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March 25, 2011     Post-Gazette
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March 25, 2011

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POST-GAZETTE, MARCH 25, 2011 Page13 Nanna -. Babbbhonno by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance Maybe I'm getting older, but life seemed simpler back when I was a kid. It might be that everything was new to me and everything was part of a learning experience. One thing I've realized is that nothing stays the same. Part of the simplicity was the way we shopped..Much of it was done at the corner grocery store. Actually, there were no supermarkets in East Bos.ton or the North End. Today, those corner grocery stores are called convenience stores, but it's not the same. Let me give you examples of the differences. Nanna might say to me, "I ran out of soap powder. You go to the comer store and see what they have." She would give me a quarter and I would head for Cutliffs Variety Store which was on the corner of Eut'aw and Brooks Streets in East Boston. Mr. Cutlfff would be behind the checkout counter which was on the right just as you entered. He would be wearing a white apron and a straw hat. He'd say hello and I'd smile back and head to where the soaps were located. There were ba- sically only three brands that the women in my neighbor- hood used, Duz, Rinso and Super Suds. I knew that Nanna liked Duz, but before I picked up the~ box, I searched the rack. They had bar soap with names like Lifeboy, Lava, Lux, Palmolive, and Ivory. But, Nanna wanted Duz for her washing machine and that's what I bought. Nanna was one of the few in the neighborhood who had a washing machine. Most of the women washed their clothes in the kitchen, sink using a scrub board and a brush. When the clothes were clean, the water would be drained from the sink and each garment would be wrung out by hand. The next step was to dry out the clothes. That meant opening a win- dow, taking clothes pins from a bag hanging outside the window and hanging the clothes on the clothes line which stretched from the house to a pole or tree on the other side of the back yard. When Nanna hung every- thing on that line, which was usually on a Monday, as that was wash day, the entire neighborhood knew what you owned: Nanna's underwear, her house dresses, Babbo- nonno's long underwear, sox, shirts, his work clothes, table cloths that no longer showed wine and gravy stains, and handkerchiefs. The only ar- ticles that didn't go on the line Today, you can go to any of were the lace curtains, table the convenience stores and cloths and doilies. They would buy a lottery card using your be dried on a stretcher, a favorite numbers, or pur- frame with two or three hori- chase they type of card where zontal strips of wood, one on you scratch the surface with the top, one in the middle and a coin to reveal numbers or one on the bottom. Connect- objects that allow you to win ing them were three verticalan amount of money. Back strips of wood, one on each when I was a kid, there was end and the other in the no such concept. The Massa- middle. The entire contrap- chusetts Blue Laws prohibited tion was about five feet tall any form of gambling. The and about six feet long. There folks in my neighborhood were nails facing you every could not be deterred from couple of inches and every- playing their favorite num- thing lace was hung on the bers. There was a corner nails to prevent them from bookie who took the bets. The shrinking as they dried. In federal security numbers the good weather, these would be published in the stretchers were located in the Evening Record, a nightly back yard. In the winter, they newspaper. If your number were in the cellar, came out, you could win ap- Dad would often send me proximately seven dollars for back to that same corner every cent gambled. Once in store to buy cigarettes. When a while. Nanna would give me [ was a kid. they were fifteen a piece of paper with her cents a pack, or two for a quar- name on it and a series of ter. Today, there are dozensthree or four numbers. She of choices and the cost is over would add a nickel with the eight dollars per pack. Backpiece of paper and tell me' to then, the cigarettes were give it to the bookie. This was housed in cubby holed part of the weekly shopping shelves behind the checkout as far as my little mind was counter. You had your choiceconcerned. of Camels, Lucky Strike, If I was a good kid, I would Chesterfield, Philip Morris.get a nickel for a treat. I liked Old Gold, Pall Mall, Kools and soft drinks and the choice Raleigh. There were those was limited, Coca Cola, Pepsi that liked king size cigarettes Cola, Royal Crown Cola, 7 Up, and they bought Pall Mall. and orangeade. There was Ko01s were menth'olated and another brand that Morn had a cork tip. Raleigh had liked, Moxie. It was bitter and redeemable coupons. If a nasty to my taste buds, but to smoker didn't want to spend Morn, anything bitter or bad the fifteen cents, you couldtasting was good for you. buy mongrel brands like There was a local bottler in Wings or Alligators. They East Boston that sold soda for were cheaper. For those who about a dime less than the really didn't want to spend major brands. Saraford made much money, they sold Bull several flavors of soda and Durham. This brand was a most were popular in my do-it-yourself selection. For house. I liked my Royal Crown five cents, you received a Cola. little bag of cigarette tobacco The one thing that I never and a pack of rolling papersbought at the comer store was that allowed the owner to roll bread. They sold American thirty cigarettes. When I bread: Wonder Bread, Bond would ask the owner for two Bread and bread from the packs of Old Golds, Dad's Cushman Bakery. We never brand at the time, there wasate American bread. Accord- no question as to age. He ing to my family, you bought knew that they were slated bread at a bakery and it for my father, Once in a had to be baked that day. while, Babbononno would Nanna would buy La Carcia's give me a dime to buy two or Umana's scali and Babbo- American cigars for him. He nonno often came home was used to the Perodi and with a round loaf tucked un- DiNobili brands, but when der his arm. [ didn't know he wanted an American what American bread tasted cigar, he would say, "Jenny,like until I was in junior me compra due cigari, uno high school and had to buy a Dexter e uno sette-vente- school lunch one day. quattro." (Johnny, buy me two Dad was modern, he didn't cigars, a Dexter and a 7-20-brush his teeth with salt as 4) It wasn't until the earlydid Nanna and Babbononno. 1950s that new brands hit the He used tooth powder, and I market and many arrived often would buy a can of with filter tips and king ,sized Kolonos or Pepsodent for him lengths, at that same corner store. JUSTINE YANDLE PHOTOGRAPHY 781.589.7347 J USTINE.YANDLE@GMAIL.COM WWWJUSTINEYANDLEPHOTOGRAPHY.COM Milk back then was delivered in glass bottles on a daily basis. Hoods was popular, but we got our milk from Shawmut, a local East Bos- ton dairy. It came in pints and quarts, nothing larger. I'm out of space and if you've read this column and didn't understand any- thing, then you're just a kid, sorry. GOD BLESS AMERICA * The Socially Set (Continued frorri Page 7) Suki and Miguel de Braganca (he's a BLO Board member) enjoy "A Roman Affair" at the Mandarin Hotel. (Photo by Roger Farrington) what was Newport's first organized flower show. This show will pay homage to these horticultural artists by offering a class specifi- cally for the current estate gardeners of Newport. The Newport Flower Show will be open to the public from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, June 24, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both Sat- urday and Sunday, June 25 & 26. Special guests will head- line Luncheon Lectures. On Friday, June 24, attend- ees can learn the latest trends in floral design from Kevin Ylvisaker, an interna- tional lecturer and cutting- edge Design Director for Oasis. Kevin has 35 years experience in the floral industry. He was a member of the design teams for the inaugurations of Presi- dents George Bush and Bill Clinton, and has judged at the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, CA. Tickets will be available for the Luncheon and Lecture or Lecture only. Sylvia Weinstock is con- sidered by-many to be the "Queen of Cake." Her pas- tiche flowers are so lifelike and artfully placed that she would easily qualify as a floral arranger. For 35 years, she has been producing fantastic cakes for the world's most exclusive cli- ents and parties. On Satur- day, June 25, following a luncheon on the lawn, Sylvia will share how she integrates flowers into her cake art and her love of entertaining. After the lec- ture, she will sign her books. As on Friday, tickets will be available for the Lun- cheon and Lecture or Lec- ture only. Free lectures and demon- strations by noted plant experts, flower designers and gardeners will also be presented throughout the weekend, For more informa- tion and to purchase tickets for the Newport Flower Show, call 401-847-1000 or visit With Newport's largest private ballroom, Rosecliff was constructed in 1902 as a party pavilion for one of the leading society hostesses of the Gilded Age. This snow- white terra-cotta mansion, modeled the Grand Trianon at Versailles, was created for Theresa Fair Oelrichs, heir to the Corn- stock silver lode in Nevada. It hosted many of the most fabulous entertainments of the period, including a fairy- tale dinner and a party featuring magician Harry Houdini. All proceeds from the Newport Flower Show ben- efit the ongoing landscape restoration efforts of The Preservation Society of Newport County. Enjoy! (Be sure to visit Hilda Morrill's gardening Web site, In addition to events covered and reported by the columnist, "The Socially Set" is compiled from various other sources such as news and press re- leases, PRNewswire services, etc.) 1861 > loll > > @ Flo~oa !