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April 16, 2010     Post-Gazette
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April 16, 2010

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POST-GAZETTE, APRIl" 16, 2010 Page13 Nanna 00BabFdnonno ii iii iii i iii iii u i iii Last week, I left off talk- ing about a trip to Florida during the April school vaca- tion. I was accompanied by Sal Meli, a fellow East Bostonian I grew up with. I was in college, but hav- ing three jobs, I could afford a week in the sun. Sal was working for Polaroid with a flexible schedule and was able to join me. A friend of Uncle Nick, who was affili- ated with Colpitt's Travel, booked us in for a stay at a Miami Beach hotel. We flew on Eastern Airlines and had a Chevy convertible waiting for us when we landed. After checking into the Joninna Hotel on Miami Beach, we were ready to do our thing during the spring vacation. That first full day there, we met an older attractive woman from Detroit. She and Sal imme- diately hit it off and we planned to head out as a trio that evening. Miami Beach wasn't a col- lege get-away location in those days. That was re- served for a city 25 miles to the north, Fort Lauderdale. A couple of years later, it would be immortalized in a youth-oriented film starring staring Connie Francis, "Where the Boys Are." (Oh my God, the film came out 50 years ago, 19601H) Late in the afternoon, we picked up Gabby, our lady friend from Detroit. She suggested cocktails in the Poodle Lounge, a lobby- based watering hole in the Fontainebleau Hotel, then the number one resort on the beach. This was so up- scale a place, the drinks were one dollar each. Today for the same drinks in a five star hotel, it would cost you about ten dollars each, maybe more. Gabby seemed to know a lot of people and introduced us to her friends. Being on budgets, Sal whispered to me in Italian, "We can't af- ford to buy any of her friends' drinks, or we'll go broke. What we didn't know was that Gabby was Italian, heard Sal's whisper and responded back in Italian. She told him not to worry everything would be taken care of. She was right. After two drinks it was time for dinner, and when I asked for the check, we were told that it was taken care of. When we looked around, one of Gabby's friends lifted his glass as if he was toast- ing us. He had picked up the tab. by John Christoforo u Once in the lobby, Gabby spoke to the concierge. When she came back to where we were standing waiting for the car to be brought to us by a valet, she said, "If you don't mind, I've made reservations at the Embers." Neither of us knew what or where the Embers were, but we said OK anyway. It turned out to be a steak house on a side street, about 20 blocks south of the Fountainebleau on Collins Ave, the main street (still is) in Miami Beach. We discovered that the restaurant was one of the best steak places on the East Coast. Evidently, the con- cierge at the Fontainebleau was well known, as we didn't have to wait when Gabby gave her name to the maitre'd. We were immedi- ately seated at one of the best tables in the restau- rant. Just as our appetizers arrived, I mentioned that a coincidence had occurred. When my companions asked what I meant. I glanced at a nearby table and made mention of the two men seated there. I said that I had seen them earlier in the day when we met Gabby and then again at the Poodle Lounge at the Fontainebleau Hotel. Gabby smiled and said, "It's no coincidence, they watch out for my inter- ests." Sal and I looked at each other for a minute and then smirked at one another. Coming from East Boston, we knew what she meant. They were her bodyguards. I ordered something I had heard about but never tried, Beef Wellington, steak wrapped in a pastry shell. The steak was so tender I cut it with my fork. The salad had home-made blue cheese dressing and the vegetables weren't boiled to death. For dessert, I ordered something else I had heard of but never tried before, a Florida favor- ite, Key Lime Pie. The yel- low-green filling was home- made from scratch with fresh limes. I loved it. After dinner, Gabby suggested that we work off the filling dinner. She asked us if we would like to go to the Boom Boom Room. Neither of us knew where the place was, but not wanting to seem like country bumpkins, we said, "Sure." Sal and I split the tab and Gabby told us to head back to the Fontainebleau. Once inside, we headed down the -- FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST -- THE MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS A Nostalgic Remembrance i ii lu i 781-648-5678 lobby stairs to the lower level. On both sides of a long corridor were up-scale shops, all closed by the time we ar- rived. At the end of the cor- ridor was the Boom Boom Room, one of the famous night clubs, if not the most famous back in the late 1950s. As we approached, I could hear the band playing a mambo. Once inside and seated at a table, we discov- ered that the band was a well-known Latin group and that the lounge specialized in the best salsa music on the beach. We ordered drinks and Gabby asked Sal if he knew how to dance to Latin rhythms. He replied, "I'll try." Sal frequented a Boston night club called the Cave. A few years later, I would drop by on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. It was the only Latin American night club in the city back then. Actually, Sal was one of the best recognized Latin dancers in the city in the old days. He and Gabby headed for the dance floor and started to dance a meringue. I have to say, they looked good together. The rest of the dancers formed a circle around them. They stayed on the dance floor tackling a mambo, another meringue and a short-lived dance called a pechanga. When they finished, the rest of the dancers gave them a round of applause. Before I knew it, it was time to leave. I drove back to the Joninna Hotel and turned the car over to Sal to take Gabby to where ever she was staying. Stopping at the front desk to pick up the room key, I discov- ered that there was a message for me to call home. The next morning I called home and, who else, but Babbononno an- swered, "Allowe, dissa Mista Contini, hooza dis?" I yelled back, Babbononno it's John." He yelled back, "Oh Jenny, you pappa wanza talka to you, aspetta." My father got on the phone and asked if everything was OK. I gave him the rundown of events that had taken place and his reply was, "Have a good time, but be careful." Kid- dingly, I responded, "Make up your mind which." "Don't be a wise guy," was his re- ply. He then told me a bandleader had called to book me in for a couple of jobs and even thought I didn't have anything in my calendar book, he wanted to check with me first. I told him to book the jobs and then my mother got on the phone. After the call, I was ready for breakfast and then a few hours at the pool to work on my tan. Sal never made it back to the hotel that night. When he fin- ally showed up, all I said to him was, "Hey guaglione, nice country isn't it?" GOD BLESS AMERICA The Socially Set (Continued from Page 9) the future may hold for "America's Orchestra." Multiple Tony Award-win- ning actress/vocalist Idina Menzel, featured this spring in new episodes of the hit TV show "Glee!," is the soloist for this portion of the program. The Broadway powerhouse sings hits from two of her most famous shows, Rent and Wicked, as well as songs from her album I Stand. The Opening Night con- cert extends the opportunity to the entire audience with the world premiere of The Beatles: Rock Band Sing- Along. Produced in collabora- tion with videogame devel- opment company Harmonix Music (producers of the wildly popular game The Beatles: Rock Band), their parent company, MTV, and the Beatles' record label, Apple Records, "The Beatles: Rock Band Sing-Along," is a fully orchestrated audience sing-along featuring some of The Beatles' iconic songs synched to the ground- breaking game design pro- jected above the orchestra on the Pops' 44-foot-wide screen. The Beatles: Rock Band Sing-Along connects past to present in that Arthur Fiedler was among the first to recognize the incredible musical force the Beatles would become when he ar- ranged, programmed (around 1964), and recorded ("The Boston Pops Plays the Beatles" in 1969), including "Hey Jude," "Eleanor RIgby," "I Want to Hold Your Hand," and more. For tickets and further information, please visit or call 617-266-1200 or 888-266- 1200. ....... Incidentally, WGBH- TV, Channel 2 will present a star-studded celebration of the Boston Pops on Sunday, April 18, at 7 p.m.; Sunday, May 16, at 8 p.m.; and Wed- nesday, June 23, at 8 p.m. Hosted by Craig Ferguson, "America's Orchestra: Cel- ebrating 125 Years of the Boston Pops" tells the orchestra's story -- from its beginnings as summer- time entertainment for Bostonians to its impressive rise to the national icon and beloved institution it is today. "Celebrating its 125 th an- niversary this spring, the Boston Pops Orchestra per- forms the best music of the past and present, appealing to the widest possible audi- ence with a broad spectrum of styles, from jazz to pop, indic rock to big band, film music to the great American songbook, and Broadway to classical, making it the per- fect orchestra for people who don't know they like orches- tras[" said Conductor Keith Lockhart. "We hope that the upcom- ing PBS special reflects this diversity and gives viewers a glimpse into the storied history of this dis- tinctively Boston creation -- one of our country's great- est cultural treasures, as vibrant today as it was when it was founded in 1885." Enjoy! (Be sure to visit Hilda Morrilrs gardening Web site, In addition to events covered and reported by the columnist, q'he Socially Set" is compiled from various other sources such as news and press re- leases, PRNewswire services, etc.) I DIAMONDS 1 ROLEX ESTATE JEWELRY Bought & Sold Jewelers Exch. Bldg. Jim (617) 263-7766 k_ Real Estate Matto Gallo Appraisals Sales & Rentals 376 North Street Boston, MA 02113 (617) 523-2100 Fax (617) 523-3530 r t{ernember your loved Ones This year the Post-Gazette is offering our readers an opportunity to remember their loved ones by placing a "Memoriam" in our Memorial Day Issue. Sizes you may choose from are: 1 inch x 4 inches $20.00 2 inches x 4 inches $40.00 To remember your loved ones you may send your memorial lines and contact information to the Post-Gazette P.O. Box 130135, Boston, MA 02113 Make check payable to "Post-Gazette"