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May 22, 2015

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POST-GAZETTE, MAY 22, 2015 Page 13 Nanna 00Babb?]nonno i Babbononno wanted to train me to follow in his foot- steps and become a musi- cian by night and a furniture maker by day. When I was a kid, Dad sent me to him to learn how to read music. The type of instruction is called Solfeggio. It is the rhythmic articulation of the notes on paper. The explana- tion is that Babbononno sat me down in front of a music stand after I learned the staff and how to read music, and made me sing out the notes and conduct them with one of my hands while he con- ducted with a ruler, which was better for him than a metronome. If I made a mistake, he could use the ruler as a weapon and hit me off the hand that I was con- ducting with. By the time I was ten years old, I had knuckles like a prize fighter. I learned music backward and forward as a result of Babbononno's teachings. As I got older, he decided to teach me how to make fur- niture. The problem was that he never learned how to use machines due to the point in time when he learned, the 1800s. As a result, I learned how to do everything by hand. I said it was a problem, but it wasn't. I studied woodwork- ing at the Barnes Jr. High School and did well making projects. When I was a senior at Boston English, Babbo- nonno wanted me to get ready to go to work with him. The only problem was that Dad wanted me to go to col- lege. Babbononno wasn't in- terested in higher education and considered it a waste of time. Dad was insistent and I eompromised. I went to Boston State and majored in Industrial Arts, deciding to teach shop when I gradu- ated. Dad would be happy and Babbononno would be satisfied. Nanna was happy that I would be following in my grandfather's footsteps, but she passed away when I was in college. It was around Christmas in 1958, when I was in my sophomore year that breast cancer got the best of her and she didn't survive. At about the same time, I became a pro- fessional musician which made everyone in the fam- ily happy. Dad was a musi- cian, Babbononno was a musician and my mother's brothers, Uncles Nick and Paul were musicians. I would make the third gen- eration in a row playing an instrument professionally. by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance None of my uncles had fol- lowed Babbononno's lead in making furniture or work- ing with wood. As a result, I was my grandfather's last hope. My only male cousin, Uncle Gino's son, Richard, was young at the time and still in grade school. I graduated in June of 1960 and began teaching school that September. I had taken the exams to teach in Boston and did rather well. As a matter of fact, my name was placed on top of the list, but there was a problem. There were levels of prefer- ence. Veteran's Preference and above this category, as was Disabled Veteran's Pref- erence. That meant that no matter how high my scores were, there were people ahead of me who had been in the military. That first year, it meant that there wasn't a job for me in Bos- ton. As a result, I accepted a teaching job at Tewksbury High School, along with a friend who had graduated with me in the same pro- gram. I never told Babbo- nonno that I wasn't going to teach woodworking of any kind. My job was to teach several levels of drafting and engineering design. My friend that I had gone to Bos- ton State with became the woodworking teacher. This job lasted a little over a year. At the end of that first year, the administration promised me the world to return. Naive me, I should have gotten it in writing. When we returned the fol- lowing September, nothing had changed and no one remembered what the prom- ises were. I was upset, more with my own naivet6than anything else. After about two weeks back at Tewks- bury High School, I received a call from the Director of Industrial Arts of the Boston Public Schools. He offered me a job teaching drafting at Boston Tech. I accepted, tell- ing him that I would offer my two-week notice to my cur- rent boss. I thought that was only fair. I knew of a fellow classmate from college who didn't have a job, and after speaking to him, offered to supply my own replacement. They accepted. Two weeks passed and I headed to Bos- ton Technical High School. Babbononno was happy. He assumed that Tech was like Boston Trade School and that I would be teaching woodworking or furniture making. Again, it was the T-square, triangle and the -- FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST -- THE MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS 781-648-5678 slide rule. What my grand- father didn't know was that I was good at drafting and I liked it. After that In-st year, I was re-assigned to Hyde Park High School to replace someone who was retiring. Again, Babbononno assumed that I would be doing something with wood. The man I replaced was the number one drafting teacher at the school, and that's what I taught for the next fifteen years. Babbononno passed away in the early 1970s, and in his last years, thought I was making furniture. I never said anything to the con- trary, not wanting to upset his dreams of his first born grandson following in his footsteps. What he never knew was that, in the mid to late '70s, the school de- partment began eliminating some of the non-vocational shops in the Boston high schools. As a result, they closed the printing shop, the drafting program and the pattern making program. One teacher retired and the others were transferred to other schools. By this point in time, I had the most se- niority and what was left was the woodworking program. Babbononno never knew that his first born grandson, the one he wanted to model after himself, started mak- ing things out of wood. I guess I became quite good at it. When Loretta and I were married in 1977, I began making the furniture for the house we bought. I ordered American walnut and white oak, and made our kitchen set, all our bedroom furniture, and most of the living room furniture. Added to this were wooden bowls, candle sticks, and every- thing else we needed that could be made of wood. When I brought all of the furniture home, Loretta was in charge of the interior design, and when every- thing was in place, we had an open house. Our parents were there that night and her father was impressed with the "musician" his daughter had married. When Mom and Dad were about to leave, my father tumed to me and said, "For what it's worth, Be- sigliere (Babbononno's nick- name) would be proud of you." After we closed the front door, I looked around and said to myself, "Babbononno, this one is for you." GOD BLESS AMERICA For information about advertising in * Book Review (Continued American soldiers over the vengeful Russian soldiers. Not only does Homer give us a complete education on foxholes, but also what true grit embodies. Homer explains how he kept his sanity during the long marches by his concentrat- ing and searching for from Page 5) some little bit of beauty like a tiny flower, a patch of green. As one continues to read about Sergeant Homer's ex- ploits you will finally under- stand what an outstanding proud American he is. I sa- lute you Staff Sergeant Homer V. Wagnon, Jr. Thoughts by Dan (Continued from Page 8) royalty and, as short-lived as it was, the Commonwealth of England provided a posi- tive role-model for many countries. While his visions for democracy should be ap- plauded, Cromwell's religious intolerance, which became increasingly rabid upon his Parliamentary invasion " of Ireland in 1649, cannot be overlooked. Many of the loyal subjects to the decapitated King Charles I were in Ireland trying to establish a succes- sor to the crown with the hope that Charles II would allow Roman Catholics free- dom to worship. Cromwell and his army of 8,000 had to quash this movement. Cromwell's first order of business upon arrival in Drogheda (a Catholic strong- hold north of Dublin) was to offer the city a chance to surrender. When Sir Arthur Aston, then leading an army of Royalists, rejected his of- fer, Cromwell began a mer- ciless assault on the city. Two major churches were burned down, Aston was killed and, in the end, 3,500 citizens of Drogheda were killed while captured survi- vors were sentenced to prison work in faraway plan- tations in the West Indies. Cromwell's raid in Ireland did not stop in Drogheda. He battled his way through Wex-ford (where an addi- tional 2,500 Irish were mas- sacred by his army), New Ross, Arklow, Inniscorty, Cork, Fethard, Cashel, Car- rick, and finally Kilkenny. After Kilkenny surrendered, strongholds like Waterford, Galway, and Limerick had no choice but resigning to doing the same by 1652. Cromwell thought his ac- complishment a fulfillment of religious duty and main- tained little mercy for Catho- lics, though he also turned his back on Anglicans (abol- ishing their church) perse- cuted Wiccans and non-Pu- ritans. A casualty of his witch hunt was the holiday of Christmas, which was ef- fectively abolished in 1647 until 1660, two years after Cromwell's death. Cromwell and his parliament grew to disdain the holiday not only for the extravagance of the celebrations and a part of the package held by King Charles I and the Catholic stronghold which had to go, and would with the execution of the king two years later. It is important to remem- ber that while Oliver Cromwell led the Parliament and the Ironside army he was one of many figures in- volved in many of the acts they committed, including the massacres in Ireland and religious genocides. At the same time he spear- headed the move that made sure the monarchy would follow a constitution, which was also, ultimately, a group effort. However, one may measure the degree of Cromwell's involvement in his accomplishments his legacy, whatever good it did to the citizens of England, brought much suffering and death abroad. Appropriately for a man I've called one of the first modern politicians in the divisive nature of his legacy, Cromwell shares an- other point with contempo- rary world leaders. Although many of the things he is credited or blamed for may have been the result of a collective mindset, he bears the reputation almost en- tirely on his shoulders for being the face of a movement. In his case it does him no favor as, by any reasonable standard, the atrocities associated with his name outweigh the good. Leave the :' With a Gift Subscription to the Post-Gazette, your generosity will be remembered every week of the year. 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