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March 28, 2014     Post-Gazette
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March 28, 2014

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POST-GAZETTE, MARCH 28, 2014 Page 13 ,m,, nIr 00'anna 00abb'00onno i i | A while back, I must have hit a nerve when I wrote an article about how diffi- cult it was to leave the street corner society I was involved in when I was a kid. I say hit a nerve because I began receiving emails from friends and people I had never heard of before. One such individual, who today is a close friend, is Dr. Sal Testaverde. Sal came from a Gloucester-based Sicilian family of fishermen. He, too, "hung around" a street corner and at some point in time, made the decision to move on. Sal went to school for what he knew best ... fish. He became a marine fisheries biologist for the federal government. Today in semi-retirement, he is a consultant in areas of marine environment and is a professor of marine bi- oIogy at Cambridge College. I've compared notes with several others who went through the same changes in their lives and we all agree that we made the right moves. Being Italian American back in the day was difficult. People stereo- typed you. It still hap- pens today but not as much. Just as an example, when people asked me where I came from, I would say, "East Boston." Most would then say, "Oh, Easta Bosta." When they would ques- tion me as to what I did for a living, and I told them; they often added, "Oh, I thought, maybe, you worked in construction, or some- thing." Now, there's nothing wrong with coming from East Boston ... I'm proud of it. And, there's nothing wrong with working in con- struction, I've done it. But in the narrow minds of the people who make those ref- erences, it sounds like dis- crimination or stereotyping, to say the least. When I made the con- scious effort to break away from my "street corner," it was a difficult choice. There is comfort being among my own people. I don't mean just Italian people, because the corners I "hung out" on were composed of Irish, Italian and a few other nationalities that were rep- resented in Eastie. I say comfort, because we were sort of an extended family broken into age groups: kids in their young teens, kids in their late teens, and those over the age of 21. We sort of watched out for. each other. Most were either high by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance school grads or drop outs who worked at jobs for an hourly wage, many near or at what- ever the minimum was. There were a few like my- self who went on to" some- thing after high school. Two or three went to hair dress- ing school or barber school. A couple studied carpentry or brick laying through union apprenticeship programs. A few followed in their fathers' footsteps or jumped into the family businesses, one becoming a baker, another a pizza maker, another was given a push cart and sold produce near the North End. There were one or two, who like myself, thought about going to college. The problem was the same for most of us, even if we were accepted to a college, there was no money to send us. Scholar- ships were few and far be- tween and most of us came from workingclass families. I was lucky, when I made the decision to go to college, it was a local one, Boston State. Actually, I had applied to General Motors Institute in Flint, Michigan. I wanted to study automotive design. I sent them a portfolio of draw- ings I had made (instead of doing my homework in study hall) and they accepted me. The only problem was that they didn't offer any finan- cial incentives. This meant that my father would have had to pay my tuition and my expenses to live in Flint, Michigan. Dad couldn't afford it and it never hap- pened. Boston State was cheap enough to allow me to pay my own way through. When Babbononno ac- cepted the fact that I was going to go to college, he offered to help. At this point in his life, he was living on Social Security alone. When he insisted on help- ing, I would tell him that something was a dollar, or at most, five dollars. He felt so proud that he was paying his grandson's way through college. The tuition money came from my earnings at the Seville Theater. By my sec- ond year in college, I turned professional as a musician and the money more than compensated for my mcerall costs. The hardest part about breaking away from the street corner was that I had to cross the bridge, as it were, the bridge that led to the American world. My first day at Boston State was -- FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST-- THE MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS 781-648-5678 m interesting. I looked around and saw a sea of American faces. They looked different than I, dressed differently than I did and definitely spoke another dialect of English than I did. My first reaction was to run back to the street corner where I would be protected. I ran into a young man I knew in high school, Bob Pesce, and stuck close to him. Several others who looked like we did gravitated in our dir- ection and we soon had a group of us secretly cling- ing to each other. They had names like Abruzzese, Ciccarelli, Civili, De Paoli, and LaBollita. Although we were from different neigh- borhoods, we had one thing in common, our last names ended in vowels. When I returned to the street corner, things were different. I was developing a new set of values and had my studies to deal with -which shortened any stay at our hang-out. As time went on, I was made to feel more like an outsider, or someone who had sold out to the American world and wasn't one of them any longer. By the end of my first year in college, the cor- ner was behind me. Neither Babbononno nor my parents ever said anything about me leaving the street corner society, but they in later years indicated that they were glad I did. Years later, when I be- came friendly with Dean Saluti, I remember some of our conversations with me explaining how difficult it was to forsake my old friends and make adjustments to survive in the world of the Amerieani. Dean knew what I was talking about with the exception that he never "hung out" on a street corner. One of the things I men- tioned to him was that I " periodically returned to my old corner once I started teaching. Stating this, I also told him that I would hear the same thing from old friends, "Oh, you got all the breaks, things always went your way; you're one of the lucky ones." I was one of the lucky ones but I resented the way they were thinking. I worked for it. When I explained .this to Dean, he just nodded, knowing that his insistence that I apply to Boston University for entrance to a doctoral pro- gram was not falling on deaf ears. I followed his advise, was accepted to BU and began "hanging around" with Dean and never looked back. Nanna never lived to see me graduate from col- lege and Babbononno never lived to see me receive a doctorate, but I could feel their spirits behind me. with Babbononno saying, "Imag- ine ff you had gone the other way." GOD BLESS AMERICA * Socially Scene (Continued from Page 9) Monday March 31 "t Andrew Bacevich, author and professor at Boston University will hold a discussion on many different national security issue at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. (Photo by "Monologues," Music Director Martin Pearlman will present a world premiere of the final act of his composition, Finne- gans Wake: An Operoar, Act 3, based on James Joyce's masterpiece. In this final in- stallment, Pearlman focuses on the famous final mono- logue of the female charac- ter of Anna Livia Plurabelle -- Annie or ALP as she is also known. Boston's award-win- ning actress Paula Plum will serve as the narrator for Pearlman's music. "Monologues" also will include Handel's gripping soliloquy in Agrippina con- dotta  morire which por- trays the Empress Agrippina's emotions on her way to her place of execution: she is torn between hatred of the tyrant who has ordered her death and her love of her son, whose career she sought to advance by mur- dering her own husband! Soprano Julianne Gearhart will sing the role of the emo- tional Agrippina. Finally, in a monologue for unaccompanied violin, Bos- ton Baroque's own heroine the brilliant concertmaster Christina Day Martinson will take the stage when she is showcased in a performance of Bach's challenging Violin Sonata No. 1 in G minor, his unaccompanied sonata for violin. Martin Pearlman, is the founder and Music Director of Boston Baroque, which is celebrating its 40 th anniver- sary this year. Over that time, he has directed Boston Baroque's orchestra and cho- rus in the ensemble's annual subscription series in Bos- ton, has toured with the en- semble in the United States and Europe, and has made numerous recordings, three of which have been nomi- nated for Grammy awards. "Boston Baroque is the first permanent Baroque orches- tra established in North America, and is widely re- garded as "one of the world's premier period-instrument bands." (Fanfare). The en- semble produces lively, emo- tionally charged ground- breaking performances of Baroque and Classical works, for today's audiences, per- formed on instruments and using performance tech- niques that reflect the eras in which the music was composed. This moving concert will take place on Saturday, March 29 th at 8:00 pm at Pickman Hall located inside Longy School of Music, 27 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA. Tickets can be pur- chased at or by calling 617-987-8600. Spring Forms ... At the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Wednesday, March 26 th from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm -- join a special conversation on the state of our national poli- tics with former members of Congress and presidential advisors including, among others, Olympia Snowe and Vicki Kennedy. THis forum is presented in collabora- tion with the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Edward M. Kennedy Institute and USA Today. Monday, March 31 a from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm Andrew Bacevich, author and pro- fessor at Boston University; Stephen Kinzer, author of The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles and their Secret World War; and Evan Thomas, author and profes- sor of Journalism at Prince- ton University, discuss Amer- ican intelligenqe gathering and international surveil- lance policies over the last half century through the cur- rent NSA crisis. Boston Globe national security reporter Bryan Bender moderates. All forums are free and open to the public. Reserva- tions "for forums are strongly recommended. They guaran- tee a seat in the building but not the main hall. Seat- ing is on a first-come, first- served basis. Doors to the main hall open one hour before the program begins. The Museum is located at Columbia Point, Boston and can be reached at 617-514- 1643. For more details or tickets visit Also, you can watch or listen to Kennedy Library orums LIVE on-line by logging on to / webcast. RC Freight is hiring Combination P&D rivers and PT Dock workers in Boston, I A. Great pay and benefits. | DL-A w/XT or HTN endorsements req. I ust be 21YOA w/truck driving exp. and I le to lift 65 Ibs.EOE-M/F/DN. Apply] line: vw. yrcfreight cottVcareers. .,) DRIVERS: Home Nightly! oston Flatbed! - Great Pay, Benefits/I CDL-A, 1yr. Exp. Req. | Estenson Logistics | Apply: | 1-866-336-9642