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April 2, 2010     Post-Gazette
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POST-GAZETTE, APRIL 2, 2010 Page 13 day dinner, palms were given or swapped, accompanied by hugs, kisses, salutations, and for us kids, money from our grandparents. On the following Sunday, especially in Italian neigh- borhoods, the tradition was to dress in new Easter out- fits and head to Mass and later return to the home of the grandparents for the tra- ditional holiday dinner. In my case, it was a new suit, shirt, tie, shoes and a walk from Eutaw Street, down the Brooks Street hill to the cor- ner of Brooks and Paris Streets where the Sacred Heart church is located. Everyone in East Boston would be decked out in their Easter finest and as people passed us kids on our way to Mass, they would wish us a Happy Easter in either English or Italian. After the children's Mass, I would stop in to see Nanna and Babbononno for a few minutes. Nanna, knowing I had received Communion, would have something for me to eat. Back then, going to Communion meant no eat- ing for 12 hours before re- ceiving the sacrament. On Easter Sunday morning, my breakfast consisted of sam- ples of things Nanna was cooking for family dinner. Of course, Babbononno would comment on the way I was dressed and would have a dollar or two for me to chris- ten the pants pocket of my new suit with. I would return home, walking up the Brooks ,i i _.. ontinue from age' 1! Sciortino, D-Somerville look- cans were sympathetic to ing for an alternative to Bobby Sands who passed ! nn~ b " hn'~h"" f the South Boston parade, away on May 4, 1981, few I O yJo ~ rlstooro l I thought this was strange believed this issue belonged since his father Felix inside the parade. I ANostalgicRemembrance I marched in this parade. I In 1995, the US Supreme marched with Felix in South Court didn't rule that the " Easter will ........................... Boston and even gave Felix parade committee had the i i be with us in Babbononno would have during a drought, he broughta great green tie to wear for right to bar gays from march- a day or two and there are bottles of rum, brandy, whis- rain; he prevented famine onmarching in it. ing, the court just allowed ~ a lot of preparations neces-key, and Zi'Antonio's best the island and spared many Sciortino who is an openly the parade committee the i! sary to celebrate this Chris- home-made red wine sit- during times of plague. As agay state legislator told the right to organize the parade tian holiday Italian style ting on the kitchen table, thank you gesture to their South End News, "I wouldn't without anyone trying to First of all, the prelude toalong with olives, pieces ofprayers, Sicilians prepared be welcomed to march in the overrule the parade commit- i] Easter Sunday is Palm Sun- finocchio (anise celery), as- banquets for their patron parade, so I didn't even try." tee. Gays and lesbians were day. On this day, Christianssorted cheeses and cold cuts, saint. Locally, this tradition That simply isn't true and is never barred from marching go to Mass or services and a few different types of pep- of hosting a banquet is un- just a sound bite made for but they were barred like receive palms which repre- pers and cut up pieces from dertaken by Barbara Summa, the media present most other groups I mentioned i sent the palms tossed be- a round loaf of bread. This the owner of La Summa's on likely. If State Represents-because while the parade {1 neath the feet of Jesus as he was the antipasto station, if Fleet Street in Boston's his- tive Carl Sciortino wanted committee thought civil pro- ! either rode or walked into you will, a wet-your-whistletoric North End. to march in the parade testers had legitimate civil ~t Jerusalem. In Italian fami- course that prepared you The Renaissance Lodge of like other politicians he rights to be fighting for, the ~] lies of old, this meant thatfor what was coming. When the Sons of Italy held courtwould have been welcomed, parade was not the place to ! you gathered at Nonno and we all sat down, we began at La Summa's on Sunday, If he wanted to march as a do that. Nonna's home. Before you satwith Nanna's escarole soup March 21st. Lodge president gay protester, he would havePoliticians who would down to the traditional Sun-with tiny meatballs. This and first lady, Dean Saluti been barred. The parade is rather go to a protest dis- was followed by ravioli madeand Margie Cahn, hosted about St. Patrick, the Revo-guised as a party, do a dis- ~! from scratch including the dough. This course was ac- companied and followed by the meats that gave Nanna's gravy such a great taste. Let's see, there were meat- balls, chunks of pork, veal, chicken and cut-up sirloin. (If I could Fmd a piece of pork skin, I would be in heaven.) Then came the vegetables, stuffed artichokes, green beans in olive oil and gar- lic, mixed vegetables, and later the salad. Dessert con- sisted of fruits, nuts and coffee. Later, after everyone had digested, out came the pastries, cookies and Ital- ian candies. All of this was accompanied by my great uncle's best red and white wines {mostly red). When everyone left, Nanna would have doggie bags of leftovers for everyone to take. Saying goodbye would take at least a half hour considering the hugs, kisses, saying thank you in Italian and English and then maybe an encore of the whole thing. The en- core and its length would depend on how many glasses of wine were consumed be- fore, during and after the Easter feast. That is the way it was, and to some extent, the way it will be for us. We will be joining forces with my cousin, Ralph Pepe, and with a few additions of American food, celebrate in the traditions that were taught to us two genera- tions ago by his grand- a group of lodge members and friends who joined in to celebrate by sampling the multi-course dinner that is symbolic of the day. Barbara went overboard with her traditional dishes beginning with orange slices with finocchio and olives, broccoli rape and beans, calamari salad, frittata made with pepper, eggs and potato, stuffed arti- chokes, pasta sardi (with sardines), pasta mollica (bread crumbs, orange peel, cinnamon which represents sawdust as St. Joseph was a carpenter by trade), fried smelts, cassattedi, zeppole (fried dough), struffoli, fruit cup, coffee and biscotti which was made by Paula Santosuosso. The only prob- lem was four or five days later I got hungry again. Many of the guests were not Italian and either Dean, I or Barbara's wait staff had to explain what the dishes contained. Even some of the guests who are Italian American had never celebrated a Sicilian holiday before and were as intrigued as the non- Italians. When the new com- ers asked me my opinion, I cheerfully told them that La Summa's is one of the only places I eat at in the North End. I'm fussy and ad- mit it. Many of the events I'm involved with take place at La Summa's, especially if I'm responsible for organiz- lutionary War and South Pride, it isn't about getting into peoples' faces using the parade for special agendas. Back in the 70s during the anti-busing furor, ROAR was not allowed to march be- cause the parade committee activity protests would mar the parade for those trying to enjoy the day. In the 80s, when the Irish-American community was protesting the British during those hunger strikers march to death. While Irish Ameri- service to all those working class families just trying to enjoy the long tradition of this parade. I am sure these elected officials don't see it that way but that's the way it really is. I have come to that point in my life that I am not concerned about same-sex marriage or gay rights. We all have rights under our constitution. The Bill of Rights protects us all. BUT sometimes a parade is just a parade. 7 ucncr Wa ucr Matt6o Gallo Appraisals Sales & Rentals Real Estate 376 North Street * Boston, MA 02113 (617) 523-2100 * Fax (617) 523-3530 parents and Nanna and ing them. Street hill and again give Babbononno. I don't have enough space and receive the Easter salu- There is another tradi- to list all the people who at- Past State President, OSIA Cation from people along the tion that takes place dur- tended, but it was a who's MR. & MRS. JOE : way. Later, along with my ing Lent, St. Joseph's Day. who from the Renaissance folks, we would head back In Sicily, St. Joseph (San Lodge. People involved in "G'uffrlda to Nanna and Babbononno's Giuseppe) is the Patron business, the media, the I i for the traditional dinner Saint. According to legend, arts, the military and edu- i: cation. I think I was the -- J I e~-/~P Y (~ 1Idest ne there "'" HELPI ~ ~4~m.~(2S Well, by the time you read p aSt * this column, it will be Eas- uona qua ter Sunday. Son John won't be able to make it home, ~: ~A~ i ~, ~ / but Michael will. He's only ~ ~ in New York. John is in I ~T, MIcH~,LCEMETEIiy I Zurich, Switzerland. We OCTOBER ITALIAN HERITAGE MONTH COMMITTEE!! will all head to Cousin www.ItalianHeritageMont.h.com / / Ralph's home and combine Info@ItalianHeritageMonth.com 617-499-7955 ii the families as we do on FROM THE MEMBERS OF THE BOARD | 500 Conterbury Street / most holidays. It represents Car. Kevin Caira, President- Dr. Stephen Maio, Chairman the extended family that Dr. Liborio Stellino, Consul General of Italy, Honorary Chairman ". Boston, MA 02131 Ralph and I grew up with Salvatore Bramante, Vice President Fiscal Affairs ~! " 617,524, 1036 and it keeps things going Cecile BiancO,Dr.VicejohnPresidentchristoforo,Administration. LuciaDirector of EducationClark' Secretary www.stmichaelcemetery.com for another generation. So, Rina Crugnale Burgey, Co-Director of PR - Anna Qua&i, Co-Director of PR from the Christoforo family Dr. Spencer DiScala, Historian - James DiStefano, State President OSIA, Director the ltalian eommunily for over lOOyearsr to yours, "Buona Pasqua, Comm. tino Rullo, President Emeritus Buona Salute, and May Hon. Joseph V. Ferrino, Chairman Emeritus GOD BLESS AMERICA. non. Peter W. Agnes, Jr., Past Chairman