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June 6, 2014

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r , , ....... . , , - r .... POST-GAZETTE, JUNE 6, 2014 Page13 J00['a gt gt a 00Babb00]nonno i Today is a special day in history, 70 years ago on this day, the tide was turned against-Hitler and the Nazi party he created. I remem- ber listening to Babbononno talk about the happenings in Europe when I was three years old back in 1941. I didn't understand most of what he would discuss with his sons and my father at the dinner table, but I knew the swears he leveled at Hitler and Mussolini. Most were in Italian, but when he swore in English, Nanna would yell at him, saying that he was ex- posing his grandson to his low class mouth. A second glass of wine would always mellow him out and dinner would continue without a problem. The conversations contin- ued at the dinner table for the next two years. No matter who was in attendance, Babbo- nonno spoke his piece and within a sentence or two, you knew where he was coming from. As the war progressed, Uncle Nick joined the Navy and Uncle Gino, the Army Air Corps. Dad was recruited by the OSS, the forerunner to today's CIA. The government was housing Italian war pris- oners at the closed immigra- tion station in East Boston, and Dad's job was to interro- gate them a couple of times a week. Uncle Nick lucked out. He auditioned for the Andre Kostelanetz Orchestra which was stationed at the Newport Naval Base. He passed the audition and spent World War II serenading the ships that docked in Newport, Rhode Island. The navy was lucky, Uncle Nick played great sax, but couldn't swim a stroke. Uncle Gino, on the other hand, wound up in the 5 m Air Force and served in the Pacific. He was in the thick of it. One night at dinner, I knew how Babbononno felt. He was never one to become emotional, but during dinner that night, he had an extra glass of wine or two. After Nanna and my mother began doing the dishes, my grand- father grabbed me by the wrist and walkecl':/ne outside the house on Eutaw Street in the Eagle Hill section of East Boston. With the two of us standing in the middle of the street, Babbononno pointed at the flag hanging in the middle window of the first floor bay window. It was a white flag with red trim around the perimeter and two blue stars in the middle, one above the other. As he pointed, a tear by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance mmm.mmmm.mmmmm mml came to his eyes, and he softly said, "Guarda mi nipote, quelli sonG mi figli che eombattani in la Guerra." [Look, my grandson, those are my sons who fight in the war.) After that, we would return to the kitchen and Babbononno's dessert would be another glass of wine. Periodically, Uncle Nick would return from Newport, but he and Aunt Ada, his first wife and my Godmother, would do nothing but argue. I didn't know why until years later, but it centered on infi- delities that were so common during war time. When Uncle Gino came home on furlough, it was a family event. He was in the thick of the battles in the Pacific, as we island hopped toward Japan. Each time he came home, he had presents for members in the family. My favorite was an aluminum bracelet someone had made. On the face of it were two palm trees and between them the inscrip- tion, New Guinea 1944. I wore it until my left wrist grew out of it, then I found someone who was good with metal and had him convert it to a watch band. I wore it again for the next few years. One day, Babbononno came home with the Boston Post, the Boston Globe, II Progresso and La Gazetta, the news- papers he read each day of the week. He yelled for Nanna, my mother and me to look at the headlines of each. It seems that, on that day, the allies invaded France on its west coast and they called it D Day. It was the in- vasion of Normandy and it was June 6, 1944. My grand- father was overjoyed that the tide of war had turned in favor Of the allies. He knew that Italy had surrendered to the Americans and actually changed sides with the par- tisans joining in against fas- cism and the Nazi cause. It wasn't until a couple of years after the war that I found out what it was like on D Day. Dad had a couple of friends who were with the U.S. Army and part of the in- vasion force. The stories they told about the Americans, British, Canadians Austra- lians, Scots and partisans from several of the Nazi oc- cupied countries who fought their way onto French soil were mind blowing, to say the least. When I asked, "What about the French soldiers?" The answer always was, "Yeh, where were they?" To -- FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST -- THE MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS 781-648-5678 i ii , mmmmll get his friends to talk about the Invasion of Normandy, Dad would first haveto get a few drinks into them, as they never wanted to talk about what they experienced. It was that bad. Just recently, I heard a story, but I don't know if it's true or not. It seems that an old timer, a man around 90, brought his wife to France for a vacation. At a customs station at the Paris airport, the inspector in a harsh tone, told the man to pro- duce his passport. Fumbling through his flight bag, the man finally produced the nec- essary document to enter the French Republic. The cus- toms inspector with even a harsher tone, yelled at the man asking him if he had ever been to France before. When the man answered in the affirmative, the inspec- tor then yelled, "You should know that every time you come to France, you must have your passport ready ahead of time." The man smiled sheepishly and said, "The last time I was here, I didn't have to show my pass- port." The customs officer yelled, "That's impossible. Every time you come to France, you have to present your passport. When were you here last?" The man an- swered, "It was June the 6 th, 194I, D Day, and when I came ashore at Normandy, there wasn't a Frenchman anywhere to be found." Dad and my uncles later told me that they had friends who were in that inva- sion, but never made it back. The survivors never really wanted to talk about the war, they just wanted to forget it and go on with their lives. In my adult years, I've met many ex-servicemen who have bragged about their parts in their wars, WWII, Korea, Vietnam. The people who bragged about their exploits were usually the ones who did nothing except conjure up good stories about their experiences. The ones who were in the thick of battle never liked to talk about those days. Remember- ing those experiences just caused pain, anguish- and guilt. The guilt was often due to their surviving the wars and the memory of some of their friends who didn't. Well, it is 70 years later. The war ended in Europe in 1945, and maybe next year, we will celebrate the 70 TM anniversary of it coming to an end. Unfortunately, most of the men who made sure that all of Europe wasn't going to have to speak Ger- man, are no longer with us. As an example, Uncle Gino, Nanna and Babbononno's youngest son, will celebrate his 96 th birthday in a few weeks. He and the remain- der of the vets from WWll are few in number and fad- ing fast. But, I must thank them for their sacrifices and end by saying GOD BLESS AMERICA. Socially Scene (Continued from Page 9) Boston get your tickets starting for The Trip to Bounti- ful that will be sure to sell out. It will be on the Arts Emerson stage starting November 20 +h. (Photo By broadway.tom) program has been a huge success. All over the coun- try people ask me about who is teaching and how the students are doing," said Walsh. "There's clearly a lot of excitement about roots music at Berklee now. The camp comes as a response to this, giving people a way to be a part of the scene for a weekend, and a way to check out Berklee." Students will participate in ensembles, master classes, and lectures. Participants will also choose from a host of classes including Varia- tions on a Simple Melody as an Intro to Improvisation for Folk Musicians, Country Blues Guitar, Music Theory, and Intro to Ear Training. The evenings will feature faculty concerts and jams. Berklee's American Roots Program's artistic validity of a wide range of Ameri- can roots styles -- including blues, gospel, folk, early country music, bluegrass, old-time, Cajun, western swing, polka, Tex-Mex, and others -- is beyond dispute. This music is the life- blood of America's cultural heritage. The expressive urgency and depth of these styles is supported by strong fundamental musical val- ues. Berklee has created the American Roots Music Program in recognition of the richness of these idi- oms, and the ways that they fuse with contemporary elements. To view a tenta- tive schedule, locations, and tickets or if you're interested in performing:_+ please visit www. summer / berklee-american-roots-week- end. Arts Emerson ... The World on Stage adds show featur- ing Tony Award Winner Cicely Tyson and Vanessa Williams to the 2014-2015 Fifth Anniversary Season with, The Trip To Bountiful. In 2013 Cicely Tyson returned to Broadway for the first time in 30 years. Her tour-de-force performance as Carrie Watts in The Trip to Bountiful earned every major theatrical award including the Tony Award for Best Actress, Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award. Miss Tyson earned double Emmy awards for "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman" and was nominated for an Academy Award for Sounder. She earned her third Emmy Award for "The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All." Multi-faceted performer Vanessa Williams achieved critical acclaim as an actress on stage, in film and on television, and she has sold millions of albums world- wide. In addition to The Trip to Bountiful, in which her performance as the bossy daughter-in-law .was called "wickedly funny" by Enter- tainment Weekly, Williams' other stage credits include Broadway's "After Midnight," "Kiss of the Spider Woman," "Into the Woods" (for which she received a Tony Award nomination). As a recording artist, she has garnered 11 Grammy nominations, and she is also known for her three-time Emmy-nominated performance as Wilhelmina Slater in Ugly Betty and for her performance as Renee Perry in Desperate Housewives. ArtsEmerson will bring Cicely Tyson and Vanessa Williams to town in Horton Foote's The Trip to Bountifu! at the Emerson/Curler Majes tic Theatre NOvembe r 20t h- December 7 th 2014. Ticke.ts went on sale to the Pub- lic May 31 St and are highly expected to sell out and quickly! They maY be lur- chased by calling the Box Office at 617-824-8400 or by visiting A tasty Treat to Compli- ment Your Time in the City ... Ostra, located at One Charles Street South in Bos- ton's Back Bay, is a contem- porary Mediterranean sea- food restaurant. Inspired by local and European varieties of seafood, Chef/Owner Jamie Mammano and Executive Chef Mitchell Randall will focus on spe- cialty seafood found through- out the Mediterranean and regions within the U.S. The light preparation of their cuisine highlights.the natu- ral and fresh flavors of each dish. The dining room at Ostra evokes a sense of style and sophistication in a com- fortable and inviting setting. Ostra also offers a fine bar and lounge area featuriag live piano entertainment. Ostra's private dining room accommodates up to 40 for a seated event and up to 70 for a cocktail recep- tion. For a sneak peek' at the menu visit www.ostra boston.corn or call 617-421- 1200 for reservations. I