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April 11, 2014     Post-Gazette
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POST-GAZETTE, APRIL 11,2014 Page13 • 00abb'fJnonno by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance • Socially Scene (Continued from Page 9) Palm Sunday was special for us when we were kids. It had religious significance but to be blunt, it meant money in our pockets. My neighborhood chums and I would head down the Brooks Street hill to attend the children's Mass at Sacred Heart Church. None of us would have eaten since dinner the night before as we were all going to receive communion at Mass. This also meant that we went to confession at around 4:00 pm, the after- noon before. If the kids Mass was at 8:00 a.m, we were ravenous by the time the palms were distributed and they looked good enough to eat. After Communion, we would count the minutes be- fore Mass ended and try to sneak out a side door. If we followed the nuns to the yard behind the church, we would be ushered into the long- gone Sacred Heart High School and forced to attend Sunday school. Many of us escaped without being seen and we would have to leave the neighborhood immedi- ately after to avoid being detected and returned. A couple of blocks away, on the corner of Saratoga and Brooks Streets was Umana's Bakery. Mario Umana's brother, Guy, would, in anticipation of a rush of kids, have made several trays of Sicilian pizza. You could smell them cooking all the way to the next corner. As I said, we kids would not have eaten since, the night before, and at 5 or 10 cents per slice, we would clean him out in minutes• Once satis- fied, we would begin to plan the next move, how to make money. As an example, I Would head to Nanna and Babbo- nonno's apartment. (This is a few years after they sold the big house on Eutaw Street) I could smell Nanna's gravy as I mounted the steps to the third floor. Once inside, I would kiss Nanna first and then Babbononno,. wish them a happy Palm Sunday and then present them with a portion of the palms I had received at Mass. Both would thank me and Nanna would dip dt piece of bread cut from an Italian round loaf into her gravy, sprinkle some grated cheese on top and add a meatball on the dish for me to sample. This was just a sample be- cause the rest of the gravy (sauce to the Americani) and the meatballs would be for the afternoon dinner when everyone in the immediate family would sit for Palm Sunday dinner. Babbononno, who normally gave me 17 cents for an allowance each Sunday after Mass, would pull out a dollar or two because I gave them a portion of my palms. Dad would be waiting for me when I arrived home. I would give Morn some of my palms and she would give me a dollar or two as a Palm Sunday gift just before Dad ushered me out of the house and into his car. We were destined to visit Grandma and Grandpa Christoforo, Dad's parents. I had enough palms left for both of them and my 'nt Mary, Dad's sister.• Once at Grandpa C's house I, in Italian, would wish my paternal grand- parents a.Happy Palm Sun- day and give each of them and Aunt Mary a portion of what was left. This gesture was followed by a sample of the dinner Grandpa was cooking and a five dollar bill he presented to me. Aunt Mary would give me a bag of candy that came from the candy factory she worked in Cambridge and I was all set with a treat I could share with my neighborhood • friends• Once home, I would go to the home of a couple of neighbors. Two middle aged ladies, Miss Alexander and Miss Warren, who lived a couple of doors away. Miss Alexander was a school teacher and Miss Warren a social worker, and both were descendents of men who fought in the American Revo- lution. They were among the last of the Yankees who came from the Eagle Hill section of East Boston, the population that dominated the area when Babbononno moved his family to Eutaw Street around 1920. They weren't Catholic, but I would give them each a few palm fronds and in return would receive a gift of 4 or 5 dol- lars. Total, I would have col- lected 12 to 14 dollars, a veritable fortune for a young kid in those days. When it was time to head to Nanna and Babbononno's I would still have a few palms left. Not knowing who was coming to dinner didn't matter, I was prepared. On one particular Palm Sunday Uncle Paul, Aunt Eleanor and my cousins, Paula and Ellie were there. I gave a few palms to Aunt Eleanor and Uncle Paul slipped me two -- FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST-- THE MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS ........... 781-648-5678 ,#€ dollars when no one was looking. A bit later, Uncle Nick would come for dinner. He was in the middle of a divorce from Ads, his first wife, and not yet married to Aunt Dorothy Hanscom. I didn't have to give him any palms because he, being my Godfather, would slip me a couple of dollars, just because. Once Uncle Gino and Aunt Ninna were there, Hit stage production "Becoming Cuba" has been extended the kitchen table was at the Huntington Theater through May 3 rd. the focal point for the (Photo by lajollalight.com) family. There would be all kinds of antipasti, bottles of survival that Melinda asks President who made physi- Zi'Antonio's best red wine in this play," says Hunting- cal fitness a national prior- and a few bottles of hard stuff ton Associate Producer M. ity would join forces with the for those that might want Bevin O'Gara, "but mostly I red-caped, comic book hero something stronger than love the family that is at its whose feats of super-human wine. Of course, I had a heart. It is so appropriate strength so captured the couple of palms for Aunt and meaningful to me that popular imagination. Ninna, and that would just a play with this sort of fam- The comic, told in ten about clean me out. ily at its center is the first hand-drawn story boards, Nanna's Sunday dinner show that I am directing has never-before been dis- was predictable once we sat with my theatrical family at played and will be showla down to eat in the dining the Huntington." in the JFK Library's room: Escarole soup with "There is a legend in my museum through June 30 re. small meatballs and tiny family about my great- To learn more about pieces of orzo, a rice-sized grandmother, who lived "Superman's Mission for type of pasta. The second through the Cuban War President Kennedy" log on to course was her homemade of Independence," says www.jfklibrary.org/Super- ravioli covered with home- Playwright-in-residence man. The Museum is located made meat sauce. Then Melinda Lopez. "When she at Columbia Point, Boston came the meats: sausages was 16, the Spanish came to and can be reached at 617- (hot and sweet), full-sized take over her farm and sent 514-1600 for tickets and meatballs, spare ribs, pieces her family to internment hours of operation. of chicken, chunks of pork, camps. My great-grand- A Tasty Treat to Compli- a piece or two of pork skin, mother refused to go. She meat Your Time in the City and a few lamb chops -- took her pet pig under her ..o Masa and Chef-Owner all of which had been cook- arms and walked up into the Philip Aviles brings more • ing in gravy. Next were mountains to join the than a little southwestern sautded mushrooms, stuffed rebels. The play that I even- flavor to the South End, he artichokes, string beans in tually wrote is not her brings an incomparable re- olive oil and garlic, and these story, but it's certainly in- sume and a whole new take dishes were followed by the fused with her indomitable on fine dining in Boston. second to last course, salad, spirit." The Culinary Institute o'f usually lettuce and tomato The BCA is located 264 America graduate honed his with herbs and oil and lemon Huntington Avenue, Boston skills as Chef Tournant at dressing. The last course and can be reached at 617- the three-star Peacock Alley was fresh fruit and nuts. 266-7900 or by visiting at the Waldorf Astoria and as These courses were accom- www.huntingtontheatre.org. Sous Chef at the three-star panied by homemade red Superman's Mission ... Is Polo Club at the Westbury wine from Zi'Antonio's cellar now open at the JFK Library's Hotel in New York. During and liquors to compliment museum, his tenure as Executive the fruits and nuts. In 1963, DC Comics, the Chef at American Bounty, An hour or two after the publisher of Superman, col- in Nantucket, the restau- main part of the dinner -- laborated with the Kennedy rant was awarded a coveted and a cigar and nap later -- White House to create a Three-Diamond rating from on the behalf of the men story promoting the Presi- Triple AAA Restaurant in the family, the table dent's Council on Physical Guide. Mass is located at would be set with pastries, Fitness. In the story, JFK 439 Tremont Street in bottles of liquor and both calls upon Superman to in- Boston's South End and can American and Italian coffee, spire the nation to exercise, be reached for reservations If Zi'Antonio and part of his eat better, and get stronger, at 617-338-8884 or visit family happened to drop Perhaps it was inevitable www.masarestaurant.com for by, they would say no, that the vigorous, young a peek at the menu. but Nanna would feed them anyway. She would have /" "N made enough food to feed twice as many people as were Boston Harborside Home sitting at the dinner "table. At around 9:00 pm, the folks Joseph A. Langone would begin to leave as Mon- day was a work day. Nanna would have doggy bags pre- 580 Commercial St. Boston, MA 02109 pared for each couple with samples of her ravioli, meat- 617-536-4110 balls and sausages, www.bostonharborsidehome.com That was about it, and after everyone had gone home, Nanna and Mom would start Augustave M. Sabia, Jr. Trevor Slauenwhite to talk about the menu for FrederickJ. Wobrock DinoC.Manca the next Sunday, which was CourtneyA. Fitzgibbons Easter. I counted the money I had received during the day and planed out how many airplane models I could buy with my earnings. Happy Palm Sunday to one AServiceFamilyAffiliate°fAFbX3/ServiceC°rP °rati°nInternati°nal and a//, and may GOD B 206winter St., Fall River, MA02720 Telephone 508-676-2454