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April 26, 2013     Post-Gazette
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April 26, 2013

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POST-GAZE'I-rE, APRIL 26, 2013 Page 13 Sanna 00Babb?00onno Like everyone else, I watched the events develop after the two bombs went off at the finish line of this year's Patriots' Day mara- thon. As the week pro- gressed, two brothers were singled out and law enforce- ment groups consisted of Boston Police, Watertown Police, Cambridge Police, M.B.T.A. Police, college po- lice units, police from sev- eral surrounding suburban towns, the F.B.I., and many other federal agencies that handle terrorism showed up to handle the problem. As of last Friday, it was all over, one dead and the other wounded and in custody. Even the governor and the president got involved. I was up late that Friday night and began thinking about a gun fight I had witnessed in East Boston when I was a kid. It was around this time of the year in, I think, 1955. It was early afternoon on a Satur- day and I was working the kid's matinee at ,the Seville Theater. Before I left the house, Babbononno asked if I was going to work. When I answered in the affirmative, he said he would walk with me as he was heading to one of the store-front clubs in Central Square to meet up with a few of his paesani to play cards and gossip about the events of the week. We walked down the Eutaw Street hill to Meridian Street, headed left toward Central Square, and after we passed the intersection of Trenton Streets and Meridian, saw a bunch of police cars a block away near where Lexington and Meridian intersect. As we approached, the police stopped us from passing through the area. Just then a police officer that often worked details at the Seville spotted me and told the cop that stopped us that he knew us and would walk us through the location. It seems that a local hood that they called "The Pig," was held up in a house across the street and wouldn't come out. He was wanted for some crime, I never found out what, but the police finally caught up with him and he wouldn't give up. Just as we passed the area where the police were behind cars with guns drawn, the shoot- ing started. Babbononno and I now behind a car with a bunch of other on-lookers stared in amazement. From a second floor window iacross the street, shots rang out hitting the cars and build- by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance ill I ings on our side of the street. The police fired back and the gun fight continued as a standoff for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, the police shot a canister of teargas through the second window of the building, and a few minutes later, a cough- ing voice yelled out, "Don't shoot, don't shoot, I give up, I give up!" When a rather rotund in- dividual exited the building, he was tackled by several police-men from Station 7, handcuffed and carried away to an awaiting open wagon called a Paddy-wagon. The term was given to the trans- port vehicle decades earlier by the police in Boston as an insult to the Irish popula- tion, but the name stuck. I couldn't wait any longer and hurried Babbononno along as I had the keys to open the theater. When Mr. Ray, the manager, and Dave Turner, the stage manager arrived, they asked me what all of the commotion was about, and as we readied the theater for the arrival of the kids, I told them the story. Mr. Ray knew who the person was that the police called The Pig. He commented that he was a regular, often attend- ing on Wednesday and Sun- day nights with a very thin girl that was known as The Straw. Knick names were alive and well in Italian neighborhoods back then. When the motion picture camera operators arrived, they wanted to know what all the commotion was up the street and I told them. When my ushers arrived I went through the same routine with them. The first picture started at around 1:00 pro, and once all the kids were seated with their popcorn and candy, there was a group of adults that stopped at the ticket booth. I thought it was a bit strange, as on Satur- day afternoons when we had kid's matinees, usually there were no adults that came in to the theater. I walked out toward the ticket booth and soon became surrounded by the crowd. They were report- ers from all of the Boston daily news papers and the East Boston Free Press. They were looking for someone called "Johnny the Usher." That was one of my knick names back then, along with Johnny Seville and Kid Seville. The crowd of reporters hit me with dozens of questions as I was spotted and pointed out as someone who saw -- FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST-- THE MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS 781-648-5678 the whole thing. I gave my version of what happened and wound up in the news- papers as Johnny Seville. No one questioned how my last name was the same as the name of the Theater. When they had their stories, they left. Dave, the stage man- ager, relieved me at the door and I went in the theater to help out my ushers. The main feature was fol- lowed by ten cartoons with a couple of encores that were accepted with cheers coming from the kids. Once the mati- nee was over, my ushers and I picked up the seats to make things easier on the cleaning ladies, and I was ready to head home for an early dinner, as I had to be back for the evening's per- formance and to help Dave, the stage manager, change the advertising and the mar- quee. We were a neighbor- hood theater and changed features twice a week, Wed- nesday and Sunday, which meant that on Tuesday and Saturday evenings we changed the advertising. As I readied to walk home, I was stopped by Mr. Ray and Dave Turner. They informed me that I was going to din- ner with them to tell them the entire story of what I witnessed that day before I the theater. I told them that I would have to call my mother, as she would be waiting for me. Mr. Ray said that he had called her and told her I would not be coming home for dinner. We climbed into Mr. Ray's 1950 Buick and headed through the tunnel to downtown Boston and an early dinner at Durgin Park, a famous Boston steak house near Faneuil Hall. I was expected to retell the story of the shoot out and did so, in detail. When I arrived home after the evening's performance, Morn, Nanna and Babbo- nonno were all up. Babbo- nonno had told them his ver- sion of the events of the day and now they wanted to hear what I had to say. Just when I had finished, I heard foot- steps coming up the two flights to our top floor apart- ment. It was Dad coming home from playing with his band. Again, I had to repeat the story. He had picked up a copy of the Evening Record and there was a pic- ture of the shoot out on the front page. Somewhere in the paragraphs was the name Johnny Seville. So, for the umpteenth time that day, I told the story of the shoot out on Meridian Street. I felt like a local hero, except that I didn't do anything except watch the events of the day. I don't know whatever hap- pened to The Pig??? GOD BLESS AMERICA * Soially Scene (Continued from Page I) Thoroughly Modern Millie swings through the stage until May 12 th. (Photo courtesy of Stoneham Theatre) Though early films lacked sound effects and spoken dialogue, they were usually shown with accompaniment by a harried piano player whose tunes suited the action. By the 1950s there was a noticeable drop in box office receipts. Drive-ins sprang up and TV kept people at home. New filming techniques in the late 1950s and early 1960s contributed to the demise of The Stoneham. These productions required large screens, multi-projec- tors and advanced sound sys- tems. The Stoneham, like most other small town movie houses could not afford this equipment. For the most part B movies were presented in the 1960s and the number of shows per week declined culminating with the closing of The Stoneham in the late 1960s. After a quarter century of abandonment and dilapida- tion The Stoneham has been revived and restored, open- ing its doors once again in December 2000. The hard work of many months made it as up-to-date for the 21 st century as it was for the 20 th when it first opened. The marquee replicates the origi- nal box style installed in 1930. The rear stage wall still contains the original 1917 screen, a wooden surface painted black and silver. Today the building is home to Stoneham Theatre, a pro- fessionally producing re- gional theatre, which is the only company founded within the past ten years ranked by the Boston Business Journal among the areas ten most popular performing arts orga- nization. It is consistently praised by critics and audi- ences for its superior caliber of production, as a connec- tion to the communities it serves and its comfort- able atmosphere. Stoneham Theatre continues the proud legacy of its predecessor one where laughs flow freely, tears are occasionally shed, and a good time is had by all. Stoneham Theatre is located at 395 Main Street, Stoneham. For further information on tickets you can call their box office at 781-279-2200 or visit for future shows. A Tasty Treat to Compli- ment Your Time in the City .... With spring in the air beginning to move towards summer, what comes to mind ... BBQ. The Red-Eyed Pig, Boston's newest destina- tion for down-home Southern BBQ. Featuring Carolina- style BBQ with home-smoked meats and fresh, delicious sides, sauces and dessertsl The Carolina-style BBQ is made with thin vinegar and mustard based rubs and sauces, as opposed to thick ketchup and molasses sauces used in other regions. The sweet and tangy flavor of this style of BBQ brings out the best of smoked meats. BBQ meats are available by the 1/2 pint, pint, 1/2 and whole racks. The Red Eyed Pig is located 1753 Centre Street, West Roxbury, MA. Call 617-325-1700 for reser- vation, hours of operation or visit for more on this one of a kind restaurant. K3  Fully Insured Lic #017936 Mechanical Heating & Air Conditioning Sales, Service & Installation Ken Shallow 617.593.6211