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March 29, 2013     Post-Gazette
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March 29, 2013

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POST-GAZETTE, MARCH 29, 2013 Page 13 ,n, Sanna 00abb00onno by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance Well, it's Easter and I would like to wish you Buona Pasqua. For Italians, Easter has its traditions, just like Christmas, Saint's Days, Baptisms, First Communion, Confirmation, Matrimony and God forbid, deaths. Growing up, Easter was like a Sun- day dinner, three genera- tions around Nanna and Babbo-nonno's table. Only this time, Nanna would have baked a few treats that were specifically for Easter. Back when my mother and uncles were kids, Babbo- nonno moved the family from Orleans Street to Eutaw Street. According to the story I had heard, one day, when everyone was out, the apart- ment was robbed. Nanna told Babbononno that there were people in the neighborhood that were jealous of Babbo- nonno's successes and what the family owned as a result. Babbononno agreed with her and decided to move his wife and kids to an American neighborhood and he bought the house at 70 Eutaw Street on the Eagle Hill part of East Boston. They were happy there and things seemed safer. When my mother's youngest brother was a few years old, Babbo- nonno, knowing Easter was the next major holiday, decided to serve lamb for Easter Sunday dinner. He would accomplish this de- sire by buying a live lamb and raising it until it had been fattened for Easter. The back yard at 70 Eutaw was big enough for a shed to exist and this is where the lamb lived while it was be- ing fattened for slaughter. Uncle Gino was the baby of the family and adopted the lamb as his pet. No one told him the real purpose for the lamb's future. Well, during the week that separates Palm Sunday and Easter, Babbononno sharpened his cutting knives to a razor's edge and at the end of the week, prepared the lamb for the Easter dinner table. Uncle Gino went looking for his pet and couldn't find it. In spite of his young age, he was frantic and searched everywhere. No one told him what had happened until Easter dinner revealed the truth. Nanna roasted the entire lamb head and all and my youngest of uncles "took a nutty" at the dinner table. Well, time passed and Uncle Gino grew up, went to school, went to work and joined the Army Air Corps during WWlI. He, today, is the only one left from that generation in my immediate family. Uncle Gino is going to be 96 this June, is in good health and would hang around with me if my aunt would let him. But, I under- stand from Aunt Ninna and cousins that, to this day, my one remaining uncle won't eat lamb. The thing I remember about Easter from when I was young is that during Holy Week, we kids had to be on our best behavior. Each day, Morn or Nanna would have the radio on set to the station that broadcast Cardinal Cushing saying the Rosary. Of course, from Ash Wednesday on, when we received ashes at Sacred Heart Church, we kids would discuss what we were going to give up for Easter. The old tradition had us sacrificing something for the next 40 days of Lent. I would stop eat- ing candy or ice cream and when Holy Week arrived, would attend the Stations of the Cross at church. If I remember correctly, on Good Friday, we had to visit sev- eral churches and keep si- lent for three hours. That was the hardest thing for me to do as I could never be quiet. On Holy Saturday, we would head back to church and go to confession to pre- pare for Communion at the kids Easter Mass the next morning. After Mass, I would stop at Nanna and Babbononno's for my allowance. On Easter it was a dollar. Nanna, know- ing I had not eaten since din- ner the night before due to the rules of fasting back then, would give me a piece of the round loaf of Italian bread dunked in her gravy which, was simmering on the kitchen stove. It would somehow be accompanied by a meatball. This was to tide me over for a few hours until we returned to her house for Easter dinner. Years later, I was a clothes horse. I loved to dress in the latest fashions of the day and have to brag by saying that I could carry it off. I was about 15 and a neighbor, Danny Gallo, who worked in the garment industry, asked my father and me if we were interested in new suits for Easter. Dad told him that I was and a couple of nights later, he was in our apart- ment with a tape measure and swatches of material from his company. One button roll suit jackets were all the rage and I sketched one out on a piece of paper. He took my mea- surements and I picked a piece of material that I liked. It was a light blue year-round wool. I wanted the pant leg bottoms slightly pegged and cuffed which Danny said would not be a problem. During the week, I headed to Sumner's, a high-style men's shop that existed on Tremont Street near the cor- ner of Berkley. I bought a roll collar dress shirt with French cuffs and found a very narrow navy blue velvet necktie to compliment the shirt and suit. When I was back in East Boston, I headed for the Thorn McCann shoe store, spoke to the manager, Peter Aiello, and bought a pair of navy blue suede shoes with pointed toes and pointed side extensions on the last and sole. They were called spades back then and I thought they would look great. Mr. Aiello gave me a suede brush for my shoes. He said it really cost 59 cents but it was free to me. I think I still have the brush mixed in with my shoe shin- ing materials ... after all these years. A couple of days later, Danny Gallo brought the suit to our apartment and I tried it on and it was perfect. Easter Sunday finally ar- rived and my friends and I headed down the Brooks Street hill and attended the 10:00 o'clock Mass at the Sacred Heart. Since all of us had gone to confession the day before, we were ready for two things: Communion and to show off our new clothes. Back then Easter was a holi- day when everyone dressed in their finest. Ladies wore dresses, high heels, hats and gloves. Men dressed in suits and ties and before and af- ter we received Commun- ion, we would check out what everyone was wearing, the girls included. After Mass, my friends and I would hang out on our fa- vorite corner until it was time to head home and sit down to Easter dinner with at least three generations of family ... antipasto, escarole soup, ravioli, meatballs, stuffed artichokes, gravy meats, salad and home- made wine. Those were the days and in remembrance, HAPPY EASTER one and all ... Buona Pasqua. GOD BLESS AMERICA uona asqua Rapino Memorial Home 9 Chelsea St., East Boston 617-567-1380 Kirby-Rapino Memorial Home 917 Bennington St. East Boston 617-569-0305 NEW LOCATION Dino C Manca Funeral Director A Family Service Affiliate o! AFFS/Service Corp. Int'l 206WinterSt. FallRiver, MA02720 508-676-2454 Remember Your Loved Ones The Post-Gazette accepts memorials throughout the year. Please call 617-227-8929 L'Anno Bello (Continued from Page 1) Christ. In Florence, a cart is loaded with fireworks and then exploded in a brilliant display, a custom which reminds me of the folkloric Easter Fires in northern Europe, relics of pagan cus- toms where bonfires wel- comed in spring. As is typi- cal in Italy, food forms the benchmark of many Easter celebrations. My grand- mother fondly remembers the traditional Neapolitan Easter pie, or pastiera. It can be made with rice, wheat berries or ricotta, and this year I plan to make the ricotta version with chunks of bittersweet chocolate mixed inside. Also typical, is the colomba pasquale or "Easter dove," a sweet bread of candied peels and al- monds. Italians do not stop their food traditions on Easter Sunday, however. The next day, Easter Monday, is known as Pasquetta or "Little Easter," in Italy and is celebrated with outdoor excursions and picnics. I love incorporating these Italian traditions into my Easter festivities because they are so rustic, simple and gleeful, reminiscent of ancient times when the coming of spring meant the renewal of life for agricul- tural communities. Easter in Italy is a resplen- dent holiday, filled with old folk customs and wonderful food. Central to these tradi- tions are its promises of the rebirth of spring, evident in its use of eggs and rabbits and flowers. This Easter, I urge everyone to be thank- ful for the second chances that spring gives to the world, to nature and to our selves. I wish everyone a very happy Easter, or, as the Italians would say: Buona Pasqua! Ally Di Censo is a Graduate Student in History at the Uni- versity of Massachusetts Bos- ton. She appreciates any com- ments and suggestions about Italian holidays and folklore at Socially Scene (Continued This innovative yet classic group from the homeland is hitting the Hub April 5 tn and 6 tn at the Citi Shubert Theatre located at 270 Tremont Street Boston. For more information on tickets and show times you can call (617) 482-9393 or visit www.celebrityseries, org. A Little Tasty Treat to Compliment Your Time in the City .... Mistral is Boston's acclaimed French restaurant from celebrated Chef/Owner Jamie Mam- mano. Located in the city's stylish South End, Mistral showcases Chef Mammano's uncomplicated French Medi- terranean cuisine, high- lighted with the season's finest ingredients. Inspired by the wind that sweeps from Page 9) through the south of France, the restaurant's decor is reminiscent of Provence with handpicked French pottery, high ceilings and arched floor to ceiling win- dows that evoke a feeling of warmth and sophistica- tion. Mistral's dramatic din- ing room serves dinner nightly and Sunday Brunch. In their bar and comfortable lounge area they also offer craft cocktails and fine wines to compliment Chef Mammano's menu. Mistral's private dining room, Le Sa- lon du Mistral, accommo- dates 60 seated and up to 80 guests for a reception. Mis- tral is located at 223 Colum- bus Avenue and can be con- tacted at 617-867-9300 for hours and reservations. Agency Since 1969 FOR ALL YOUR INSURANCE NEEDS AUTO " HOMEOWNERS TENANTS COMMERCIAL Experience makes the difference 209 BROADWAY, REVERE, MA 02151 Tel. 781.284.1100 Fax 781.284.2200 Free Parking Adjacent to Building