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April 8, 2016     Post-Gazette
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POST-GAZETFE, APRIL 8, 2016 PAGE 13 by John Christoforo abb onno A Nostalgic Remembrance |- Socially Scene (Continued from Page 9) Nanna had passed away from complications of breast cancer just before Christmas in 1958. Babbononno was devastated. He was never really one to show his emotion, he internalized everything. Just as an example, on holidays when I was a kid, my cousins and I would be playing something or other, just waiting to be called to dinner. Babbononno would be sitting in his favorite chair watching us with a stogie in his mouth, a glass of wine on a nearby table and his hands interlocked across his chest. He was taking stock of the children of his chil- dren. I didn't pay much atten- tion to this aspect of his being until many years later when Sal DiDomenico Sr. and I were talk- ing about grandchildren, and he confessed that he has done exactly that on many occasions. When Nanna passed away, Babbononno was 83, and in good health, but my mother insisted that he come and live with us. At that point in time, we had a third floor five-room flat at 74 Eutaw Street in East Boston. One of the rooms was separated from the others and stood by itself at.the end of the third floor landing. When I was a kid, it was my workshop where I made things out of wood. When I turned 17, it became a music room where I practiced the bass violin. When mom asked Bab- bon6nno to come and live with us, and he accepted, it became his bedroom. I was in college at the time, and at the beginning of his stay, things were a bit difficult. Babbononno wanted to be a. productive part of the family. The problem was, Dad had to get ready for work each weekday morning, and I had to get ready for my ride to Boston State College. After showering, Dad turned the bathroom over to me to do the same. In the interim, he shaved using his electric ra- zor while looking into a magni- fied mirror mounted on the wall next to the kitchen sink. If Bab- bononno was trying to help out by washing the morning dishes or cups, he would be in Dad's way. If he had to use the bath- room, and slow one of us down, we were thrown off schedule. Dad's schedule was a bit more flexible than mine. I was part of the East Boston Express, a name given to the three of us who were East Bostonians and rode to Boston State together. One member of the group was Bob Pesce, a friend who graduated English High with me, and was in every one of my classes. The second was Paul Ciccarelli, whose family was famous through their gro- cery store, The Trenton Corner Market. He usually drove and picked up Pesce first and me second. As a result, I had to be on a strict morning schedule. It took a while, but we began working around each other and things settled down with Babbononno giving way to his son-in-law and his grandson. When I had to study, my favorite spot was the kitchen table. Dad was usually playing with his or other bands most nights of the week, and Mom would be watching TV. With me studying, she kept the volume down to help my level of con- centration stay at its maximum. The problem was Babbononno. He was hard of hearing, but was too vain to admit it. As a result, the radio in his room was usually very loud. If he was watching TV with Morn, he would constantly complain about the low volume. If Mom was out, he would join me in the kitchen and try to carry on a conversation. At times,'I had to be really emphatic and tell him that I couldn't talk until I was through studying, and more of- ten than not, it would be in the wee hours of the morning. I felt bad, but if I wasn't prepared, I would have problems. Bab- bononno finally realized this and left me alone when he saw me at the kitchen table with a pile of books. One winter's- night, Dad drove home from a job in a blinding snow storm. When he got to the house, there wasn't a parking space to be found. He brought his bass violin up to the third floor and then went hunting for somewhere to park. About 2:00 am, he finally found a parking space about 10 blocks away and walked home in the deep snow. When he came up the stairs to the third floor, you could hear him swearing in sev- eral languages. After that point in time, he decided he wanted to buy a house in some suburban town. The town he chose was Belmont. Uncle Gino and Aunt Ninna had bought a house there and Dad liked the neighbor- hood. I loved the idea, but there was a problem: Babbononno didn't want to move. He had his routine and was happy with it. Because he wouldn't go, my mother refused to move. A similar parking problem occurred one night when Dad came home late, and he was to- tally frustrated the next morn- ing. He told my mother that he would pay for her and my grandfather to stay in East Boston, but he was moving to somewhere that afforded him better parking conditions, espe- cially at night. When he found -- FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST -- THE MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS 781-648-5678 a house in Belmont, he brought all of us to see it. Babbononno told him the house was well built, but he wanted to stay in East Boston. My mother agreed with her father. Dad then said- that he had put a down pay-' ment on the place and he was moving. My mother panicked and told Babbononno that her place was with her husband and, on Good Friday in 1960, we moved to Belmont. I graduated coUege that June and told Dad that as soon as I found a day job, I would help out with the mortgage. Right after I received my degree, I de- cided to begin graduate school to earn a master's degree. That summer, Paul Ciccarelli and I were offered jobs teaching at Tewksbury High School, me drafting and him woodworking. We were both hired. I stayed at the Seville Theater week nights, but left weekend nights open for music. Between go- ing to school and three jobs, I didn't pay much attention to Babbononno. He hated liv- ing in Belmont. No one sold// Progresso, and no one sold this paper, the Post-Gazette, and no one sold Italian cigars. There was nothing like Central Square or Maverick Square, where he could discuss politics in Ital- ian with a bunch of cronies. He was miserable. My father and uncles made the decision to rent him an apartment back in East Boston where he would feel at home again. They found one near Maverick Square in Eastie, and Babbononno, then in his early 90s, had a bachelor pad all his own. One day, Morn called him to see if he needed anything and a woman answered with an Irish brogue. She said that her name was Kathleen and'she was looking after Michael. When my mother complained to my father, he accused her of be- ing jealous that her father had someone to keep him company. I never understood how they communicated. Kathleen's thick brogue and Babbononno's fractured Eng- lish might have been in the way, but they understood each other until she passed away and my grandfather needed 24-7 attention. At that point, he became a resident of what they used to call "an old age home." It's funny, in spite of Kathleen, my widowed grand- father never wore anything except a black necktie for the rest of his life out of respect for Nanna. That was the old Italian way. GOD BLESS AMERICA For about the 617-227-8929. Boston Calling in City Hall Plaza returns this May and will feature artists including Disclosure. (Photo Byfactmag.com) most exciting artists. Look for Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett, pop rock sis- ter trio Haim, celebrated singer/ songwriter Sufjan Stevens, Swedish indic-pop sensations Mike Snow, the sultry Elle King, and R&B singer-songwriter JaneUe Mon~e. Other must-see performances include guitarist for The Na- tional and Boston Calling cura- tor Aaron Dessner in a unique collaboration with Irish musi- cian Lisa Hannigan, hit-makers ODESZA, and cult hero City and Colour. Noteworthy enhancements for 2016 include an intimate third stage featuring comedy and other performances, all of which will be announced in the com- ing weeks, and expanded food and beverages. Boston Calling will newly partner with local wine champions Wine Riot to create a specially curated wine experience, featuring leading wines from around the globe. Samuel Adams will once again be providing craft beers and ciders throughout the festival grounds, and Boston Calling will introduce a special guest European brewer, who will be creating a custom Boston Call- ing beer. New additions to the food pavilion will be revealed on the website prior to the show[ The VIP area will once again offer access to the City Hall Courtyard, a 25,000-square: foot mezzanine with prime views of both stages, as well as com- plimentary food by The Citizen Public House & Oyster Bar. Boston Calling's May 2016 lineup is currently as fol- lows: Sia, Disclosure, Robyn, ODESZA, Sui]an Stevens, Haim, Mike Snow, Janelle Mon&e, City and Colour, Courtney Barnett, Elle King, The Front Bottoms, BORNS, Charles, Bradley and his Extraordinaires, The Vac- cines, Vince Staples, Battles, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Christine and the Queens, Lisa Hannigan and Aaron Dessner, Lizzo, Palehound and Michael Christmas. The daily schedule will be announced at a later date and artists are subject to change. Boston Calling has become a sensation and sells out every festival. The artists are class acts and food and additional outdoor fun makes for a great way to get your summer started. Get schedule times and tickets at www.bostoncalling.com. A New Direction in the City ... Boston's Literary District is the first designated cultural district dedicated to promoting the literary arts, and a one- of-a-kind in the nation. It an- nounced its Construction of Self series, featuring seven different events/components, all explor- ing various aspects of identity. The series, spanning April through June 2016, features a presentation by Boston's Poet Laureate Danielle Legros Georges, entitled "Articula- tions of America" at the Boston Athenaeum; a story slam with teams from Suffolk University and GrubStreet at the Modern Theatre; Grub Gone ... Drag, a special event featuring ac- claimed Martha Graham Crack- er Cabaret and National Book Award winner Colum McCann at Villa Victoria Center for the Arts; a book talk with City of Boston architect Joseph Bagiey looking at Boston's archeologi- cal history at the Boston Public Library; a walking tour by Bos- ton By Foot outlining the his- tory of Boston's evolving iden- tity; a mask-making workshop for kids at Hubbub: Creative Commotion for Kids in Copley Square; and, throughout the spring, a portable story-telling booth that will tour through- out Boston for recording your life, run by the Drum Literary Magazine. These events are new, inno- vative and definitely not to be missed. The series begins with ARTICULATIONS OF AMERICA from Boston Athenaeum on Thursday, April 21st at 7:00 pm, in celebration of National Poetry Month. Poet Laureate Danielle Legros Georges explores the work of noted American po- ets, including Emma Lazarus, Langston Hughes, and Joy Har- jo, who all pursued and tested the idea of a national ethos and looked to America for a reflec- tion of it and of themselves. That event will take place at 101/2 Beacon Street in Boston. You may visit bostonathenae- um.org or call 617-227-0270 for more information. On Friday, April 22"d at 7:00 pm is WHERE I AM FROM. Students from Suffolk Univer- sity's Stories Live and writers from GrubStreet join together to tell compelling personal narra- tives on the theme "Where I Am From," navigating the all-too human stories of self and ,iden- tity. Luke memoir, story slams have become a unique yet popu- lar way of story-telling. Modem Theatre at Suffolk University is located at 525 Washington Street in Boston. For more on the event, you may visit www. suffolk.edu/ ModemTheatre/ or by calling 617-557-6537. The events listed are just the beginning of what the city of Boston has in store for the "Construction of Self Series" that will continue through June. For a full listing of events, prices or locations visit http:// bostonlitdistrict.org/.