Newspaper Archive of
Boston, Massachusetts
March 30, 2012     Post-Gazette
PAGE 13     (13 of 16 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
PAGE 13     (13 of 16 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
March 30, 2012

Newspaper Archive of Post-Gazette produced by SmallTownPapers, Inc.
Website © 2018. All content copyrighted. Copyright Information.     Terms Of Use.     Request Content Removal.

POST-GAZETTE, MARCH 30, 2012 Page 13 Last week, I was talking about my problem when I started working at the Seville Theater. I had told the manager and assistant manager that I was sixteen years old and they believed me because I looked older than my age. When I started, I was on the bottom of the food chain. I inherited the shifts that no one else wanted. After working for two weeks, Mr. Wall, the assis- tant manager, asked if I would be interested in doing some maintenance work. As an usher, I would earn the minimum wage, fifty-five cents per hour. Doing main- tenance, I would earn $1.00 an hour, and I agreed. When I told Babbononno, he didn't know what kind of mainte- nance work I would be doing and gave me a pair of work gloves to use to avoid splin- ters in my hands. I didn't want to burst his bubble by telling him that I wouldn't be handling any lumber, but that was his point of refer- ence and he was proud of his grandson, so I took the gift and kept my mouth shut. At the end of the first week of ushering and doing main- tenance, I received two pay envelopes, one with my usher's pay and the other for the other work which con- sisted of helping to repair theater seats, painting the floor of the balcony and run- ning a few errands. When I looked inside the correspond- ing pay envelope, there were just two dollars waiting for me. I questioned Mr. Wall, the assistant manager and he told me that he didn't think my work was that good and the two dollars was all that it was worth. I wasn't happy and told Dad and Babbononno. Dad was ready to intervene, but I told him that I wanted to handle it. I knew that the head of main- Wanna d" 00Babb00]nonno i i tenance had the ear of the assistant manager and I mentioned to him what I found in my pay envelope. He just shrugged. I also told him that my father was going to have the family attorney look into the matter and walked away. The next day I was working a shift in my usher's uniform and was called into the office by Mr. Wall. He stared at me for a few sec- onds without saying anything and then handed me an en- velope. I opened it and the rest of the money that was owed to me was there. He then said, "I guess you're not one of those people just off the boat." At that point, I knew exactly where he was coming from. I thanked him for the remainder of what was owed me and began to walk out of the office, and as I did, he smiled saying, "Hey kid, you're not so dumb." When I arrived home, I told Dad and Babbononno just what happened and they just smiled. Dad said some- thing I didn't get at first, "Jus- tice is sometimes its own reward." What I also didn't know was that Dad and Mr. Ray, the manager, knew each other from years back. Mr. Ray was well known in society circles and Dad played with bands that catered to the society crowd, hence the relation- ship. Word had gotten back to Mr. Ray about the pay situa- tion and I think he exercised his authority regarding the scenario. Well, I labored under the -- FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST -- THE MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS 781-648-5678 by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance gun of Mr. Wall from then on. He didn't make it easy for me, but Mr. Ray did. He was what Dad called, "Very Yan- kee." He sometimes was abrupt, and always formal or semi formal in his approach to me. Years later when I was a young adult, Mr. Ray would tell me to call him, Jim, when we went out to dinner or when he joined me and my musician friends after work at Ken's in Copley Square late at night. However, I could never bring myself to call him anything but, Mr. Ray. Behind his back, some of the long- time ushers referred to him as Papa, but face to face, it was always, Mr. Ray. I survived the summer of 1952. That fall, I began my tenure as a student at Bos- ton English High School. Mr. Wall approached me again regarding my working papers, a situation which seemed to slip my mind every time it was brought up. It got to a point where Mr. Wall became exasperated and threatened to fire me if I didn't obtain them. I thought my career as an usher was over because I was only 14 years old by late October, still two years younger than the minimum age to obtain them. Then, one day, I headed for work and all traces of Mr. Wall were gone. I asked Mr. Ray where he was and was told that he was transferred to another the- ater. I didn't say I was glad, but I was happy about the situation. Then I thought about it, "Sometimes, the enemy you know is better than the enemy you don't know." So, I asked Mr. Ray who was going to take his place and I was told that the company was doing away with the position of assistant manager, and he, Mr. Ray, would be running things by himself. As time went on, I worked my way up the ladder. I would give Mr. Ray excuses when- ever he mentioned working papers and thought ! was conning the man. When I turned sixteen and actually obtained them, I discovered that Mr. Ray knew how old I was all along. He just let things slide. Ushers and candy girls came and went over time. When I was sixteen, Mr. Ray called me and one of the candy girls into the office one evening. He told us in his abrupt way that he had caught both ushers and candy girls stealing from the theater and had fired them. Theresa, the candy girl and I just stared at each other. Mr. Ray then added, "You two were not involved, I discov- ered," and pointing to each of us added, "You are now head candy girl, and you are now head usher. Go out and hire new crews to work for you, go-go, I'm busy." With that, I became the head usher, a position I would maintain through high school, college and beyond. I hired a new crew of ush- ers including a fellow English High student named Henry Giggi. I have lost touch with him over the years, but we were pals back then, and when I made out the sched- ule, I made sure we worked the same shifts. Some of the young men I hired didn't last long. Mr. Ray either liked you or took an immediate dislike to you. I never asked him his rationale for those reactions, but for those he didn't like, he would find an excuse to get rid of them and make me do the dirty work of letting them go. A few years ago, I received a phone call from a woman who identified herself as a replacement ticket seller. I remembered her and we had a conversation that almost had me in tears. She told me that she and Mr. Ray had be- come romantically involved. He was an older bachelor whom I looked up to. I saw the refinement in his manner and copied his method of dress, suit, shirt, tie ... fash- ionable, never flashy, but al- ways dignified. The woman added that I was the son Mr. Ray never had. He presented me with gifts when I gradu- ated from high school and col- lege, but I thought this was something he did with all his employees. She added that he was as proud of me as was my father when I began my college career and just as proud when I graduated. I did reach a point in my young life when something had to go, and I quit working at the Seville ten years after I had started. My time spent in an usher's uniform was some of the most memorable in my life and I will never forget them. GOD BLESS AMERICA The Boston Model (Continued from Page i) Earlier this month, the City sold over $200 million in bonds at less than 3 per- cent interest. Boston again reaffirmed its fiscal health with a AAA bond rating. From 2006 to 2011, Bos- ton saw a 25 percent drop in crime. 14 thousand more stu- dents are receiving arts in- struction compared to three years ago. The City of Boston pro- vided 3,100 businesses with financial and technical as- sistance last year. If the country had Boston's unemployment rate, 2.6 million more people would be on the job. If the U.S. did as well as Boston, workers would see their hourly wage rise 34 percent. If the country had Boston's foreclosure rate, there would be one million fewer families threatened with foreclosure. If the U.S. had as many college graduates as Boston does, almost 28 million more Americans would hold bachelor's degrees. i m m N!A A A!L L RAT CRO BOY AVE B U L ALL R E S ,.,,U B m m U!T E TA N SHE WWW. BOSTO N POSTG AZ ETTE.COM