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February 15, 2013     Post-Gazette
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February 15, 2013

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POST-GAZETTE, FEBRUARY 15, 2013 Page 13 00/'agt/la 00Babb'i]nonno Last week, I was talking about the Seville Theater in East Boston. At one time, every Boston neighborhood and every city or town had a movie theater. As I look back in just East Boston, we had the Seville, the Central, the Gem and the Orient Heights and I believe there were others that disap- peared in the 1940s. The Gem was the first to go dur- ing my day. I mentioned last week that it burned down in the 1950s. The Gem showed films that were a few years old and to entice the people to go there, they offered free dishes or china to their cus- tomers. You could actually attend the Gem a couple of days per week and put a complete set of tableware to- gether. Dinner plates, cups and saucers, salad bowls, etc... On weekends, they would advertise 7 pictures for 9 cents. The weekend lineup was mostly for the kids. They would have a news reel, a travelogue, a couple of car- toons, a couple of short sub- jects, a serial that would be continued next week and a cowboy film that was so old Gabby Hayes got the girl. The Orient Heights was located on Bennington Street in Orient Heights Square just before the right that took you to Winthrop. They would close in the 1960s. The Central was one of the oldest of East Boston movie theaters. When I was a kid, John Manfredonia, his sis- ter Adelaide and I would be given 25 cents for the Cen- tral on a Saturday afternoon. Grace Manfredonia and Mom would give us last minute instructions as to the do's and don'ts of going to the movies on our own. If Nanna and Babbononno were within earshot, they would add in words of warning and then step aside to allow us to leave the umbilical cord behind. The Central was located on the first block of Bennington Street just outside of Central Square. This theater was part of the same chain as the Seville, American Theater Corporation. The Seville showed pictures that just left the downtown theaters. The Central showed pictures just a little older or classics from the past. They also special- ized in Italian films, and as a child I was taken by Nanna and Babbononno when an Italian film was being fea- tured. The first one I re- member was The Bicycle Thief, just after the war. On by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance I I Saturdays, the Central had a special matinee format. They would show a Tarzan feature and ten cartoons. Free comic books were given out at the front door as you handed your ticket to the doorman. By the way, tickets on Saturday after- noons were 12 cents. Harry Ashton, the doorman, passed out the comic books and was often swamped and had to be assisted by the manager, Frank Ferreira. As I mentioned, the Man- fredonia kids and I were given a quarter each. This meant, after paying the 12 cents entrance fee, we had 13 cents left over. Candy bars were 5 and 10 cents. A box of popcorn was 10 cents. We would spend 10 cents on our choices and have 3 cents for later. Frank Ferreira would check the clock at the end of the 10  cartoon and, if necessary, add 1 or 2 more to bring the time as close to 4:00 pm as he could. If it was spring, summer or fall, there was a slush stand just across the street from the Central. The Bellavia family operated it in the doorway of their house and for the remaining 3 cents, you could buy their cheapest slush. The only flavor they had in those days was lemon, but it was so good. During the winter when the slush stand was closed, we would walk home by continuing on Ben- nington Street to the corner of Marian Street where there was a penny candy store. And for that remain- ing 3 cents, I could buy a handful of Boston baked beans (they were candy), or chocolate babies, maybe little wax bottles filled with sweet colored liquid or a strip of dots, flavored circles of candy pasted of a strip of paper. Spending my 3 cents wisely often allowed me to fill my pockets with candy as we made the trek home. The Seville was where we thought the rich kids went on a Saturday. They might have had a kid's matinee, but the cost was 16 cents and that was out of our budget unless they were showing something special like a Roy Rogers western or a John Wayne war film. If we decided on the Seville, we would check our savings and if we had a penny, the 9 cents left from the quarter would now total 10 and we could buy two candy bars. As I mentioned last week, the Seville was built on a cultural motif, Seville, Spain. There were -- FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST -- THE MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS 781-648-5678 other theaters built at the same time by the same New England Theater Corp. Two that I remember were the Egyptian in Brighton and the Oriental in Mattapan. The Egyptian had the motif of ancient Egypt during the reign of the pharaohs, and the Oriental was designed to look like the interior of the Forbidden City in China. By the time 1952 rolled around, three of the older boys on my street worked as ushers at the Seville, Joe Marotta, Fred Cataldo and Bobby Romano. As a result, by the summer of 52, I began hanging out at the theater, helping with chores. By August, I was offered a job as an usher and would stay there working part time for I0 years. By the 9 th year, there was a shake within the entire corporation and Mr. Ray, the manager, left and Frank Ferreira, who had been the manager of the Central be- fore it burned down, took his place. I put in one last year and then left, myself. At the tender age of 16, Mr. Ray called me into the office along with Theresa Guelli, one of the candy girls. It seems that money and stock was disap- pearing from the candy con- cession, and Mr. Ray found out that most of the ushers and candy girls were in- volved. (This doesn't include the three ushers I mentioned earlier. By this point in time they had left.) He had Theresa and me standing in front of him as he told us about the theft that he discovered. Theresa and I looked at each other not knowing what to say, but then Mr. Ray added, "I dis- covered that you two had nothing to do with this. I fired everyone and (pointing to me) you are now head usher, and you (pointing to Theresa) are now head candy girl. Now, go out and find me two new crews to work for you." At 15, Theresa was the head candy girl, and at 16, I was now a boss ... the head usher. I put together a few people from East Boston that I could trust. Henry Giggi, who at- tended English High with me became my assistant head usher. Carl Sinatra joined with us as did Eddie DeCino and a few others from our neighborhoods. Babbononno was so proud that at the age of 16, to him I was a boss. Mr. Ray would become like a 2 nd father and I would learn many of the social graces from him that have allowed me to survive in life. GOD BLESS AMERICA For more information call :.,:,, 0.!.7-227-8929 Socially Scene (Continued from Page 9) Boston Philharmonic Or- chestra Presents ... Mahler Symphony No. 6 Thursday, February 21 st at 7:30 pm in Jordan Hall. The Mahler Sixth has occupied a very prominent place in the musical life of Ben Zander and in the history of the Boston Phil- harmonic. The commercial recording, made many years ago, was one of the artistic high-water marks for the orchestra. It was lavishly praised in the international press at the time and, al- though it has been unavail- able for the past few years, it is still often singled out by critics as their favorite recording of the symphony. The Sixth is the darkest of the Mahler symphonies. Unnecessarily nicknamed by the composer "The Tragic," it faces the grimmest reali- ties of life and death. It does so with infinite and sur- prising variety and in the first movement there is the ecstasy of the music associ- ated with his beloved wife Alma, the evocation of lonely and serene Alpine landscapes and the brutal tramping of inexorable marches. The second movement brings grim, parodistic elements, and the third music of heart- breaking beauty that has a bittersweet, nostalgic evoca- tiveness. The relentless fi- nale, from its opening eerie and unsettling harmonies, traces the struggles and apparent victories of the "Hero" -- Mahler or Every- man; it can be read either way or his annihilation by the three hammer blows of fate, which are quite possi- bly the most terrifying extra- musical noise ever composed into a symphony. It is a long time since the BPO has performed the Mahler Sixth, and its return is long awaited. This con- cert will take place Thurs- day, February 21 st at Jordan Hall, 30 Gainsborough Street, Boston. For further informa- tion and tickets, please call (617) 585-1260. Mahler' Symphony No. 6 will return to the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra at Jordan Hall. (Photo courtesy of Boston Philharmonic Productions) Red Lantern ... A sophis- ticated, sensual Asian Res- taurant and Lounge that fea- tures the award-winning cui- sine of Chef Kevin Long (Tosca, Stars and Shrine). A diverse Asian menu includes appetizers like Wood Fired Skewers, Spicy Lettuce Wraps, Pork Dumplings and Lobster Rangoon. An exten- sive dinner menu includes Wood Grilled Steaks, Sea- food and Chicken Special- ties, Wok and Noodle Dishes. Specialty Sushi Rolls and Traditional Sushi are pre- pared fresh to order. With a capacity of 250, Red Lantern features an open kitchen, sushi counter, wok station, oversized tables, a commu- nity table and private dining for up to 40 guests. Stunning decor and exceptional cui- sine come together to bring you on a culinary journey like no other. On February 23 rd this elegant eatery is offering some-thing new, "Sushi Classroom." From i:00 pm- 3:00 pm you can jump into the waters with being taught the art of sushi and enjoy the paring of Sake. Red Lantern is located at 39 Stanhope Street in Boston. Leave the DELIVERY to Us[ With a Gift Subscription to the Post-Gazette, your generosity will be remembered every week of the year. 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