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February 12, 2016     Post-Gazette
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February 12, 2016
 

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.... POST-GAZETTE, FEBRUARY 12, 2016 PAGE 13 n n a abb onno by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance I guess I've never been much for winter sports. As a matter of fact, as a young single man, I only vacationed north of Bos- ton once during a winter break. My preference was to head to warmer climates where I could see palm trees, coconut trees and skis ... water skis. The one exception happened when I was in my early twenties. I was in graduate school at the time and living back with my folks, which helped me pay my own way through. Babbononno was living with my folks and would often ask me questions about what I was studying. I know down deep, he regretted not having gone beyond the 6th grade. He was quite inquisitive and intuitive, especially when it came to the history courses I was taking. We had many in depth conversations about how the world would be if history had led us in other directions. I was home studying one night when Babbononno answered the phone and yelled, "Jenny, dissa cawla foh you. Penso chee una ragazza giovena e possiblemente bella?" (Johnny this call is for you. I think it is a young girl and possibly a pretty one.) It turned out to be one of the teachers on the fac- ulty of Hyde Park High School, a young single teacher who was attractive, just like Babbononno imagined. We talked for a bit, and in the conversation she mentioned that she belonged to a ski club in New Hampshire. They were having an open house that coming weekend to interest new prospective mem- bers. The weekend was the one just before the February school vacation and my band wasn't booked anywhere, nor .was I working with any other group. On a whim, I agreed to take her up on her invitation. She then informed me that I could invite a friend along to the open house weekend. Just as soon as I hung up, I called Sal Meli, one of my clos- est friends and a person who was ready, willing, and able to take off at a moment's notice. He didn't have any plans either, and that Friday, as soon as school let out, I headed from Hyde Park to Polaroid on Route 128 and picked him up. Both of us had suitcases filled with warm clothing, because it was winter and we were heading to a ski lodge at the foot of Cannon Mountain in central New Hamp- shire. The only thing I knew about the area was that during February, it was damn cold. A few hours later, we arrived in ski country. Boston had a bit of residual snow on the ground from a snowstorm earlier that week. Cannon Mountain and its environs had several feet of hard-packed snow on the ground, and I thought I was in another world when we arrived. I found the young teacher who invited us sitting in the lobby of the lodge, just waiting for us. She helped us check in, then we headed to the dining room for a late dinner. After dinner, we were given a ski lesson by a tall blond German ski instructor. The lesson was basically how to put our skis on, how to push off and how to stop. After that, it was cocktail time, and the instruction area became a pub. The next morning Sal and I sat at a breakfast table next to a window that faced the novice slope of the mountain. I could see beginner skiers falling all over the place and became ner- vous about my own future on skis. When we headed out of the lodge, I knew that we were north, way north of Boston. It was a clear day with the sun shining on Cannon Mountain and the temperature was about five degrees below zero ... ouch. Sal headed off on his own, as he was a journeyman skier. I headed for the novice slope, but couldn't get on due to the number of people fairing all over the place as they tried to ski, possibly for the first time, just like me. I got on a "T bar" and headed for the middle of the moun- tain. I figured it wouldn't be as crowded and I would have a better chance with my first attempt if I had a little room to maneuver. Well, the middle of the mountain was just as crowded as the novice slope with the exception of the fall- ing skiers. I then climbed into a gondola and headed for the top of the mountain. There were less people up there, and when I arrived, I understood why. The angle of the slope was about 75 degrees (that's a steep angle) and the temperature was 10 to 20 below zero. I watched the expert skiers for several min- utes and then did what they did: checked the laces on my boots, snapped on my skis, got myself into a position where I could push off and headed down the mountain. The only difference between me and the other ski- ers was that I was praying in Italian and English at the same time as I picked up speed head- ing down Cannon Mountain. Well, I made it to the middle of the mountain without fall- ing and continued toward the novice slope. When I got there, I zigzagged around all of the beginners who were still fall- ing down. I somehow made it past them all without any col- lisions. The outside wall of the lodge kept coming closer, and I -- FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST-- THE MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS 781-648-5678 snowplowed (pointed my skis toward each other) to help me stop. I then twisted my body so that my skis were parallel to the wall and dug my poles into the hardened snow. I stopped without falling even once. The next step was to not temp fate. I immediately removed my skis, stood at attention and saluted Cannon Mountain. The young teacher who had invited me, happened to witness my events of the morning, walked over and whispered in my ear, "Begin- ner's luck." At that point, I promised the good Lord that I would never at- tempt to ski again. I didn't want to tempt fate. I returned the skis and other rented or borrowed accessories to the rental office of the club and headed to the lounge and a large hot choco- late. At that point I discovered several parts of my body were numb from the cold and realized immediately that my ancestors were from the southern part of the Italian peninsula where palm trees grow even in winter. I made a pledge never to try to defy my ancestry or insult my J ancestors ever agmn, and swore that if ever I was to don another pair of skis, they would be the type that could be used on a lake, pond, or body of water that was near or in the tropics. I have kept my word on this subject throughout my life. I did return to ski areas many times after this point. Each time, I enjoyed the friendship of others who I came in contact with (inside the resort build- ings). Loretta and I have taken our sons on ski trips and they are quite good at it. When my son John was living in Zurich, Switzerland, we brought the boys skiing in St. Moritz every time we visited him. He and Michael skied, I stayed indoors. If Babbononno was still here, he would probably tell me to stay away from the mountains dur- ing the winter months, but if I had to go near them, I should have a shot of good cognac just in case ... GOD BLESS AMERICA Remember. Loved Ones The Post-Gazette accepts memorials throughout the year. Please call 617-227-8929 Mayor Walsh Launches "Neat Streets" to Target Cigarette Butts on Boston Streets and Sidewalks Mayor Martin J. Walsh launched "Neat Streets," an interactive public space instal- lation, which aims to deter littering behaviors among resi- dents and visitors who smoke cigarettes. "Boston is a beautiful city, but to keep it that way we must all do our part to keep our streets clean," said Mayor Walsh. "This smart and innovative effort incorporates a public polling process to engage our residents and visitors in protecting our environment." Modeled after a similar initia- tive in London, the Neat Streets initiative is aimed at decreasing litter on the streets in an inter- active manner. One facet of the initiative is the cigarette butt re- ceptacle, which prompts smok- ers to dispose their cigarette in a slot on a board by voting for the question being posed at the top of the board. For example, "More essential Boston winter gear? Hats or boots?" Resi- dents and visitors are encour- aged to submit questions to @ CityofBoston on Twitter, using hashtags # NeatStreets or #Neat- StreetsBos, through March. Cigarette butt receptacles will be located throughout the city at locations chosen based on maxi- mum foot traffic. Neat Streets will be installed by the end of February. Danger! Awesome, a makerspace, helped in tailoring the boxes for Boston streets. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States, killing more than 480,000 Americans each year. Smok- ing causes immediate damage, which can lead to long-term health problems. The Boston Public Health Commission offers online re- sources and features a number of programs that offer conve- nient, low-cost tobacco treat- ments to help with cessation. For more information, visit: http:/ / ow.ly/ Y8z02. News Hampshire Primary (Continued from Page 1) with its Wednesday, February 10th, page-one headline, run- ning a computer-generated photo of the Trumpster looking like a crazy clown and a head- line that read, "Dawn of the Brain Dead." How insulting, to not just Trump, but to all his NH voters and his supporters across the nation. This liberal NY rag basically called Trump supporters nothing but a bunch of brainless zombies. However, most Americans hold that same opinion of much of our main- stream media. Good news, all those horrible Super PAC commercials are headed to South Carolina by now. Thank you God! Fully Insured Lic #017936 :hanical Heating & Air Conditioning Sales, Service & Installation Ken Shallow 617.593.6211 N A A N kenskjs @ aol.com P 0 L K N E W S Y ,,, its publisher or editor. Photo subra~. PoS~-~ pro~ they are clear, original photos. is a $5 charge for each photo submltted. ~ can be submitted via