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February 10, 2017

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POST-GAZETTE, FEBRUARY 10, 2017 PAGE 13 Babb onno by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance Paesani and compari.., these put a strain on the relationship wide high school, English High. are two words I had heard all because Ada basically gave my John went to East Boston High. my young life. They were in mother an ultimatum ... Nick At age thirteen (I lied about reference .to countrymen and or me. My mother told her she how old I was), I went to work friends acknowledged by Nanna would not play that game and at the Seville Theater. Between and Babbononno. Mom used to that ended the friendship. She school, my job, and my love for tell me stories about Nanna's did become close to severalplaying baseball, we really were best friends and those that of the women on our block of off in separate directions. John Babbononno had. Actually, Eutaw Street who had kids went to work for Jordan Marsh Nanna's best friends were her my age, and they would get while in school, and once we sisters and one of her sisters- together once a week at one of graduated, I went off to college in-law: Zia Peppa, Galuccia, their apartments for coffee and and John joined the Army. John her brother Antonio's wife, Zia neighborhood gossip, married in his early 20s, and a Mariuccia, and another sister I don't know who Dad married man doesn't associate who died during the early '40s. chummed around with as a kid. with his single friends {me) from (I can't remember her namel. He never really mentioned any- then on, for safety's sake. Actually, only one of Nanna's one that he was that close to. I had several neighborhood sisters never came to America. Most of his close friends would friends, friends from baseball She was the oldest and already be the musicians he worked and friends who were fellow married with a young son when with from the time he was in ushers from the Seville Theater, Zi' Antonio brought each of the his late teens. Beginning in the but I didn't develop a close rest of his brothers and sisters war years, he became friendly friendship with anyone until I to America. Her husband was with some of the husbands of was about twenty years old. I established as a farm owner in the women Mom had befriended met Sal Meli at Shay's Beach Avellino and they never wanted in the neighborhood, but my(Constitution Beach) in East to leave, father didn't have too muchBoston one summer's day and Babbononno didn't have any time to socialize. He played we hit it off. From that point on, family in America. He came here music six nights per week and, we "hung out" together, double as a member of the Royal Italian after the war started, he began dated together, and eventually Marine Band, and didn't return teaching in the Boston Public traveled the world together. Sal to Italy after he was notified that Schools during the day. and I were interested in the his wife had died in childbirth. The exception to this was the same things: opera, symphonic He had three brothers who all couple who owned the house music, jazz, Latin American went into police work in Foggia. we lived in. Grace Baranco had music, live theater, restaurants They communicated by mail married Ralph Manfredonia. that featured foreign foods, up to the point that Mussolini Dad knew Ralph from school and ladies of the Latin Ameri- joined the Axis with Hitler, and and Morn knew Grace from the can persuasion. We were close then went into the military. My old neighborhood. They became enough that I asked him to be grandfather never heard from the best of friends due to Mom my best man when Loretta and them again. When he finally and Grace both expecting their I were married. He would be settled in Boston's North End, first child at the same time. called upon again when John, he was befriended by Antonio John Manfredonia was born our first son, was born. He be- Ceruolo, who became Paesano exactly one week before me and came his godfather. Antonio. He would eventually our births seemed to solidify the Sal and I would eventually marry Antonio's youngest sister, families' connection. But Dad head in different directions, too. Giovannina Ceruolo (Nanna), really didn't have time to social- Basically, I was married and and Paesano Antonio would ize. He taught machine shop at he stayed single. Loretta never remain his best friend for the East Boston High School dur- hit it off with the girlfriends he rest of their lives being called ing the day, played bass with a chose (I couldn't blame herl. Cognato Antonio (brother-in- Latin band six nights a week at When I began a doctoral pro- law Anthony). He did have a lot the Hotel Bradford for several gram at B.U., the person who of friends from the storefront years during the war, and was talked me into returning to clubs that he belonged to, but drafted by the GAS (the forerun- school, Dean Saluti, and I be- none were as close to him as ner to today's CIA)to interrogate came best friends. Later, John Zi' Antonio. Italian war prisoners who were Silva, Bill Hurley, Joe There were many couples housed at forts located on the Carter, Ed Ligon, Dick DeVito that my grandparents associ- Boston Harbor islands and at and Bill Strachman, along with ated with. Many of them would the closed immigration station Dean, would become my inner drop by on holiday evenings to in East Boston. Dad left the circle, paesani or compari, if say, "Buona Pasqua," or "Buon classroom (or shop) in 1948, you will. Natale," and stay for coffee and and became a pioneer in theI have observed my sons, dessert, and once they had their Department of Audio Visual John and Michael following suit own families, their kids and Education. in their generation. They have my mother and uncles became He met another Italian in mutual friends, but each has a close friends, the new department; Mike best friend that they first met as The next generation was no Barca and he would remain best youngsters and have remained different. My mother's best friends for the rest of their lfves, close to in their adult years. friend from childhood was Ada So you see, the first and sec- I guess the groundwork that Giorgione, who would marry ond generations of my family Nanna and Babbononno started Uncle Nick in the mid-1930s, had their best friends, for dif- has paved the way for friend- Ada and my mother lived within ferent reasons and in different ships through the generations. a block or two of each other ways, but they were happy with GOD BLESS AMERICA before Babbononno moved the their lives. I mentioned John family from Jefferies Point to Manfredonia; the son of the ) Eutaw Street in the Eagle Hill landlords, Ralph and Grace. Remember Your I section of East Boston. Mom We grew up together and were Loved O]~es / and Ada were inseparable until inseparable as kids. After junior she and Uncle Nick divorced high school, we headed in differ- ! right after WWlI. The divorce ent directions. 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