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March 23, 2012

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ii POST-GAZETTE, MARCH 23, 2012 Page 13 ! abb nonno by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance Babbononno was a master carpenter. Carpentry was one of his two trades when he decided to stay in America. He had learned a bit about construction, but his forte was furniture. He could make anything with hand tools. When he was a boy, most tools were hand tools, as electricity was something brand new. Ma- chines that we take for granted like a lathe that turns out round table legs, he operated with a foot treadle. Saws, planes, files and rulers in his hands were like magic wands, he would wave them and the result would be furniture parts that he would glue together and later finish with a rich brown color and a hand rubbed luster that would al- low you to see your face re- flecting back. None of his sons were in- terested in his day time trade. They all followed his other career path, music. All my uncles became musi- cians. Two out of the three would play professionally all of their lives. Uncle Paul, the oldest, Uncle Nick (my Godfather), the one in the middle, both learned sax, clarinet and flute. Uncle Gino, the youngest, learned drums, but would give it up in favor of a business career following WWlI. I was the first born grand- son, and therefore, the sec- ond coming of a god. I spent a lot of time with Babbononno due to the fact that we, as an extended family, lived in one house, today a three- decker on Eutaw Street in East Boston. As far back as I can remember, Babbononno taught mc how to the hand tools that were like artists implements in his possession. Along with this education, I received in- structions in reading music the way he was taught, called the solfeggio method. This is the arithmetical ar- ticulation of the notes on lines and in spaces as they flow along on a piece of mu- sicpaper. I would have to sing them and beat them out as if I were conducting an orchestra. When we were in the cellar, I used the same woodworking tools he used, and by the time I was eight or nine, was pretty good at making things out of wood and understanding the con- cepts that make up written music. By the time I hit my teens, the house at 70 Eutaw had long been sold. We all lived in apartments in East Bos- ton three-deckers and Babbononno was a retired gentleman of leisure. He had hoped, though, that I would follow in his footsteps and take up working with wood for a living. Dad had other ideas. He wanted me to go to college. He had no trouble with me becoming a musician, as he had made a living playing bass violin, tuba and Sousaphone before WWII. When the war began, the big bands were breaking up with most of the musi- cians going into the service. He knew that he would have to serve, but until he was called, decided to teach school and became a ma- chine shop teacher at East Boston High School, his alma mater. The time frame of teaching allowed him to be able to play music just about every night of the week, and he juggled two careers for the rest of his life. There's a term I learned as a young man, "Yankee work ethic." It may have been applicable for the Yankees, but to me, I learned the "Italian work ethic." This was just as good, if not better. When I was about nine or ten, I began to wash and wax cars for people in the neighborhood. A year or two later, a couple of the older kids from Eutaw Street began working at both the Seville and Central Theaters in East Boston. As I hit the advanced age of thirteen, I wanted to dress in a uniform and do the same thing. I began hanging around the Seville, helping my neighborhood chums before the theater opened and helping thcm pick up the seats after a matinee to allow the cleaning ladies to sweep the floors. As a result, I got to know the manager and the assistant manager, both of whom told me that they might have a job for me as soon as there was a vacancy. It was the middle of the summer of my thirteenth year, and a couple of the ushers at the Seville, in- cluding my friends, were transferred to the Central, as they were in need of an usher staff. Another of the ushers was selected to be the head usher and was told by the manager to put me on the payroll. It was the middle of August, when I went in one day to help out, I was directed to the usher's room and fitted for a uniform. They needed to fill in the empty i FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST -- THE MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS 781-648-5678 slots and I was the first one picked. Both Mr. Ray, the manager, and Mr. Wall, the assistant manager called the head usher and me into the office and I was told the rules and regulations that accompanied the position. I was also informed that I had to go in town and obtain working papers to keep the job, and just before the meet- ing concluded, I was in- formed that my salary was based on the state mini- mum, fifty-five cents per hour. I ran home to tell the fam- ily about my new position in life. Nanna was delighted and dunked a piece of bread in the gravy she was mak- ing, gave it to me to test her mixture and said that she would make sure all of my white shirts would be ready for me when I had to work. Morn told her that I only had one white shirt, but Nanna assured me that I could have a couple that Babbononno didn't wear. At age thirteen, he and I were about the same size. When Babbo- nonno heard the news, he didn't express the joy I felt. He was hoping that I would stay with music and wood- working. He had sort of ignored my car washing business as he couldn't iden- tify with cars ... he hated them and they hated him, but that's a story for another day. When Dad arrived home, I told him about the job, and his comment was, "I don't know ff they will let you work nights, you're too young." It dawned on me, I had to obtain working papers to legally work at the Seville, but you had to bc ixtccn years old to get them and I was only thirteen. A few days later, I had my work sched- ule and I was set to go with a royal blue and red uniform, a matching necktie and a Babbononno white shirt. The following day, I headed to downtown Boston, found the Social Security Admin- istration and obtained my first Social Security card. My first day found me under the scrutiny of both the man- ager and assistant manager. When I finished work that afternoon, they reminded me about my working pa- pers, and I assured them that, on the next day, I would head to the state building in town that issued them. I didn't know what to do. I was thirteen and had to be sixteen to obtain the nec- essary documents to stay on the job. I bluffed my way through a couple of weeks, giving every excuse I could come up with as to why I hadn't picked them up yet. Mr. Wall, the assistant man- ager, kept pushing the sub- ject and I knew I couldn't con him any longer. I had a problem that seemed impossible to re- solve, but that's a story for another day. GOD BLESS AMERICA Romney (Continued from go positive or at least start going negative against Obama and stop calling Santorum "a light weight" or Gingrich "this, that or the other thing." Does Romney in his gut understand what working families and the middle class are feeling[ Katz wonders if he does or even is capable of doing. This is Romney's biggest challenge as he slowly inches closer to the correct number of delegates to win on the first ballot on the con- vention. Many Tea Party Republi- cans seem to still be hoping against hope that another candidate will enter the race. The object is to win in November and not just at the convention. At this point that happening appears to be in the realm of political fantasy. Republicans will not come out winners if they are banking on the so-called clothespin vote and the idea that anybody but Obama is the way to go. Another talk Page 1) radio guy Jay Severin thinks any circus clown could beat Obama in November but that seems delusional as Obama if anything is a great campaigner. As a candidate, he is a little Ronald Reagan and a little Bill Clinton. He should be in as much trouble as Jimmy Carter was in 1980 but probably won't be. Obama starts off according to most political observers with a 47 percent base. At best, Republicans are down at about 35 percent. Their hill is much steeper but still quite do-able ff the party gets its message out for real hope and change. The Republican candidate cannot win without the Tea Party conservatives and Reagan Democrats enthusi- astically backing the GOP nominee. This has been the ongoing message of this pri- mary season and why to date no candidate has locked up the nomination yet. Next stop, Louisiana on Saturday! * Editorial (ConUnued from Carolina has rekindled po- litical war over state voter identification laws. While the merits of the suit will surely be hashed out in the politi- cal arena, the Supreme Court has in fact weighed in on the constitutional argu- ments offered by opponents of voter ID laws, and found them wanting. In light of the issue's preva- lence, it is worth revisiting that decision to see what the nation's highest court had to say about voter ID laws. In the 2008 case Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, the court upheld an Indiana voter ID law, which the National Conference of State Legislatures classifies as one of the strictest in the nation. The law requires voters to present a photo ID at polling placca, Th0 c who cannot may cast a provi- sional ballot, which will only be counted if the voter af- firms the ballot in person -- with a photo ID -- within 10 days. The Supreme Court upheld a decision by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, find- ing that "showing free photo identification is not a signifi- cant increase over the usual voting burdens, and the State's stated interests are sufficient to sustain that minimal burden." It is als0 worth noting that prior to enacting the voter ID law, Indiana did charge for photo ID's. A provision to the law repealed that fee, presumably to rescind financial barriers to voting. Like Indiana, South Carolina offers free service to state residents. I have just been advised; Texas in its new photos ID law will also provide voters with free photo service. The majority opinion, writ- ten by then -- Justice John Paul Stevens -- no conserva- tive stalwart -- examined each of the objections offered to this day in opposition to voter ID laws. The opposition claims that ID laws are burdensome, are have no argument when they consider that states offer free Page 3) identification cards to any resident who request one. Classes of voters, however, those requirements may pro- vide additional burdens. Those include the homeless, indigent, or elderly, and those with religious objec- tions to be photographed. The laws inclusion of provisional ballot exceptions, the court ruled are ample to mitigate those restrictions. "And even assuming that the burden may not be justified as to a few voters," Stevens added, "that conclusion is by no means sufficient to establish petitioners' right to the relief they seek in this litigation" -- namely, invalidation of the entire law. Key to the court's decision was the fact that the peti- tioners had not disputed the tate's interest in pro- teeting the integrity of the voting process. Rather, they claimed that the law was a partisan attempt to restrict voters, to the advantage of state Republicans. In conclusion, the court found the law was spurred by legitimate concern -- one that even its opponents could not dispute -- and "the pre- cise interests advanced by the State are therefore suf- ficient to defeat petitioners' facial challenge." This just in, you won't believe that Officials of the NAACP are presenting their case against U.S. voter ID laws, arguing to the international diplomats that the requirements disenfran- chise voters and suppress the minority vote. The United Nations Human Rights Council is investigat- ing the issue of American election laws at its gathering in Geneva, Switzerland. This, despite the fact that some members of the coun- cil have only in the past sev- eral years allowed women to vote, and one member, Saudi Arabia still bars women from the voting booth completely. You have to ask yourself, where is the outrage from the Democratic Party and Obama himself?.