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Page 4 POST-GAZETTE, MARCH 6, 2015 A couple of weeks ago, I was in the middle of a story about one of my first vacations as a young man traveling with- out my parents. Sal Meli, whom I had grown up with in East Boston, Tom Aylward, a new friend who taught with me at the school and I headed for St. Thomas and Puerto Rico. We had spent a few days in St. Thomas' capi- tal 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 command staff of the USS Thresher, an American submarine, Often stayed at the Gramboco Inn, the hotel we were staying at in St. Thomas. Not long after our stay at that hotel, the sub went out on maneuvers and sank with all the sailors per- ishing 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, which 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 beaches in the Car- ibbean. It is horse shoe shaped and the salt content in the water is extremely high, you automatically float. Once at the beach, I had to wrap towels around myself. I was freezing. The air tem- perature was about 85 de- grees, but I was shivering. I think I was definitely sick. The guys went swimming, but I was so cold I couldn't. Spotting a food stand, I de- cided 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 l replied (in Spanish), "How did you know they are tourists?" She replied that it was win- ter 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 people I saw looked like tourists, not lo- cals. 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 back 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 problem and he gave me some large pills say- ing that I would normally need a prescription for them, but seeing the circum- stances, I needed them right away. He gave me the in- structions on how and when to take them, with the added instruction of, "Whatever you do, don't drink when taking this medication." I followed his instructions, taking one of the pills before we left the drug store. Within minutes, my breathing be- gan to return to normal. Un- fortunately, my taste buds were still on vacation and I couldn't taste the dinner I ordered once we were at the restaurant. Later that evening, we headed for a ho- tel where someone Sal knew was playing. Tito Rodriguez was called the Frank Sinatra of Latin America. He was short, handsome and tal- ented. 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 vaca- tion also. I asked one of them to dance and we mamboed the night away. Between the medication and perspiring due to my physical move- ments, I began 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 re- turned. When I asked for our key, the desk clerk pulled a note out from 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 fa- ther. It instructed me to call regardless of the time. A bandleader had called to see ff 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 hizza 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 bandleader 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 homemade remedies on how to cure a cold. I thanked him and headed to bed, but not before I swallowed another one of the pills Sal's druggist friend had given me. The next morning, I felt better, and at breakfast, discovered my taste buds were back to normal. After that, I was rearing to go. When we turned in the key at the front desk, the man- ager happened to be behind the counter. He gave us passes to El Escambron, a pri- vate beach club near the ho- tel. We thanked him and headed for the club. Once there, we were in for a treat. There was a boxing promo- tion going on in Puerto Rico. The person of note leading the way was former Heavy- weight Champion Joe Louis. We met him at the club and had a nice conversation with him and even had pictures taken with him. Eventually, he had to leave, but we were thrilled having spent time with the champ. Once on the beach, I continued working on that tan I had begun in St. Thomas, and as the day went on I began to feel almost normal. Well, the days passed and I developed quite the tan. Each day we tried a different beach recommended by people at the hotel, and at night we ate native food and danced to many of the local bands. Be- fore heading to one Of the beaches, we bought a pocket- sized transistor radio for about $4.00. We sunned our- selves at this one beach and I felt well enough to swim in the tropical waters of Puerto Rico. When we returned 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 any- one 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 L'Anno Bello: A Year in Italian Folklore by Ally Di Censo Symynkywicz WILL RETURN NEXT WEEK ... 1 J-Jl We Can't Go Wacko Over Obama Sometimes I get spooked when I listen to conservative talk radio and listen closely to what the hosts are sprouting and what irate lis- teners are actually hearing and believing. I have been a conservative-leaning Demo- crat going back to the days when there was actually a real moderate base in the party. Today unfortunately, both major parties continue to move to the edges of the spectrum and hand over party control to the wing nuts out. The Democrats are com- pletely gone as a main- stream political party and the Republicans are not much better, thanks to the Tea Party, which stands up to a Republican establish- ment taking its marching orders from the U.S. Cham- ber of Commerce "greeders," as I call them. While the Democrats keep moving over the cliff toward European socialism with central government control, the GOP establishment is looking more and more like the party of big business, big profits and cheap labor. The Tea Party can be a bit lunatically from time to time, but at least they seem to understand the proper re- lationship of government and the people. We, the peoplel are the government, we don't work for it, it works for us. We like our demo- cratic republic and our U.S. Constitution. I listen to conservative talk radio to keep up with the news the mainstream lib- eral media doesn't always report to us. Mark Levin is on weekday evenings on WRKO 680AM. He's smart, but often too loud yelling out his opinions as if everyone was hard of hearing. I don't always agree with them and his tone is often too angry for his own good. I listen to Jeff Kuhner often enough to be considered part of "Kuhner Country," but too often the "Boston Bulldozer" is spread- ing more bull%S#@ than important news. Last Friday (February 27th) Jeff was off and running al- luding to how President Obama, the "Dear Leader," was coming across in his actions to be a clear and present danger to the de- mocracy. Some who called in spoke about Obama refus- ing to leave office when his second term expires? Others talked as if the tanks are already warming up their engines to take down American democracy. The big topic was Obama's plan to ban bullets from guns. Look out, they're com- ing to tear the gun out of Charlton Heston's cold, dead hands. Paranoia is setting in, getting revved up by talk show guys looking to stir up on-air controversy, all for the good of ratings. The gun ban by the way was concerning the sale of armor piercing bullets. Most law enforcement folks want these bullets off the streets of America. This is not step one in the *War Against the Second Amendment." I think President Obama is the most incompetent and arrogant occupant of the White House ever, however, I am not ready to be fitted for a tin foil helmet, not now or not anytime soon. Things may be bad, but not that bad. America will sur- vive Obama, like we sur- vived other losers in the White House in the past. 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