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June 7, 2013     Post-Gazette
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June 7, 2013

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POST-GAZETTE, JUNE 7, 2013 Page 13 J00t/n/2a 00abb00onno by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance My folks: John and Ann Christoforo, summer of 1936, three months before they were married. June 9 was my father's birthday. If he was alive, he would be 103, but he didn't make it beyond 81. Dad passed away in the fall of 1991 due to an abdominal aneurysm that burst. He had been in great shape all of his life, but developed an aortic aneurysm in his late 70s, was operated on to solve the problem, but slowed down dra- matically after he recuper- ated. In the music world, he wise guy decided to give Dad a knuckle sandwich on his bald head. After it happened, he handed his violin to a friend who was walking along with him, approached the ag- gressor and cold cocked him knocking him out with one punch. I don't know the out- come of the altercation, but Grandpa never shaved his only son's head again and Dad gave up the violin. His love for music didn't change and he soon took up a much larger violin, a bass violin. By the time he graduated EBHS, he became a professional musician, but accepted a job with an iron works during the day. He only lasted a year or two working days as he soon developed a reputation as a good bass player who doubled on tuba and Sousa- phone. From his 20s on, he traveled around the country playing music with various bands. The depression of the 1930s was in full swing, but Dad worked constantly. He even joined a band that was part of a tent show estab- lished by the noted world trav- eler and newsman, Lowell Thomas. When he returned from his world travels, Tho- mas would put a show to- gether for people in rural became a respected icon with pas of the countr  and Dad the "iti  teldpa J0hhnie  was part of the music that Christie, a term of endear- ment which he really en- joyed. With his playing days in the past, his bass violin, tuba and bass guitar all sat in the hall closet collecting cob webs with echoes of past performances lingering in the air. He kept his hand in music and union affairs, heading a committee that helped out musicians who were unable to play and were in need of the necessities of life. My father was born Giovanni DeCristoforo on Chelsea Street in East Bos- ton on June 9, 1910, the first child in the family headed by Nunzio DeCristoforo and Antoinette Paglia. Grandpa Christoforo was a day laborer and swung a pick or shovel all of his working life. He could barely speak English and was not able to read or write in either Ital- ian or English, but in spite of this handicap, he supported a family that included Dad and his sister, Aunt Mary. Grandpa made sure that Dad learned a trade in school. At East Boston High School, he majored in machine shop to prepare for a career in the trades. Starting at a young age, he decided to study vio- lin, but due to an incident in the neighborhood studying violin was short lived. When school let out, Grandpa would shave Dad's head to cut out the cost of a summer hair- cut. Can you imagine some- one walking down Chelsea Street in East Boston with a shaved head and carrying a violin case? The comments were out there. One day, on the way to a music lesson, a entertained the country folks. Later in the 30s he began playing swing music and joined the big bands that were touring the coun- try. When returning home, he recorded with Vaughn Monroe's orchestra. On a given day, he was playing a double header with the Contini brothers, Nick and Paul. Between jobs, they brought him home for dinner and to meet their parents, Nanna and Babbononno. He also met their sister Anne. The chemistry was there from the beginning and they began dating with Babbononno's approval. Dad was a musician and that was enough for Babbononno to like him. The dating lasted 3 years because Dad was on the road much of the time. Finally, my mother gave him an ultimatum, now or never, and they were married at the Sacred Heart Parish in East Boston on October 25, 1936. I showed up 2 years later on October 21 and would be an only child. My folks were living in Allston on the Brookline bor- der, in a neighborhood that was called Musician's Row. After I was born, they moved back to East Boston so that Nanna could care for my mother and me when Dad was on the road. After De- cember 7, 1941, things changed...war. My uncles all joined the military to fight our enemies and Dad ac- cepted a job teaching ma- chine shop and math at East Boston High School, his old alma mater. He was holding off in joining a service until he was called up by the draft board. One day he was called out of class by the principal who was accompanied by two men who identified them- selves as members of the OSS, today's CIA. They asked him to volunteer to interro- gate Italian war prisoners that were being housed in what had been the East Bos- ton Immigration Station back in the day. I don't know how they got his name, but when they checked him out, they gave him clearance to handle this responsibility. After Italy surrendered and switched sides in 1943, the prisoners were released, but some didn't want to go home. Dad used his influence obtaining jobs and apartments for the ones that stayed behind. Once the war was over, Dad had a conversation with a band leader who was like his Godfather, Gordon Seabury. He assured Dad that times were going to change and with a growing family, it would be in his best interest to continue with his teach- ing job and play music at night locally. Dad listened and followed his friend's sug- gestions. He would teach at EBHS until 1948 and then go into administration in the Boston Public Schools. He had helped a candidate for the Boston School Commit- tee get elected and was told that the school depart- ment was starting a new specialized program called the Department of Audio Vi- sual Education. They would handle projectors, cameras, the latest in recording equip- ment and films that could be used at all of the schools. Dad became a pioneer in this field and programmed science experiments for the middle schools in Boston. Through all of this, he stayed active with music playing locally with many different bands that special- ized in weddings, engage- ment parties, baptisms, bar mitzvahs, and, you name it, he played it. During the sum- mer months, he would book in county fairs in the north- eastern states and bring Morn and me with him. As a child, to me, this was show business at its best. Dad would retire from the school department in the 1970s, after over 30 years of service. This left a void in his life and he became involved in musicians' union politics. Music is a young person's profession and when Dad began to slow down, he and Mom began to travel through- out the U.S. and take cruises to the islands. When I finally settled down and my wife pro- duced two young athletes, Dad became the consum- mate grandfather being called Papa by both of my boys. The story doesn't end here, but I thought you might like to know a little about my father who I can say was re- sponsible for the way I turned out in life. Happy Birthday Dad. GOD BLESS AMERICA Socially Scene (Continued from Page 9) Chicago hits the Hub on Thursday, June 13 th. (Photo courtsey of duction of the long-running Broadway revival Chicago opens Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston's 45 th an- niversary season. Broadway's Angie Schworer as Roxie Hart, Sara Gettelfinger as Velma Kelly and Rick Pes- sagno as Billy Flynn will razzle-dazzle as they kick off Reagle's spectacular summer season with a bang. Production features all-new staging and exciting chore- ography in the Bob Fosse style. Boston actress Mary- ann Zschau is featured as Matron "Mama" Morton. The Reagle Music Theatre is located at 617 Lexington Street, Waltham and can be reached at (781) 891-5600. Visit www.reaglemusic for more informa- tion on Chicago or upcoming productions. June in the Red Room .... The Red Room Caf 939 is rocking their way into the summer with some hit lineups! Fenway Recording Ses- sions Presents: Wake Owl/ DJ Carbo on Monday, June 10 th at 8:00 pm. Singer- songwriter Colyn Cameron of Wake Owl has been im- mersed in the world of music for the past 10 years. After graduation Cameron trained in organic agriculture at Emerson College in England; worked on different farms throughout the world. Upon returning to Vancouver, Cameron spent some time playing in bands before decid- ing to record the songs he had written after his journey and thus began the Wild Country EP. DJ Carbo, a.k.a. Mark Kates, will open the show. Mike Dillon Band/Evan Marien x Dana Hawkins on Thursday, June 13 th at 8:00 pm. Mike Dillon is one of the most dynamic and mul- tifaceted percussionists in the country, best known for his unforgettable live perfor- mances, unorthodox percus- sion rig and distinct original sound. Over the last 27 years, his creative song writing and the repertoire of artists he has Worked with on tour, stage or in the studio reveals his eclectic musical inspira- tion and skillful versatility. Evan Marien x Dana Hawkins will open the show. Adam Kronowski/Beyond the SunNile Alexander on Friday, June 14 th at 8:00 pm. Adam Kronowski is a 20- year-old musician originally from Augusta, Georgia. With passions ranging from drums to piano, writing to producing and recording to performing, Kronowski has a musical voice that brings together a multitude of genres and com- bines them into a powerful musical experience. This show will also feature the sounds of Beyond the Sun and Nile Alexander. Fenway Recording Sessions presents Saul Williams/ DJ Carbo on Saturday, June 15 th 8:00 pm. Saul Williams' early success as a poet has led to collaborations with the likes of Erykah Badu, Nas, The Roots and Zack De La Rocha, and descended as much from KRS One and Pub- lic Enemy as Allen Ginsberg and Amiri Baraka. He started a journal on a heart-healing trip to Africa with his mother and continued through his NYU acting education, which gave way to the more personal verse that would eventually evolve into his Nuyorican repertoire. DJ Carbo will open the show. The Red Room @ Cafe 939 is a Berkley College produc- tion located at 939 Boylston Street, Boston. You can con- tact them at 617 747-2261 for hours of operation or visit for infor- mation on upcoming shows. A Tasty Treat to Compli- ment Your Time in the City .... Looking for that ice cold beer during the next heat wave? Take your pick at the Sunset Cantina in Allston! Something's always brewing in Sunset Grill and Tap where you can find the larg- est selection on the East Coast -- 112 taps and 380 micros and exotic imports. Try a yard, cask-conditioned beer, flights, seasonals, ciders, etc. Full menu till late includes Boston's award winning steam beer burgers and famous curly fries, origi- nal buffalo wings and giant nachos. Still hungry? Try the juicy BBQ steak tip, grilled fish, homemade pastas, ten- der Yankee ribs or the siz- zling fajitas. Sunset Cantina is located at 130 Brighton Avenue, Allston and can be contacted about reserva- tions at (617) 254-133. Visit to view their extensive beer list and menu.