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April 15, 2011     Post-Gazette
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April 15, 2011

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POST-GAZETTE, APRIL 15, 2011 Page 13 00abb?]nonno by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance Easter was coming and Mom and Dad had decided that they would host the fam- ily get-together. Babbononno was in his nineties by then and living in a nursing home back in East Boston. He had been on his own in an apart- ment, but by his mid nine- ties, he couldn't manage and he took up residence at the Columbus Nursing Home on Saratoga Street near Orient Heights. I always liked to invite close friends to the house at holiday time, but most of my friends would spend Thanks- giving, Christmas or Easter with their own families. The thought was there on my part, anyway. This particu- lar year, I invited a new friend and an old friend. I had become friendly with Dean Saluti, around Labor Day weekend and we had hit it off. Unfortunately, he couldn't make it. He was go- ing to spend Easter with his parents and brothers who all lived in Quincy at that point in time. Sal Meli accepted. Sal and I had grown up to- gether in East Boston, and his parents had recently moved back to Sicily in re- tirement. Sal accepted my invitation. I was playing with a band at a Boston nightclub at that point in time and Good Fri- day and Holy Saturday per- formances were to phantom audiences. I was playing bass guitar for the Steve Marvin Band and we were at the Point After six nights per week. The club had been the Darburry Room on Dartmouth Street near Copley Square, but changed hands with Gino Cappelletti, the former Patriots kicker owning it and naming it. Usually, we played whatever we wanted until the dining room of the club closed at 10:00 pm. From that point on, it was top 40 all the way. Sal showed up on Good Fri- day night with a date. On a break, I joined them and Sal and I planned for Easter Sun- day morning. Mom had asked me if I would pick up Babbononno at the nursing home, and I figured that I might as well pick up Sal as well; he didn't live that far away. By 1:00 am, Jim DeFonzo, Gino's cousin and the club manager came over to the band and told us to pack up. There was no one left in the club. Normally, we yelled, "Last call," at 1:45 and finished at 2:00 am. I headed to Ken's Delica- tessen after I left the Point After. It was just around the corner in the middle of Copley Square, and late at night, it was often the hang out for musicians and enter- tainers. This was Good Fri- day and the place was al- most deserted. I went back to the club and picked up my car and headed to Brookline and another late night hang out, Jack and Marion's. This long-gone delicatessen, like Ken's in Copley Square, was a catch all for a show business crowd looking for something to eat after their evening performances. They were just as deserted as Ken's and I headed home. The next night, Holy Saturday, was just as slow at the Point After, and we closed at about 1:00 am again. I headed to Kenmore Square to catch up with Dean Saluti. He was in graduate school at the time and working the front bar at Lucifer's, one of the three clubs in the complex called the Kenmore Club. By the time I got there, he was just about wrapping up his end of the operation, as the club was just about as quiet as the Point After had been. We decided to go Chinatown for a late night bite to eat and headed for the Four Seas. The owner, a friend, spotted us and sent over a round of drinks. There was one prob- lem, though. It was after 2:00 am and the bar should have been closed. The waiter brought two extra pots of tea to the table, one with beer for Dean and one with scotch for me, and with a thick Chinese accent he told us, *You have Budweiser tea and you have Johnny Walker tea." That evening we were teetotalers. It was Easter Sunday morning, and after Mass, I dropped off my folks and headed to East Boston to pick up Sal Meli and Babbononno. The weather couldn't have been any better. It was warm and sunny and [ felt good that I had gone to church that morning. Sal was waiting when I got to his house and we headed to Orient Heights to pick up Babbononno. Like many old folks, Babbo- nononno suffered from anticipation. I had told him I would pick him up at 11:00 am, and he was prob- ably ready and waiting by 7:00 am. I was right. When we went inside to get him, Babbononno was pacing back and forth as if we were an hour late. He, in spite of being in his mid-nineties, -- FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST -- THE MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS 781-648-5678 [[[ was impeccably dressed: pressed suit, starched collar white shirt, neck tie, pocket handkerchief, spit-shined black shoes, fedora with the brim turned down in front and a top coat in case it was cold outside. We exited the nursing home and Babbononno looked up and down the street for my car. Not seeing it, he said, "Jenny, wayza da Cadillaca?" I told him that I had traded it in for a Chrysler Imperial and pointed to my new auto. He looked at it and asked, "Dissa new machine, sheeza azza good azza da Cadillaca?" I told him that it was just as good. He quickly added, "Izza gudda da top wadda you pusha down?" When I said that it was a convertible, he responded with, "Denna pusha da toppa down." I did. Before he got in, he asked, "Jenny dissa da seat wadda go up anna down?" I said that the seats were electric and went up and down. He ordered me to put his seat as high as it would go, and I did. He then ordered Sal to get in the back seat, which he did. Babbononno looked tall sit- ting in the front of my new convertible with the top down and the right front seat set as high as it would go. He looked at his pocket watch, then at me and said, "Vai, vai." (go, go) He then instructed me to go to Ori- ent Heights Square, right on Bennington Street and head toward the Star of the Sea Church. When we got there, Mass was just getting out and he instructed me to drive as slow as I could. I complied. We passed in front of the church and he spotted some old ladies coming out of Mass. As we passed them, he tipped his hat and called out to them, yelling, "Signore, Buona Pasqua, Buona Pasqua." (Ladies, Happy Easter, Happy Easter) Most of them smiled back saying Buona Pasqua or Happy Easter to Babbononno, and he was happy. We then headed for Belmont and Easter dinner. All the way there, Babbononno sat proudly and tall in the front seat of my new Imperial con- vertible, which he knew was just as good as the Cadillac I had traded for the new car. I stopped at the lights on the Everett Parkway and again at Wellington Circle, and Babbononno nodded at the drivers and passengers in other cars that were also stopped. I saw Sal's face .in my rear view mirror and he was smirking all the way. Once we got to the house in Belmont and helped Babbononno out of the car. Sal commented, "I hope we make it to that age, and if we do, I hope we have it all together like your grandfather. I guess only time will tell. GOD BLESS AMERICA Patriot's Day Events (Continued from Page I) must have an object other than the capture of two prominent Yankee Whigs. They decided that they must be after the stores of munitions located farther to the-west, in Concord. Revere again rose into the saddle. Accompanied this time by another rider, William Dawes, he set off to warn the citizens of Concord. Paul Revere's Capture in Lincoln Shortly after departing from the Clarke house, Re- vere and Dawes met another patriot on the road, Dr. Samuel Prescott. He joined the pair of riders and the three men agreed to stop at every house they passed on the way to Concord and warn the inhabitants of the Brit- ish advance. Their luck ran out just over the Lexington- Lincoln town line. While the others were warning some families at a small cluster of farms, Revere ran straight into a British ambush. At first, he saw only two soldiers and called to his friends to help him overpower them. As Dawes and Prescott ar- rived, the British held the three riders at gunpoint and herded them into a nearby field. Before they could ques- tion them however, Prescott suddenly turned his horse and galloped away into the dark woods. Revere turned in the opposite direction and also tried to escape, but was chased down by more British soldiers joining the initial ambush party. While the British focused on Revere, Dawes managed to get away. The understandably irate British soldiers questioned Revere for a short time. He informed them that the en- tire countryside was being warned of the approaching British force. The reconnaissance troops took Revere with them as far as Lexington, where it be- came clear that he had in- deed been telling the truth - the countryside was begin- ning to take up arms. Here in Lexington, they released him and rode east, as fast as they could, to warn the main force already on the march from Boston. Lexington Battle Green In the murky dawn of April 19th, 1775, a British expe- ditionary force, on the orders of General Thomas Gage and led by Lieutenant Colo- nel Francis Smith, ap- proached the small town of Lexington, Massachusetts. The soldiers, numbering be- tween 800 and 900 men in 21 companies, had departed from Boston the night be- fore. Their mission: to find and capture Yankee munitions that were stored in Concord. By the time they reached Lexington however, they found themselves faced down by a growing number of local militiamen arrayed on the town Common. Major John Pitcairn's British light infantry was deployed on the Common directly opposite the band of minutemen led by Captain John Parker. "Stand your ground," Parker said to his apprehensive troops. *Don't fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here." No one knows for sure who fired the fh-st shot of the first battle of the War for Indepen- dence. All that is certain is that a heavy toll was ex- tracted from the defiant American militiamen. In the wild, undisciplined firing followed the first mysterious shot and two Lexington "men fell dead on the line where they stood. Other militia- men briefly returned fire and then joined their comrades in a confused, smoke- shrouded retreat. The British soldiers con- tinued firing into the fleeing crowds, killing more Ameri- cans as they tried to escape back into their homes. Only when Colonel Smith himself arrived on the Common were the soldiers com- manded to cease fire and form up. As the families of Lexington nursed their wounded and mourned their dead, the British column continued their march to- ward Concord. PAUL REVERE RIDE SCHEDULE Monday, April 18, 2011 PAUL REVERE - I0:00 am Leave from Hanover Street, Boston, North End; 10:20 am - Arrive in Charles- town, City Square; 10:50 am - Arrive in Somerville Foss Park; 11:30 pm - Arrive in Medford, Route 60 Gaffery's Funeral Home; 1:00 pm - Arrive in Lexington Green, Mass Ave. WILLIAM DAWES - I0:00 am - Leave Eliot Square, Roxbury; 10:10 am - Arrive Mission Hill, Roxbury; 10:50 am - Arrive Devotion School, Brookline; 11:00 am Arrive Harvard Square, Cambridge; 11:45 pm Arrive Arlington Town Hall; 1:10 pm - Arrive Lexington Green. For more information visit www. LL0 Matt6o Gallo Apprabab Sales & Rentals Real Estate 376 North Street * Boston, MA 02113 (617) 523-2100 Fax (6!7) 523-3530