had to call a tow truck. By the time the truck arrived, all of the men in the neighborhood were standing on the side- walk watching the car being towed away. No one said a FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST -- THE MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS 781-648-5678 I I I II word. After the car was out of the way, two of the neighbors put Dad's barrel and chair back in the empty spot. We learned, a day or two later, that somehow, the man's car was drained of all of its engine oil and the gaso- line had become contami- nated with sugar and sand. That was the last time we saw the car. No one ever said anything but, one night, the man got into an argument with his wife and you could hear her yelling at him tell- ing him he deserved what he got. No one ever took credit for the happening and noth- ing was ever said about a car that leaked all of its oil, and somehow, received a supply of gasoline that contained sugar and sand. For the remaining years that we lived in East Boston, everyone respected the un- written rule about parking spaces that were reserved for the people who dug their cars out of the snow. When we moved, it was to a single fam- ily house in Belmont with a driveway that could handle our cars. By this point in time, I had a car, too. I was teaching in Boston, going to graduate school and playing music at night. There was no problem parking, but some- thing was missing, the thrill of Iwing in an East Boston three decker with parking adventures every time there was a snow storm. Well, that's the way it was. Every time I'm back in either Eastie or the North End dur- ing the winter and see a parking space in a snow bank with an old chair or a barrel in it, it brings back memo- ries of the old days. Before I go, I would like to answer a question. Several people who have seen me since my hair has turned white ask me where I get my hair cut. Well, I go to a shop in Arlington at 824 Mass Ave. Charlene Smith, the owner of Charlene's Barber Shop near Arlington Center has been cutting my hair now for a couple of years. So, if you like the way I look, give her a call and tell her I rec- ommended you to her. In the mean time, GOD BLESS AMERICA. Remember Your Loved Ones The Post-Gazette accepts memorials throughout the year. Please call dl 7-227-8929 and ask for Lisa The Socially Set (Continued from Page 9) Mark Porcaro (center, front row), Executive Chef at Top of the Hub, was recently invited to New York City to prepare and serve a special dinner at Manhattan's prestigious James Beard House. Porcaro designed a menu for the reception and a five-course dinner. Porcaro was accompanied by Top of the Hub staffers including (front row, left) Executive Pastry Chef Tommy Choi and (front row, right) Executive Sous Chef Jason Banusiewicz. Named for the renowned chef and food writer, The James Beard House in Greenwich Village is where Mr. Beard lived, taught and welcomed shared his love of food. garden.org. According to the Boston Parks and Recreation De- partment website, The Pub- lic Garden was created in 1837. The Boston Common had been created two centu- ries earlier in 1634. "From its inception, the Public Garden was decora- tive and flowery, the Com- mon pastoral and practical. The Common's walkways were for cross-town travel, the Public Garden's paths for meandering. The Common was America's first park, the Public Garden its first pub- lic botanical garden. "This style of park, featur- ing the gardener's art, was ushered in by Victorians who had new techniques readily available to collect, hybridize and propagate plants. They had access to showy annuals. Green- friends and colleagues who (Photo by Lisa Ozag) house-grown plants could assure that displays would be seen at their peak. With such abilities, they bedded- out the Garden in intricate floral patterns of blazing color and planted exotic imported trees. These features are clear in the design by George Meacham, who won the public design competi- tion for the Garden. The prize was $100." For more information, visit www.cityofboston.gov / parks/. Enjoy! (Be sure to visit Hilda MorriU's gardening Web site, www.bostongardens.com. 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.) Haiti (Continued from Page gime collapsed in 1986 and Baby Doc fled to France, Jean-Bertrand Aristide (a former priest) was elected in a decisive victory in Decem- ber 1990. A military coup deposed Aristide's govern- ment; the Organization of American states imposed an embargo lasting three years. Aristide returned to Haiti in 1994 to serve out his term of office, facilitated by the US military and UN troops. In December, 1995: Ren~ Preval was elected in a land- slide victory. He was re- elected in 2006 for a second five year term and is cur- rently Haiti's President. President and First Lady Elisabeth Delatour Pr~val 6) escaped unharmed from the recent earthquake and have moved to a safe location on the island. The couple was about to enter their home when the earthquake struck Prdval and his wife were able to step away from the build- ing before the house col- lapsed, escaping injury. The earthquake is the latest and most violent disaster to hit Haiti, a coun- try beset by natural and man-made disasters that have prevented a people of indomitable spirit from achieving prosperity. A special collection for Haiti is being taken up in Saint Leonard Parish this Sunday. K35 Nechanlca] Fully Insured Lic #017936 Heating & Air Conditioning Sales, Service & Installation Ken Shallow 617.593.6211 kenskjs@aol corn