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May 10, 2013     Post-Gazette
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May 10, 2013

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POST-GAZETTE, MAY 10, 2013 Page13 JVanna G, 00Babb'f]nonno by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance May 15 will be the start of the 22 "d year of my column, Nanna and Babbononno. I guess that makes the next couple of issues my anniver- sary columns. It all began when I met our publisher, Pam Donnaruma. We were sitting at the same table at an Italian function and in the process of our conversation, I discovered that she had a writer that was leaving her paper. I mentioned the col- umn I was writing for the musicians' union magazine, Interlude. I said that the column was called, "A La Breve." I added that it was a depiction of the lives of the musicians that worked the restaurants, nightclubs, sup- per clubs, dance halls, ball- rooms, hotels, speak easies, as well as the private dances, weddings and receptions that necessitated live music. These were the people my father, maternal uncles and maternal grandfather worked with and the life style I grew up with. Later in the conver- sation, Pam asked if I would be interested in writing for her paper to fill in the portion of the page that the exiting writer was leaving behind. I told her that I would try it out and we left it at that. The next day, I pondered over the possibilities. As I sat having breakfast with Babbo- nonno and Dad, I told them what I was offered and what the problems might be. I said that I had been writing about show business in Boston throughout the first half of the 20 th century and was suc- cessful due to the fact the col- umn was written for musi- cians who either were part of those decades as musicians or connected due to the in- dustry they chose for their livelihoods. Dad thought for a moment and came up with alternatives. He said, "You're right, you're "A La Breve" column wouldn't be suitable for a paper that caters to an Italian or Italian-American population, but you grew up as an Italian American. How about jotting down some of those childhood experiences when the first three genera- tions of the families were still alive and all together es- pecially on holidays?" I liked the idea, thought about some of those experiences from the past and put together a couple of columns depict- ing, first of all, how and why my grandparents came to America. I liked the way the stories developed, but I didn't know what to call the column. As I thought about it, I reflected on a TV show I had watched on Friday nights as a kid and the movie they made sur- rounding the TV show. It was called, "I Remember Mama." It centered on an extended Norwegian family living in San Francisco. I identified with the lifestyle of the fam- ily which included hard work, tough times and lots of love. When I mentioned this to Babbononno, he replied, "Why don't you call the column Nanna, after your late grand- mother? I knew that Nanna was not an Italian term for grandmother, but it was what my cousins and I used to refer to our grandmother and she loved being called Nanna. The correct term is Nonna, but Nanna stuck. As I headed for the newspaper to drop off my column, I was surprised to find a parking space in the North End. I opened my attach6 case for a last look at the column before heading for the newspaper office and added an attachment to the title. I got hit with a brain- storm and hoped it wouldn't turn out to be a slight drizzle. I added into the title, the name we used for my grand- father and the column became Nanna and Babbo- nonno. Babbononno is what my grandfather wanted to be called. It is an archaic term that was used in the old coun- try two centuries ago and loosely translates to "Grand- pappy." But these are the names we used to refer to my maternal grandparents and it became the title for my new column. I had begun that first col- umn by describing the intent of the column, who it was about and where I was going with it without really know- ing my direction. I was flying by the seat of my pants, but it was a start. Anyway, I began by telling the story of how Babbononno came to America and wound up staying here, how he met Nanna and the family that evolved. I guess I wrote things the readers could identify with and I dis- covered, within a short period of time, my new column was catching on, so I just contin- ued in that same direction. Here it is 22 years later and I haven't run out of stories. People who read the column have asked me how I can remember all of those events that happened so many years ago. My answer remains the same. Each Saturday morn- ing, I pour myself a second cup of coffee, light up a cigar, sit down at my garage based -- FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST-- THE MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS 781-648-5678 computer and begin with a story from the old days. I guess it's just the way my mind works. Another important factor helps my memory remain on target. Those years growing up with three generations of us all liv- ing together were full of love and respect for one another and as a result, the memo- ries linger forever. It all started when Babbo- nonno was a kid growing up in Foggia. My great grand- father, Angelo Contini, died when his sons were young and my great grandmother, Maria, sent her boys to the parish priest to learn a trade. Michael (Babbononno) was taught to make furniture, to do carpentry and how to apply a hand finish on wood. He seemed to have an interest in music, too and the priest taught him how to play guitar and drums. As a teen, he be- came professional as a mu- sician and joined the Italian Marines as a musician. There was a tradition in this country that began with Thomas Jefferson and ended after Harry Truman left office. Each year, the Italian Marine Band would come to America and serenade the U.S. presi- dent, his family and the poli- ticians in Washington, D.C. In 1896, my grandfather was part of that band that arrived on American shores. He was only a kid, but already married with one child and another on the way. During his stay in Washington, the officer who led the band was notified by the interna- tional Reuter's Service that my grandfather's wife had died in childbirth. The baby boy was OK and the two chil- dren were living with great- grandmother Maria. My grandfather was beside himself and when the band was ready to head back to Italy, he resigned his com- mission and stayed behind. He couldn't speak English and knew nothing about the culture or its people. He left Washington, tried New Or- leans, discovered they didn't like Italians there and it was a bit dangerous. As a result, he headed for New York. New York was too big and too busy for him, so he headed farther north and wound up in Portland, Maine, but that town seemed to be an outpost of civilization, so he headed south again and this time wound up in Boston's North End. Sitting in a coffee shop with no place to go, he met a stranger who was part of an apartment group and it just so happened that one of their roommates was just moving out. Babbononno took his place and became best friends with the man he met in the coffee shop. The man, Antonio Cei-uolo and Michael Contini would remain best friends for the rest of their lives, but I'm out of space and I'll continue the story of our beginnings come next week. GOD BLESS AMERICA Socially Scene (Continued from Page 9) Harpoon Brewery is celebrating 20 years with Harpoon Fest 2013. (Photo Courtesy of Harpoon Breweries) our beloved Harpoon Fest yet this year there is something special to celebrate. Twenty years ago in Boston, Har- poon IPA was brewed for the first time. Harpoon Brewery co-founders Rich Doyle and Dan Kenary were unsure how local drinkers would take to this medium-bodied, hoppy, bitter, copper-colored ale, so they introduced it as a summer seasonal beer. It became an instant New En- gland favorite and in 1994 Harpoon IPA became a year- round beer. Harpoon IPA has since become the brewery's bestselling beer and to this day it remains Harpoon's flagship. Harpoon is celebrating the 20 th anniversary of Harpoon IPA by telling the brewery's IPA story and by inviting Harpoon IPA fans to share their own stories in the "Tell Us Your IPA Story" contest. The contest will collect sto- ries from Harpoon IPA fans via Facebook through May 12 th. Stories can include written word, poems, photos, videos or a combination. Submitted stories will be voted on and the winning story will be announced at Harpoon Fest, the brewery's annual summer festival. The winner will receive the "Harpoon Experience," which will guarantee VIP entry to all of Harpoon's festivals and sporting events at both the Boston, MA and Windsor, VT breweries for one year. To view the contest, visit: http:/ / www. harpoonbrewery, com/ news / 944 / Tell- Us- Your-IPA- Story. "We love telling stories here at the brewery," says Harpoon co-founder Rich Doyle. "Some stories will live in Harpoon legend, like when we first brewed Harpoon IPA back in 1993. It took all 10 of us working at the brewery to bring the In:st batch of IPA to life. Ever since then, Har- poon IPA has been the cata- lyst for our most memorable experiences here at the brewery. We are excited to hear the stories of our fel- low Harpoon IPA fans out there." To continue the IPA cel- ebration throughout the year, Harpoon will release limited edition 6-packs of two new IPAs, Harpoon White IPA and Harpoon Black IPA. The White IPA, a blend of a Belgian wit and American hops, will be released in May, while the Black IPA will be released later this fall. The two IPAs were also featured alongside Harpoon IPA and Rich & Dan's Rye IPA in the new IPA Adven- ture Mix, a limited release IPA variety mix pack that was released earlier this year to kick off Harpoon IPA's 20 th anniversary. Locals, visitors and any- one who is a lover of the bev- erage, "beer" always enjoy the Harpoon Fest set for May 17  and 18 th. Be sure to grab your tickets soon as they al- ways go quick due to all the entertainment that accom- panies this educational event. Harpoon Brewery, 306 Northern Avenue, Boston, MA. For more information on what this year's festival will bring you can visit www. harpoonbrewery, com. A Tasty Treat to Compli- ment Your Time in the City .... Mooo .... located on Boston's Beacon Hill, is a modern steakhouse adja- cent to the luxurious XV Beacon Hotel. Chef/Owner damie Mammano uses his culinary expertise to create classic, yet modern steak- house dishes. The warm modern ddcor provides a re- laxed, sophisticated atmo- sphere. The restaurant is open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch, dinner and brunch on Sundays. The private dining room at Mooo .... 'The Wine Cellar,' offers the most exclusive private dining venue in the city. The Wine Cellar offers service in an exquisite and elegant setting. The room boasts high-vaulted ceilings and shows off Mooo's exten- sive wine list. It accommo- dates seated events for up to 50 guests and receptions of up to 65. Parlor Suites located within the XV Bea- con Hotel also offer a perfect private dining venue for up to 14 guests. Mooo .... also offers a full bar and an award win- ning wine list. With a name like "Moo .... " the place is worth checking out where the food lives up to the name. Moo .... is located at 15 Beacon Street, Boston and you can call (617) 670- 2515 for reservations or visit www. to view the menu. The Federal Trade Commission works for the utO p .f  ption. Call I ,,, :,,,,HELP (1 ) or log on to .g o