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April 4, 2014     Post-Gazette
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April 4, 2014

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POST-GAZETTE, APRIL 4, 2014 Page 13 by John Christoforo abb onno A Nostalgic Remembrance Back in the day, we used to head to a department store and purchase an Eas- ter outfit. Sunday Masses were filled with women wearing dresses, gloves and hats. Men wore suits, shirts and ties. More often than not, they also wore hats. Today, this doesn't happen. People wear casual clothes for almost every- thing, but back then, we dressed, especially on Easter Sunday. Mom would bring Nanna to Jordan Marsh and they would shop for their Easter outfits. Uncle Nick would bring Babbononno to Raymonds, like Jordans, a long-gone Washington Street depart- ment store. Dad would bring me to Filene's Basement, and combined, we all would look for Easter outfits. When I was a kid, Dad had a friend who worked at a men's clothing factory in East Boston called Picarello and Singer. If you were related to someone who worked there, you could purchase the garments at the manufacturer's cost ... a much lower price than you would pay at a retail clothing store. Dad's friend would my new clothes. Once the approval process was over, we would .head to see Billy the Tailor. Billy was a paesano of Babbononno's and one of the best tailors I have ever known. His shop was across from East Boston High School and always smelled of carbon tetrachlo- ride, a cleaning fluid that had a pungent aroma. I used to say that Billy had magic fingers when he would alter a garment that didn't fit right. He was so good, he could make an off the r~ack cheap suit iook like it was custom made just for you. Billy would come at you with a piece of tailor's chalk and mark the suit or dress in many places as you modeled it. With the men, he would ask us if we wanted cuffs or not on our pants, Dad yes, and Babbononno definitely not. Early on I had cuffs on my pants, but later and to this day, no cuffs. Billy would insist on us modeling our c'othing after he did the preliminary tailoring. If everything checked out to his satisfaction, he would finish the job. If not, he would make whatever changes he thought were necessary for a perfect fit. classified Dad as a cousin, I remember the spring of so we were in. There 1955. I was ready to head to wasr alsd another place Dad liked to shop at, Filene's Basement. I did enjoy the hustle and bustle of Filene's Basement. Dad knew someone there, also. His friend would point us in the right direction for the best quality and lowest price for suits, shirts, ties, shoes and hats. When I entered English High School, I headed for Filene's Basement on my own and was befriended by a sales- man who was an English High graduate. For the next 15 or 20 years, he waited on me when I was looking for clothes, but I digress. With Easter being a few weeks off, it was time to head to the stores and plan the Easter outfit. After the purchases were made, we would all head back to the big house on Eutaw Street in East Boston and model the clothes looking for approval from the rest of the family. Mom and Nanna would mark the dresses where they needed tailoring, and the same would apply to the rest of us. My father and grandfather's new suits would need tailoring as Filene's Basement because Easter was a month or so away and I wanted to buy a new suit. I was working at the Seville Theater and could afford to buy my own clothes which made me, a 15-year- old, a bit on the independent side. Before I headed to town, Dad informed me that one of our neighbors, Danny Gallo, worked in the garment industry and could get us suits cheaper than we could buy them for in Filene's Basement. I said OK and that night, Danny came over with swatches of mate- rial for us to choose from. Dad chose a navy blue and I chose a powder blue. Both were tropical blends and could be worn all year round. I wanted the latest style, a one button roll jacket, sort of a latter-day zoot suit from the '40s. The suit which was to be cut to my speci- fications, was going to cost me the outrageous price of 824.00. The next day, I headed to Filene's Basement and looked for a pair of pointed- toe navy blue suede shoes. I found them. From Filene's, I headed to Tremont Street and a high-style men's shop -- FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST -- THE MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS 781-648-5678 called Sumner's, For Men Who Know Style. There I bought a Mr. B collar shirt. A Mr. B collar shirt had two curves in the front going from the button to the end of the collar, when it was but- toned and rolled, it looked like the M on a McDonald's burger sign. Oh by the way, it was named after the '50s jazz singer Billy~ Eckstein, who used it as a fashion statement. The tai- lor at Sumner's even added my initials to the shirt with- out an added charge. I~ found a navy blue narrow velvet tie and a pair of navy socks to finish off the ensemble, and headed home. A few days later, the neighbor, Dally Gallo, came- over after dinner with two suits, the .one Dad ordered and the one I had chosen. We tried them on but both agreed that Billy the Tailor would have to ply his magic to finish them off. We paid Danny and that Satur- day, headed to see Billy with our new suits. Of course, Babbononno being a paesano of Billy's had to come along to hang out with his pal. Billy used a piece of tailor's chalk and marked the length of the sleeves, length of the pant legs and the shape of the middle of the jackets. We were set to go, but were told by Billy that the wait would be longer than usual as he had a lot of Easter work to handle within the next few weeks. As long as we could get our suits back before the holiday they were intended for, we would be happy. Billy gave us the date they would be ready and we headed home. Babbononno called me into his bedroom and handed me a pair of cuff links and a tie stud to use with my new shirt and tie. He said, "Jenny, deeza real golda, eh I no wear dem no moh. You take-a dem eh you looka even bedda with-a new zootza eh my golda." I always liked Babbononno's jewelry. It was always under- stated but looked expensive. I thanked him and tried on the new shirt and tie and showed him what they looked like with the cuff links and tie stud he had given me. He examined them on me and gave me his approval. I was happy and waited out the time until the suit would be ready. Morn made Dad buy a new shirt and tie to compliment the new navy blue suit that he was going to wear on Easter Sunday. We headed for Arkin's Men Shop on Bennington Street. sam Arkin, the owner and Dad were friends from the old days, and together, picked out what Dad wanted. Within a few days, the ladies had their dresses and we our suits back from Billy the Tailor. And, all was well as we waited for Holy Week to arrive. GOD BLESS AMERICA Socially Scene (Continued from Page 1) Celebrity Series of Boston is bringing in a little Brazilian flavor with the Assad Brothers on April 5th at Jordan Hall. (Photo" by vocalist with an innate feel for the rhythms of Brazil. With the passing of their fa- ther, Jorge, the Assads are touring as a quintet, explor- ing some of the most beau- tiful folk and pop music writ- ten by Brazil's iconic com- posers, as well as .music written by the Assads them- selves. This spirit-filled and unique show is only in Bos- ton for one night! It's a Ce- lebrity Series must See at Jordan Hall located 30 Gainsborough Street, Bos- ton. Tickets are available at, or by calling CelebrityCharge at 617-482-6661. Love Letters ... Abigail Adams: Life, Love & Letters A performance bY Patricia Bridgman will take place Thursday, April 10th from 12:15 pm to 1:00 the Old South Meeting House. Abigail Adams claimed to write with an "un(utored stile," and asked her hus- band John to destroy her let- ters. He saved them anyway, giving posterity a unique look into the life and times of this iconic wife, mother and patriot. Living history interpreter Patricia Bridgman uses the couple's correspondence to bring Abigail to life, from the Adamses' courtship in 1764, through the tumultu- ous years of the American Revolution, to 1778 on the eve of her husband and son's voyage to France. Bridgman's Mrs. Adams is serious about such issues as women's education and rights, but she's saucy, too, and enjoys poking gentle fun at those who deserve it, including Mr. Adams! Famed as the place where the Boston Tea Party began, the .1729 Old South Meeting House is one of the nation's most important colonial land- marks and the center for Boston's protests against British rule in the years leading to the American Revolution. Saved from dem- olition in 1876, this trea- sured National Historic Landmark has been open to the public since 1877 as a historic site, museum and an active center for pub- lic dialogue and expression in the heart of downtown Boston. This re-enactment is a very special event that brings back a simpler time in history. The Old South Meeting House is located at 310 Washington Street, Boston. Call 617-482-6439 or visit for further information. Does Boston Have a Big- gest Loser ... "The Biggest Loser" is coming to Boston on Saturday, April 12a from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm at Planet Fitness, Northgate Shopping Center, 270 Charger Street, Revere, Massachusetts. NBC's popular reality series "The Biggest Loser" is launching a seven-city cross-country search to find new contestants for the next edition of the hit show. Indi- viduals, families and fOrmer athletes who have at least 100 Ibs. to lose are encour- aged to apply. Casting producers are looking for charismatic in- dividuals who have the desire to change their lives forever and vie for this once- in-a-lifetime opportunity to lose weight and compete for a grand prize. Candidates must be at least 18 years of age and legal residents of the United States. For those who are unable to attend a cast- ing call, information on how to apply to the show and sub- mit a videotape is available on http:/ / casting#b116 and www.the biggestlosercasting, com. Alison Sweeney is the host of "The Biggest Loser," which challenges and en- courages overweight contes- tants to shed pounds in a safe and recommended manner through comprehensive diet and exercise as they com- pete for a grand prize. The series provides the contes- tants with challenges, temp-' tations, weigh-ins and elimi- nations until the final con- testant remains to claim the title of "the biggest loser." Contestants work out under the supervision of profes- sional trainers Bob Harper, Jillian Michaels and Dolvett Quince. People will not be allowed to line up prior to three hours before the start of the open call. Candidates should bring a non-return- able photo of themselves. For embeddable clips and full episodes from "The Big- gest Loser," please visit's official show site: http: / /Www. the-big- gest-loser~.