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March 5, 2010     Post-Gazette
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POST-GAZETTE, MARCH 5, 2010 Page 13 00anna 00abb00nonno by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance Last week, I was in the middle of a story about one of my first vacations as a young man traveling without my parents. Sal Meli, whom I had grown up with in East Boston; Tom Aylward, a new friend who taught at the same school and I had headed for St. Thomas and Puerto Rico. We had spent a few days in St. Thomas' capital city, Charlotte Amalie, and were ready to head to San Juan, Puerto Rico. The only negative part of the trip to St. Thomas was the after- math of befriending some naval officers. The com- mand staff of the USS Thresher, an American sub- marine, often stayed at the Gramboco Inn, the hotel we stayed at in St. Thomas. Not long after our stay at that hotel, the sub went out on maneuvers and sank with all the sailors perishing as a result. It was not a happy time. Once the goodbyes were over, the three of us headed for San Juan. We had a res- ervation at the Hotel Normandie, the oldest resort of its kind in Puerto Rico. I had a slight problem once we landed. The day before my nose started running and by the time we reached San Juan, I had trouble breath- ing and had lost my sense of taste. We picked up a car that I had reserved back in Boston and drove to the ho- tel. After checking in, the guys were raring to go. I felt sick but went along anyway. We headed for Loquillo Beach, one of the ten most beautiful in the Caribbean. It is horse shoe shaped and the salt content in the wa- ter is so high, you automati- cally float. Once at the beach, I had to wrap towels around myself. I was freez- ing. The air temperature was about 85 degrees but I was shivering. I think I was sick. The guys went swim- ming but I was so cold, I couldn't. Spotting a food stand, I decided to find out if they had hot coffee. I love Puerto Rican coffee. It is a lot like espresso. The woman behind the counter asked who my tourist friends were. When I replied (in Spanish), "How did you know they are tourists?" She replied that it was winter and Puerto Ricans don't go to the beach during the winter months. As I looked around, I saw that she was right. The only eople I saw looked like tourists, not locals. When it was time to head back, I was s-i-c-k. Sal and Tom headed for the pool to check out the ladies and I went to bed. When it was time for dinner, Sal told me to stay in bed and they would bring me something to eat. I insisted on joining them and we got cleaned up and headed out. En route to the old city of San Juan, I was having trouble breath- ing. Sal changed direction mentioning that he had a friend who was a druggist who worked at a pharmacy near one of the hotels. We headed inside the drug store, and fortunately, his friend was working that evening. I explained my prob- lem and he gave me some large pills saying that I would normally need a prescription for them, but seeing the cir- cumstances, I needed them right away. He gave me the instructions on how and when to take them, with the addition of, "Whatever you do, don't drink when taking this medication." I followed his instructions, taking one of the pills be- fore we left the drug store. Within minutes, my breath- ing began to return to nor- mal. Unfortunately, my taste buds were still on vacation and I couldn't taste the dinner I ordered once we were at a restaurant. Later that evening, we headed for a hotel where someone Sal knew was playing. Tito Rodriguez was called the Frank Sinatra of Latin America. He was short, handsome and talented. His band was one of the most popular in New York and San Juan, on par with Tito Puente and Machito, back when Salsa was the way to go. We met some girls from New York who were on vacation also. I asked one of them to dance and we mamboed the night away. Between the medication and perspiring due to my physical movements, I be- gan to feel better by the time we headed back to the Normandie. Back then, hotel doors opened with keys and you would leave your key at the front desk on your way out and pick it up when you returned. When I asked for our key, the desk clerk pulled a note out of the cubicle our key was in and said that I had gotten a call earlier in the evening. I read the note which came in from my father. It in- -- FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST-- THE MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS 781-648-5678 structed me to call regard- less of the time. A band leader had called to see if I could play a job the night of our return and needed an answer right away. I called home. Babbononno answered with, "Ah-low, ooh izza dissa, pleaza?" I yelled back, "Babbononno, it's me, John." He replied, "Hey, Jenny, dayza band leeda wadda call ah see iffa you canna play foh hiz:za banda nexa Sunday nighta. Izza dissa Ok?" I told Babbononno what time we were getting in and to let my father know I could make it and to have him call the band leader to get the name of the place we were playing at. When Babbononno heard my voice, he asked if I was feeling well. I told him how I felt and he gave me one of his home made remedies on how to cure a cold. I thanked him and headed to bed, but not before I swallowed another of the pills Sars druggist friend had given me. The next morning, I felt better, and at breakfast, discovered my taste buds were back to nor- mal. After that, I was rear- ing to go. When we turned in the key at the front desk, the manager happened to be behind the counter.. He gave us passes to El Es,cambron, a private beach cilub near the hotel. We thanked him and headed for the club. Once there, we wre in for a treat. There was a promo- tion going on in Pulerto Rico. It was for boxing. Tlhe person of note leading the way was former hearty weight champion, Joe Louis. We met him at the club and had a nice conversation with him and even had pic- tures taken with hiim. Even- tually, he had to lave, but we were thrilled! having spent time with him. Once on the beach, I continued working on a tan that began in St. Thomas, ald as the day went on I began to feel almost normal. Well, the days passed and I developed quite a tan. Each day, we tried a differ- ent beach recommended by people at the hotel, and at night, we ate native food and danced to many of the local bands. Before heading to one of the beaches, we bought a pocket sized transistor radio for about $4.00. W,e sunned ourselves at this beach and I felt well enough to swim in the tropical waters of Puerto Rico. When we re- turned back to the blanket, the radio was gone. An old man approached us holding the radio. He said he was the caretaker of the beach and didn't want anyone to steal our possessions and decided to guard them, but he had developed a thirst and a nearby kiosk sold local beer for only fifty cents a bottle. We took the hint, bought him a beer and all was well once again. . GOD BLESS AMERICA Saints Perpetua and Felicity by Bennett Molinari and Richard Molinari On March 7 th the Church celebrates the Feast of Saints Perpetua and Felic- ity, whose names we often hear in the recitation of the Litany of the Saints. The details of their martyrdom suffered at Carthage along with their companions Revocatus, Saturus, and Saturninus have reached us through a contemporary de- scription and remains one of the most descriptive ac- counts of Christian martyr- dom in ancient times. In the year 203, Vibia Perpetua made the decision to become a Christian, al- though she knew it could mean her death as a result of a decree by the Roman Emperor Septimus' Severus (193-211) that all imperial subjects were forbidden under severe penalties to become Christians. Her brother followed her leader- ship and became a catechu- men as well. Perpetua's father, who was a pagan, was frantic with worry and tried to talk her out of her decision. It is easy to understand his concern, at 22 years old; this well- educated, high-spirited woman had every reason to want to live -- including a baby son who was still nurs- ing. We know she was mar- ried, but since her husband is never mentioned, many historians assume she was a widow. Perpetua's answer to her father was simple and clear. Pointing to a water jug, she asked her father, "See that pot lying there? Can you call it by any other name than what it is?" Her father answered, "Of course not." Perpetua responded, "Nei- ther can I call myself by any other name than what I am -- a Christian." Perpetua was arrested with four other catechu- mens including two slaves Felicity and Revocatus, and Saturninus and Secun- dulus. After their arrest, and before they were led away to prison, the five catechu- mens were baptized; a sixth man named Saturus, who deliberately declared him- self a Christian before the judge, was also imprisoned. A few days later Perpetua's father, hearing a rumor that the trial of the imprisoned Christians would soon take place, again visited their dungeon and pleaded with her not to put this disgrace on her name; but Perpetua remained steady in her Faith. The prison was so crowded with people that the heat was suffocating. There was no light anywhere; Perpetua "had never known such darkness." The sol- diers who arrested and guarded them pushed and shoved them without any concern. Perpetua had no trouble admitting she was very afraid, but in the midst of all this horror her most excruciating pain came from being separated from her baby. The next day the trial of the six confessors took place, be- fore the Procurator Hilar- ianus. All six resolutely con- fessed their Christian Faith. The Christians were then condemned to be torn to pieces by wild beasts. Felici- tas, who at the time of her imprisonment was pregnant (in the eighth month), was apprehensive that she would not be permitted to suffer martyrdom at the same time as the others, since the law forbade the execution of preg- nant women. Two days before the games she gave birth to a daughter, who was adopted by a Christian woman. On March 7, the five con- fessors were led into the amphitheatre, the sixth con- fessor, Secundulus, died in prison. At the demand of the pagan mob they were first scourged; then a boar, a bear, and a leopard, were set at the men, and a wild cow at the women. Wounded by the wild animals, they gave each other the kiss of peace and were then put to the sword. Their bodies were in- terred at Carthage; the names of Felicitas and Perpetua are entered in the calendar of martyrs vener- ated publicly in the fourth century at Rome. A magnifi- cent basilica was later erected over their tomb, the Basilica Majorum; that their tomb was indeed in this ba- silica has lately been proved by Pere Delattre, who dis- covered there an ancient inscription bearing the names of the martyrs. The feast of these saints is still celebrated on March 7". The Latin description of their martyrdom, written by an eyewitness soon after the death of the martyrs, was discovered and published by Poussines, contain the nar- rative and the visions of Perpetua and Saturus. In 1890 Rendel Harris discov- ered a similar narrative written in Greek K3  Fully Insured Lic #017936 Mechanical Heating & Air Conditioning Sales, Service & Installation Ken Shallow 617.593.6211 kenskjs@aol.com