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March 12, 2010     Post-Gazette
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March 12, 2010

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POST-GAZETTE, MARCH 12, 2010 Page13 l2 Ft a 00Babb00onno i ii iii i i i i Last week, I left off talking about a trip to Puerto Rico when I was a young man. The exact point was a beach that we were told was un- known to the tourists. We decided to go there and fol- lowed the directions given us by someone at the hotel. The beach was beautiful and the water was warm. I lathered myself with Ban de Soleil and worked on my tan. When we decided to try the tropical waters, we left our things on the blanket we had brought and splashed around in the surf. When we re- turned, we discovered that our radio was gone. It was only a cheap transistor pocket radio we had picked up in San Juan for $4.00. Just then, an old man ap- proached us holding our ra- dio. He said that he was the caretaker of the beach and didn't want any thieves to steal our possessions and handed us back the radio. With that he added that he had acquired quite a thirst guarding the radio and they sold beer at a small kiosk near the parking area. We took the hint and bought him a beer. It was only fifty cents and he was a nice little old man. He made me think of Babbononno. Twice more we headed for the water and twice more the-radio was gone. Each time the old man had it and each time he had a thirst that only another beer could quench. It was quite a day. That night, we headed for El Convento, a hotel in Old San Juan that had been a convent from the time Puerto Rico had been a Spanish colony until the mid 20  century. We heard that the food was great and they had a Flamenco show second only to those in Spain. We.were escorted to a table in front of the stage and ordered drinks. The waiter brought us menus and verbally gave us the spe- cials of the evening. Among them was paella valenciana, the national dish of Spain. I ordered for the table and be- gan with a dish that looked like fried minnows on garlic bread. We all decided on the paella (pronounced pie-aye- yah) and awaited the dish. When it came, it arrived in what looked like a giant wok filled with yellow rice covered with pieces of lobster, chicken, and fish. It also contained clams, quahogs, muscles and sliced up pep- pers. The yellow color of the rice was due to saffron, the by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance ,ll i, ill i i i ii herb used to flavor the dish. Before eating, we squeezed green lemon on the concoc- tion for added flavor and then began to indulge. As side dishes, we ordered ripe plan- tains fried in olive oil and garlic, and salad. When it was time for dessert, we topped of the meal with flan, an egg custard soaked with burned caramel. The accom- panying beverage was Puerto Rican coffee, similar to espresso. This was ac- companied by snifters of aged rum, their version of coffee and cognac. What helped us to digest were the Flamenco dancers. They ri- valed any similar show found in Spain. This was an evening to remember. Later that evening, we headed back to the hotel sec- tion of the city and stopped in at Hernando's Hideaway, a night club where many of the local musicians could be found. We listened to salsa music until the wee hours of the morning, and before calling it quits for the night, stopped in at a deli called The Red Rooster, a local hang out that was open all night. While sipping coffee, once again, we got into a con- versation with the people at the next table. One of the people at that table was ac- tor Dick Shawn, who was on the island playing a role in a film being shot there. We wound up heading to bed when the sun was coming up. We only slept for a couple of hours, and after a break- fast of nothing more than black coffee, headed for the pool area and Caribbean sun- shine. Well, the end of the week finally rolled around and it was time to head home. I knew that I had to work the night we Were to get in and slept on the plane. When we arrived at the airport, Sal and Tom, my partners in crime, had people waiting for them and I waited for Dad to pick me up. As I stood there waiting for my father, he drove by and kept on going. He came around again and I could see Morn in the co- pilot's seat and Babbononno in the back of Dad's car. Again, they drove by me without stopping. The third time, I walked in front of the car and Dad slammed on his brakes and stopped. I was so tanned they didn't recognize me. I guess I didn't realize how much sun I had gotten. I don't burn even in the trop- ics. I just get darker and darker. -- FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST -- THE MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS 781-648-5678 Once we got home, I opened my suitcases and brought out the gifts I had picked up for the family; Spanish perfume and soaps for Mom, and cigars and ex- otic liquors for Dad and Babbononno. They all were pleased. After relaxing for a couple of hours, I dressed in my tuxedo and headed out to play with the band that I had promised to work with that Sunday evening. One of the messages that had come in while I was away was from the manage- ment at the Charter House, a long gone hotel that was just after China Sails at the beginning of the Lynnway where Revere and Lynn come together. They wanted me to audition for their cocktail lounge. The next day, I called a Mr. Newmark, the hotel's manager. He told me they were looking for a quiet jazz group, maybe just piano and bass to play on weekend nights. Later that week, I headed for the audi- tion with Tony Poto, a part- time pianist who was part of my trio all through college. Once at the hotel, I met the manager, Mr. Newmark and was told to set up in the hotel's lounge. Within a few minutes we were ready to show him what we could do. He arrived accompanied by another man and a woman. We played several songs from our repertoire. When we finished, we were told by the manager that we weren't what he was looking for. Just then, the other man asked if we knew a tune called, Joey. We knew it and Tony even sang the lyrics. The woman developed tears in her eyes and the man whispered in the ear of Mr. Newmark who then walked out of the audition. This man then introduced himself saying, "My name is Dante Mazzeri and I own the hotel." Pointing to the woman, he added, *My wife and I have a son named, Joey. You're hired." We talked over the terms and the salary and both as- pects were to my liking. I signed the contract and dis- cussed my still evident tan with both him and his wife. I had to re-arrange a few things, but at the end of the following week, we opened at the Charter House Hotel, and actually stayed there for a year. I let everybody in East Boston and the North End that I was friendly with know where we were playing and as a result, brought in my own crowd which helped business and made us look good. I think the proud- est person to see us was Babbononno. GOD BLESS AMERICA The Socially Set (Continued from Page 9) DeCordova trustee Cathy England, left, with overseer Katie Block, right, and her daughter Maddie. (Photo by Roger Farrington) tions can be found at raffle. Winners will be an- nounced at the Society's "Bach Portrait" concert on Sunday, May 2, 2010, need not be present to win. ....... We are delighted and honored to have been invited to speak at the upcoming "Boston Flower & Garden Show," which takes place at the Seaport World Trade Cen- ter, Boston, from Wed- nesday, March 24 through Sunday, March 28. For com- plete details about the show, visit www. TheBostonFlower Presenting "A Feast for the Garden Traveler," I will be sharing some of the special gardens I have visited and written about through the years, including destina- tions in Europe, Africa, the Caribb'ean, and the USA. My slide presentation is scheduled for Wednesday, March 24 th at 5 p.m. I invite you to come and "feast" your eyes on some spectacular landscapes sure to nourish your gardening soul. I'll also be giving away some garden related door prizes. Enjoy! {Be sure to visit Hilda Morrill's gardening Web site,, and sign the Guest Book by this coming Sunday, March 14 for a chance to win tickets to the 2010 Boston Flower and Gar- den Show, being held March 24 - 28, at the Seaport World Trade Center, Boston. In addi- tion to events covered and re- ported by the columnist, "The Socially Set" is compiled from various other sources such as news and press releases, PRNewswire services, etc.) America's Greatest Concerns (Continued from Page 2) our unfunded liabilities at 106 trillion, the taxpayers will be justified to defy authority. A recent "Patriot Update" reveals what the President's proposal contains in Obama- Care and I quote in part: The proposal maintains the individual mandates and the Senate's "free-rider" employer mandate that will increase individual premi- ums by up to 30 percent ac- cording to the Congressional Budget Office. Deep cuts to Medicare and hefty tax increases to pay for the expansion and creation of new entitlement pro- grams: Specifically the pro- posed increases cut Medi- care Advantage plans, cut what doctors and hospitals are paid to treat seniors, raise the Medicare payroll tax even higher (adding it to a tax on earned income in addition to a tax on *high income individuals") and add a new tax on all Americans who own stocks or bonds. New bureaucratic boards that dictate how doctors practice medicine and give government agencies con- trol over what technological services health plans can provide. Americans will be forced to select from health plans with benefits re- stricted by government bu- reaucrats. There are several more categories to numerous to include in one editorial in my opinion this Marxist plan, if implemented, will con- clude the finest health care the world has ever known. It is essential to defeat ev- ery Senator or Congress-per- son who would vote to replace our much envied health plan with one only a socialist would advance. St. Patrick's Day (Continued from Page 5) names of the emperors Titus, Trajan and Hadrian were unearthed, raising the intriguing possibility that the Italic presence in Ire- land ran from, at least, AD 79 to AD 138. Italian observ- ers have called this discov- ery "revolutionary." Experts agree that Drumanagh not only ex- pands the perimeters of the Roman Empire but enlarges the cultural sweep of the Latin world. Historically, it underscores the importance that Italy's ancient pioneers attached to their civilizing mission. And, as some old "paesani" used to say, after a snob encounter with an Anglo neighbor, "their people were living in cages, when the Italians were giving civi- lization and culture to the world." Reprinted with permission from L' Italo - Americano.